Expert Advice

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Post Relationship Question1: I just ended a long relationship. Should I analyze the past relationship or just move on?

Answer: Even when two people mutually agree to end a relationship, it is still important to engage in self-reflection. This is because if a person does not make an effort to understand what went wrong in the prior relationship, he or she is likely to experience similar problems in future relationships. If you think about it, it is only logical. Usually a person finds particular kinds of personality traits to be attractive. These personality traits have positive aspects and negative aspects. In addition, the "problems" your ex-friend or ex-spouse had are not only about him or her because the way you reacted to and perceived these traits may have played a major role. Therefore, chances are history will repeat itself unless you are insightful and very candid with yourself. For example, you may be attracted to the way a person is honest and seemingly unconcerned with the way others think. It could even be that this complements your own shyness and self-consciousness, so you seek a mate who is powerful in the way you are not. (Yes, there is some truth to the adage that opposites attract. In the field of family therapy it is known as "complementarity", whereby a couple unconsciously balances out each other's flaws.) Over time, this same trait which once was endearing to you now is offensive and embarrassing. You used to admiringly think, "Wow, what confidence, what guts." Now you wonder, "How could he act that way? Doesn't he care about the way others think?" Of course, this is just one example of many possible areas of attraction and repulsion. The point is, if you find that you ended a relationship over a trait you used to like, in order to avoid an endless cycle of attraction and repulsion in future relationships, you must try to understand how to make peace with what upsets you and what attracts you.

Whatever ended your first relationship can very well end your second unless you are going to learn some new ways of dealing with problems.

Post-Relationship Question 2: Why did I not see a particular problem early in the relationship and what can I do differently to either notice or fix the problem in future relationships?

This is a key question to answer. People have difficulty seeing themselves and others objectively. Contrary to how we might like to delude ourselves, often whatever was wrong in a relationship was wrong from the very beginning. That's not to say one should adopt a pessimistic attitude and assume a problem can't be overcome, only that it is best to see the problems clearly from the very outset, so they can be dealt with.

Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, CSW co-authors a weekly column in the Jewish Press on religion, relationships and parenting, along with his wife Chaya Feuerman, CSW. The Feuermans also have authored a book, titled "How to Have Fun Without Getting into Trouble: Essays on Relationships, Parenting and the Self" available through Rowman and Littlefield, inc. In addition, Simcha serves as Director of Community Services at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services. He received training in family therapy from the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center and maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Queens, New York, where he provides individual therapy, family therapy and couples counseling.

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Dating advice is made available through a joint Ohel Family Services & SawYouAtSinai relationship.

OHEL :For 34 years OHEL has been the address where people in the Jewish community turn for help for children, adults and families with problems including substance abuse, domestic violence, child violence and neglect, mental illness, and developmental disabilities. OHEL's programs serve 3,000 people in the New York area in 26 programs. OHEL manages over 75 group residences and apartments for people with developmental disabilities and/or mental illness. OHEL professionals also provide consultations on contemporary issues to colleagues in cities throughout North America.