Dating itself can be a disaster zone especially in the digital age. Welcome to modern romance, where hookup culture reigns, the ease of dating apps have outstripped traditional courtship rituals and instant gratification is the norm. Yet dating is especiallydifficult when you’ve been the target of emotional, verbal or narcissistic abuse, a form of covert emotional manipulation where you’ve been belittled, isolated and controlled by a pathological person.
Not only are you reeling from the trauma of a toxic relationship, you’re not even sure you ever want to date again. Any survivor of narcissistic abuse can tell you that it’s exhausting to even think about being with another person after the mind games he or she has gone through.
I always recommend being single for a period of time after going through a trauma like this, because it is likely to affect your intuition, your boundaries and your ability to step back and reevaluate whether this person is right for you. However, I do receive letters from survivors who ask me questions about dating and looking for love after abuse.
Here are some tips I would recommend moving forward if you do decide to venture out to the dating world again:
1. Take the time to heal.
I can’t stress this enough. Our society has conditioned us to quickly get over someone by getting under someone else. While studies have found that there is some truth to the idea that a rebound can help us feel hope at future romantic prospects, it can backfire if the rebound relationship is unsatisfying or the rebound person in question turns out to be toxic too.
In the latter case, it turns out that we grow even more attached to our exes rather than detached if the person we date right after turns out to be of a similar pathological type. That’s why if you’re committed to the idea of a casual arrangement, I’d still recommend holding off until you’ve evaluated what your standards for that arrangement would be and to ensure that you’ve built up a sense of independence to move forward from any person you’re dating should they show red flags.