It may seem strange to talk about being single in a place where dating is all about later in life. However, time spent alone after a long-term relationship can make it easier to date. It can also make your next relationship better than ever.
Before I met Daisy, I had three serious relationships that failed. After the last one, I blamed myself for not being relationship material. So I decided that I would stay single, probably for the rest of my life.
In retrospect, being temporarily single is what made it possible for me to get into a relationship that wasn’t doomed.
I will explain.
One of the things I wanted to do as a new single was go back to therapy. Even though I was committed to remaining single, I wanted to understand why my relationships failed. It bothered me. What was I doing wrong?
In How to Be Single After a Long-Term Relationship, I discuss why this experience helped.
“This commitment to self-examination turned out to be the key to knowing myself. Coming to this realization made all my relationship mistakes clear. Hindsight is a beautiful thing when it hits!
Self-awareness also made it possible for me to step back into the dating world with confidence.
Although the future can never be as clear as the past, I was no longer afraid of repeating one bad relationship after another. Now I could see the red flags that someone probably wasn’t a good choice for a partner or even a friend.”
Reasons to be single after a long-term relationship
So why be single after a long relationship? There are several reasons to spend time alone after a divorce or breakup of a serious relationship.
Examine our role in dysfunctional relationships
Dr. Seth Meyers writes in The biggest mistake people make after a breakup,
“The motivation for starting a new relationship is often an attempt at emotional avoidance. Instead of facing uncomfortable feelings, an individual jumps into a relationship for a quick mood boost and a boost of ego. Avoidance as a strategy, however, is dysfunctional because it is impulsive, born of childish wishes and fantasies as opposed to the long-term thinking and planning that should characterize adult decision-making.”
Meyers goes on to say that the main purpose of time after a breakup is to grieve the loss and learn from it. It is helpful for the person to question their role in the dysfunctional relationship that ended.
“What was my part in co-creating the dysfunction?” “What will I do differently in the next relationship?”
The point is not to blame themselves or their ex, but to understand their role.
Discover the qualities of the ideal partner
Relationships can end due to incompatibility. Not everyone wants the same things in life.
A couple who wants a large family will not get along with someone who has little desire to be a parent. An introvert will likely have very different interests than an extrovert.
However, the qualities of our ideal partner can change depending on whether we are single or not.
In How to be a smart bachelor, Tyler Jamison Ph.D. says,
“The best time to evaluate what we want in a partner is when we are single. Research shows that when we’re in a relationship, we idealize the traits of our partners. This makes sense: if you want to stay in a relationship, it helps to believe that what they have is what you want. However, with a little time alone, we can gain more clarity about what we really want and need in a partner.”
Differences are to be expected and accepted. However, being polar opposites in important areas can be enough division to end the relationship. That’s why it pays to clearly understand those things that could be deal breakers.
Being single can strengthen social connections
Dr. Jamison goes on to say that long-term singles tend to build a network of family and friends.
“Research shows that single people are more likely than partnered people to support their social group and maintain relationships during life transitions.”
These social connections support partners when facing external challenges.
The single life: an opportunity for self-care
Being single is an opportunity to do the things you want. Several studies found that single people tend to exercise more and eat healthier. They also tend to focus on work, hobbies, and other meaningful passions.
This self-care ultimately makes them a healthier person, which makes them a better future partner.
Final thoughts on being single
It’s normal and healthy to want an emotional connection in a relationship. Resist the urge to jump into a new relationship immediately after a breakup.
Spending time alone is key. Learn to live comfortably and happily as a single person.
Who knows, you might find that the single life is what you really want. It is an option as valid and healthy as living with a partner.
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