Freedom is tits. You can lay whoever you want, buy the Reese’s Puffs cereal your ex thought was “juvenille and unhealthy,” or move to Japan on a whim. As long as you don’t commit any felonies, your choices are without boundaries.
Avoiding lonely-bastard syndrome requires effort. Sitting at home on a Friday night making a female independence-themed Spotify playlist does not qualify as starting a new chapter in your life. Call a friend you haven’t seen in awhile and go somewhere you’ve never been before. Repeat every weekend.
Being single costs money. When you were in a relationship, more evenings than you’d like to admit were spent twisted around each other on a futon watching Planet Earth on TiVO. Now that you’re single and trying to avoid lonely-bastard syndrome, it’s time to reinvest in your social life. Whether it’s bar time, baseball games, or pottery classes, you’re “putting myself back out there.” Those activities will likely involve putting forward a little cash.
The pity party expires. Few will judge you if you spend a few weeks, maybe even a couple of months, moping, binge-drinking/crying, and reading all of your ex’s tweets aloud to your friends. But if it’s been a year and you’re still clutching the bourbon and stale Facebook messages and wearing his Vikings jersey as pajamas, someone needs to smack the shit out of you. This type of behavior will only land you fatter, lonelier, and creepier than you’ve ever been.
Your ex is not a Redbox. Avoid the temptation to rent a relationship for $1 a day by calling your ex and half-resolving things, or getting back together and breaking up continuously for months. It ended for a reason, and you’ve already been through a lot of mental strife since. Instead of emotionally plummeting yourself and your now-insignificant other even more, nut up and call for a clean break.
Clean yourself up. Do something, anything, to feel sexy. Start running three miles a day just for the beautiful feeling of loose denim. Get a haircut like the one Anne Hathaway donned in The Devil Wears Prada, after she ditched the glasses in favor of sexily leaning against taxicabs wearing leather boots. Bask under cozy, synthetic ultra-violet lights despite their cancer risks.
Rebound without lowering your standards. Everyone knows banging it out with someone new is like a breakup Band-Aid, but know that the confidence a one-night-stand induces is truly fleeting. Hooking up a little is normal, but if you do it every weekend you could morph into a self-deprecating skank whose self esteem is lower than Death Valley, Nevada.
Someone new will shit on your feelings. It’s been about six months, and you’ve finally reintroduced your freshly-fractured heart to the idea of dating. You meet someone you relate to, might even like. You start to consider the idea of at least seeing where it goes, and even though you try not to, you can’t stop thinking about how good he looks in V-necks, like, every second. Then suddenly, it’s over. He has a sort-of girlfriend. Your schedules conflict. He’s too committed to the Obama campaign to start a relationship right now. Resist the temptation to lapse into woe-is-me mode and move on.
This too shall pass. There are many advantages to being single, but eventually you do want to find someone who reblogs Wil Wheaton as much as you do and can handle your family’s annual sausage-making weekend with grace. Take a deep breath and stop freaking out—you are not a lost cause just because you did not marry your high school/college/hippie commune sweetheart.
– Natalie Berkley has been single for exactly one year today.