The last time I was single was five years ago. That means I was 20 years old, still in college, not really sure what I wanted
to do, and pretty insecure. The age gap between 20 and 25 feels like a lifetime, so I was a little bit (a lot bit) nervous about the transition back to life as a single lady. I’ve realized that there are a few things you can do to help ease yourself back into this phase. They include:
- Accept the growing pains: There are going to be some days when you don’t know how to be single. You’ll feel awkward and nervous and miss the comfort of having a significant other. That’s fine. It’s normal. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong or made the wrong choice or need to re-evaluate your entire life. It just means that you’re getting used to this new situation.
- Date on your own timeline: Some people are going to tell you to date immediately. Some people are going to tell you to wait three months or a year or some other arbitrary number. In reality, there’s no “right” answer when it comes to a timeline for dating after a relationship ends. You have to figure out what feels right for you. Don’t date when you’re not ready, but also realize that sometimes you have to just jump in when you may not feel totally prepared in order to get used to the whole idea. Don’t feel guilty about the length of time you need before you’re ready to begin dating again.
- It doesn’t matter what other people think: Your friends and family members probably have their own opinions about your relationship based on what they’ve heard, what they think of the other person, etc., etc. That’s fine. But you can’t let these opinions influence the choices you make after you split. Let them share their thoughts, but then choose to take their advice only if it makes sense for you. No one is in charge of how you feel or how you act after a breakup. It’s a really personal and emotional time, and no one can dictate how you should or shouldn’t act. If you want to cut off all ties, fine. If you want to keep in contact with his parents, fine. You need to do what makes you feel best.
- Find a new support system: Based on my own experiences, one of the hardest things about being single is you essentially lose your best friend. Not only is your romantic partner gone, but so is the person you call on the way home from work, when you have a bad day, and when you want to share a funny story. This is one of the most underrated and most challenging aspects of a breakup. It can be helpful to find a new support system after a split. You won’t be able to replace your ex (nor should you try), but you can help to ease that emptiness that you’ll probably experience. Call a friend, call your cousin, call your mom. Just find someone who can be there for you when you may start to feel alone.
- Know your triggers: This sounds dramatic, but everyone has those songs/activities/foods/experiences that remind them of their past relationship. Whether it’s a particular restaurant, a song, or the scent of your ex’s cologne, make it a point to stay away from these things during the healing process. When you’re trying to recover, these things can hit a nerve and make it harder to move on.
- Understand that it wasn’t a waste of time: You learn something from every relationship, regardless of how it ended or why it ended. Instead of getting upset that it’s over and feeling like you wasted time, realize that you learned something that you’ll probably use in future relationships.
The healing process is different for everyone, but based on my experiences these are some of the ways you can help yourself to feel strong and normal sooner.