It’s the worst feeling: you meet a cute guy, you swap the flirty banter, you get the digits, and you start dating…and then you discover that he has already had a GREAT love.
Whether it was two decades or two weeks ago, through a breakup, a divorce, or a death, it is extremely unnerving to know the person you’re dating may have already found and lost ‘the love of his life.’ Is it too late for you to find happiness with him? Will you ever matter as much as ‘she’ did? Can people have more than one soul mate throughout their lifetime?
Is it possible?
GalTime relationship expert Jane Greer, Ph.D contends that it completely depends on the person. For some people it seems that the love of their life is whoever they are in love with at the time. For others, when a relationship ends, Dr. Greer thinks, “Part of their heart seals over, there’s an element of loss so nobody ever quite gets that real estate again.”
Can it be as real?
But is a ‘second time around true love’ as deep and meaningful as the first? Todd Creager, LCSW, LMFT marriage and sex therapist and author of the book The Long Hot Marriage, maintains that it is definitely possible to have a relationship as significant as the first, but “the key is to grieve.” No matter who ended the past relationship, one still needs to complete a full grieving process before they will be open to a new true love.
Being completely moved on from one’s past love is vital. Trying to be “like the first [love], or preoccupied with the experience of the last love, is a set up for despair and is quite frankly unloving,” asserts Lisa Bahar, a licensed marriage and family therapist and licensed professional clinical counselor located in Newport Beach, California.
How do we love again?
If you find yourself dating a person who has loved and lost his soulmate, but has grieved and is ready to move on, there still may be some personal obstacles you have to endure yourself. Knowing your partner has had a deep, significant love before you is a hot spring for insecurity.
However, Todd Creager believes you “have to accept that you’re not your partner’s first boyfriend or girlfriend. You have to be mature enough to accept that they’ve had other people in their life.” This can be difficult; many people experience jealousy about their partner’s previous relationships.
According to Dr. Greer, we must remember that our partners were younger and different before we came into the picture, so we must “stayed focused on what is happening now and sharing in the present.” While we may at first resist hearing about past loves, Creager suggests it is best to simply listen and be there for your partner—as long as he is openly communicating with you about his experience, you feel like his top priority, and he is fully committed to this new relationship. Really listening to him when he opens up about vulnerabilities can bring you closer.
What if it’s you?
Obviously, it is not only men who have loved and lost. So what if it’s you? How do we make ourselves open to experiencing true love again? Lisa Bahar maintains that the cliché “love yourself” is true. “Learn how to love you and then you can share love with others”.
She encourages women to “take some chances and embrace ways to open up slowly to others” and always remember to “take your time, there is no rush.”