Love lessons are some of life’s best lessons, but with love sometimes comes heartbreak. These are the even tougher lessons to learn. Finding the silver lining in a breakup definitely doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. You won’t find it in your monthly horoscope or at the bottom of a bottle of Pinot. You probably won’t find it scrolling through Tinder, and no, Ben and Jerry don’t have the answer either. Somewhere in the middle of moving forward, staying busy, and loving yourself through it all, life will surprise you and you’ll wake up one morning uninterested in looking back. You’ll finally find the message in the mess!
I’ve been happily single for a while now and with this month of love upon us, I’ve found myself reflecting on the journey I’ve taken to get to such a positive place. Below I’m sharing some of the things that I wish my newly-single self would have realized sooner in those first few months. Some may seem cliché, especially to a slightly-stubborn, newly-single person who hates hearing “time heals all wounds” and just wants to be happy again, goddammit! But each lesson I’ve learned might have resonated with me sooner if they were worded as follows:
No. 1: Think of your breakup as another chance at love.
Instead of automatically thinking rejection, think redirection. Love didn’t work out with this person, but it can with another and now you have the chance! All those things you loved about falling in love – the butterflies, the romantic gestures, the deep connection, overcoming vulnerability, etc. – you get to experience again! If you can love the wrong person that much, just imagine how much love you can give to (and receive from) the right person.
No. 2: It’s totally normal to overanalyze, but realize it won’t change anything.
Maybe you’re going crazy wondering if there was something you could have done differently, especially if you didn’t get the closure you deserved. While this is totally normal, be kind to yourself and reflect on this: if you truly gave all you had to give and it just wasn’t enough for the other person in the end, there’s nothing more you could have done. It’s not what it should have been and it’s definitely not what it could have been. It just is what it is. Swallow this hard pill of truth and you’ve won half the battle.
No. 3: Give in to those sad songs at the start. Then, do yourself a big favor and ditch them completely.
Breakup songs are popular for a reason; they make us feel less alone. Yes, Tristan Prettyman is your soul sister and her Cedar & Gold album is sooo relatable. Add her to your playlist and shed a few tears. Then, ditch her completely and switch to upbeat, motivational songs! Listening to the sad ones will only keep you paralyzed in this stage of grief and they also make horrible workout jams.
No. 4: Healing takes time, but also remember that the time is NOW.
Take your time to be sad (you deserve it). Then, get moving again. Why? Because the time is now and you can’t get back those days of feeling sorry for yourself. It’s actually quite alarming when you look back and think of the days you wasted. The ones where you woke up way too late, cried a little too much, or weren’t as productive as you could have been. Get off your butt and get over the “but’s.” You also can’t be in two places at once, so ditch the past and choose the present because it’s way more exciting!
No. 5: Don’t expect being single to be fun right away, but sit in your singleness anyway.
Everyone will tell you how fun being single is, but don’t expect the grass to be as green as they described. At first, you may feel lonely and confused. You’ll probably miss the ease and comfort of a relationship. You may even feel the need to have something going on in your non-existent love life. Sometimes you’ll feel as though everyone around you is conveniently getting into relationships just as you’re getting out of one. Hang in there and sit in your singleness for a while because YOU have important work to do. I promise you, you’ll love being single so much more with time! Carrie Bradshaw said it best: “The most challenging, exciting and significant relationship is the one you have with yourself.” You won’t always be single, but you really should invest the time in yourself before even thinking of investing time in another person. Walk this path alone and what you feel you’ve lost in heart, you’ll gain in soul.
No. 6: Don’t put unnecessary pressure on the dating process.
You’ll go on some good dates, some bad dates, and definitely those best categorized as “meh” dates. You’ll get the fun kind of nerves again and go to cool bars and restaurants. You’ll realize qualities you admire and things you now want in a relationship that you didn’t have in the last one (oh, that’s what Taylor Swift was talking about in “Begin Again”!). Other times, you’ll curse “the game,” turn down a kiss or two, and probably return home at the end of the night feeling underwhelmed by the entire experience. Relax! If you put unnecessary pressure or high expectations on the dating process that’s when it stops being fun! Instead of living in the present, you’ll become a sufferer of “expectation hangovers” and feel constantly let down by what’s now in the past. Definitely stay true to your beliefs and have those non-negotiables in mind, but don’t forget to enjoy yourself, especially if you’re just getting back out there. You can flirt with that bartender all you want, you don’t always have to share the bed with a blanket hogger, and that money you would have spent on his/her Valentine’s Day present? You can buy yourself a gin martini and that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing. Cheers!
What were some of the love lessons you learned by overcoming heartbreak?