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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Relationships Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

I'm dating a woman who was in a long term relationship for eight years. She and her old lover broke up a few months ago. I'm afraid I may get hurt if she's rebounding. Is there a recommended time for grieving old relationships before starting new ones?

Answer

This is a very good question. When a long time relationship ends, both members have grieving to do. The one who chose to end it may have made the right decision, but it's still a loss. Grieving involves sadness and anger and can't be hurried -- and it takes some people longer than others to do the emotional work. Also, sometimes part of the grieving happens before the couple has officially ended their relationship -- that's because one or both of them may have realized it was over long before the public ending. I really can't give you a recommended time for grieving. What I suggest you do is look at whether your new friend is still expressing anger, sadness, or other strong feelings about the breakup and, if so, if she's able to recognize those feelings and deal with them. Emotional health isn't necessarily being done with a process: it's having the ability to recognize what you're feeling and respond in a healthy way.

02/15/99

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