Three things to reflect on after a break-up to help your personal growth
If you’re anything like me, you might have spent a lot of your time as a single adult dwelling on the fact that you are… well, single. Maybe you’ve spent more time than you like to admit reminiscing about past relationships, or maybe you went down the rabbit-hole that is dating apps. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that. But what it’s taken me two years to realize is that being single actually does open up a whole new world of self-discovery. We’ve all heard it from someone- most likely a friend trying to make us feel better during a low moment- “being single is great, you have time to learn about yourself!” It probably didn’t make you feel any better at the time. At best, maybe it left you completely unfazed. At worst, maybe you felt that the words rang false out of the mouth of your happily partnered friend. But you may find that there’s a lot of truth to those words if you take a moment to ask yourself the following questions. I tried, and I’ve learned a surprising amount about myself.
Premise #1: Dating is expensive. You’re going on weekend getaways, eating out, and doing all sorts of romantic activities. But ask yourself this, now that you aren’t spending all this money on your love life, what are you spending it on? After I broke up with my boyfriend, I downgraded apartments, and found myself with substantially more disposable income every month. Looking at my expenditures, I’ve spent nearly all of this extra money discovering new places and hobbies outside of London. I took up surfing, and went on surfing weekends in Cornwall. In the past six months, I’ve been to Paris, Norway, the Alps, and Morocco. In hindsight, this makes sense to me. I have endless wanderlust, love to be outside of my usual routine, and can’t get enough of the outdoors. Frankly, London probably isn’t the city for me. But being single helped me see that, and now I know with more certainty what makes me happy. I invite you to take a plunge down your banking history. Who knows, you might find a surprisingly coherent trend.
Premise #2: Dating is time consuming. You’re seeing their friends and family, organizing holidays, or just settled into a comfortable routine based on your common interests. Now that you have all this free time, what are you doing with yourself instead of devoting it to your relationship? For me, I’ve discovered (or rediscovered) hobbies which I had long forgotten or not been willing to set time aside for. Now that I have nobody else’s schedule to follow but my own, I spend entire evenings sorting through and editing photos. I found out that I love to put my thoughts down in writing and want to try my hand at blogging. Being confronted with a blank schedule gave me the opportunity to redefine my priorities. Sure, maybe deep down I knew that these things were important to me, but I wasn’t making time for them when juggling my work, social life, and relationship.
Premise #3: Dating is an endless flow of communication. When you’re single, however, the vast majority of the thoughts you’re listening to are your own. Sure, the endless flow of conversation can be great for self-development. But likewise, being alone with your thoughts is a valuable insight into what makes you tick. What are you thinking about when time slows between dinner and bedtime? What are you reading about in the absence of constant companionship? Since being single, I’ve discovered that I’m passionate about promoting gender equality. I read books about feminism and have debates with colleagues and friends about gender norms. It’s not that my boyfriend was against feminism, but it wasn’t a topic of conversation that came up a lot, and it wasn’t something I devoted a lot of mental space to. After we broke up, a lot of that mental space became a blank canvas which I’ve been taking my time to fill again.
Ultimately, I’ve discovered a huge amount about myself by asking myself these three simple questions. I’ve strengthened my convictions of what’s important to me and identified what makes me a happy and passionate human being. Being single can be difficult in a society that seems built for coupled relationships, but it can also be a wonderful opportunity to learn about yourself and feel more confident about who you are as a person.