by Jennifer Dryden
It’s amazing what a few years of singledom – the art of being single – will teach you about yourself. It’s the time to feel heartbroken alone, cling to friends and family for love, and rebuild your heart just a little stronger.
Time’s always that one word you despise when you’re crying in a heap on the floor fresh from that last conversation with your (now ex) boyfriend. Time is the answer from your mom, your dad, and your friends who all agree that you’re great and it’s all his fault. Really, it probably isn’t all his fault, but go with what makes you feel better. “Just give it time.” But take it from me, time is the right guidance in this situation and it should be looked at in a positive light. It’s good advice. Wait and see.
At first, time drags on in sleepless nights upon your bed listening to sad songs that sing your soul. You play Sick Puppies at full blast just so your neighbors know you’re hurting; it’s that bad. You read the lackluster love poetry in books stacked on your shelves – more currently next to your bed. You really live within grabbing distance to a tissue box and you go as far as moving a trashcan from the bathroom into your bedroom right next to that stack of tear-stained poetry pages. You heave sobs into your pillows that still smell like him and pray out loud for God to give a little. “Please God!” Time is your enemy today, tomorrow, and most likely for the next eight months.
I’ve heard from either Cosmopolitan or from my best friend who probably isn’t so credible that it takes twice as long to get over someone than the length of your relationship. So for my two-year relationship, it supposedly took me four years. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Cry for a few weeks, become pissed at men in general the month after that, then focus on you… and only you. Some of the best advice I’ve heard is “Take an hour to be sad about it and then get over it.” Let’s adjust the time because it’s not like you locked your keys in your car and had to pay $40 for the locksmith, who, let’s be honest, must have seriously illegal skills he’s just not using. Lost love > Unreachable keys. Now that we’re clear, eight months is when I started to feel the first bit of relief… sober relief. Nights out do not count as feeling better. Think about it, a long island is not the answer… unless he is deserted on one.
Now all the crying is done and if you are lucky enough to never set eyes on him again on a regular day, it’ll go smoother and quicker. I was lucky enough for him to move nearly three hours away and then I flew to the East Coast for a year. See ya, wouldntwannabeya! Distance, in this case, doesn’t make the heart grow fonder because it helps the heart heal.
Disclosure: When you see him out of the blue back for a homecoming game, your heart will still stop, your eyes will fill with tears, but you will blink them back in your eye sockets… because “you’re moving on!” Then soberly, walk past him. ß classic. He’ll call you back and you roll with the punches and ignore the one blown to your gut. You’re better off … he has a beer belly. Notice his flaws! You’ll need them on the one-year anniversary.
Count it as twelve months because it sounds longer. At one year, you’ll be sad for the day if it truly was love or you’ll play this song and feel empowered. I say feel empowered because you’re better off. Always rise to the top on a bad day because true strength is holding yourself together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart. I stole that from someone. I don’t normally sound like a fortune cookie. But lately I’ve been questioning that. At one year you can start creating your next ideal man in your head that will probably show different traits than your ex. Because let’s face it, in the past 365 days you’ve said, “But he was perfect!” and “I want someone just like him!” and “I want him back!” No! Stop. You don’t want him back. You will learn from him because I truly believe anyone you love is your soul mate in some way… just not your last soul mate. Watch this video if you’re confused. One year feels like you’ve finally accomplished something and you have. Reward yourself with cake – chocolate. Only six more months until I let you date again.
One year, six months.
A year and a half, huh? Still no dates? Good. You’re giving yourself time to get to know yourself again. Your single self… you know with free time and living by your own schedule. Isn’t it great? If you said yes, then high-five, but if you said no, you’re lucky I like you. If you’re loving exploring your own life and putting your priorities toward your career, your friends or your family then just ignore this step and shine like the stars in the sky. If you’re like, “Blahh, this sucks! I’m lonely!” then you’ve missed the point all together. Go back to your procrastinated homework. But one last thing before you go… you may go on a date now. Oh got your attention again? My plan is working… *rubs hands together maliciously.
A date. Singular. More than likely it won’t work. The man you’re attracted to is probably the same guy who hung out with you on weeknights watching Finding Nemo and The Holiday. He is in love with you but you really aren’t. You just like the way he takes care of you and maybe the way he looks in the shirt you bought him for Christmas. This is lust, and false lust. You love what he’s done for you; you desire to get closer because he treats you like a princess, and he listens to your rants about men. “He understands me.” You’ve been playing the friend card for the past 18 months and he’s hoping it’ll be more. So when I allow you to go on this date at 18 months, you think he’s the perfect choice. It won’t work out. The date will consist of dinner at your favorite restaurant, a movie of your choice, maybe a couple drinks to top off a first official date. He’ll probably bring you a rose. (PS: Roses are so overrated. It’s the cop-out flower. He should know your favorite flower. Mine is a tiger lily.) You’ll use the word “official” in a conversation with your girlfriends when you gab about it – probably even in air-quotes. “Official.”
When you come home you’ll fall into a loud and flabbergasted rant with your best girlfriend about the mystery of this friendship being great for months with him and then the “official” date didn’t work out. He was too clingy. Welcome to the first realization that you are learning stuff about yourself: you like a little space and for him to have an opinion, any opinion, on where to get dinner. Six months from now, you’ll be ready with a guy who’s not your friend… if you want.
Look at you! In two years you’ve realized that there’s more to life than being with someone else. How’s that guy who broke up with you two years ago? Oh, you don’t know? Haven’t seen him since that awkward homecoming game? It’s almost like you’ve moved on. And you have. Your best guy friend has found a girl who finds it attractive to be at her beckon call all the time and willing to move across the country at the two-week mark in the relationship “just to be near you.” I hope they find happiness. You were right, too clingy, too desperate. Good lookin’ out!
You’ve met a guy from work and he’s usually studying in the library on Tuesday and Thursdays in between his graduate classes for his MBA. He’s into biking, football – da Bears, and can dance like a madman… in a good way. You’ve only “bumped” into him twice and only stayed for coffee once. He has a clear career goal and sometimes he jokes about traveling the world for a living. He goes home to help his mom around the house every third weekend of the month because his dad left years ago and works 30 hours on top of being a teacher’s assistant for an undergraduate intro to business course. He’s got his own stuff going on and his own life. You’re nervous he won’t have time for you. He’s the next guy to date but you love the chase. He lives for himself just as much as you. He doesn’t come with cling symptoms. Go in for the kill! But you might realize you don’t want to because you’re happy where your life is heading as a single young woman. Single women do powerful things too. It’s amazing how many single women I’ve met who are extremely confident in who they are, strive for their dreams, and live happily each day. One of these women is me.
Two years and one day.
Whether you chose the happy ending of going in for the kill with the successful MBA student or chose to do you for a while happily, bravo! You have been making decisions for the past how many months on your own terms and without what’s-his-name. You can trust your gut instincts again and feel better about yourself. This singledom is all about perspective and all about time. Figure out who you are before knowing anyone else and let him figure out who he is without you. Maybe you’ll find yourself in his eyes, but how can you know who you are without washing away the remnants of your broken heart and giving it time?
Who You Are Without Me – Kate Voegele