There’s a certain age in everyone’s life when you realize that you’re a bit different from everyone else. For some people this realization hits early on, for others, it may not come to fruition until you’re surrounded by couples and realize that you’re the only person in your early to mid thirties who has never been in a relationship.
Now, I will never try to make myself out to be a relationship expert. I’ve never had a boyfriend, I’ve been on less than 5 dates in my entire adult life, and I beat Drew Barrymore’s, Josie Gellar almost 10 years ago. So, no, dear friends, I have little to add by means of relationship knowledge. I do however, stake a claim on my area of expertise: being single. If it’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being single. I’ve been single my whole life and I think that I’ve gotten it down to somewhat of an art (or a science, depending on how you examine it). Some people are born to be in relationships, I am not one of those people. Over the past year, I’ve had several friends who had fairly long relationships end (for various reasons), but this left those friends with little sense of what to do when they are not part of a couple. So if you’re struggling with how, exactly, to be single, especially after being in a long relationship, here’s my list of tips and tricks for you.
- Stop feeling sorry for yourself
If it’s one thing I have a difficult time with, it’s nurturing friends or family members who are merely feeling sorry for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, life’s circumstances can be excruciatingly difficult, I get that. I’m not talking to those of you who are actually dealing with a struggle. I’m talking about those who do nothing to help themselves. If you are having a difficult time dealing with the end to a relationship, my question to you is this: what are you actively doing to move on with your life? When a relationship ends, it ends for a reason. Whether that be infidelity, money, lack of common interests/ values or something else, the odds are that SOMETHING led to the ending of the relationship. Remind yourself what those reasons are for ending the relationship. If you weren’t the one who ended the relationship, don’t over analyze what went wrong in the relationship. Yes, it’s important to examine yourself, I’ll touch on that later, but it’s not going to do anything for your self esteem or your psyche if you dwell on every detail of the past 8 month long relationship. Don’t feel sorry for yourself, accept that that person was not meant to be your future spouse, so that you can examine yourself. This is your time to talk to God and reconnect with who He made you to be. Take this on and open up to God in prayer. Allow Him to begin His new, good work in your new era! Find something to be grateful for.
2. Find something to be grateful for
While you may not feel like it, this is one of the most important things you can do to help prevent yourself from falling into what I lovingly call the “single death spiral.” If you can’t find it inside yourself to find something to be grateful for, you’re going to focus too much on all of the things that went wrong/ are going wrong now that you’re single. Make a gratitude journal, call an accountability buddy, pray and talk to God about what IS going well in your life, so that you’re not as tempted to spiral further into the black hole of everything that went wrong or is going wrong in your life. So find one thing to focus on each day that brings you joy and reminds you of God’s presence, because knowing that the almighty God of the universe is on your side is definitely something to be grateful for.
3. Never stop turning to God
It’s the times when you feel the most alone that you need to turn to God. I have a friend who was going through a divorce. Her way of handling it was by being surrounded by people. All. The. Time. While it’s great to turn to your support system in times of crisis and doubt, it’s just not physically possible to NEVER be alone (without other PEOPLE around you). It’s in those moments that if you don’t learn how to cope with those feelings of loneliness, that you will head down the dangerous pathways lined with lies and messages from the enemy. It’s in those moments that you NEED to remember to turn to God. Your heavenly Father never leaves you, even when you feel the most alone, God is right there, rubbing your back, crying with you, and loving you. I’ve found few things more helpful in learning to embrace my singleness than turning to God in those lonely moments. Those are the times that built up my character and my resolve, more than all of the therapy, all of the girls nights, all of the journaling combined. Just sitting with God, crying with Him, and asking Him to hold me in His ever loving arms. So while it may be tempting to run away from God and throw yourself into the cheap solutions that world has to offer, take the time and invest in yourself by turning to God and allowing Him to do the work in you that needs to be done in order for you to come out the other side stronger than before.
4. Find and nurture a solid support system
Now, let’s not neglect the fact that we are the hands of feet of Jesus. God uses each of us to minister to each other, so it’s also important to nurture your friendships in order to sustain a solid support system. If you’re one of those people who neglects your friendships because you’re in a relationship, this is the time to change things and do some damage control. And I’m not talking about mending those relationships to hold you over until your next date. I’m talking about taking a hard core look in the mirror and evaluating, what type of friend you want to be. Do you want lasting friendships with people who will challenge you spiritually and help you to grow? Maintain those friendships to support you through thick and thin? Or are you more interested in having some people to hang out with until you meet your next boyfriend/ girlfriend and then forget all about them? It’s hard (even as a total introvert) to make it in life without a solid support system in place to help you grow as a person, not to mention a group of trusted friends, whom you know do things for you out of love, who can hold you accountable in your next relationship. Having been on the losing end of such relationships on more than one occasion, it’s hard to stay friends and have sympathy for people who abandoned you as soon as they met someone and started a relationship. So make a resolution this time to stay with your support group so that they can be there for you next time you go through something rough (whether that be a breakup or something worse).Take the time you need in order to process how you feel
5. Take the time you need in order to process how you feel
As an outsider, one thing that often kills me is to see my friends flit from relationship to relationship without taking the proper time to evaluate who they are and process how they are feeling after a break up. I realize that it’s likely a deeper issue, but that’s why I wanted to mention it here. If you don’t take the time that you need to heal from the wounds of your last relationship, you’re simply going to bring those issues with you into the next one. Everyone has some form of baggage, but if you never stop to empty the bag from time to time (you know, do the laundry from the last trip) the bag starts to get stinky, heavy, and nobody’s going to want to help you with the mess that you’re slowly making in the process. You need to take some time off from being in a relationship to learn how to be single for a little while. I don’t know how long that period of time is for you, it’s different for everyone. The important thing is not the amount of time, as much as making sure you’re dealing with the new baggage. Make sure that you address all that needs to be addressed and don’t go out looking for something new until you’ve put the old relationship to rest. Seek out wise counsel from trusted friends or elders. Talk with God or journal how you’re feeling. Talk to a counselor if you need a more professional set of eyes and ears to address some deeper hurts you may have encountered. Just give yourself a break and learn what it is that you need before you enter into another relationship with another person.
6. Realize where your value lies
I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again. God loves you! You’re value does NOT lie in anything other than God’s sacrifice through Jesus Christ. God, the one who made the entire universe, the moon, the stars, and yes, even you, loves you SO much that He made a way to be with you FOREVER! We were cast away from God by our sins, but God just could not allow us to be away from Him because He loved us that much. We BELONG to God, therefore we have infinite and inherent value as His beloved children. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. You’re value has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with your relationship status, what your last boyfriend said about your weight, or what your ex-girlfriend said about your lack of style. None of those things matter. And why? Because when God sees us, He only sees Jesus’ perfection that covers all of our sins and makes us new in God’s sight. Accept that there is someone who loves you and will never NOT love you because God went to a lot of trouble to make sure that He will always and forever be with His beloved children.
7. Move on with your life
Finally, the last thing you can do in your quest to be single is move on with your life. Embrace this time that you have been blessed with (again, singleness is a gift) in order to grow closer to God, grow in your understanding of yourself, and evaluate what you want and where you’re going from here. The good news is that, you no longer have someone else’s baggage to hold you down, so you can go anywhere you want, it’s your future. Just make sure that God is the one in the driver’s seat and you’ll never be steered wrong.