Most women have experienced the trauma that accompanies the end of a long-term relationship. The ‘after break-up’ phase is a significant undertaking. Those who have gone through the process of 'getting to the other side', of facing the unknown after a long-term relationship (the other side, the unknown) understand that there are many levels and depths to the grieving process. But when the time comes, there are also several steps toward recovering a feeling of normalcy.
Monique Honaman, relationship expert and author of The High Road Has Less Traffic, advises that “It’s not easy or wise to put a specific time limit on what defines a long-term relationship. Instead, I believe it’s more appropriate to look at how intense the relationship is as defined by how much time is spent together and how deeply they connect emotionally."
While being positive and proactive may not seem like the easiest step after exiting a long-term relationship, it is a necessary one. There are some practical actions you can take to empower yourself after a taxing breakup, actions that reaffirm you are striking out on your own and are ready to take on whatever life has in store. You don’t have to move mountains. It’s important to listen to yourself and move forward at your own speed. Honaman emphasizes the importance of staying social.
“You DO have to put yourself out there in the world where you have the opportunity to meet new people (not necessarily single/dating events) so start volunteering with an organization that tugs at your heart, take classes and learn a new hobby, travel the world… hey, you never know!” advises Honaman.
Getting back in the game
If you are toying with the idea of re-entering the dating pool, even just to stick your toes in to test the temperature, there are some important things to consider first.
“A woman is ready to start dating again when she can honestly say that all intense feelings for the person in her past relationship (these can be feelings of either love or hate!) have faded. When love or hate is present, there is too much of an emotional connection still holding you to that other person,” Honaman advises. “When a woman starts to think about meeting someone new in terms of making a new friend, having some new experiences, perhaps experiencing some new adventures, then I think she is ready to start dating.”
Listen to YOU
Reconnecting with one’s self is important. Honaman goes on to suggest that therapy may or may not be the answer. Again, she recommends that women who have recently ended a relationship stay in touch with their personal needs and desires.
“It’s critical that you ask yourself what you learned from your prior relationship. This helps you to understand what worked, and what didn’t. It helps you to not make the same mistakes over and over again. It helps you to take some ownership of your own behavior,” Hoaman points out. “My recommendation for anyone looking to start dating is to not force it. I tell people that ‘it’ (meeting someone terrific) will happen when they least expect it.”
The financial piece...
Apart from the significant emotional work that has to be done at the end of a long-term relationship, there are some pragmatic points to consider. Financial expert Hollis Colquhoun recommends taking a clear-headed, realistic look at one’s finances at the close of any significant relationship.
“When you’re going through the pain of ending a long-term relationship, your emotions are in overdrive and your life is turned upside down. It will take time for you to get over the personal loss but to preserve your financial life, it’s necessary to act immediately,” Colquhoun advises. “You and your partner may have a combined checking account, joint credit cards, and possessions that your own together. If the relationship is over, it’s crucial to take stock of your financial situation, first by checking your credit report. To get a free credit report every year from each of the three major credit bureaus, use: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. It will give you a snapshot of your personal information (Social Security number, current employer and address) any civil charges, collection items and your debts.”
Colquhoun outlines some important steps a woman can take to evaluate her finances.
“The website: AnnualCreditReport.com will take you to each of the credit bureau’s sites to gat your free report, but you will have to pay approximately $10. to get your score. The FICO score is the most widely used credit rating system which ranges from 300 (horrible) to 850 (perfect). These days in order to qualify for a loan, the lenders want to see a score of 700 or higher. At this point, the most important thing to review is your report, first to make sure it’s accurate and secondly to see what you owe to whom and whether it’s a joint or individual debt. Therefore it’s a good idea to close the joint accounts and open new ones in your name as soon as you feel the relationship is over. Any item that isn’t correct on your report should be disputed in writing. Send it to the credit bureau (and by law the bureau has to respond with 30 days of getting your letter to prove the debt is accurate or erase the item from your report). There is a sample dispute letter at the FTC website (FTC.gov).”
Next, determine your net worth. This can seem like a daunting task, especially when you are emotional and introspective. Colquhoun advises putting everything down on paper. “Your worth is divided into two parts, your net worth (the value of your assets) versus your debts. If you are going to move forward with a new life you’ll need a new financial plan that’s based on concrete numbers:
- List all of your assets and put an estimated value next to each one. Could they be easily monetized, meaning could you sell them quickly and raise cash? And again, what types of debts do you have? Do you have any joint debts? What about student loans, car loan, or mortgage? This information will show how sturdy your financial position is, and will give you a direction to follow.
- The next task is to figure out your earning potential which will directly affect your budget going forward. What are your career and income options? Could you move to a different area where employment opportunities are greater with a lower cost of living? Will you be able to live on your own?
- If you have negative net worth, meaning the debts are greater than your assets, you’ll realize it and have the incentive to make a plan to deal with it. If you need help setting up a budget and monitoring your spending and cash-flow, Mint.com is a free service that tracks your budget and combines expenses into categories to give you concise, realistic picture of your financial status.
What's your number one piece of advice for moving on after a long relationship? Leave us a comment!