When I fell for yet another one my ex’s long-winded apologies and confession of lingering affection, I initially gave up all hope of being able to move on. Thankfully, I did eventually manage to leave him behind. I was periodically tempted to return to the comfort of familiarity at first, but I was finally able to focus on living my own best life by doing these things.
I finally did a real social media purge. Of course, it was easy to remove the obviously toxic exes from relationships that ended on super bad terms, but what about the harmless “nice guys” who I had no hard feelings against? Couldn’t we still remain cyber friends and at least catch up every now and again? The answer was hard no. Keeping exes on social media leaves the door open for backsliding. To achieve real growth, they all had to go.
I stopped responding to pop-up messages. Do you ever feel like when you’re the most motivated for change, that’s when temptation tries its hardest to reel you back into your old ways? As soon as I decided to move on, it took less than 24 hours for my ex to slide out of the woodwork and straight into my DMs. One nostalgic message out the blue and he thought for sure he would hook me right back in another game of cat-and-mouse. But he was looking for the wrong girl this time—I was determined to still make it my year! I finally put my foot down and decided not to respond. It was really that easy. Leaving the messages unread left me free to advance without distraction from the ghosts of boyfriends past.
I dedicated myself to self-improvement. I don’t necessarily have a physical type, but after reflecting, I realized I have been attracted to “project men“—guys that I thought had potential but needed me to exert all of my effort into “fixing” so they could reach it. I had to learn that broken and immature men are not my responsibility. Instead, I started redirecting my energy toward being the person that I wanted to be and improving my own flaws.
I made an inspiration wall. I’m a visual learner; for something to really sink in my innermost self, I need to see it over and over. My inspiration wall is a vision board collage of quotes and memes about betterment and life lessons. Any time I see something relatable or motivating on social media, I take a screenshot. Then I crop a few together and print it out to add to the existing display. It’s a continuously growing presentation of everything I want to fully believe and live by as a successful freestanding person.
I started doing more. I think a lot—sometimes too much. The more time I had on my hands, the easier it was for me to start daydreaming and reminiscing about the “good old days.” The deeper I got sucked into the black hole of memory lane, the stronger the urge was to lurk on or reach out to an ex. If I wanted to succeed at being independent, I had to stay busy. I took out my old bucket list and started doing the things I used to want to do before getting into relationships and shifting my focus onto them. The more active I became, the longer the time was between thoughts of failed past lovers crept up.
I surrounded myself with positive women. I’ve always been one of those women who preferred to have male friends. I just assumed all women were jealous, catty, and gossipy so I turned to guys for companionship. Once I started investing more time with stable, like-minded women, I realized those connections were more fulfilling. I could have all the benefits of conversation and good company without all the drama.
I gave myself closure. Whenever I started missing an ex, I would torture myself over wondering why the relationship didn’t work. While I blamed him for everything at first, after some reflection I started to recognize all the little things I’d done to contribute to our demise. Relationships are not a single-manned ship; we sank our love Titanic together. Once I accepted that, it was a lot easier to let it go.
I deleted my dating apps. I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me want to run back to the old and familiar than a slew of unsolicited pics of a dude’s junk, failed first dates with potential stalkers and murderers, and being ghosted by a new hot guy I thought I was hitting it off with. If they’re all so bad, why not just stick with the hell I already know? For me to fully move on and work on myself, I had to learn to be patient and not focus so much on trying to find a guy.
I left comparison at the door. I can feel so much sorrier for myself when I give in to feeling like the whole world is falling in love and getting married. It’s like I’m one more wedding invitation away from being able to audition for a leading role in the sequel of 27 Dresses. I had to come to terms with living by my own clock. My minute hand just wasn’t pointing at a guy, and that was OK. Being comfortable with being alone actually became empowering and gave me motivation to grow as an individual.
I became my own lover. The best way for me to live my best life was to take care of me. I made a list of short-term and long-term goals and set actual dates of expected completion for accountability. I made changes to my diet. I took myself out to the movies and bought my own presents. I indulged in bubble baths, went through the Starbucks drive-thru a little more often, and poured that extra glass of wine. I learned it was important and rejuvenating to prioritize loving myself first.