A year ago, my ex-boyfriend and I decided to end our four-year-long relationship. Nothing much had gone wrong, except that I had just fallen out of love. After spending all of my college life being committed as a rock, I was throwing myself back into the wide ocean, finding myself often conflicted between phrases like 'single & ready to mingle' and 'forever alone'. As always, it wasn't the presence of a man that I missed but the idea of it. I missed the romantic moments of a relationship, not the harsh reality of disagreements and fights. I remember sitting in a park and crying about it, three days after my break-up, telling one of my girlfriends how scared I was wondering if we'd ever make it out without each other? Since that day I have often pondered over this question and now, a year later, I think I am equipped enough to actually answer this dilemma with some ounce of clarity. So here's my six-step guide to being single after a long-term relationship.
"I'm just going to check up on him", "We're going through the same thing so we'll understand each other's pain," these are all excuses you will keep telling yourself to talk to your ex. But for the first six months, do NOT do it. I cannot stress the importance of keeping a distance. And by that I mean not talking, stalking them on social media, stalking their friends on social media. You have to stop everything. You might now throw the "easier said than done" excuse at me, but I have both said it and done it and it wasn't easy. But not staying in touch with my ex proved that I didn't need to stay in touch with him. After 10 days, I could easily push him out of my mind, which would have been impossible if I still had his name popping up on my social media feed.
Just because you are not in a relationship does not mean you stop flirting. In fact, it's all the more reason to be more flirtatious. The main reason I restricted myself from flirting after my break-up was a) I didn't think I was ready for another relationship and b) I felt guilty, for loving a man for so long and suddenly transitioning to flirting with someone else. It took me a while to realise that flirting with someone does not have to imply a relationship at all, it could just be a couple of winks, a confidence boost and you're done.
It could be crying into a bucket of ice cream and just absolutely loathing life. But I'd still suggest you feel this crippling sadness. Feel it and get through the night because you'll notice, it's not the end of the world. It never is. So instead of bottling up all that grief, just let it out. In the long run, that's the only way you might feel somewhat at peace.
In a moment of reckless energy, I made plans for every day of the week. And I regretted it 10 seconds later. But for that one whole week, with my puffy eyes, I made sure I went through with all those plans. I hung out with my elder sisters (who, along with me, questioned the idea of love), my friends who were devastated that I had broken up and a couple of random dudes on Tinder who thought I was cool. But the more I got out, the easier it got for me to laugh a little louder and cry a little less.
Initially, it will mostly be a blame-game for the both of you. However, as you spend time away from each other, you will start to see where you went wrong. How you could have done things differently. Not only will this help you understand what you might not want to do in a future relationship but also what it is you're actually looking for in a partner. Remember one word you'll definitely have out of all this chaos - GROWTH.
Now I know this one sounds pretty cliché. In fact, the first time I heard this after my break-up, I almost said "B*itch, please!" to the kind-hearted gentleman on the other side of the call. But then again, clichés are clichés for a reason. There will be these brief moments when you'll see you don't need a relationship to fix things in your life. You don't need a partner to make you laugh or hold your hand through scary movies. So the next time you decide to fall in love again, it won't be a need, it would be a want. A desire that does not become your anchor but cheers you on as you go out and be your own person.