Mars and Venus Starting Over: A Practical Guide for Finding Love Again After a Painful Breakup, Divorce, or the Loss of a Loved Oneby John Gray
Mars and Venus Starting Over offers a practical guide for finding love again, whether you are trying to get over a breakup, or divorce, or grieving the loss of a loved one. John Gray understands that the end of a relationship, whatever the cause, can be traumatic. In this step-by-step guide, you can overcome these challenges, survive and find love again.
Why Does It Hurt So Much?
“Starting over after a divorce, a painful breakup or the death of a loved one can be the most challenging experience of a lifetime.”
We all face different challenges when we become single again after the death of our partner. We also think, feel, communicate and respond differently to the loss of a loved one. But if there’s something we all share in common, it’s probably the pain that comes with losing someone we deeply love.
Of all the losses, losing a loved one is the most painful. Whenever you experience loss, rejection, or failure in your daily life, your mind protects you by reminding you that you are loved at home. However, if love is lost, there's no longer comfort or protection.
When there is someone to greet you at the end of the day, who appreciates what you do and recognizes your worth and benefits from your existence, your life will have meaning and purpose. As you grow in love, you naturally become more dependent on your partner for love, whether through good times or bad times.
As your dependence grows, you stop feeling a general need for love and begin to feel a specific need to love and be loved by your partner. This shift is called attachment. From depending on your partner for love, you are now attached to their love.
When you lose a loved one to whom you’re emotionally attached, you become so convinced that you will never love again. You will feel that this love seems irreplaceable and that it’s a devastating experience. To heal your broken heart, you need to release your attachment and open yourself up to giving and receiving love from others. If you do not take the risk of reopening your heart, you will remain stuck in pain or emotionally numb. Letting go of your attachment allows you to reset your heart and move on.
Actions to take
Emotional Lag Time
“Long before the heart is ready to let go, the mind wants to move on. This speedy thinking is fine for the mind, but it is not the way the heart heals.”
When we lose love, it takes a lot longer for our hearts to adjust than our minds. You may think you are ready to move on—until a wave of painful emotions washes over you. This ebb and flow of emotions are both natural and necessary.
You will have feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and sorrow mingled with moments of power, knowledge, and optimism. The heart and mind adjust, adapt, and self-correct at different speeds. It is totally normal for your feelings to lag behind your mind during the healing process.
Many people want to move on before the healing process is complete. To gain some short-term relief, they seek to escape their feelings of loss. This can be counterproductive in the long run as it can lead to various levels of depression and a never-ending cycle of despair. To avoid this, allow yourself to go through the healing process, release unresolved feelings and then be objective and positive about adjusting to the situation so you can soon let go.
While it may appear that both men and women have a similar approach to the healing process, this is simply not true. Women tend to avoid the pain of loss, deny the need for love, become overly self-reliant and give too much to others.
Men, on the other hand, are more solution-oriented. They minimize their feelings by throwing themselves into work or rushing into another relationship. This is not a reflection of how much they care but rather a way to escape the pain.
Actions to take
Grieving The Loss of Love
“Grieving the loss of love means fully feeling and then releasing all the painful emotions that come up when we reflect on our loss.”
Moving on too quickly is a common mistake to make; another is not allowing yourself to experience all your feelings. When you lose a partner, or a relationship ends, you may expect to feel only sadness and sorrow, but this is just one part of the process.
There are four key healing emotions: anger, sadness, fear, and sorrow. Anger and sadness show that you are still attached in some way. Both these feelings allow you to emotionally explore the situation you never wanted to happen. Fear and sorrow, on the other hand, show that you are not open to new possibilities. Each emotion plays a key role in releasing your attachment and resetting your heart:
- Anger – works like an alarm clock; it could make you stop and adjust yourself to what happened, allowing you to break free from indifference and reconnect to love and life.
- Sadness – allows you to reconnect with your ability to love, value, and enjoy what you have. This leads to acceptance of what has happened and your loss.
- Fear – is an emotional recognition of what we do not want to happen. Feeling this emotion and your resistance to what could happen reconnects you to your vulnerability. This allows you to open up to people who can help you and revitalizes your heart and soul.
- Sorrow – allows you to let go of an attachment by understanding that what you want to happen is no longer possible. Addressing this allows you to shift focus from what is not possible to what is possible.
Each of the four healing emotions plays an essential part in healing a broken heart. One emotion is not better than any other, and you may not feel them in the same order. The important thing is not to neglect any of these emotions, as this can obstruct healing.
Being aware of the four healing emotions and feeling the pain associated with each one will eventually trigger a release. If someone tossed you a hot potato, you would automatically toss it away. Similarly, when you can fully feel the pain of holding on, you automatically let go.
Actions to take
“When we blame our partner for our unhappiness, we unknowingly prevent the release of painful feelings.”
Making your partner fully responsible for your pain causes you to hold on to that pain until you feel that they have corrected that behavior or attitude. Blame can be useful in setting boundaries, finding anger, and not taking on too much responsibility for our loss, but you also need to be able to release this pain through forgiveness.
While it’s true that your partner may have made you feel upset, you need to realize that you have the power to let go of this pain. When you blame your partner for your pain rather than their mistakes, you can get caught up in it.
When communicating with our partners, too many of us tend to confuse blaming statements with feeling statements. Here’s an example to differentiate them:
- Feeling Statement: I feel angry that you don’t treat me in a respectful way.
- Blaming Statement: I feel angry that you make me so unhappy.
Feeling statements help us connect with our passion and empower ourselves. Blaming statements, on the other hand, trap us and make us feel helpless. It's fine to express your feelings in response to what your partner says or does, but you must then let go. If you blame your partner, it brings you both down and prevents you from letting go.
Forgiveness is essential in the process of letting go. This releases you from pain and hurt, makes you feel better, and allows you to find love again. Feeling your emotions and finding forgiveness makes you more capable of finding solutions to a problem. Unless others know how you feel, they cannot correct certain behaviors or know what kind of support you need.
When you end a relationship and children are involved, that relationship is not truly over. While you cannot end it, you can change it. If you can communicate without a blaming attitude, your partner can hear your point of view. When both sides feel heard and respected, creative solutions to address the differences and problems can be found.
Actions to take
Saying Goodbye with Love
“At the end of a relationship, there are only two directions we can go. We either grow in our ability to love, or we begin a gradual decline.”
The challenge in starting over is to release your pain with forgiveness, understanding, gratitude, and trust. Saying goodbye to the relationship positively will make you feel good about yourself, the future, and the past. However, this is easier said than done.
Without fully understanding the healing process, it is easy to get stuck in one of the seven undesirable states: resentment, blame, indifference, guilt, insecurity, hopelessness, and jealousy or envy.
These seven attitudes are the opposite of the four healing emotions. The more you feel them, the more painful they become. The more you resist them, the more they will pull you down like emotional quicksand.
Each of these negative states conveys a message and points you toward the direction of the pain you are ignoring. If you can hear the message and understand it, you’ll be able to locate and heal your hidden pain.
- Resentment: This is the most common emotion felt when a non-loving or nurturing marriage or relationship ends. You may resent wasted time, unmet hopes/expectations, or the feeling that you were never good enough.
- Blame: After ending a relationship, you may simply blame your ex-partner for the problems to feel relieved and then finally move on. Men tend to feel relief when they blame their partner for their problems, whereas women feel relief when they are no longer responsible for the relationship.
- Indifference: When a breakup does not fully involve your feelings, you risk becoming too detached or indifferent. In trying to be reasonable, you risk suppressing your feelings of loss. Even though you are better off being apart, you must still take time to grieve this loss.
- Guilt: There are generally two kinds of guilt. Guilt for all the possible ways you have hurt and disappointed your partner or guilt for ending the relationship.
There are four ways your mind suppresses your emotional reactions and causes you to feel guilty: denial, justification, rationalization, and self-blame.
a) Denial: You tell yourself that your partner didn’t mistreat you, so you keep on ignoring what happened.
b) Justification: You defend what happened by making excuses for your partner. You might say, “Well, they didn’t mean to do that.”
c) Rationalization: You keep telling yourself that what happened doesn’t really matter to you for various reasons. You might say, “It could be much worse.”
d) Self-Blame: You blame yourself for provoking unwanted behavior. You might say, “If I had approached him differently, then he would not have….”
- Insecurity – When a relationship ends, you may cling to the hope of reconciliation to overcome your fears and insecurities. Holding onto hope protects you from having to confront your fears and feel the depth of your loss.
- Hopelessness – If you have been a victim of abuse, neglect, deception, deprivation, abandonment, or betrayal, you still feel like a victim when a relationship ends. You feel hopeless in terms of ever getting what you need and deserve.
- Jealousy or envy – Jealousy or envy can come up in different ways. Jealousy occurs when you want something and resent others for having it. The more jealousy you feel, the more painful it becomes. Rather than getting caught in the grip of jealousy, it’s best to explore your feeling deeply to overcome this negative attitude.
Envy, on the other hand, arises when you tell yourself that you are happy with what you have when you actually are not and want more. If you are envious of another’s success, then you want more success. If you are envious of another being loved, then you want more love too. This serves as a pointer to discover what you are hiding from.
Exploring these negative attitudes will help you discover and heal the unresolved feelings in your heart. If you are stuck in one of these seven attitudes, you are not ready to get involved again. Only when you can release the pain, celebrate the end of a relationship, and be grateful for the lessons learned will you become ready to start over properly.
Actions to take
Letting Go of Hurt
“To whatever degree, we feel we were mistreated, we may continue to feel hurt.”
Feeling hurt is a sign that you have not fully let go of needing the emotional support of a former spouse or partner. You may resent how they treat you, feel jealous of the love and support they are getting elsewhere or blame them for not giving you enough support. Until you stop being emotionally dependent on this person, you will continue to feel hurt.
Letting go of hurt allows you to start over and find love again. Recognizing that you cannot depend on your partner anymore is the first place to start. You are responsible for healing your broken heart, not your ex-partner.
When you are able to see that you do not need to depend on your ex-partner to be happy or fulfilled, they can no longer hurt you. When you are not being hurt in the present, you are free to release the hurt you are still carrying around.
If your heart is healed and your ex-partner annoys you, you may feel slightly annoyed. If your heart is still broken and your partner annoys you, this will feel like your heart breaking again. Taking the time to heal your heart is the best way to resolve past hurt and not be as affected by your partner annoying you in the future.
There are two hands required to heal a heart. One hand needs to permit you to feel what you feel, while the other hand requires you to have a non-victim attitude. To heal your heart, you need to maintain a non-victim attitude in the present while also processing your feelings from the past.
This healing attitude may seem tricky, but you can implement it with practice and the right intention. Explore your past feelings, enrich them with the intent to find forgiveness, increase your understanding of them, and trust once again.
Actions to take
Processing Our Hot Spots
“The pain we feel in present time is almost always linked to the unresolved pain of our past.”
One of the easiest and most powerful ways to heal the heart and release your pain is to link your current painful feelings with the hurt you have felt in the past. This enables you to process the hot spots from the past and be free of the pain you feel in the present.
However, dwelling on pain is not a good thing. Instead, use these hurt feelings as a springboard to deal with unresolved emotions from the past. Recognize that your pain is a manifestation of your feelings about a specific incident in your past that has yet to be resolved.
There are three steps to healing hurt:
- Link your feelings in the present time to those in the past. For example, if you feel hurt about being rejected today, think about when you felt rejected in the past.
- Relive the incident by imagining you are back at the time experiencing what happened.
- Enrich the experience and imagine you can share your feelings with a trusted person to better process your hurt.
One way of working through these three steps is by sharing your feelings with a friend, counselor, or support group. It’s important to choose this support carefully. Too much advice, being judged, or a lack of confidentiality from your support person can make things worse, not better.
Healing the heart happens in many layers, similar to the common analogy of an onion. After peeling one layer of hurt, you are then faced with the next layer to peel. For example, you may feel really good about yourself, but the next day you may feel guilty or unworthy of love.
It takes time to heal from a loss fully, and it may feel like two steps forward and one step back. This isn’t a setback; it’s just that you are simply getting to a deeper level of healing. Don’t be discouraged or give up on the process of exploring your feelings, as this can lead to suppression.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of suppression, it might be because you are suppressing certain feelings related to anger, sadness, fear, or sorrow. This can date back to childhood, so it can be difficult to recover them on your own. Sharing your pain with others you can trust should trigger a memory, and then these hidden memories can be recovered.
Each time you process an event, you are not just opening up an old wound. You are increasing your ability to release pain with forgiveness, understanding, gratitude, and trust. Most processing questions look for positive experiences, so your past offers a supportive role. Meanwhile, any painful experiences (or hot spots) that need to be healed will automatically start to emerge and be remembered.
To heal your heart, you don’t need to change your past; you just need to give yourself the real experience of how you would have felt if someone had listened to you and been there for you. Giving yourself the love and support that was missing enables you to uncover the positive feelings of love, trust, joy, appreciation, confidence, and excitement.
Actions to take
Always Remember the Love
“The most important element in starting over is always to remember the love.”
After a painful breakup, you may feel so upset that you don’t want to remember the love. However, if you take time to remember the special moments you shared with a partner, you can most effectively heal your heart.
On the other hand, if you are hoping to reconcile with a partner, this can block any feelings of loss. In this situation, it is important to give up hope temporarily. If getting back together is really on the cards, then you will be better prepared if you can heal your heart first.
Once you are prepared to reconnect with your love, you are ready to complete healing visualizations. This is where you remember the love over 12 weeks by exploring the lifecycle of your relationship and any specific events:
- How you met – Think back to when you first met: What did you both say and do? Relive the experience and feel how much you miss that person. Focus on loving feelings but address the pain of losing them too.
- First date – Relive the first romantic date and how it felt. Grieve the loss of their presence and feel your hopes, dreams, and wishes again. Feel the special bond between you and the pain of missing them too.
- Passionate moment – Remember a passionate and intimate moment shared, the build-up, where you were, and imagine you are back there again. Then reflect on how you feel in the present so you can let your pain be mixed with the love you shared.
- Feeling supported – Recall a situation when you really needed your partner and they were there for you. Imagine feeling those needs again and how great it felt to belong to a loving relationship. Be grateful in your heart for this support.
- Simple things – Remember the day-to-day things your partner used to do. Shopping, cooking, driving, paying bills, or packing your suitcase. Did they have unique quirks or behaviors? Recall how you used to look at each other. Be comforted by memories of your special love.
- Sharing good fortune – Recall a time when you were happy that your partner was happy and vice versa. Remember successes, good times, and what made the two of you happy. Let these feelings soothe the pain of emptiness, and thank your partner for their affirmation.
- Power of love – Remember a time when you were sad and disappointed, then your partner provided love and support to make that pain bearable. Relive the experience and feel the sadness of your loss today.
- Being vulnerable - Recall a time when you were unsure or afraid and your partner believed in you. Take a deep breath and imagine yourself back in time so you can feel the strength their love provided you. Appreciate that strength now by resolving to take the time you need to heal this loss.
- Magic of forgiveness - Revisit a time when you made a mistake, and your partner forgave you. Feel your regret for hurting them and the healing power of unconditional love. Address the pain of sorrow and grief at the end of the relationship balanced with the loving support you experienced during the relationship.
- Being understood – Remember when you felt really understood and what happened. Recall another time when others opposed you, but your partner stood up for you. Revisit these experiences so you can remember this understanding and the pain of losing this understanding.
- Being needed – Recall a time when you felt really needed and belonged. You were a part of their life, and they were a part of yours. Then grieve this loss, feel your sadness and sorrow, but also feel your gratitude for the gifts and special memories.
- Gifts of love - Remember the gifts of love your partner brought into your life. Recall how they affected you. What was your life like before they came along? How did they make your life better? Take a deep breath and go back and imagine once again. Feel the joy of being in their presence. Take a deep breath and go back and imagine the joy of being in their presence.
Actions to take
Starting Over on Venus
“Starting over on Venus is often different from starting over on Mars. Men and women face very different challenges.”
When you are in pain, it is not always wise to follow your instincts. What feels like the right choice might not always be the best choice. Without understanding the healing journey, you might push away opportunities to find true and lasting love.
The insights into the dynamics of starting over will support you in finding love again. While these insights are separated across Mars and Venus, there is always some overlap. Men and women will benefit from reading each of the sections.
Here are the thirteen dynamics you’re likely to experience when you are a woman trying to start over on Venus and the steps to overcome these challenges:
- Carrying a big list: You may protect yourself by carrying a big list of requirements and expect a man to satisfy this before you get involved. If your feelings are still unresolved, the list will be too long. Judging or testing a partner is not wrong, as fulfilling your unique needs and wishes is important. This only becomes a problem when a long list of judgments and tests prevents you from saying yes to a date and giving love a chance.
- New pressures of dating: Women have a tendency to push away love because they feel enormous pressure from society and men to become intimate right away in a relationship. If a woman wants to take time before getting intimate, she is labeled as old-fashioned or prudish. So instead of taking the time to get to know a guy, you feel pressured to assess him right away. This leads to rejection and missed opportunities to find love. Being comfortable with saying no to being intimate immediately allows you to date men without being picky.
- Date around, but don’t sleep around: Be free of perfectionist expectations, carrying a long list, and glorifying ex-partners. Ignore these factors and date elsewhere (but do not sleep around). When you believe you have found your soul mate, it is time to move forward for an exclusive relationship.
- Staying stuck in grief: A way to protect yourself from getting hurt again is to get stuck in feelings of sadness and grief, which can lead to despair and hopelessness. To move beyond this grief, you need to feel other emotions, such as anger and forgiveness.
- Sex, obligation, and self-esteem: Ideally, your sense of worthiness should not come from a man’s attention and affection. When you have a strong sense of who you are, you can bond with another without losing a healthy sense of your worth.
- Expecting the earth to shake: You may expect passion immediately in a relationship and only want to pursue a relationship if you feel this spark. These feelings can be perpetuated by romance and passion as displayed in the movies and on TV.
- Attracting the wrong partner: Being attracted to someone incapable of giving you what you want is the direct result of getting involved too soon. When you take time to heal your heart, you automatically attract partners closer to what you want and need.
- Who needs a man? One way of pushing love out of your life is to focus on the negatives of getting romantically involved again and associate needing a man as a weakness. There's nothing wrong with being self-sufficient, but companionship is also needed to get emotional support and comfort.
- Women who do too much: You can lose touch with yourself and your needs by doing too much. Resisting the advice to share your feelings with others because you are too busy will often lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. Similarly, prioritizing the needs of your children or others can easily suppress your own needs for intimacy and love. If there is no time for you, then there is no time for a man in your life, but this can mean missing out on a great relationship.
- But my children are jealous: Rather than protecting your children from jealousy, help them deal with and overcome this feeling. Don’t try to convince your child that your new partner is likable; instead, encourage them to feel and express their loss. Every child eventually likes someone who makes their parent happy.
- Acting out on feelings rather than communicating: If you don’t feel safe expressing your feelings, you may act them out. For example, you may have regulated your diet and weight in the past, but you find this difficult now as you feel no one really cares about you. Moreover, if you feel resentful/powerless, refrain from taking revenge. Women tend to seek revenge by wanting their ex-partners to feel really bad for hurting them. Seeking revenge only makes matters worse. Similarly, playing like a victim won’t lead to everlasting happiness.
- Learning to be happy alone: The best time to get involved again is when you are content without a partner. If you practice being happy without a man, you must be careful that you are also honestly dealing with your hurt. It is very easy to disconnect from your need for a man. If you work at being content without a man while also taking time to deal with your unhappy feelings of loss, you will open the door to finding intimacy again.
- All or nothing: A woman’s tough exterior often hides a very sensitive, hurt woman. The approach of “Well, if you can’t handle the way I am, then I would rather be alone.” might sound strong, but it is not very loving to yourself. You will never find love again with an opinionated, rigid, and inflexible outlook. Giving enough time for a relationship to unfold and grow, ensuring you do not put the man at the center of your life, and avoiding playing manipulative games will ensure you don’t derail a potentially perfect relationship.
Actions to take
Starting Over on Mars
“Starting over on Mars has its own unique challenges. It can be like walking through a field of land mines. Some are lucky and get through, but others get blown to bits.”
Sometimes hearing the mistakes of others can help you make the right choices for yourself. With greater insight, you will grow in confidence and wisdom as you move forward. Getting the right support and making the right decisions will bring out the best in you and allow you to experience love and power through a meaningful relationship.
Here we explore the top challenges others have faced when starting over on Mars:
- Man on the rebound: When a man gets involved right away, he misses the opportunity to heal his heart, and his commitment rarely lasts. A man on the rebound can fall in love with almost anyone who offers him a few crumbs of love, very often the wrong person. Remember that the best time for you to begin a relationship is when the desire to give is greater than your need to receive. You must feel that you have the power to provide for a woman’s happiness, not just that she has the power to fulfill you. This also extends to casual sexual involvement, which may provide temporary relief, but is not healing.
- Positive addictions & work-love balance: Focusing on positive addictions will help you work through the healing process more quickly. Work can provide you with a way to become independent and autonomous again. Recreation enables you to get out and do things you enjoy. Treat yourself to something new. Just keep things in moderation. Ensure you set realistic goals and maintain a balance between love and work. You don’t have to be hugely successful to be worthy of love. The foundation of a loving relationship will assist you greatly in accomplishing your goals.
- Love is not enough: Sometimes two people love each other, but they are not right for each other. Choosing a partner is like choosing a job. There are lots of jobs you could do, but you need to find the right job for you. To avoid feelings of guilt, a person may stay in a relationship long after he realizes it is time to go. Recognizing that two people can love each other but not be able to make an intimate relationship work is a basis for letting go without guilt and with forgiveness.
- Learning from mistakes: One of the ways you may suppress feelings of loss is by blaming your ex-partner, but the problems of a relationship are never one person’s fault. A key part of finding the right person in the future is learning from your mistakes in previous relationships.
- Unrequited love: When a relationship ends, sometimes a man will pine away in agony for the woman he loves. He cannot believe that she doesn’t want him. This tendency to reject or be hurt by the loss of love indicates unresolved feelings from the past.
- Living out our fantasies: Having a picture in your mind of the ideal woman delays your chances of finding the right partner. You may ignore feelings of attraction unless a person looks a certain way. Physical attraction disappears quickly. A soul mate is someone you are attracted to physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
- The endless search: Never being content with one woman and endlessly searching for the right one can be never-ending! When you face the normal challenges of a relationship, don’t conclude you are simply with the wrong partner. It is naive to expect always to get along in a relationship or always to get everything you want. Every relationship goes through ups and downs. Couples in a good relationship work through their problems and grow closer as a result.
- Bigger is better: Your worth should not be measured by your output in terms of work or the pressure to provide. Bigger is not necessarily better. Releasing your focus on the big things and focusing more on the little things can turn a relationship around. For a woman, the little stuff is just as important as the big stuff.
- Picking the Right Woman: You may feel settling down is settling for less. You may start many relationships but never complete any. When you think about committing to one, you think about all the good qualities of each woman, then want a composite of them all. Recognizing a soul mate requires a consistent and monogamous blending of energies. Without at least several months of exclusivity, it is impossible for you to really know if this one is the right one.
- Learning to say goodbye: While some men have difficulty saying yes to a relationship, others have difficulty saying no. After the loss of love, you may get involved with a woman, then begin to recognize that she is not the one, but you can’t leave for fear of hurting her. A man can spare himself and his partner this added pain by not getting married. Even better, he should not make any commitments right away.
- Self-destructive tendencies: If you are unable to feel and heal your loss, you may succumb to self-destructive tendencies. Recognizing that you have a choice, on the other hand, means you don't have to bottom out. Repressed feelings are reflected in self-destructive tendencies. It is nearly impossible to recover without the help of others.
- Finding the power to provide: Starting to date again may seem like a huge obstacle to overcome, particularly if you have been in a relationship for some time. Dating customs have changed, and women have new needs and different expectations. By not rushing into having a committed relationship on the rebound, a man will gradually find an easy stride. Eventually, he will develop inner confidence and an awareness of his power to provide.