love hearts with light brushes

I’m regularly told by readers, that after being involved in various dubious relationships, they’re not sure what to expect from a new relationship. How should it feel? What does it look like? What am I looking out for? How do I know if it feels good? I know what’s bad now but what’s good?

A few years back I wrote my rough guide to a new relationship and I figured that it’s time to update. I can’t tell you how you should ‘feel’ – what I will tell you though is for you to enjoy the relationship and give it a good chance of prospering, make sure you do some prep work before hand.

1. Over the ex. It’s b*llshit when they say that the best way to get over someone is to get on top of someone else. If you’re still emotionally attached, whether it’s that you’re mooning over them in private secretly hoping for him/her to come back, or you’re ranting and calling them a $@%!%! at every opportunity, talking about them constantly and yada, yada, I’d spare someone else the trouble of being with you. If you’re still obsessing or spending a heavy amount of emotional energy on an ex, a new relationship is not for you and it’s unfair to the other person for you to become involved with them.

2. Boundaries. Yep, you knew it’d be here. Be aware of what you will and won’t accept before you get involved with someone. Boundaries are at your core; they represent your values and they also help you to process what is happening and give you cues and clues as to whether you should halt at a code red or amber alert, or pass go. Bearing in mind you’ve experienced enough pain already, you now have awareness of what does and doesn’t work for you. Be aware of what red flags are.

3. Get your emotional baggage down to hand baggage quantities. Look let’s be real– everyone has issues, even the ones that say they don’t. That’s life. But if you are carrying baggage that impacts on your ability to 1) have boundaries, 2) have self-love, and 3) recognise when you are and aren’t being treated with love, care, trust, and respect, you are impacting on your ability to actually enjoy and progress the relationship and potentially lining you up for more pain. You’ll also be drawn to people that have waaaay too much emotional baggage that weighs down your emotional plane.

4. Trust and faith. You need to first and foremost be able to trust yourself through your gut and instincts. You need to have faith in you that you will do right by you, even if it means turning down someone who has the appearance of being great but is crossing your boundaries. You also need to have faith in other people’s actions so that you don’t tar everyone with the same brush and go into relationships with a reasonable level of trust. Trust in yourself means that you’ll be able to differentiate between ‘love’, fear, pain, and drama. Also trust your positive voice instead of your negative one.

5. Personal security. This is a lot to do with the preceding 3 factors. As humans when we get into relationships, we place a high value on personal security. If you don’t value yourself, have an inclination to morph to suit relationships, and tend to make people the focal point of your life and energies, you convey a message that you are not personally secure and may come across as emotionally demanding. This means having a reasonable level of self-esteem and your own life, desires, and interests – being your authentic self.

6. Being positive. You don’t need to be a happy clapper but you do need to have positive beliefs about yourself, love, and relationships, and if you don’t, address your beliefs so that you don’t go out there conflicted. Read my post positive woman, positive relationship.

Once you’re in a relationship….

You have to go in with a healthy level of trust. In being involved with them, you’ll get a series of mental checks and balances that tell you whether your trust is well placed, or whether there are reasons to be cautious and potentially opt out.

The mistake a lot of people make is to either go in with little trust and so end up unwittingly sabotaging their own opportunities, or trust so blindly that even in the face of clear behaviour that shows that the trust is unfounded, they won’t shift their perspective because they’d rather not trust themselves. As the relationship progresses, note the things that show that you are being treated with love, care, trust, and respect, and let those increase your trust.

Embrace the possibility of a new relationship, enjoy it, and put both of your feet in. People who have a foot out, or just a toe in the relationship are uncommitted. If you’re uncommitted, your actions will stem from it. Don’t be constantly looking over your shoulder for an ex or ‘other options’. If you have commitment issues, trust me when I say you will create problems and will be conflicted, potentially looking for reasons for it not to work, to be alone, or to even return to your ex… Relationships need two committed parties.

Does it feel unfamiliar? If you have habitually been involved in dubious relationships and what you’re experiencing feels ‘familiar’, I’d take that as a warning sign that you may be potentially involved with someone that’s catering to your patterns.

Is the drama minimal? Look, sometimes things happen, but if there is a lot of drama going on between you both, I would question whether things are healthy. By the same token, don’t try and wreck things because there isn’t any drama, by creating your own!

Actions match their words. People that you have a better chance of progressing a relationship with are people that consistently follow up words with actions. They mean what they say, and do what they say they will and when they don’t, they have enough integrity to feel bad about it and seek to rectify the situation.

Can you forget about your relationship past with them? Often you’ll find that if you’re really enjoying the relationship and are happy, you won’t have the time to be worrying about exes – they can often fade into the distance with many of the things you may not have recognised about them suddenly in sharp focus because you realise what you are getting in this new relationship.

Be calm and enjoy the inner calm. Tempting as it may be to get them to swear with their pinky finger or write an oath in blood about what they will and won’t do to you, this can give the impression of you being emotionally demanding, which may turn them off you and create the wrong impression. People who are in good relationships recognise the inner calm from ‘vibrating’ with someone who is on their wavelength in a positive emotional connection. This is a lot better than feeling jittery, scared, or even excited by the ‘turmoil’ of people that tend to vibrate with negative beliefs that you may hold.

You might be scared but you’ll feel the fear and proceed on anyway. I know from personal experience how it can almost seem too good to be true or you can find yourself looking for a catch, but when you’re in a decent relationship with a decent person feeling a decent level of self-love and personal security, even though you feel scared sometimes, the lack of drama and recognition of the good things in your relationship and how good you feel, will mean that your desire to embrace the new relationship will override the fear. You’ll also tend to find that your fears change. Rather than them being centred in turmoil within or recognition of crap behaviour on the other party and secretly knowing you’re dining off illusions, it’s knowing that you feel good in the reality and not wanting it to end or to be proved wrong.

Back in part two


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16 Responses to Knowing If You Feel Good In New Relationships Part One

  1. freeatlast says:

    Fantastic advice! I feel like I am getting over the worst and it gets easier every day with NC. I am more than ready to move on and I sooo want to find a healthy relationship this time.

    Thank you for always having the right advice available at the exact time I need it! Each post has managed to lift me out of my weak/low moments.

  2. Kay says:

    Some sound, practical advice there Natalie,huge thanks for that. I can’t comment anymore really as I’ve never known or seen a good relationship in my close family circle but I really hope some day to experience it. What would we do without you and all your help and guidance! Thanks again.xx

  3. Spiffy says:

    This was a great read! I frequent your site pretty often and I have to say reading your posts has helped me face a lot of my issues. I am not out of the thick of things just yet, but I am determined to get there.

    I have to share this story which is not directly related, but made me realize something. There is this job I agreed to do for someone, but when I saw the pay rate, I noticed it was half of what I am normally paid, or so I thought. I began to feel really upset, thinking, this person is trying to take advantage of me, who do they think I am? I do good work, can they not see that?

    I asked why was I being paid for half of my work and lo and behold I was looking at the wrong pay rate. This made me realize how easily I can sometimes blow things out of proportion and in relation to EUMs, how I could have projected a lot more on to him, bet on his his potential, thus creating an illusion.

    This minor unconnected occurrence made it all click for me. I was the one who looked at the wrong pay rate and drew the wrong conclusion. I also was the one who created an illusion about a man who was so far from what I wanted him to be.

  4. Kim says:

    Great post. I just recently ended an 8 month relationship with a man that for the last 5 months of the relationship had managed to lie about not only his mother but also stepfather having died (one in August the other in October). However, i found out they are BOTH still alive and well. Even though I try not to, I can’t help but wonder what was the truth and what was a lie. I don’t want to analyze the past 8 months but I admit I will be very cautious in the future. Quite sad.

  5. Pushing.Thru says:

    I needed this… thank you.

  6. Happy Soul says:

    Thank you Natalie, that what I needed before my first date with a new guy after “separation” with AC…I loved it – “Embrace the possibility of a new relationship, enjoy it, and put both of your feet in”, yes, thats what I am going to do, I am not going to allow my AC to destroy something new and exciting:-) which is coming my way!

  7. RES says:

    Again, another incredible post Natalie. When I first met my fiancee all of my friends were so excited for me. But for the longest time, I kept saying “I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel.” I had no basis of experience for what a healthy relationship felt like. Was I supposed to be breathless in love? That’s not love, that’s chemistry (I’m much smarter now :-)). What was I supposed to feel? As time passed, I started noticing things like:
    1) I didn’t seem to cry at all!
    2) It was nice having someone that I didn’t have to convince to be with me! He had (and still has) two feet in the relationship!
    3) I was (and still am) ME! No morphing, no convincing myself that I wanted things that I really didn’t or that I was someone that I wasn’t. I am true to myself. Complete authenticity.
    4)I knew that I could survive without him. It might sound strange, but I was confident that if this didn’t work out, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for me.
    5) Deposit vs. withdrawal! My realization that my fiancee contributes to my overall happiness. A simple calculation, really. If someone is contributing to my happiness, then of course I want them in my life. My life is richer because he is in it. However, his presence CONTRIBUTES to my happiness; he doesn’t DEFINE it.
    6) Complete ABSENCE OF DRAMA! My word….how wonderful it is to just enjoy being in a great relationship without having to worry, stress, and second guess myself.

    Again, right on Natalie!

  8. aphrogirl says:

    Ahh, thank you for these kind words.

    I realize I have forgotten all about the many real and positive relationships I have enjoyed with good men …and I am pretty certain I will enjoy a good relationship or two again.

    It’s so nice to read this and be reminded of what positive relationships feel like.

  9. bebe says:

    “Be calm and enjoy the inner calm.” – this is what I struggle with every day!!

    Unconsciously, and ever so slowly, these feelings of doubt and uncertainty begin to creep into my mind. It seems anything can set it off. Suddenly, I’m seeking some sort of validation from him to make myself feel better. And if he doesn’t respond the way i think he should, or if he doesn’t respond at all, I freak! I will assume he doesn’t love me, rant and rave about it because I KNOW he does, and yet I still need him to say it or prove it to me in some profound way. THIS IS NOT NORMAL, NOR IS IT HEALTHY. Fortunately for me, he figured all this out before i did…and he’s still around. I hope he sticks around long enough for this brat to grow up.

    I guess what all this stems from is low self-esteem. But instead of treating the illness, we find ourselves constantly going for the quick fix solution and treating the symptoms. I think it’s also important to remember that EVERYONE has issues…and that we need to focus and fix the ones that we can, and those are our own. Everything else will just fall into place.

    – Still learning –

  10. Sophia says:

    Need your opionions ladies. My question is, “How soon is too soon to start dating? First a little background.
    My EUM called his ex-girlfriend in Dec./08 while we were on vacation. Devasted me, but we stayed together, as he promised to let me know if there was any form of contact between them. I have no problem with men having contact with ex’s as long as I know.Of course, he lied and there was contact in March/09. I kicked him out at that point. We were apart for 4 months, still in contact with each other thru phone and email, but I was doing awesome without him in my life. After 4 months, dated an old boyfriend from 25 years ago. Strictly dating, no intimacy, just going out for dinner. I was not ready for relationship at all at that time. I tell assclown that I’m seeing someone, but not seriously,and he reacts quite desperately, saying he’c coming over with his cheque book and we’re going to buy an engagement ring. Second time he’s done this in our 4 year relationship. I don’t want a ring, but his persistance paid off and we got back together, but no ring.
    Our reunion only lasted 3 months. The hot and cold winds were blowing. We broke up and of course the games were on again. He was pursuing me but at the same time had joined an internet dating site . I found out by checking his phone….my gut feeling was right again. I went over because his stepmother died and we were going to go together to spend three or four days with his family. I thought this was a sign from God for us to get back together. Crazy me!!This was in Dec./09 and I have been no contact since Dec. 29/09.
    Have been doing great….keeping busy with friends and family and school work. I lost my job and an now studying to be a nutritionsist,. I am 52 by the way.Very happy about my new adventure. I have just been checking out a dating website and some men have sparked my interest. JUST LOOKING, my profile is not up, but I am interested..
    I read what Natalie wrote here, but just wondering thru your personal experiences, when did you start dating again?
    Thank you Natalie and all you wonderful women for helping me on my journey to my new amazing life, with or without a man.
    Much love!

  11. Terry says:

    This is so timely for me. I’ve been asking about trusting again after being jacked around. For me it’s complicated because it’s the same man. I was never sure if he was an EUM, a commitment-phobe or just a jackass. I sent him away 3 times previously. We had a lovely relationship, but then he’d do the poof, or not calling when he said, or not showing up. It seemed like the more he liked me, the more he would screw up and I knew that was a game I could not win. Finally, he came back and so far, he’s a changed man. He made other changes in his life in the time we were’t seeing each other. The longer we go on and it’s lovely, the less I think about “before.” I don’t think you ever get over having the initial emotional reaction and anxiety, but you can learn to not give into it. I think it’s a function of time healing.

  12. raven says:

    Thanks for this NML. I have been getting to know a guy and so far so good until today. We had arranged to hang out together after work and halfway through the afternoon I discovered that he’d double booked, but worse, had clearly forgotten our arrangement and probably would have never even cancelled. He was pretty mortified when he realised, but if he’d been really keen, he’d have remembered. I saw the red flag and I acted on it. Told him I was disappointed in him. Although I felt a bit bad (it was a bit gutting to realise he’d obviously not been looking forward to the evening as I had) I decided to not let it get to me and got on and did things for myself and refused to get upset because (and I’m finally getting it) I hadn’t developed illusory ideas about us and so could respond to reality, not a fantasy. I deserve better and if he can’t see that or isn’t in a place to provide it, I am not going to waste my precious time and headspace on him.

  13. Sophia says:

    Got my answer to my previously posted question last night. …”How soon do you start dating after an assclown?
    Went out with good friends last night, 2 couples and me….never feel awkward with couples at all. Went to a bar and listened to some music and had a few drinks and danced. Well, the singer and I went out on one date 15 years ago and he asked my friend if I was single. She said yes, but she is not ready to date. Which I’m so grateful she said.
    He asked me to dance. We slowed dance twice and it felt so good to be in a man’s arms and dance. I love to dance and only danced twice with ex EUM in 4 year relationship…even though he said he loved to dance when we first met…one of the many lies to come.
    Today, I am so emotional, crying and thinking about all the time I wasted on the ex when I could’ve been dancing.,
    I’m good now, melancholy, but good. I am so NOT READY to date or even hang out with a man at this time. I need to heal more and get assclown out of my system once and for all. Not at the carry on luggage phase yet. Still have large baggage…at least it’s all contained in one bag….LOL!!

  14. Blaise Parker says:


    Why does it say “Show me an Example” at the top left corner of the screen?

  15. Alice says:

    Thank you very much NML for answering my request. I have also read your roughguide for a good relationship, which I haven’t seen yet.

    I am now 2 1/2 months into my new relationship and pretty optimistic !! Only sometimes my own issues might try to have a voice again, but usually I am successfully carry on going my new route. Sometimes the old insecurities are trying to resurface, but I have made myself a list of things of what not to think. I was horrified in the beginning of this relationship, but my fears have greatly calmed down. So fingers crossed !!!

    Carry on with this wonderful site, lots of love and thank you so much XXXX

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Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.