By: Chris Green
“Do not conform ANY LONGER to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the RENEWING of your MIND.” Romans 12:2
What has been the standard pattern of thinking and behavior that too many women choose to engage in after bad break ups from men? Do some go into this “I don’t trust any men” thinking? Do some engage in behavior telling the world “I don’t need a man?” Or the all time classic, “Men are nothing but dogs!” What messages from society do you receive after painful break ups? Do some say you can only trust and rely on yourself and no one else? Or do some tell you men cannot be relied on? Are these various messages good advice (which enhances growth) or advice which supports your decision to remain stuck? Don’t you have days where you wish you could wake up, look in the mirror and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH? If so, there is one thing you must do in my view. You have to realize how your faulty thinking and destructive behaviors have played a part in your inability to move on and develop better a attitude towards dating relationships. Disclaimer: This three part series is tailored to those women who developed a pattern of fronting not needing nor wanting a man in public, but in private, secretly struggle emotionally because they want a relationship and a good man, but the developed distrust keeps those women from being honest, open, and willing. If you are not one of these women, this blog does not apply to you. “A MERRY heart maketh a CHEERFUL countenance: but by SORROW of the heart the spirit is BROKEN.”- Proverbs 15:13.
Pastor Tim Sledge published a third printing in 2002 titled “Moving Beyond Your Past”. This book was written to help adults overcome their pain growing up in dysfunctional families. When I read this, I came to the realization his concepts of emotional healing can be applied to help people overcome their painful experiences from past dating relationships. I highly recommend this workbook for anyone who has been in a history of painful experiences in their life. The whole workbook discussed relevant information and suggestions for relationships. I recommend this book because it helped me finally overcome some of my relationship pains. One of my favorite concepts he talks about is the Cycle of Pain. According to Sledge, when people experience continuous painful experiences, some will develop what he calls a survival system of unhealthy compulsive thinking and behavior to avoid dealing with the pain and establish mechanisms of control, thinking it keeps them safe, secure, and healthy. In reality, this system silently tears emotional stability to pieces. In part one, the first part of the cycle of pain is discussed in hope it can begin the process of changing select women’s thinking from consistent brokenness to renewal and recovery.
Avoiding Feelings + Need to be or feel “Bulletproof”= Prolonged Loneliness
When some women go through too many painful relationship experiences, some will choose to develop a mindset where they vow not to confess their true feelings out of fear of being used, taken for granted again, or abused. This is accomplished by avoiding feelings. Potential men who are genuine may ask some women questions in an effort to get to truly know their feelings and select women will refuse out of fear. When some men attempt to prove their trustworthiness, they are taken by some women as bullets shot at them. Those select women make the vow to never again let a man hurt them in such a way again, so they keep potential new men at an arm’s distance. When men do good things, select women will show little to no emotion indicting true appreciation. All of those bad experiences teach some women according to Sledge to become bullet-proof. This is the fear based control compulsion some women develop to falsely convince themselves they are stable (As long as bad things do not happen, I remain in control.)
“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:27
Then you have some women who according to Sledge’s concept develop a passive-aggressive way of control. These select women let men get close to them, but it’s only to suit their own needs. For some women, it’s sexual needs. They sleep with the men to get the physical fix; but refuse to attach any emotional closeness to them. Some women use passive-aggressive forms of avoiding feelings and being bullet proof just to get the men to fulfill their needs for emotional affection. It becomes more like a drug addiction. The select women want more and more (As long as I get what want without showing deep feelings, I remain in control). But a dreadful reality begins to emerge. At some point, these select women emotionally begin to collapse. They are the ones when sitting alone in their home, the truth starts to come out. Carrying their real feelings of desiring a man, desiring love again, and desiring to have a meaningful relationship, but due to THEIR CHOICE to avoid feelings and be bulletproof to protect themselves, they not only develop a prolonged loneliness, but they support it!
This is what happens when select women choose after grieving to let their past bad relationships control them. When a relationship ends; the ability to fully move on only starts when the door is closed COMPLETELY. Here is a solution based from Sledge’s concept called Cycle of Recovery.
Sharing Honest Feelings + Allowing Vulnerability = Intimacy of Renewal and Recovery
The development of sharing honest feelings in future relationships must start with GOD. We all get to the point where we have a choice: keep fighting to get our way to falsely stay in control or do what Sledge suggests- surrendering your pain to GOD. First pray to GOD to let go of the past pain and give it to him. Select women go day after day thinking they got this figured out, but their continued pain convinces them they do not. Through prayer, healing can and will develop. Stop stuffing anger, depression, and resentment in and give it to GOD. When select women choose to finally let the past pain go, when they finally allow new men to talk to them, they will feel whole enough again to be honest about how they really feel. Sharing honest feelings is vital regarding working towards new productive relationships.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”- 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
Relationships are always about taking risks. No matter what, when women go out searching for good relationships, they have to know becoming vulnerable is required. It does not promise every new man will be the right one, however, at least you will be able to tell yourself you were honest, open, and willing. Your thinking will turn into: “it’s ok, I remain a confident patient, kind woman who rejoices on truth, there are plenty of other men to choose from, it will not discourage me anymore, not all men are like that.”
When those select women break their cycle of pain by being more honest with their feelings and allowing vulnerability to be open, it will develop what Sledge says emotional intimacy. According to Sledge, this is the feelings of recovery part. The select women will start trusting again, starting with themselves. They will become more willing to get close to those select men who have earned their trust and give the same level of investment as they are.
Sometimes, the problem is no longer with the men. Sometimes women develop, encourage, and support their own path of self-destruction. Change in behavior and beliefs starts with change in how we think. Let the pain go by giving it to GOD, and then let his grace guide you to the path of recovery and renewal, so the odds of falling in love again will start to swing back in positive favor.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” - 1 John 4: 18
If you are interested in getting a copy of Moving Beyond Your Past, you can click the link below:
MenSpeak Contributing Writer, B.L.O.G Magazine
Chris Green is an intensive intervention specialist who helps families in crisis. He received both his BA and MA in psychology and sociology from Western Kentucky University. He is currently completing his Christian Counseling Licensure. When he is not helping families, Chris enjoys reading and traveling. Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.