How do I get used to being single?
November 25, 2014 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I've been out of a relationship for over a month and I'm running into trouble reconciling with the single status. It doesn't help that the ex seems to be moving along well. How do I reconcile with the feeling that I'm completely isolated?

I understand that life goes on but I feel like for me it's not going on fast enough. I still feel this sense of isolation and remove from society. I've been going out, engaging in hobbies, going to therapy, and reconnecting with old friends and trying to move on. But I cannot shake off this sense that I may never find someone to share my life with.

It doesn't help that the management in my building demanded I give up my pet cat or face penalties. I'm dreading the idea of going to an empty home and I feel tired enough to not want to go out every night (I think people feel the same - everyone can only go out so much). I'm trying not to melt into self-pity but sometimes that happens. I kick myself for feeling so needy. How can I stop feeling like this "singleness" may be a forever thing and not just a phase?

If it helps, I'm 33 and live in DC.
posted by skippingcharades to Human Relations (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've been out of a relationship for over a month ... How can I stop feeling like this "singleness" may be a forever thing ...

There is such a vast difference between a month and forever that you are overlooking what comes between: time.

Be patient with yourself. If your ex's current situation/changes/movements are still hurting you, then you're not even truly "single" yet. You're still coming out of your prior relationship. So give that the time it needs, then be fully single. After a while you'll move on without "trying to move on."
posted by headnsouth at 12:10 PM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

A month is nothing. Zero. You will feel 100% better but you're demanding too much of yourself right now.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:11 PM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

Knowing what your ex is up to implies that you've been monitoring them in some way. Unless you work with them/live with them, stop that - it only hurts you.

I found this video to be helpful when I felt down: How To Be Alone.
posted by Setec Astronomy at 12:14 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know exactly where you're getting the message that your ex is doing great, but I'd recommend trying to block him/her out of your life at least for a while. If that means unfriending on Facebook or whatever, do it. You need some space.

Also remember the saying "don't compare someone else's hilight reels to your behind-the-scenes." People project (and post on social media) a certain image that is often incongruent with their actual lives.
posted by radioamy at 12:14 PM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is all super-normal, especially at a month out. You just have to keep doing the things that make up life, every day. Eventually you will have a moment where you understand that the feeling you're identifying as "this sense that I may never find someone" is actually just "I am grieving the ex and our relationship."

A question: Why do you know what your ex is doing though? You shouldn't have any means of knowing that right now. Are you facebooking? still talking? are friends telling you? Unfriend, block, no contact, tell your idiot friends to shut it.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:15 PM on November 25, 2014

Response by poster: clarify without getting anyone in trouble: my situation does not permit me from ceasing contact. Still required to see him each day. I've been restricting contact however. I'm not worried about that anymore. Just trying to figure out how to get rid of these feelings of nothing changing and everything remaining static. Thanks for the suggestions.
posted by skippingcharades at 12:25 PM on November 25, 2014

The next time you feel ashamed or want to kick yourself for feeling needy, pause, hold that thought and label it: "thinking"...take the time to process arising emotions and any physical sensation it produces. Take each day at a time. Music helps sometimes.
posted by wallawallasweet at 12:41 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm in roughly your same situation. My best suggestion is to stay busy. Even when you're tired (especially when you're tired) after work: get busy with some kind of project, or an immersive book or even TV series. Give yourself permission to feel "needy" and write in your journal a lot to externalize those feelings.

And for the empty home: some houseplants? fish tank? other, smaller, non-cat pet? Fill the noise with music, podcasts, audiobooks. Take this time to (re)discover a love for schmaltzy pop songs about breakups?

I'm sorry about what you're going through, and it really sucks that your landlords are taking this stance on your cat right now. Hang in there. Give it time; sleep a lot; fake it til you make it. You will make it.
posted by magdalemon at 12:48 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

You wrote, "Just trying to figure out how to get rid of these feelings of nothing changing and everything remaining static."

Guided meditation is great for this. Check out Derek Turesky's (non-woo) guided meditation, "Connecting with Difficult Emotions" as a starting place. That (and other) guided meditations get straight at the heart of that "feeling of nothing changing."
posted by u2604ab at 12:51 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just trying to figure out how to get rid of these feelings of nothing changing and everything remaining static.

With the caveat that I may be reading too much into your choice of words...

I'm not sure that "getting rid of" these feelings is a good idea. I know they are uncomfortable to have, but if you allow yourself to sit with them and process them, you will likely find a lot more self-knowledge at the end than you will by distracting them away or quashing them. Consider what, exactly, isn't changing. Your singleness? Your feelings about singleness? Your routines?

Consider that when you were in the relationship, things were likely just as static as they seem to you now--your coupledness was static. Your feelings about coupledness were static. Your coupled routines, likewise. And yet, all of those things turned out to be entirely dynamic after all, and entirely capable of change and impermanence. So, why would your current situation be different? It is not changing now, maybe, but it *will* change, because literally everything, always, forever, changes. Nothing is permanent.

It can be frustrating not to know when, or how, a situation will become dynamic, and it seems like that's where you are now. But that frustration can be enlightening and productive, if you let it in and live with it.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:33 PM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

breakups are the worrrrrrrrrst sometimes. i know how it feels to feel like you'll never find someone, but you probably will. i mean, i don't know you, but i've often felt like that after a breakup, that i'll be forever alone and eaten by cats and i should just devote my life to a nunnery but inevitably, something happens and i meet another person and the whole dance begins again. but it takes time. so you need something to focus on while that passes.

start a project, something off the wall. do you like baking? bake your way through a cookie cookbook. it's the holidays. people love cookies. and you'll stay busy. there's no better way to get over a relationship than freshly-baked cookies out of the oven. dip them in milk. full-fat, even. go crazy. you deserve it. starting a project like that keeps you busy and gives you something to work toward while you're healing.

you're in DC and you're around my age. if you live near the u street/adams morgan area, you can come over and pet my cats when you're missing your cat. one is blind and a little derpy but the other one gives high-fives so it evens out. bring some of those cookies i told you to bake earlier. i like peanut butter.
posted by kerning at 1:42 PM on November 25, 2014 [16 favorites]

This is the best advice ever given on the topic. Unfortunately, you can't take the first step, but the next two will help (sorry about the gender pronouns):
STEP 2: MOURN. You’re heartbroken, go ahead and wallow in the sadness. Drink by yourself and cry while looking at pictures of of the two of you together. Bore your friends with stories about how much you miss your ex. Turn down the opportunity to hang out with friends. Stay indoors and feel miserable. You get ONE MONTH of this, no more.

STEP 3: REBUILD AND IMPROVE. When you’re in a relationship, you rarely realize just how much time goes into hanging out with your significant other. After a break-up, you suddenly have all that time to yourself. Treat it like it a gift, and fill those hours with new activities and new people. Take a cooking or bartending class. Join a running club or a yoga studio or a CrossFit gym — something that improves your body and introduces you to new people. Volunteer at a hospital or an animal shelter or a tutoring center. Become a better, stronger, smarter person.

A lot of people write in to the mailbag complaining about not being interested in other women long after a break-up. I say: don’t worry about other women. Take care of YOU. Make your life about self-improvement and learn how to be happy alone. As you continue with Step 3, you’ll become a more confident and more interesting version of yourself. You’ll meet new friends who never knew you when you dated Whatsherface, and the new circles of people will include new women.

Your improved physique, knowledge, and kindness will help you find someone smarter and prettier and funnier than the stupid toolbag who dumped you. And someday, months or years down the road, you’ll run into that ex, and she’ll tell you that you look “really good,” and you, in turn, will wish her well, because you are genuinely happy and are doing better without her. And the fact that you’re better-looking and happier without her will FILL HER WITH THE BILE OF REGRET UNTIL THE DAY SHE DIES COLD AND ALONE! REVENGE IS YOURS!!! SWEET REVENGE! IT TOOK SO MUCH WORK, BUT IT WAS WORTH IT!!! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Also: living life as a happier person, etc. But mostly the revenge thing.
posted by General Malaise at 4:34 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

I've been there. I am there. My four year LTR ended five months ago. I still feel like a failure, and I still feel weird in social situations where I'm expected to bring a +1. Just accept that you're going to feel weird or incomplete sometimes. A lot of traditions are built for couples, unfortunately.

I think you should do everything you can to get to zero contact with the ex. Maybe that means finding a new job, or moving to another city, or breaking a lease. So be it. The primary problem you face right now is proximity to this person; consider them living, breathing poison for the next six to twelve months.

And I actually would encourage you not to take up a cerebral habits like journaling which will make you dwell on the past. You're not going to think your way out of this one. Time heals all wounds, but in the mean time, I think a purely physical hobby is a much better distraction when life sucks. Stop thinking and just run for an hour a day, or lift weights, or play hockey, whatever floats your boat.

Now is also a good time to make some new professional goals or get a little more serious about one of your hobbies. Or travel. Being in a couple takes up a lot of your time. Do something you care about with the gobs of time you've just been given. Use this as a chance to "level up" on your skills. Making small improvements in yourself will help with those feelings of being incomplete.

I'm probably an anomaly, but I would say this strategy has worked pretty well for me so far. I'm a little lonely but mostly I'm tired from all the stuff I have going on! It's taken me a few months to get to this point, but hang on, you'll get there.
posted by deathpanels at 7:44 PM on November 25, 2014

posted by hush at 10:28 AM on November 26, 2014

Get a flatmate. Or a pet.
posted by Chrysalis at 12:26 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

How can I stop feeling like this "singleness" may be a forever thing and not just a phase?

Remind yourself, kindly and compassionately, just how irrational that thought is. A month is not forever. A year is not forever. Two years is not forever. Forever is forever and you're definitely not there yet.

But yes, it is possible that you will not meet anyone ever again. Very unlikely but possible. It's also possible that you will be married by this time next year. Who knows? Your mind wants to figure things out and predict the future but you simply can't, as the future is uncertain.

Have you tried meditation? That might help you make peace with uncertainty and experience some degree of acceptance regarding your fears, anxieties and grief.
posted by Gray Skies at 7:11 PM on November 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

« Older Twitter used to shorten URLs, but now it doesn't?   |   Dentist in Sydney in or near CBD? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.