We’ve all been there. You find your dream partner, you fall head over heels, they ask you to be their girlfriend, and then you start strolling through the honeymoon phase. You find beauty in everything they do and are completely enamored by their quirks and flaws. You feel absolutely adored and you’re certain that nothing can change the love shared between the two of you. But unfortunately, this isn’t another Cinderella story. All good things must come to an end. The butterflies fly away. The charm fades. The relationship is more stressful than enjoyable. Their mere presence annoys you. And suddenly your partner’s farts aren’t funny anymore, it’s just straight-up gross.
You have pretty much come to the conclusion that the relationship has met its expiration date, but maybe you’re still scared of re-entering the single life. The idea of being alone again and losing that person you devoted so many of your days to can be completely daunting. So maybe you’re still holding onto that chunky milk because you think some milk is better than no milk. Whether you are rushing to end this relation-shit or you want to take your time before you’re ready to be on your own again, here are some things you can try to prepare for your journey back into the single life.
1. Journal, journal, journal
Journaling is an incredibly useful life skill to monitor your growth and to improve your mental health. Not only is journaling good for the soul, but this can help you to analyze what went wrong in the relationship, what you were missing, and what you expect from yourself and any future partners. While journaling is a great way to sort out your thoughts, your entries can also help you in the future if you begin to doubt your decision of ending the relationship, as most people do. Despite what you may think after a few months of being on your own, your ex DMed several Instagram models back then and he will most likely do it again in the future.
2. Break That attachment
Of course, learning how to break patterns of codependency and to combat any attachment issues one may have takes years of therapy and self-reflection. However, there are still little tricks you can try to become more independent and comfortable with the idea of not having your partner by your side or on speed dial anymore.
Some helpful ways to alleviate an attachment to your partner include:
- Find a few activities you enjoy doing by yourself. Whether is it big or small, peaceful or productive, do something for yourself, by yourself.
- Separate schedules. If your daily routine revolves around whatever your partner is doing, it could be useful to revise your schedule so that you have a few more hours or days in your week where you can focus on you.
- Make new friendships/Invest more in current friendships. Making new friends or investing in your current friendships is a great reminder that you have an identity outside of this relationship, and also that you have people to support you once you go through the breakup.
3. Learn to love your own company
Has being in a relationship for so long made you more anxious when you’re alone? Do you struggle with sitting down with your thoughts? Do you tend to rush to pick up your phone and text your friend or partner to hang out whenever you have time to yourself? If alone time is something you struggle with, you may benefit from attempting to spend more quality time with yourself before the actual breakup occurs. This does not mean you need to completely isolate yourself from your social world. Rather, you can start small. Try that new chicken piccata recipe, update your Spotify playlists, watch that three-part Real Housewives reunion, go take a walk at your favorite park, take yourself on a date to the movies or go get your nails done. Try anything that you can make your own, that refuels you and improves your self-esteem. Learning to love your own company will not only give you the confidence to know that you can flourish independently, but it will also prevent developing future unhealthy emotional attachments.
4. Take a break from social media
Between the Instagram posts of couples carving pumpkins together or Snapchat stories of people clubbing on Glenwood Ave. while you’re hanging out with Ben & Jerry, it may be a good idea to take a break from social media during this time. Social media may worsen your fear of being alone or cause you to regret your decision to end the relationship. In 2018, a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania found that students who limited their social media screen time to 30 minutes per day demonstrated a reduction in loneliness and depression symptoms. Thus, setting time limits for these apps or temporarily deleting them during this transitional period may help to minimize your anxieties or feelings of FOMO.
5. invest in your hobbies
There’s nothing more empowering than investing more time and resources into something that you are truly passionate about. If your dead-end relationship is inhibiting your growth and you are feeling less inspired, this could be a great time to start prioritizing your hobbies. Whether this is buying more paints, trying new hair or skin-care products, making new workout routines, joining a student organization, researching social justice topics, volunteering, or whatever it may be, find something productive or creative that strikes a spark within you. Always be open to trying something new and learning new things, you may be surprised of how wildly capable you are. Investing in your hobbies is a great way to enhance the quality of your alone time and also to find your community of other people who share common interests.
If you struggle with finding a hobby or identifying your passions, take a look at this guide of over 150 hobby ideas sorted by personality and interests.
These are all steps that I have taken when navigating through a dead-end relationship and finding my true self and autonomy again. I hope you find the courage to leave any relationship that is not helping you to grow and realize that being alone is actually kind of awesome.