Love is the best… until a breakup happens. Then it’s the absolute worst. Whether we’re casual daters or serial monogamists, we can all agree that while being single for indefinite periods of time can be boring and frustrating, it can be pretty awesome too. Learning to find happiness without someone else is one of life’s greatest gifts, but how do you get there? Here’s how to cope with being single if you’re struggling on your own — and why it might be a good idea to roll solo for a bit anyway.
- Make sure you’re not alone all the time. It’s a huge misconception that single girls are lonely ones who have no people in their lives at all. You have awesome friends and family, right? So make sure you see them as often as you can. Schedule weekly drinks dates with your best friends and have dinner with your parents. Having fun social plans with others will make you feel better.
- But learn to like being alone when you are. Whether you’re into binge-watching or breaking a sweat, it’s a good idea to find activities that you can do by yourself that you enjoy. You will have more free time than you’re used to, so why not find something you love?
- Go to the movies by yourself. This is actually one of the most fun things to do in the whole world. You get to see exactly the movie that you want, no one will complain that you’re taking too long deciding between popcorn and Sour Patch Kids (you’re getting both), and you can enjoy the film in peace. Plus, you actually get to watch the movie. It’s not code for something else entirely. Think of how cultured you’ll be.
- Be your own ‘plus-one’. It might feel weird to go to things alone if you’ve always got a plus-one. You’ll have some awkward moments where you don’t know anyone and it’ll force you to make small talk with strangers, which isn’t a bad skill to have. It’s scary, but it’s the good kind of fear. You will go home feeling proud of yourself for being brave.
- Work on your confidence. The most beautiful women are ones who are bursting with happiness, and part of being happy is having tons of confidence. Do what you can to build yourself up: chill out at yoga, tone up in a barre class, and get the Zooey Deschanel bangs you’ve always wanted.
- Ask yourself what type of relationship you want. It’s easy to get caught up in your boyfriend when you’re in love and to think that things could never get any more perfect, so take advantage of your newly single status and take the time to figure out what you’re really looking for. Maybe you had something close, but there were too many petty arguments to really work things out, or something bigger led to the breakup. Examine your history and think about your future.
- Focus on building your best life. It’s totally possible to create an amazing, full life that doesn’t always include having a boyfriend. Dream big and reach your goals. Work hard at a career that makes you want to get up in the a.m. Get closer with your already super close friends, go away some weekends, learn to cook awesome dinners and find a workout that is more fun than work. You won’t mind being single if you really love what you have going on.
- Date with zero expectations. Some people believe it’s best to have no expectations so you don’t get hurt. While that’s definitely no way to live because what’s a life without hope, there is some merit to the idea when it comes to dating. We all know how bad first dates can be, so try to relax about it and your perfect match will materialize when it’s time. You’ll truly be a super cool single girl, because you’ll be able to see bad dates as simply good stories for your best friend, not the end of the world.
- Stay put for a while. You already know that traveling is fun, it broadens your horizons, blah blah blah. And so many breakup guides advise getting out there and seeing the world. But is that really all that helpful when you’re struggling to cope with being single? You don’t know just how cozy you can make your apartment and how you can actually redefine a fun Sunday as one spent baking gluten-free and vegan bread. Become a homebody and make your house an actual home.
- Indulge in some single woman stereotypes. Ice cream for dinner, reading a juicy romance novel in a bubble bath (while talking on the phone – somehow these mythical women never drop the phone in the bath the way I definitely would), dancing when the mood strikes you. These may be cheesy and not always realistic but you deserve to have some fun. And once you discover the joys of not having to explain to anyone that, yes, you really did just spend your entire Saturday evening with The Real Housewives, your single woman education will be complete.
Why being on your own after a breakup is actually good for you
- You’ll experience so much growth. Being on your own for a while after a relationship might feel lonely, but it’s the perfect time to sort through the experience and your feelings about it and use the lessons you’ve learned as a catalyst for growth. “I call it a dating detox,” says matchmaker and relationship expert Shanny Tebb. “I always convince singles after a breakup to do one, where you just self-assess, do things that you’ve always wanted to do – like set new goals or reach ones you didn’t fulfill when they were in a relationship – and just look at themselves and see if anything needs to change or be improved. It’s taking a time out from everything, being on your own and on the way to feeling good again.”
- Your future relationships will be so much better for it. When you spend time alone after a breakup, you get the chance to do some serious self-assessment and reflection so that when you do start dating again, your relationships will have a greater chance of success. “You’ll be able to figure out what worked and what didn’t and learn from it,” Tebb says. “[Reflecting] on the previous relationship allows you to grow and recognize the red flags that were there and then you become more aware of them for future relationships.”
- You’ll move on more quickly. You might have heard that old adage that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else, but that’s not actually the case. A study published in Social Psychology and Personality Science found that in fact, having time alone to reflect on your breakup and the events that preceded it is way more helpful in allowing you to move on because it allows you to make a speedier emotional recovery.
- Your relationships with your friends and family members will flourish. It’s no secret that when you’re in a romantic relationship, your partner tends to take precedence over everyone else in your life for many people. Ideally, you could make equal time for everyone, but that’s often not what happens. However, when you spend time on your own as you learn to cope with being single, those other relationships get a lot more of your attention and focus. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that single men and women tend to be way closer to their siblings, parents, friends, and colleagues than their married peers. Makes sense if you think about it!
- Your career will flourish. If you have professional ambitions that you’ve been a bit slow to pursue, being single will free up your time so that you can really go after what you want at work. “When you’re single you kind of put all your energy probably into your work, especially if you don’t have kids,” Tebb says. “You’re able to focus clearly and have your own agenda. You decide when to do what.”