Rihanna, the 21-year-old singer who opened up in televised interviews last week, says she has no interest in dating following her split from Chris Brown.

Rihanna and Brown had a highly publicized altercation in February, during which Brown choked and bit Rihanna and tried to push her from a car. Brown was sentenced to probation, community labour and domestic violence counselling after pleading guilty to felony assault.

I’m not sure how recent reports that Rihanna is dating R&B singer Travis London fit with her professed lack of interest in dating but, in principal, Rihanna’s smart to take things slowly after what she went through with Brown.

Emotional and physical abuse in a relationship can do a major number on your self-confidence and make it really tough to trust anyone again when it comes to dating.

It’s hard not to think, in the back of your mind, that every guy has the same potential to be abusive.

In these circumstances, being extra cautious is healthy and normal. It’s important to take time to heal emotionally and also examine yourself and your relationship patterns and how you found yourself with someone who treats you so badly.

And before getting seriously involved with someone new, there are things one can do to avoid the same kind of relationship.

Observe friends’ relationships you think are healthy. Talk to them about why it works. Compare notes with your last relationship.

Think about why you put up with abusive behaviour. Abuse can often become a pattern with women who don’t believe they deserve better for whatever reason — perhaps they were abused or simply didn’t get the attention they needed as kids.

If you’re taught that love comes from people who hit you or make you feel bad about yourself, you’ll probably look for love from those kinds of people.

Spend some time looking at the type of guy you want to get involved with. Look for qualities in your dates that will achieve the kind of healthy relationship you deserve — kindness, graciousness, and a genuine interest in you and your life.

If you decide to start dating again, make sure it’s for the right reasons, not just because you think you should but because you honestly feel ready.

But you also have to be careful not to stay out of the game too long. I know someone who was in an abusive relationship and refuses to get involved with anyone because she says she’s not ready.

It’s now been more than 10 years. There’s waiting and there is avoiding — be honest with yourself about which category you fall into.

– Josey Vogels is a sex and relationship columnist and author of five books on the subjects. For more info, visit www.joseyvogels.com.

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