I’ve spent most of my dating years as part of a couple. I never really did the dating thing, I just happened to fall into the next relationship as soon as one ended. Now, for the first time in my life, I’m truly single with no other prospects in mind and it scares the hell out of me. Instead of freaking out, I’ve figured out how to make the most of rolling solo.
I needed to accept past in order to enjoy the present. The hardest part for me was making peace with the fact that a string of relationships I thought would last didn’t. It took a lot of soul-searching and a lot of tears to get to that point, but once I finally did, I started appreciating the great things that are happening in my life now instead of constantly dwelling on my past failures.
I embraced positivity instead of cynicism. I tend to be a glass half empty on almost everything. Those who know me understand that this is just what I’m like and they find it charming (or so I hope), but I’m aware that it also makes me a bit of a Debbie Downer. I had to get over thinking I’ll be forever single and start remembering that I just haven’t met the right person yet.
I developed a solid sense of self-awareness. I needed to take a deeper look inside of myself. What did I want in life and out of my future relationships? What kind of things make a desirable partner and what expectations do I have? All of these are valid questions that I’d never put too much thought into because I never had to. Now that I’ve spent time on my own, I actually know who I am and what I want, which makes the likelihood of finding lasting love that much higher.
I got comfortable doing all the things I used to do as part of a couple on my own. My biggest fear was going out in public alone. I thought everyone would stare at and judge me as the poor, lonely single girl. It’s funny because when I stop and think about that now, I realize just how silly and self-centered that is. No one cares if I’m shopping alone, eating alone, or doing anything else alone. Everyone is in their own world and once I realized that, it was a lot easier to get over myself and start living again. Now I feel totally empowered.
I accepted that sadness is a natural emotion and it’s OK to feel it. I had a hard time accepting that I’d still have moments of utter sadness but they happened then and they still do now occasionally. At first I’d beat myself up and try and shove those feelings back down but finally, I just decided to let myself feel how I needed to feel when it happens. This is a much healthier way of processing my emotions and helps them pass more quickly.
I had to make amends with the relationships I’d neglected. Like any good 12-step program will tell you, making amends with those you’ve hurt is essential. When I was jumping from boyfriend to boyfriend, I neglected a lot of my other relationships. I took the time to apologize and make sure that my friends and family know what they mean to me. I also made a promise to myself to not let those relationships suffer in the future. These are the people who’ve always been there for me and I never want to take them for granted again.
I went out of my way to meet new and interesting people. My go-to breakup habit is isolation, so I knew I really needed to try a different approach and put myself out there. I didn’t want to do it in the sense of finding a rebound or another boyfriend, but instead to make some new friends and meet different types of people. I wanted to surround myself with culture and good company instead of facing that paralyzing loneliness that always caused me to jump too fast into the next relationship.
I started giving myself some regular downtime. I didn’t want to go as far as cutting myself off from the living world, but I did need to listen to myself and when I needed a break, I’d take it without hesitation. I didn’t want to force myself to go out when I truly wasn’t feeling it because I knew it would just wear me out. I tried to be as logical as possible when making these decisions and if I needed the downtime one night, I’d put myself back out there the next.
I truly let my weirdness out and didn’t give a damn what anyone thought of me. Instead of having to hide some of my weird quirks or bad habits, I kinda relished in them instead. I can be a bit messy, so if I didn’t pick up my house every day, I didn’t feel bad about it. If maybe I wanted to watch really terrible reality TV, I did so without shame. Doing these things reconnected me with my guilty pleasures and helped heal me more than I can say.
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