Wind Haven Foundation

Dating After Abuse

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Post By:

Sarah Grace

Migrated Article - Original Post Date December 23, 2021

Dating after abuse is no easy feat. It should come after enough time for healing, recovery, and education about red flags of abuse and unhealthy relationships, as well as an understanding of “green flags” and what a healthy relationship should look like. There will be red flags early on, even in the beginning stages of dating, that indicate a person may be toxic or abusive.

Dating shouldn’t lead to an instant commitment – it should be a slow process that grows into a healthy relationship. Healthy relationships take time to evolve. After an abusive relationship, it is important to gain a sense of independence before getting into a new relationship. It is important to heal and get to a point in your healing process where you feel comfortable dating without anxiety or worry. There are several relationship counselors who say that one indicator that you may be ready for dating is the ability to tell your story of abuse comfortably.

Again, dating shouldn’t equal an instant relationship. Dating should be taken slow, especially after abuse.

Early Red Flags of an Abusive Relationship

There are some red flags and signs you can look out for when trying to avoid another abusive relationship. When we’ve escaped from abuse, we have to work extra hard not to fall into old patterns when dating.

A “fast relationship” is not a healthy relationship. Jumping into sex, a commitment or exclusivity, or being together all the time right out of the gate is a red flag. Love bombing, constant texting/calling, showering you with gifts, pushing a physical relationship, etc. are signs of a narcissistic, abusive situation. If you just went on a date and he or she’s texting you constantly and/or gets upset when you don’t text them back right away, this isn’t healthy behavior. This is a sign of someone who doesn’t respect boundaries and likely doesn’t have any boundaries for themselves. You shouldn’t go on one (or even three) dates and instantly be boyfriend and girlfriend. If he or she wants to put a title on it this early, this is a red flag.

Pay attention to how they talk about other people in their lives, especially their exes. There’s something to be said about how someone talks about their exes, or how much they talk about their ex. This should not be an early dating conversation. If all he talks about is his ex, or if all he has to say about his ex is negative, this isn’t healthy behavior and is a red flag.

Showering you with gifts early in the dating process (be it flowers, jewelry, or whatever) is what we call “love bombing.” Make sure if they bring you a gift that it’s “early dating appropriate” like flowers for example, and if they overly shower you with too many gifts or inappropriate gifts this is not normal dating behavior and should raise a red flag. Some people are raised to bring a small gift even on a first date. My fiance brought me a small glass flower on our first date. It wasn’t overly expensive – he was a truck driver and you see these kinds of things in truck stops. It was a sweet gesture. He didn’t bring anything inappropriate for a first date and didn’t continue to overly shower me with gifts. So we are not saying that giving you a small gift on the first date is always a bad thing.

Rushing a kiss, saying “I love you,” sex too soon, talking about moving in together too fast… these are all red flags. You are looking for someone respectful of boundaries – this person will not try to kiss you on the first date, let alone get into your pants. A kiss on the first date (even on the cheek) is a red flag and could be a testing of your boundaries.

Wanting to move in together too soon is a red flag for a potential leech, someone seeking to isolate you early in the dating relationship, and it is also a testing of boundaries. Many relationships counselors and psychologists have indicated living together before the 6 months to 1-year mark generally isn’t the best thing to do. Setting this type of boundary for yourself when dating may protect you from another toxic or abusive relationship.

Safe Dating Tips

Dating is a process. You should go on more than one date before jumping into a relationship or the bedroom – I say this from my own experience with abusive relationships that this happens more often than not in an unhealthy dating situation. A first date should be just that: a first date.

Go on more than one date with more than one person! Just because you go out on a date doesn’t mean you are exclusive. Dating is like shopping. You should try on more than one to find the right fit. I don’t mean for that to sound course, but there is nothing wrong with going on multiple dates with multiple people when looking for Mr. Right!

A date is an event, not a relationship or life-long commitment. It’s just one date. There doesn’t have to be a second one if you don’t want there to be.

A first date is a dinner or a walk in the park. Early dating should be in comfortable, public places. Dinner and a movie are probably more of a “later date” when you are becoming more comfortable with each other and may take the next step in dating. Dark movie theaters have a rep for being a make-out spot. Make-out spots should not be used for a first date!

First dates end at your front door, not in the bedroom. Getting physical this early on will complicate things, especially your feelings and emotions. It will cloud your judgment and make spotting red flags more difficult. If your date asks you in for a drink or indicates he or she would like to come into your home at the end of the date, this is a red flag in itself.

Dating doesn’t equal an instant relationship. Dating is just dating. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and if something doesn’t feel right about a date, don’t go on another date with that person. Also in the world of online dating and texting communication, these rules still apply. Just because you’ve talked to someone online or through texting for a while before going on a first date doesn’t mean that you know them. It takes spending significant time with a person to get to know them well enough for a long-term relationship.

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Hi, I Am Sarah Grace

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Hi, I Am Steph

We are domestic violence survivors, co-authors of Relationship Detox, and Abundant Relationship coaches.

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