Another weekend rolls around, and you’re once again sitting home alone. Whether it’s been days, weeks, months, or longer since your last relationship went up in flames, the desire to seek companionship is never far below the surface of the human psyche. As a vibrant member of the human race, seeking new social interactions and romance is a natural tendency and one that is hard-wired into the brain through the undeniable forces of evolution. What does this mean? Simply stated, the need for human interaction, dating, relationships, and intimacy are natural forces that are not easily suppressed. I hope you will get something out of this article whether you’re new at this, somewhere half way in finding your way back, or if you’re down the road enjoying your time amidst your healthy aloneness! It’s more about the power of aloneness here than simply wallowing in your sadness.
So What’s The Problem?
After a break up, many people tend to rush out one door and through another — often under the guise of ‘getting back in the saddle’ of a horse which just unceremoniously dumped them in the middle of the corral. Others simply believe that getting out and socializing will keep their minds off their recent relationship failure; keeping them engaged and hopefully avoiding lapses into regret, ‘what ifs,’ and perhaps even bouts of depressive thinking.
While well-intended, rushing back through that dating scene door is often just an invitation for disaster. There is a vast difference between socializing with friends or taking up new interests to fill a void in one’s life after a break up and actively seeking a new relationship. The former is a healthy way to remain socially active and engaged, while the latter is typically a desperation move to re-fill the void left behind when a former partner is out of the picture. The real problem lies in telling the difference between these two scenarios, and being able to avoid crossing the line into ‘mate replacing’ too soon.
You may decide to spend more time with friends after a break up just to keep your mind off of the lost relationship. Without realizing it’s taking place, well-meaning friends may begin the process of matchmaking for you. Suggesting potential companions, orchestrating gatherings, or even setting up dates. You go along with these efforts, because, well, after all, they are your friends and you are a bit lonely and feeling like that proverbial third wheel, particularly if most of your friends are couples or married. Your friends do indeed mean well, but this type of scenario can set you directly on a path to a poor relationship decision and outcome. Just what you don’t need fresh on the heels of a breakup. What you do need is time to process, heal, and strengthen emotionally before venturing into a new relationship.
How Soon Is Too Soon?
Most would agree that there is no ‘perfect’ time to consider a new relationship. It will depend largely on who you are, where you’ve been, and what lingering issues may remain from your previous relationship. Feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, regret, or the fear of being vulnerable are common issues that should be addressed before a new relationship begins. Too often delving into and resolving these issues take the backseat, when in reality, they should be the focus of your personal healing.
Without facing these emotional aspects post-break up, behavioral patterns and unresolved thought processes are bound to resurface. So while time may heal most wounds, tough personal work and life coaching may often be the only way to fully regain emotional health in the aftermath of a break up. Rushing right into a new relationship is not the answer. You have work to do before you’re ready to begin anew.
Being Alone Doesn’t Mean Being Lonely
Just because you are without a partner for a period of time does not mean you have to be lonely. Spending time on activities you enjoy, taking up new hobbies, or enjoying cultural events can help you heal. Removing the pressure to ‘find the right person’ will allow you to explore new opportunities and experiences in a non-intimate fashion. By becoming active in a sport or other activity, you can rebuild some of the self-esteem you may have forfeited in the aftermath of your break up. Enrich your mind. Expand those horizons. Try some things you’ve never experienced before. These efforts too can go far in the healing process.
But What If?
Everyone is unique, and some people simply are not good at self-work — the art of stripping away layers of skewed perceptions or unresolved emotional issues. For many, the best approach to recovering after any significant life upheaval, including a failed relationship, is a trained professional who is experienced in life’s changes and personalized life coaching. Enlisting the assistance of such a professional can smooth the transition from lonely to fulfilled, while you’re finding that brilliant you again.
Curt Canada, MSW, Board Certified Coach coaches and advises clients seeking to better personal and professional lives at Adapting2Change in Washington DC. Curt holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of Iowa and a Masters in Education from the American University.