How to Stop Feeling Guilty About Starting a New Relationship
These tips for overcoming guilt when you’re dating will help you settle into joy and start a new relationship with peace. You may feel guilty for a variety of reasons: you’re taking time from your kids, your kids may feel threatened by your new relationship, your ex-husband may be jealous or hurt, your in-laws may object to you dating a new man.
You may struggling to learn how to stop feeling guilty even if your kids are grown. “I lost my husband almost 5 yrs ago, we had been together for 30 yrs,” says Joan on Starting Over in Your 60s – After Your Husband Dies. “I have recently been dating a new man and I have two adult children. My 34 year old daughter has borderline personality disorder and feels that I am neglecting her. My 30 year old son says good for me! What can I do about my daughter? She has threatened suicide and is constantly phoning me. I don’t know whether to end the new relationship or try to learn how to stop feeling guilty about dating. This man really makes me feel wonderful and treats me like a princess. I am 56.”
Regardless of the reason you feel guilty about dating a new man, my tips will help you find freedom and peace.
First, here’s another readers’s response to Joan’s question about starting a new relationship: “Don’t give up this chance for happiness! My sister-in-law has borderline personality and they seem to be master manipulators. If your daughter isn’t getting professional help, encourage her to. If she refuses to, maybe you should go to a professional counselor yourself to learn how to deal with her constant need for your attention.”
My reader adds this nugget of wisdom: “You are a young woman. Don’t give up a chance for what may be many, many years of happiness in this new relationship. You may be helping your daughter as well by not letting her dictate your life and forcing her to learn how to live her own. Good luck!”
Perhaps this is the bottom line when it comes to overcoming guilt when you’re dating a new man: if you are a happy, healthy woman then your joy and peace will affect your loved ones in positive ways. If you make decisions out of guilt or shame, then you will have a negative effect on the people you love.
5 Tips for Overcoming Guilt When You’re Dating a New Man
Does starting a new relationship help you come alive when you feel dead inside? That’s what you need, that’s what your family needs, and that’s what the world needs. We need you to come alive! Grow into who God created you to be, Blossom into the woman you know is in your heart, and move forward in confidence and faith.
Here’s how to stop feeling guilty so you become more alive than ever before…
1. Examine your guilty feelings
Tell me, why are you experiencing guilt about dating a new man?
This is the first step to overcoming guilt: figure out what exactly you feel guilty about. Is your guilt originating from within you (your conscience, perhaps), or from external sources (your kids, ex-husband, family, in-laws, etc). Maybe you’re feeling both internal and external guilt – maybe the original source of guilt is your kids, and you’re now internalizing those guilty feelings. Before you can learn how to stop feeling guilty, you need to get clear on why you feel guilty and where the guilt is coming from.
2. Learn the difference between inappropriate and appropriate guilt
“Appropriate guilt” is when you feel guilty because of something you did or are doing wrong. For example, if you’re starting a new relationship with your daughter’s husband or you’re spending more time dating a new man instead of giving your kids what they need, then your guilty feelings may be appropriate. When we deliberately choose to do wrong, we should feel guilty! And we should learn how to apologize and make amends when we’re wrong.
“Inappropriate guilt” is what my reader Joan may be experiencing. Her adult daughter isn’t allowing her to move on with her life, be happy, and start a new relationship. Worse, her daughter is emotionally manipulating her by threatening to take her own life. This is inappropriate, selfish, and unloving on the daughter’s part. Joan has nothing to feel guilty about, and shouldn’t have to learn ways to overcome guilt about dating a new man.
3. Talk about overcoming guilt with someone you trust
When we hide, we feel worse. Everything we keep in the dark – our guilty feelings, our shame, our mistakes – grows blacker and heavier.
When we come out into the light, we heal! It’s not easy or even joyful to talk about the reasons we feel guilty…especially if we actually are doing something wrong. But it is healing. Both talking and writing are healthy ways to deal with guilty feelings – whether or not you should actually feel guilty. That’s why the old cliche “confession is good for the soul” is still around, after hundreds of years. It feels good to come into the light and stop hiding in the shadows! Good, but scary. Healing, but risky.
4. Listen to the still small voice
Back to Joan’s comment: what do you think her still small voice is telling her about starting a new relationship? I think she’s struggling to overcome guilt about dating a new man even though she knows her daughter is asking too much. What if her daughter actually did hurt herself? Joan would feel terribly guilty, but it wouldn’t be appropriate. Her daughter is a grown woman who is capable of running her own life.
The problem is that we know things intellectually, and we feel things emotionally. We may know objectively that we have no valid reason to feel guilty, no logical reason to waste precious time searching for tips on how to stop feeling guilty because the guilt is inappropriate. And yet we still feel guilty. Our emotions are too strong. This isn’t good – we can’t let ourselves be ruled by our emotions.
What is your still small voice telling you about starting a new relationship? Get quiet and listen.
5. Replace your guilty feelings with self-forgiveness
Whether your guilt is appropriate or not, you need to learn how to stop feeling guilty. Overcoming guilt may involve learning how to forgive yourself – even if you have nothing to forgive yourself for! Why? Because self-forgiveness is about self-compassion and self-empathy, gentle self-love and self-care.
Forgive yourself for choosing your happiness, despite your external or internal reasons for feeling guilty. This is the key to being happy in your new relationship.
There is nothing wrong with choosing happiness, joy, love, and connection! God created you to be in relationship with others. When He made you, He knew you’d need to be loved. He knows you need to give love, to feel the touch of another. He carried you through the loss of your past relationship, and He is giving you the gift of starting a new relationship with a new man.
Love is a gift, a blessing. If you’re dating a new man who makes you happy – if you’re starting a new relationship that is healthy, joyful, and good – then hold on with both hands! Don’t allow those black feelings of guilt overcome you. Explore why you feel guilty, keep moving forward in your new relationship, and learn how to forgive yourself for choosing joy.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman.
How to Stop Feeling Guilty About Starting a New Relationship
In Escaping Toxic Guilt: Five Proven Steps to Free Yourself from Guilt for Good! Susan Carrell describes how destructive it is to keep trying to win the approval of others – whether they are your parents, spouse, colleagues, friends, children, or church. Inappropriate or toxic guilt can strain your new and old relationships, drain your energy, and dominate your life.
In this book, you’ll learn how to:
- Recognize the difference between “good guilt” and “toxic guilt”
- Build boundaries around your time and emotions
- Weather the storm of people’s disapproval
- Find freedom through forgiveness and relinquishing control
- Protect your sense of self while still caring for others
If you feel responsible for everyone around you, then you’re dealing with inappropriate guilt. Do you value the feelings of others more than your own? Do you have unrealistic expectations of yourself? Then you may be trapped by toxic guilt.
While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments on overcoming guilt about dating a new man if you feel led, and to share your experience. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.
May you learn how to stop feeling guilty about starting a new relationship. May your new love Blossom and flourish, and may you experience peace and joy as you move forward!