Single again…and again…and again.
Do you find yourself in relationship after relationship always searching for “the one” but never finding them? Do you often wonder why you always seem to choose the wrong person over and over again, unable to break out of that pattern? Sometimes we need to look deep into ourselves and reflect on why our relationships never seem to work out and a perfect time to do this is while you are single. In this second part of the series, we’ll be looking into some of the aspects of DV and SV relationships and why some people seem to gravitate to partners who exhibit those characteristics time and again.
Working with survivors of sexual and domestic violence, I’ve made some observations that I’d like to share here. By and large, most domestic violence relationships have some level of sexual violence included in them; that can be from things like coercion, assault and rape. These destructive relationships can cause a lot of damage to your self-esteem, keep you from trusting your intuition, not really knowing your boundaries, and they usually effect future relationships negatively. In this world of DV and SV, we usually hear things like, “Why can’t I find a decent guy” or “Why do I always choose the wrong person” and even “Why do I continually accept this type of behavior from someone I’m in a relationship with?” There are a multitude of factors that can affect your ability to choose a healthy partner, for example, the type of childhood you had. According to womenshealth.gov the long-term effect of growing up in a household where abuse occurs predisposes one to live in a pattern of abuse, the article states, “More than 15 million children in the United States live in homes in which domestic violence has happened at least once. These children are at greater risk for repeating the cycle as adults by entering into abusive relationships or becoming abusers themselves. For example, a boy who sees his mother being abused is 10 times more likely to abuse his female partner as an adult. A girl who grows up in a home where her father abuses her mother is more than six times as likely to be sexually abused as a girl who grows up in a non-abusive home”. So what does this have to do with being single? The goal is to break that cycle of abuse. If you’ve left an abusive relationship, now is the time to work on your behavioral patterns so you don’t end up in the same type of relationship. My advice would be to make a goal of remaining single to give yourself time to do that work, and stick to it. Once you begin working on things like boundaries, healthy relationships, and self-confidence, you’ll be able to see some red flags in certain people that you may not have realized were there before. You’ll essentially re-learn how to use and listen to your intuition.
If you have been sexually assaulted and are single, getting into a new sexual relationship may seem like a very scary and monumental task. Someone who has been through a sexual assault might have fear and anxiety about sex. You might be thinking about being triggered by a certain touch or something your partner does. Maybe you’re worried about being able to trust the most intimate parts of you with someone. These are very real, and very scary things to deal with. My suggestion would be to use the time that you are not in a relationship to really explore some of those feelings. Get reacquainted with your body, what gives you pleasure and what your sexual boundaries are. A great tool is the book Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma by Staci Haines. Talk to a therapist, join support groups, take this time to work on you and regain some of that control that was taken. You deserve it!
Being single doesn’t have to be a fruitless time of just waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right. This is a time that you can take control of your life and really work on yourself. Use this time to your benefit! In the next part of the series, I’ll be addressing what the long-term life of singleness looks like and how it’s not a bad thing, even if society wants us to believe it is. Please leave your comments below, and as always, please reach out to our helpline if you’ve experienced a sexual assault and would like to talk about it.