No matter how many people you've dated or how long or short your relationships have been, mostly everyone who's been in a relationship at some point has experienced all of the various
phases of being single again after a breakup. (And if you're lucky enough to have found your person on the first try without ever experiencing heartbreak, just know that I'm both happy for you and so, so jealous.)
While every breakup is different and everyone takes a different amount of time to move on, coming to terms with being single again after a relationship — and learning to love it eventually — is a pretty universal experience. Personally, I've had multiple-year-long relationships end and bounced right back, and I've had month-long relationships end leaving me to pick up the pieces of my broken heart for quite some time afterwards. But the process of getting back into the swing of things has always been the same, even if it took me longer after some breakups than others.
From those times when dating and heartache are all you can think about to the moment it doesn't even remotely weigh heavy on your mind anymore (and all the little moments in between), here are all the phases of being single again
that you'll probably relate to at some point in your dating life. 01
You're fresh out of a relationship, and really not feeling it.
You've just gotten your heart broken, and it
sucks. (I was just in this phase myself, and if you're also in this phase right now, I feel you and I'm sorry!) And unfortunately, the only way to make it suck less is to wait for time to do its thing. How much time you need depends on a whole concoction of factors like how long you were together, how strong your feelings were for them, and how the breakup actually went down. In the meantime, know that it's completely OK to be sad for as long as you need to be, and even if it doesn't feel like it right now, eventually it will hurt less and you'll find yourself moving on. 02
Maybe you rebound, or maybe you swear off dating altogether.
Once you've made it past the initial sad stage, you'll start to transition into phase two. Some people swear by the whole, "the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else," mantra, so if a rebound hookup is up next for you, totally fine! If you, like me, immediately go into "I don't even want to
look at another person romantically or sexually" mode, also fine. But in either case, you're not looking to get into something serious for a while. You'll know you're in this phase when you see couples PDA-ing in public and your only thought is, "Ugh." 03
You find yourself feeling really, really bored.
One of the first thing you'll notice once the emotions start to subside is how much time you spent with your partner. You suddenly have all of this extra free time, and you've probably spent most of it in your apartment trying to distract yourself by marathoning as many true crime documentaries as you possibly can. (What? You still can't handle anything romantic right now. And don't try to tell me you don't love true crime documentaries, because everyone does.) And having all that free time with no one to share it with when you're used to having someone there with you? It can be incredibly boring.
You download an app "just to see what's out there."
As singledom and boredom combine and your heart gets a little further into the healing process, you'll convince yourself that it's time to
re-download one of your dating apps, you know, "just to see what's out there." So, back to Tinder you'll go, with a brand new profile photo, ready to swipe through an endless sea of singles and potential matches. 05
And you delete it almost as quickly.
That endless sea of potential matches? Yeah, that's
super overwhelming to you right now. Like, way more overwhelming than you ever could've anticipated. You thought swiping through apps would break the monotony and help you move on (and eventually it might!), but it turns out you're just not in the right place to get back out there right now, and that's totally fine. 06
You resolve to spend more time with friends.
Instead of using your free time swiping left and right, you vow to spend it with your friends. You reach out to your BFFs to plan some outings and set up plans with all of those friends who you haven't seen enough lately, too. Soon, your calendar is filled up with friend dates, and the more you go out and see the people you care about, the better you start to feel. Seriously, nothing helps speed up the process of healing a broken heart like supportive friendships.
And start spending even more time with yourself.
Along with all the time you've been spending with friends, you start setting aside time for yourself — and not just to be spent on the couch with Netflix. I'm talking serious self-care time,
time that you devote to making yourself feel your best. Maybe you start focusing on an old hobby or learning a new one (I started taking guitar lessons after my last breakup, and it's been such a big help!), or maybe you just do things alone that you've always wanted to do (like going to a concert or that museum you've never visited before). You know you're in this phase when you just want to focus on you. 08
You notice that it's been a while since you thought about dating.
You'll know you've hit phase eight when one day you think, "Huh, I haven't even thought about [insert ex's name here] in a few days," and realize dating hasn't even crossed your mind lately. You've been so busy spending time with your friends, lifting yourself up and learning new things about yourself that you haven't had time to dwell on things like heartbreak and when you'll start dating again, and it feels pretty great.
And you realize you're actually happy being single.
The final phase of becoming single again? It's when you realize that you're totally, completely, absolutely fine being single. You might still have some sad thoughts when you remember your ex, and that's normal. You might be ready to start going on dates again, or you might want to hold off for a while. That stuff doesn't really matter in this phase — all that matters is that you are fully aware of the truth: That you're a whole person with or without a relationship, and that you actually like being on your own.
All-in-all, as much as the breakup recovery process can suck, and as much as learning to love being single again can be a daunting process, it's also just another step in becoming the best version of yourself — someone independent, who knows what they want out of life and love.
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