I have had many conversations with my single friends about what it is like to be a couples counselor. Many are surprised to hear that I advocate for singles to seek couples therapy as a way to enhance their future relationships. Now, some of you may be thinking "Huh?".
Being single has its benefits, one of them being that you can take this time to be selfish and think about you! One resource to start that inner dialogue is couples therapy.
1. You may not be over your previous relationship: let's face it, we can get pretty hung over our ex and be in a constant state
of denial. We have all done it at one point in time.
The worst thing you could do is to bring that denial into your next relationship. An example could be comparing your new beau to your ex. These comparisons can stand in the way of your future relationship and cause you be single forever.
So before you decide to take plunge into your new flame, you may want to make sure you completely extinguished the old one. This is where couples therapy can help. While working with your therapist, you can determine what it is that keeps you hooked onto the past and how to completely break that tie before you move on with your life. 2. You need to figure out what you want in your next relationship: now you have lived the single life and are now ready to get back out there...question is, where do you start? Do you continue with the same pattern or try something new? Guess what?!? A really good person to talk these things out with is...a therapist (NO WAY 😱)!
A therapist can help you determine what it is that worked for you in previous relationships and what didn't. Also, we can talk through what you are expecting from your new partner and what you believe you can bring to the table as well (this will help to make sure you find someone that appreciates those qualities). Lastly, what type of relationship are you looking for, is a great thing to talk through with some help. Do you think you want to find your partner in life or are you looking to be with someone and see how it goes??
3. Empty out your baggage: there is a reason why airlines started to charge for extra baggage...and no one want to pay that
price, so why should your future partner? Not saying that you can't have ANY baggage, because let's be real...we ALL have some type of baggage. It is just better to keep it at a minimum.
Let us use the airline structure as our goal. We want to have some carry-on baggage, which is light and not necessarily a deal breaker and then maybe one check-in luggage that carries a bit more of a load but doesn't become too much of a hassle. The hope is that as you go through therapy, you can begin to unpack some things that you don't necessarily need for the next phase in your life and really make room for things that are important for you to keep.
4. You need to learn how to be single before you can be in a relationship: now let's say you are either a newly single person or maybe someone who has never been single, you may not want to jump into another relationship right away. Being single plays an important role in your personal development, so don't let this opportunity go away! And YES being single is a GREAT opportunity that tied down people don't get as often.
During this phase, it is important to get to know yourself. What do YOU like to do? Who do YOU want to be? Fundamental questions that will ultimately define who you are and will eventually help create a foundation for who you want to be when you are in a relationship. Through the use of therapy, we can discuss the importance of keeping your identity after entering into a relationship and how to really appreciate the individual qualities of your future partner. 5. You may need to figure out your life before you enter into a new relationship: Our life is never perfect. Just when we think we have figured it out, 10 more things pop up. So it's not like your life will magically fall into place when you meet someone, but wouldn't you rather figure it out now? In therapy, we can work through things that you want to have in order before you start dating. What I like to do with my clients is to help them establish short and long term goals. We do this by assessing what is most important and what is the least important. We can continue to build on a plan that includes very small steps towards success. We can also figure out a timeline: do you want to have this figured out within two months or two years? You set the pace. So by figuring out your life first, at your pace, allows you to be the priority...which is essential. Plus, by having your life in order, it can provide you a different perspective on what you would like from your partner. So those are just some of the common reasons why couples therapy would work when you're single. I recommend that if you have any problems facing life as single individual, married, divorced, or whatever the case may be, reach out to someone to help you and guide you through whatever it is that you're looking to achieve.