10 Hard Truths Nobody Tells You About Being Newly Single
So here you are again: newly single. For some that's great! You finally get your life back and you get it back on your terms! It's fantastic! But for others, especially if that relationship ended on a sour note, being newly single feels rough. If that's the case, it can be hard to get out there, put on your game face, and bounce back. Breakups are not easy, even the ones that look easy, still have a bit of pain entangled in them.
But while there's an art to breaking up with someone, there isn't an art as to figuring out what happened. We live in a culture where things like ghosting may not be acceptable, but happen all the time. We live in a culture where people don't feel obligated to explain themselves as to why they've ended things. Maybe it's because they're insensitive, or maybe they simply don't even know the reason themselves. No one ever said relationships were easy.
So while you're bound to get input from everyone once you're newly single, here are 10 things from experts that nobody tells you about being newly single, but probably should.
1. Mourning Periods Can Be Necessary
With every loss, no matter how big or small, mourning periods can help.
"If you're becoming single after a long-term relationship or one that was short but was intense and deep, there has to be a mourning period for the relationship itself, for the hopes and dreams that came with it, and for who you were in that relationship,” Irene Fehr, sex and intimacy coach, tells Bustle. “It's important to acknowledge these parts and allow yourself to feel the grief that naturally comes up when we let things pass — even if it's for the better.”
2. Take What People Tell You With A Grain Of Salt
You will get a lot of advice when you're newly single, but that doesn't mean you have to listen. It's actually amazing how much advice people will give you and how much some of it can cause more damage than good.
"Our fear of being single forever is valid," Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT, and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, tells Bustle. "People try to make us feel better by saying, 'You’ll find someone,' or 'You just have to keep putting yourself out there' (like we’re not doing that already). With all of the dating apps and seemingly endless options, finding someone of quality is difficult."
Just smile, say thanks, and walk away.
3. Grief Is A Scary, But Sometimes Necessary Journey
If you're having a tough time, remember that your grief is necessary. “You will likely feel scared, overwhelmed, and alone in your grief,” says Fehr. “That is OK too; they're part of the journey. You might feel that this is a weakness of your character — and it's not. It's part of the process of uncoupling from a living and breathing entity called relationship.”
As Fehr explains, don't beat yourself up about it or label yourself weak. "Forgive yourself for feeling all the feelings and being a mess," she says. "The mess is a human and natural part of facing change.
4. Time Doesn’t Always Heal Things, But Here's What Does
“Time itself does not heal; intentionally taking time and energy to grieve does,” says Fehr. “Taking time off to feel the feelings of sadness, anger, and grief is important, so is surrounding yourself with people who will be there with you in those hard feelings. Journaling is powerful too.”
Although time heals, in its own way, it can't do it on its own. It need a nudge from you and some effort. As Fehr points out, journaling is a great way to do that. If writing isn't your thing, then try painting — anything creative that's going to drive that person, that loss, that sadness out of your bones.
5. You May Have Wounds To Heal
If your relationship was toxic or abusive in any way, the moment the relationship ends, it’s time to heal. You can’t heal if you stay in the same toxic position.
“Whether physical or emotional, abuse creates scars in our psyche that stay with us unless we take time and energy to process them,” say Fehr. “Find a counselor or coach after the end of the relationship to help look back at the relationship and heal the wounds to make room to co-create a fulfilling, healthy relationship in the future, even if you can’t believe that it's possible just yet.”
Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.
6. Expect A Range Of Emotions
Research has found that the way love affects the brain is very similar to the way cocaine affects our brain. Because of this, withdrawal isn't just a normal response, but an expected response to such a loss.
“You might feel pain in your body," says Fehr. "You might have mood swings, from extreme highs to extreme lows. You will miss your person terribly. You will experience a range of emotions from anger to sadness to joy. It's important to know and expect this — and not to dismiss the process. Find self-care activities that would feel good in your body, from going for a hike/run in nature to yoga to enjoying your favorite cup of tea. Have physical outlets to be able to move some of the withdrawal energy through. Journaling also works to move through the energy that arises in withdrawal.”
7. You May Feel Lonely
“Practically speaking, if you've lived with a partner for a long-time and then move out on your own, there is an adjustment period of living alone,” says Fehr. “Even if it might be for the better, know that it might feel lonely and empty at times — and it's OK to reach out to friends for help during the transitions, asking them to come and hang out with you or decorate together.”
You have no idea just how comforting a sleepover is until you're newly single — and you're old enough to buy wine.
8. You May Need To Get Out Of Town
The first thing I do when newly single is get the hell out of town. I don't want to walk down those streets we used to walk down, I don't want to possible run into him or his friends — I want out. So, I sublet my apartment and go.
"Take a trip," says Chlipala. "Get out of town, go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Novelty increases dopamine which can make you feel better. Getting out of routine and being in a different place can also help you gain some perspective. Taking a solo trip can also be really empowering."
9. Remember There's No Such Thing As Perfection When You Start Dating Again
If you think you're ready to get back out there dating, even if it's just as a way to entertain or distract yourself, then go for it.
"We don’t always need to take a break from dating," says Chlipala. "Just because you just went through a breakup doesn’t mean you need weeks or months to heal. If your ex didn’t treat you well, you might not need time to heal — finding someone who treats you well can be healing enough. Obviously context matters. If you expect to be mistreated, then yes, take some time off to work on your self-worth, otherwise you may dismiss the nice guy [or woman] because you're not used to being respected and treated well."
But if you're feeling ready to get back out there dating, keep those expectations realistic. No one is perfect.
"Singles erroneously think this perfect person exists and they keep swiping and swiping," says Chlipala. "And it’s not that we have unrealistic expectations, but the dates we keep meeting do! We might get dismissed over the smallest and irrelevant of things and not even know it."
10. You May Need To Give Yourself Plenty Of Time To Get Back To Who You Were Before The Relationship
"Don't rush getting out and moving on,” says Fehr. “You may feel directionless in your life for a while, as if you can’t see your way through, even with the newly-gotten freedom — and that is OK. Allow yourself to feel that directionlessness and disorientation, as they're part of any journey where you change course. Know that these are temporary states. ... When you mourn and complete the past intentionally, you will naturally become ready to design your newly-single life and dream up a future. Trust your resilience and the possibility of more."
In other words, you will get over this. If you haven't already. Being newly single isn't all bad. It doesn't just have some benefits, but it gives you a chance to grow and learn.