There I was on my olive green sofa, under the mustard yellow and white chevron velour throw, with my stove top popcorn and glass of pinot grigio watching season five of Sex and the City. Charlotte, the hopeless romantic was sharing that she amended her “one great love in a lifetime” rule to include two great loves. Charlotte’s marriage had ended and she refused to believe that she was destined to never fall in love and marry again. She was willing to fall in love again.
Falling in love again isn’t just for Hollywood. Everyday people find the courage to fall in love again too. One such woman is Akirah Robinson, LSW, and author of Respected, a book written to help women bolster their sense of self-worth and as a result, become better prepared to participate in healthy romantic relationships. Akirah speaks from her own experience of a very unhealthy relationship that she didn’t let stop her from ending, loving and healing herself, and then meeting, falling in love with, and marrying her now husband Dan. I got to chat with Akirah recently about falling in love again and this is what she had to say-
TSLL: When you think about when you fell in love with Dan versus the young man you were in an abusive relationship, what do you feel was different?
AR: A big thing for me with Dan was he had himself together the way my ex never really seemed to. When I met Dan, he had a career that he was passionate about, a car, and a group of friends. He had a life that he could share with me. My ex and a few other guys I dated were finding someone, me, because they didn’t have much going on for themselves. Dan was looking for someone to complement the full wonderful life he had. Dan wanted me. He didn’t need me. There’s a difference.
TSLL: What else about Dan made you feel like you could open yourself up to dating and falling in love again?
AR: This may sound strange, but Dan shared with me that he was friends with all of his exes. I know to some that would seem like a red flag. But for him to be on good terms with women he has dated in the past communicated maturity to me. He has never bad mouthed an ex and that was big for me. My ex would refer to his exes as bitches.
TSLL: We often hear people talk about red flags regarding dating. You even used the phrase a moment ago. What would you consider were greenlights that dating Dan was healthy?
AR: I met Dan online. We got to know each other at a pace that worked for me. Our first date happened after five lengthy phone conversations. By the time I started dating Dan I also had a better idea of what I knew I needed and wanted. I knew I didn’t want someone who was going to put me on a pedestal. I was still leery of being someone’s everything. I also wanted to be with someone who was looking for a relationship- not someone who was dating for the sake of dating. It helped that Dan was clear in his communication about what he was looking for. He was clear in communicating his interest in me and direct in communicating wanting to get to know me more. Yet he did it in a very respectful slow paced way. He would ask if I wanted to see him and clearly shared that he wanted to see me. His clear consistent communication communicated respect and removed any doubt about how he felt about me.
TSLL: What would you encourage other brave hearts- those working on a comeback from an unhealthy or traumatic relationship experience to do to heal and maybe fall in love again?
AR: Give yourself time. You are going to feel bad for a bit and you really will be okay. I am also a huge advocate for therapy. Depending on how deep the pain goes it may be good to find a counselor or a support group- people who can either relate or model compassion. You have to be compassionate and loving towards yourself before you can do that for someone else. Also, identify what you need from a potential partner and don’t be afraid to need those things. Healthy relationships are ones in which two people can express what they need and work together to meet those needs from a place of respect and love.
Want to know more about healing, healthy relationship building, self love and respect? Visit Akirah’s blog at http://akirahrobinson.com/blog/or pick up a copy of her book, Respected.