Recently Single in Philly

Recently Single – What do I do now?

Have you just ended a long-term or significant relationship and are unsure of where to go now? Are you questioning your “date-ability?” Does the idea of starting something new scare you?  Are you bothered by the fact that you are recently single? Or are you ready to get back out there but don’t know where to start? If you are recently single living in Philly and having any of these difficulties, then this tip is right for you.

At the end of a relationship, some people feel sad, lonely, and even depressed.  Others say “good riddance,” and might feel relieved or happier.  Either way, being a newly single person is a different feeling than being part of a couple.  During the early stages of a break-up, most people have supportive friends to help them cope.  Some people experience a deepening of friendships because they now have more time to commit to them.  However, as time passes, there is a shift in the role that a recently single person plays and the transition between the two roles may cause some people to experience anxiety.  Common issues that arise in this transition are: Will people see me differently, am I a different person, will my friendships be the same, what about mutual friends (who “gets to claim” them), do I stay friends with my ex, how soon do I bring someone new around, what if I’m just not ready to move on, and what will people think if I’m moving to slow or too fast to get over this?  The answers to these questions may not come easily.  Many will involve talking and discussing the situation with the friends and family members you might be worried about.  But the thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions.

To start developing your new sense of self as a single person, you can start with a conversation with yourself.  Try to answer some of the above questions.  Do you feel like a different person now? What feels different? Are you more or less confident? Did you start to feel like you lost a piece of yourself within the relationship?  Was there anything that you felt held you back during the relationship? What do you want to accomplish as a single person before you begin a new relationship? What did you like or dislike about the relationship? Do you feel closure now that it’s ended?  Try answering these questions in a journal so you can have a record to go back to if your thoughts and feelings change over time.   Feel free to add more questions as they come up during your journey.

Next it is time to take some of those answers and start a conversation with the people closest to you. The reason for doing this exercise with friends and family is because as your role is changing within the relationships you will want to let people into your world.  Sharing your fears, anxieties, and positive experiences with them will also bring about more intimacy in the relationships.  This way you will get to know one another better on a deeper and more connected level.  To begin this conversation, start by discussing what you have learned about yourself during the relationship and its end.  Talk to friends and family about your positive and negative feelings about starting a new role in your life and theirs.  Discuss how things are the same and how they may be different.  Share with them your expectations and limitations for your new role.  Explain to your friends the work you have done by yourself and what you have learned during the process.  Tell then what your concerns are for the future, getting back into dating, keeping the friendships going, and taking your time coping.

Talk with them about their expectations as well.  Some people may find an overwhelming pressure from family and friends to attend every event or function now that they are single.  If you don’t have the emotional or physical resources to do this, tell them.  What do they feel about your progress in coping with the break up?  How long do they think you should wait before moving into something new?  If you have mutual friends, understand that the transition may be difficult for them but tell then the truth about how you feel.  If you want to keep the relationship going, share that.  But also be mindful that if they choose to let things drift apart, the decision is ultimately theirs.  If you do continue a relationship with mutual friends, setting boundaries will be of the utmost importance.  Do you want to talk with them about your relationship/breakup? What about your next relationship? How much do you want them to tell you about your ex?  What information can they tell your ex?  In developing these boundaries, you will have to talk to your friend, tell then your expectations and find out what expectations they may have as well. Where will you meet up, will you run into your ex? Are you ok with that?   Be completely honest and up front with your friends so you don’t run into a bad situation because you weren’t prepared.  Be respectful of the decisions and opinions your friends and family share with you, even if you disagree.  Remember, this is a new phase for them as well.  If you feel like they are pushing too hard, tell them.  Or if you feel like they are holding you back, take some time away from the friend for a few days to sort through what’s going on with you.

Ask for support during difficult times.  Then practice using that support.  Call at least two friends every day to get back into the habit of communicating with them on a regular basis.  This way when you’re having a down day, you won’t feel quite so awkward in calling someone to come over or go out and do something.  If you’re feeling like your schedule has more gaps in it than before, try planning little events and adventures to go on either alone or with friends.  Write things in your schedule that might seem unnecessary.  If you schedule gym time, even if you regularly workout every day, it will seem like you have more to do than you thought.  Feeling like you are busy and productive will make it easier to transition into doing more things.

To work through some concerns about moving on and starting to date again begin by developing a list of qualities you liked and disliked from the previous relationship.  Start with the following questions.  What did your ex do that you didn’t appreciate? What did they do that you liked? What mistakes did you make? What role did you play within the relationship?  What was their role?  Was this a new dynamic for you? Did you feel good or bad about the roles?  What would you like to do differently in a new relationship?  What would you keep the same? Next develop a list of qualities you have to bring into a relationship.  Then expand the two lists and merge them together to examine what complementary qualities you would be looking for in a new relationship.  If you’re someone who likes to go out to fancy restaurants, you may want a partner who is interested in the same thing; however if nature is your thing, looking for someone who likes to hike will be a better option.  When you have developed a sense of what you can bring into a new relationship you will be more able to define what you are looking for in a partner.  As far as beginning to date again, do some more introspection.  Ask yourself what is driving the desire to date again.  What fears, anxieties, and expectations do you have about dating?  Are you looking for something slow-moving that starts casually or long-term right away?  What modes of dating are acceptable for you to begin to meet people?  Do you want to go online to meet someone, try speed dating, meet them through a friend, or prefer the bar scene?  How much time are you willing to commit to a new relationship?  Once again use the journal to complete these and more questions that come to mind during this process.  During the transition into single life, some aspects may seem difficult and scary in the moment, but taking the time to process those transitions will give you the chance to grow and learn about yourself and what you want and need for the future.