I’m going to be candid here: I have never done well with breakups. Not that anyone really does well with them, but I can definitely say that I handle them worse than the average person (which has been confirmed by the two therapists I’ve had during these breakups). I have had two major break-ups and both of them have sent me spiraling. I propel myself back into therapy, I lose more than 10 pounds in weeks from not eating, I have trouble going through my day-to life as my enjoyment for things I used to like is gone, I go back on antidepressant medication, and in this most recent break-up, I actually was diagnosed with (thankfully mild) dissociative amnesia. Basically, I really lose touch with who I am.
It takes me a long time to get over relationships – it is usually a few years before all feelings are gone so it really is an exhausting experience. However, I am taking small steps to put myself back out there. About a week ago, I felt that I may be ready to meet someone else and went on a date with someone who had been asking for a while, and I had been pushing it off out of fear.
Although I did not feel a strong romantic connection, I did have a nice time with him and even thought about maybe going out with him again. During the date, I was able to focus on him and didn’t think about my ex as much as I thought I would, which I took as a great sign. In fact, it was a relief.
Along with accepting a date I had been pushing away, I joined two dating apps. This has been a fun way to connect with other people and boost my confidence. It is also a reminder that I am not alone – many people my age are still single and seeking even though I often convince myself it is not the case. Each of my friends and my new roommate are in long-term relationships and it can feel extremely isolating. Downloading these dating apps and seeing the thousands of other people who are looking as well brings me back to reality and out of that negative headspace.
Dating apps can be intimidating, and if you are not over your ex-partner, it can feel like a stupid decision to make. However, there is zero commitment to these apps if you want it that way; I know people who use it merely to swipe for fun and see what kinds of people they end up matching with. You can make it what you want it to be – and the freedom to have it be as casual or serious as you want is great for people still healing from past relationships.
Another way I have been getting myself back out there is being more social with the guys that I work with. I am lucky in that I work in an environment where our workspace is shared and there are at least 100 guys at my work, and they are filtered out often because our office space is typically used as a temporary space. This creates an opportunity to constantly be meeting new guys, many of them single, and not have to worry about things becoming uncomfortable at work if anything romantic was pursued, as they won’t be in the space longer than a few months. This has caused me to be more forward, and talk with guys who I am interested in that I know are single. I have even been out for drinks with a few of them, and one of the times I was the one who asked! This is another great sign; even though I still have feelings for my ex-boyfriend, I am able to think about other guys and be excited about going out with them.
I talked in my previous article about how I find the workplace to be the easiest environment to form relationships, specifically friendships. Although workplace romances should be cautioned and many times avoided because of obvious reasons, if you keep it casual and platonic, it can be a great way to meet others. Asking to get a drink with someone you like after work is easy, as you are both already there and many people (at least in my experience!) go out for a Friday drink after work anyway. It’s an easy invitation and getting to flirt with someone can be a lot of fun, especially coming out of a painful breakup. It’s a reminder that you still have the ability to flirt with others and not harp on your ex-partner the entire time.
Putting yourself back out there after the end of a long term relationship is incredibly scary. You are in a massive transition in your life and are leaving behind what was comfortable, no matter how bad it was in hindsight. It’s one of the biggest changes you can go through. Although it is important to take your time alone to heal during this point, small steps can still be made once you are feeling ready to get back out there. I feel better since taking these steps, and hopefully anyone else going through having lingering feelings for an ex-partner can find happiness in these steps as well.
Have you experienced a bad breakup before? How did it affect you? Do you have any advice about recovering from losing a close relationship and moving on?