5 Things Rihanna Must Do Before Reuniting With Chris Brown, Writes Relationship Therapist Dr. Sheri Meyers (EXCLUSIVE GUEST BLOG)
It seems that Rihanna has forgiven Chris Brown for her well-publicized beating and is considering reuniting with him. Yes, it’s a wonderful thing to forgive another who has hurt you and to choose love and inner-peace over fear. However, when it comes to forgiving and then returning to an abuser who has put your life in danger, it’s not as simple as changing your mind and giving him another chance.
The Lure of Abusive Relationships
As a therapist, I am often asked, why do women stay too long in an abusive relationship or return to an abuser?
An abusive outbreak is often followed by a honeymoon period in which calm prevails and emotions get managed. Chris may be apologizing for the abuse and promising it will never happen again. There’s typically lots of attention, appreciation, interest and gifts during this stage. The feel-good magic of all this loving attention fogs our ability to see the situation clearly. Rihanna is probably telling herself, “He’s really sorry for what he’s done, taking responsibility and promises to never do it again. I now know that he’s my great love, so this time we can work through our issues. I understand him better and won’t push his buttons like I did before. We’ve both changed, so this time it will be different.”
Heads up, Rihanna: Whatever your heart or head may be telling you, it’s critical you remain rational, take it slow and keep your eyes wide open before jumping in.
I can promise you that the unresolved problems that triggered the abusive situation and subsequent break-up will rise again, once the hormones of newly reunited love settle down and each of you return to your comfort zone. Don’t give your trust so easily. He must show you more. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and most importantly, safe. If you’re still planning to go ahead with this crazy-in-love thing, here’s what you need to do before jumping in fully.
Don’t just assume he’s got his anger under control. Seriously examine these questions with him and ponder his answers carefully:
What has he done to change?
Has he really taken responsibility for past behavior?
Is he truly willing to do whatever it takes to control of his anger?
Speaking of control, did you know that most abusers are not as out of control as they seem? For example, abusers are able to immediately stop their abusive behavior when it serves then to do so (i.e., when the police show up or a friend calls) and can usually control themselves in public and act like everything is fine until they get you alone. Then wham. So, don’t believe it when you hear, “Baby, I just couldn’t control myself.”
2. Have a Plan of Action
Nothing pushes our buttons more than a close, intimate relationship. You both certainly knew how to push them in each other (for better and worse). While this reunion may feel like a brand new beginning, it’s important to have a game plan for how to handle your reactions and responses differently when you feel your buttons being pushed. Discuss the problems you had in the past and the changes you each need to make this time around. Know the triggers and how to avoid them and create a plan of action ahead of time.
Make sure you have solid strategies in place that will help eliminate some of the shock and disappointment you’ll feel when you realize that everything hasn’t magically changed since 2009. Real strength, cohesion and trust will come when you learn how to deal with problems and frustrations in a more constructive way than before. To successfully overcome conflicts, you both have to become less reactive, and look at problems through the lens of “we”, not “me.” Adversity requires action. Instead of saying, “It’s your fault,” or, “What’s wrong with you?” ask, “What now, what can WE do?”
4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
To make it work, you need the following agreement: No secrets. No masks. No lies. No games. No tiptoeing. An open, present, compassionate partnership is where honestly is valued, safe and celebrated and all problems get addressed early. Create an environment where it is safe to talk and be honest about anything and everything. If you catch yourself holding back, reshaping yourself to please him or to keep things calm, replace those dancing shoes with running shoes, fast!
Can you both leave the past behind? Especially when the public won’t let you? Are you both willing to hold hands, not grudges, and learn the skills you each need to make this relationship work? It all starts by having the same relationship goals and direction: to make the relationship as safe, trusting, accepting, and loving as humanly possible.
The truth is, no matter what you read, what your friends or fans say, what advice you get, or what your head tells you, if your heart is pulling you back, you’ll probably go. Your willingness to forgive and choose love over fear is a worthy journey, no matter how the relationship ultimately ends up. However, reuniting with Chris is a dangerous chance you are taking with your life and well being. While you may believe you are returning to your forever love, this could be the necessary completion you need to fully move on and finally let him go once and for all. Be wise. Be safe. Stay aware.
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