Breakups are bloody hard. It doesn’t matter how it goes down, when a relationship ends, it can feel as though you’ve had the proverbial rug pulled out from under you. You go from having normality in your life to suddenly being hit with a barrage of sh*tty feelings and experiences: the drunkenness, nostalgia, tears, the heartbreak songs, and the self-pity you marinate in (clearly speaking from experience here haha).
Last month I wrote a post about making the decision to leave a long-term relationship. I’ve been single since February, which is kind of a feat for a self-confessed “chronic relationshipper” (ha!). Not even joking, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve always been a bit boy-crazy. By a bit, I mean a lot. It could be linked to my lack of a father figure growing up, or maybe it’s simply due to the innate human desire to love and be loved in return; Whatever the case, I am the girl that is either with a guy, “kinda almost” with a guy, OR breaking up and crying over a guy. I started dating at the tender age of (barely) fourteen and in the past seven years, I’ve not had anything more than a 3-month breather from the male species.
Now, before the letters H-O start to form in your brain, let me be clear for the sake of my reputation and my poor mother, who, no doubt, will receive a slew of texts about her floozy of a daughter if I don’t. For the most part, I’ve been in committed lonnnnng-term relationships with just a few fleeting infatuations in between. But I digress. The point is this… I actually reached a stage in my life where I needed to be single for my sanity. And although no breakup is ever easy, in the midst of my heartache, I started seeing them as bittersweet blessings.
Here are 6 reasons why:
1.) You realise you don’t need an “other half”. You need to be a whole.
“When we’re incomplete, we’re always searching for somebody to complete us. When, after a few years or a few months of a relationship, we find that we’re still unfulfilled, we blame our partners and take up with somebody more promising. This can go on and on — series polygamy — until we admit that while a partner can add sweet dimensions to our lives, we, each of us, are responsible for our own fulfillment. Nobody else can provide it for us, and to believe otherwise is to delude ourselves dangerously and to program for eventual failure every relationship we enter.” – Tom Robbins
One of my biggest fears when my ex and I broke up, was “how will I cope alone!?”. Since I was seventeen he had held my hand (and often carried me) through my worst moments. Over time I had become so accustomed to having him “there”, I could no longer imagine a life where he wasn’t. As my biggest supporter and my rock, I’d begun looking solely to him for my sense of security. That’s a dangerous place to be. Seriously dangerous. To rely on someone to that extent isn’t love, it’s codependency. And it’s one of the main reasons I knew we needed to break up.
When you’ve been in a long-term relationship (or a number of them), being alone can seem so scary. What we fail to understand is that aloneness is not only the best medicine for heartbreak recovery, it’s also the key to unlocking the door to self-reliance, self-discovery and ultimately, self-contentment. Breaking up gifts you the opportunity to really find your inner peace and strength. You owe it to yourself to become as strong as you can on your own two feet, to strengthen your own backbone and to carry yourself through life’s hardships. It may take you a while but I know for the first time in my life, I’m waking up and realising I’m completely alone and completely okay with it; It’s refreshing, empowering and it fills me with hope for the future. Turns out I’m already the capable independent woman I’d always hoped to be, I just needed to be in my own company to see it.
2.) You learn who you are.
“Sometimes we must undergo hardships, breakups, and narcissistic wounds, which shatter the flattering image that we had of ourselves, in order to discover two truths: that we are not who we thought we were; and that the loss of a cherished pleasure is not necessarily the loss of true happiness and well-being.” – Jean-Yves Leloup
No exaggeration – I have learned more about myself in 3 months of being single than I have in 7 years of relationships. How crazy is that? If like me you’re in your twenties, now more than ever I would encourage you to embrace single life with the biggest bear hug. There’s a reason they call this your “defining decade”. It is the foundation for which we lay our lives. Not to say that you can’t create new foundations later on, but the stronger you lay it now, the better able you’ll be able to handle situations later. And I believe knowing yourself, really knowing yourself, is the cement that holds that foundation together. If you haven’t taken the time to do this prior to being in a relationship, you’ll find it extremely hard (perhaps even impossible) to know who you are, apart from it. If you’re growing up attached to another person, you never really get solid as your own being. But singleness forces you to look within rather than channelling all your emotional energy into infusing yourself with another person. All of a sudden, your eyes are opened, you see yourself in a new light and rediscover things that got obscured during the relationship. There is no better time to figure out who you really are and what you really want from life, than right after a breakup. You have to let go of who you were, to become who you will be.
3.) Your friends finally get to see you. And you finally get to see your friends.
“…the most important breakup rule: no matter who broke your heart, or how long it takes to heal, you’ll never go through it, without your friends.” – Carrie Bradshaw, Sex & The City
I hate to admit this but during my seven-year dating marathon, I have been totally and ridiculously IN the relationships and OUT of everything else… including my friendships (sorry guys, you know I love you). It’s a mistake I am determined to never make again. I cannot stress enough the importance of remembering this: guys may not stick around forever but your friends will. They will be the ones mopping up your tears and holding your shaking bones together when it all goes to sh*t. What I would have done the past few months, without the four-hour long pep talks, wine nights and constant support from my BFFs … I dread to think. The lesson is this: Treasure your friends, ’cause chances are, they’ll offer you far more than a romantic relationship can anyway and no matter how many times you f*ck up or get f*cked over, they’ll still be there to pick up the pieces. If you can’t find anything else to be thankful for right now, be thankful for them.
4.) You can actually have a clear head (most of the time).
“You are scared to death of what will happen if you’re really alone. But here’s what you gotta understand. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with that doorway? It will rush in – God will rush in – and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed.” – Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
There is an incomparable clarity that comes with being single. Your mind is no longer constantly consumed by someone else’s wants, needs and opinions. Instead, you begin to remember there is a life outside of relationships and you suddenly have all this free brain real estate. Now is your opportunity to fill it with love, knowledge and the things that make you happy.
5.) You can 100% immerse yourself in your career.
“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.” – Lady Gaga
In a romantic relationship, you’re often limited when it comes to your dreams. Every major decision needs to be discussed with your S.O because it potentially affects their life as well as your own. Even little things come into play – are you going to stay late and get ahead at work tonight, or are you gonna leave to meet your love for dinner? On the other hand, when you’re single, you can really hunker down and focus on smashing your career goals. Want to pack up and move to NY to pursue fashion? Book that flight and go. Wanna do nude modelling? Ain’t nobody to tell you “no” (except maybe your mum). Whatever path you choose, your career is the most loyal partner you’ll ever have. You’ll never regret investing into it and the more you put in, the more it’ll give back.
6.) You can be selfish. And guilt-free!
“Your 20’s are your ‘selfish’ years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time, and all the aspects of you. Tinker with sh*t, travel, explore, love a lot, love a little, and never touch the ground.” – Kyoko Escamilla
You’ve spent enough time pleasing someone else, now’s your chance to please you and only you. Fill yourself with anything and everything you love. Spend your hard earned cash on a killer dress and dance with the cute guy at the bar. Do the extra shot of tequila. Take your ass to the spa and get your nails done twice in one week. Go see a movie alone, purely because you want to see it. Try to learn to speak Italian or how to ballroom dance or try to create the next multimillion dollar viral app. Go travel all of Asia or just sit in your room and read every book on the NYT Best Sellers list. Whatever it is that makes you happy, please just do it already. You have so many old-wrinkly years ahead of you to start putting the needs of everyone else ahead of your own. So for now, get drunk on some self-love and just do you, boo! Do whatever the hell you want, whenever the hell you want… and give yourself permission to love every glorious minute of it. I know I sure am!
To conclude, I’ll leave you with a little wisdom from the iconic Carrie Bradshaw:
“Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.”
Can’t argue with Carrie.
Until next week 💋