Suddenly single … so now what?

by Jayne Flaherty

 

So you’ve been swanning about Adelaide with your beloved in tow and enjoying being the better half of ‘us’.  And then, out of the clear blue, your relationship, coupledom, wedded bliss has come to an earth shattering, miserable end.

When happily ever after means a party of one, the average single woman generally struggles to find her way.

Perhaps you were together briefly; perhaps you were together for a long time.  Perhaps you grew apart; perhaps he left you for another woman.  Perhaps your relationship was on the rocks for a while; perhaps you were incredibly in love and the break up has hit you like a runaway freight train.

Whatever your circumstances, it’s natural for some questions to bounce around in your mind:  What happened to me during those years?  What did I get, gain, achieve in the relationship?  Why am I now alone?  What will I do?  How do I do things by myself?  Now what?  Where to start?

The end of a long-term relationship is inevitably a difficult time, psychologically and physically.  Many people need the assistance of professional counselling to fully recover from a break up.

Psychologist Moira Shanahan says the loss of a long term partner typically has five stages:

The first is denial and isolation: the “this can’t be happening to me” stage.  The second stage is anger.  The third is bargaining: the “what if” phase, when we wonder about all those things that, perhaps, we could have done differently.  The fourth stage is sadness and depression.  The fifth, hopefully, is acceptance.

“These stages don’t necessarily go in a nice neat order,” says Shanahan.  “They are often all jumped up and any one stage can be repeated several times.

Before you panic and hyperventilate… think about this:

Single is not a status.  It is a word that describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on others.

Of course you’re scared.  You’re so used to sharing everything and having someone around.  But the reality is, you’re your own person.  Ultimately, if you can’t enjoy being single, how can you enjoy being with someone else?

Believe it or not, you’re not the only person who feels uncertain about her new singleness.  I spoke to ten single Adelaide ladies in order to develop the woman’s bible of proven ways to be happy flying solo.

Here are some important truths these amazing women had to share:

  1. 1.     Tanya says: “Being single gives you time to be by yourself, with yourself”.

“Finally some me time.  This is the time to reconnect with myself, a time where I can talk to myself, debating all the questions and answers that are bouncing in my head.  This is the time of reflection, acceptance and letting go.”

  1. 2.     Leigh says: “If you don’t let go of the past, you will never appreciate the present”.

“Yes I have fond memories of my husband, but that was in the past.  I know I will always cherish those memories, but I need to stop clinging to them to live for today and plan for tomorrow.”

  1. 3.     Amelia says: “It’s only after you have lost everything that you are free to find out what you were missing”.

“During the ten years I was in a relationship, I lost love, a pregnancy and my health.  I truly believed I had lost everything.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many tears I shed during those difficult times.  Now that I’m single, I have an opportunity to do all the things I put off while I was putting all my energy into my relationship.  I have to believe that I will eventually have the things I lost, but for now I’m taking this time to enjoy myself and complete myself.”

  1. 4.     Holly says: “Change can be good”.

“Part of me feels afraid of this change.  Adaption takes time, yet I’m already thinking of all the possibilities – meeting new people, going to new places, tackling new projects, etc.  Sometimes change is the best thing for us, as it opens us up to new activities and environments.”

  1. 5.     Bobbie-Lyn says: “Being single does not have to mean being afraid of love”.

“My heart has been bashed, bruised and broken, but I don’t feel traumatised and I know I will love again.  Hopefully the next someone will treasure me and treat me with love and respect.  Staying open to lose isn’t just about attracting a new relationship; it’s about being open to life.”

  1. 6.     Natalie says: “Even if you’re single, you still have so much to appreciate”.

“Being single is not the end of the world.  There are other problems that are more depressing than being single – hunger and homelessness for instance.  Even with a broken heart, I’m still standing.  I’m still breathing.  There are still so many possibilities for me.”

  1. 7.     Asmahan says: “You’re not along when you’re single; you still have family and friends”.

“I am lucky to have a supportive mother and sister.  They are my sanity – my light.  Spending time with them relaxes me in a way.  I’m also fortunate to have wonderfully good friends who are always there with open arms, ready to listen and support me.  I know for sure I can always share my happiness and sorrow with them.  I can always depend on them without feeling the slightest bit of guilt.  And now that I’m single, I have even more time to devote to being there for them.”

  1. 8.     Kerry says: “Being single is a call to focus on myself”.

“Sometimes being in a relationship can make you lazy about developing yourself.  You can get so comfortable that your goals take a back seat.  When you’re single, it prompts you to look deep inside yourself and identify the person you really way to be – whether you’re in a relationship or not.”

  1. 9.     Taryn says: “Something better will come your way if you’re open to it”.

“I found a lovely quote through twitter: To see a rainbow, one has to pass a storm.  When something bad happens, we tend to concentrate on the negatives, forgetting that there must be something positive hidden somewhere in the havoc.  You will know happiness in the future – and in the present, if you’re open to it.”

  1. 10.  Aleathia says: “Life is a balance.  When there is darkness there will be light”.

I believe that everything in life is a process.  When something dramatic and fast hits us, it will take time to process it and start over.  I am starting over.  As a newbie to singlehood, I still have a lot to learn, understand and explore.  I sometimes need to be reminded to be grateful for what I have.”

Psychologist Moira Shanahan says it usually takes one to two years for an individual to work through all the stages of a relationship break up and to fully recover.

“Life is a fickle beast, but it all has a way of working out,” she says.

MOVING ON

So you’ve paid your dues and now it’s time to jump back on the horse (literally and figuratively).

Where to from here?

Be your own arm candy

Instead of dreading going solo to your next social outing while everyone else has a date, give yourself permission to be your own arm candy.  Buy yourself a fab new outfit, slip into those sky high stilettos, channel your inner diva and make a confident entrance your friends will not soon forget.  Not only that, but turn on the charm, practice a little harmless flirting and, in general, be your most fabulous self.  By letting go of any fears or insecurities you hold about being the only single person in the group, you allow yourself to enjoy the fun and freedom that goes along with being footloose and fancy free.

Enlist your friends

Instead of looking at your circle of happily hooked up friends as a liability, consider them an asset.  After all, your friends’ boyfriends and husbands probably know a single guy or two worth meeting.  Who not enlist their help by asking about their single friends?  If they seem uncomfortable, let them know that they don’t have to play cupid.  All you’re asking them to do is invite these friends to your next social gathering so that you can get to know one another in a casual group setting.  No pressure.

Widen your social circle

If you feel that being the only savvy women in your social circle is keeping you from meeting potential partners, it may be time to widen your social network.  Start by taking a look around your current network.  There may be other fun and fab singles under your nose that you just haven’t noticed before – maybe a friendly co-worker, neighbour, or friend of a friend.  If so, great!  Invite them to join forces to ‘get out there’.

Love me Tinder

There’s something to be said for a mobile dating app that is downloaded more than 1000 times a day in Australia.  So what makes this app stand apart from so many other dating apps like Grindr, Blendr and RSVP?  Well, according to app developer Nate Doolan, “it’s one of the most ethical dating apps on the market”.  It’s also really simple to use.

Basically, after signing up to the app, Tinder will show you users nearby that it thinks you may like based on your mutual interests and friends (it uses information from your Facebook account) and lets you anonymously ‘like’ them by swiping right, or reject them by swiping left.  It won’t inform users of their profile being liked or rejected, and the only time you can begin communicating with another user is if they have liked you back.

Speeding on

Speed dating is growing at a rapid rate in Adelaide, but there’s something about the, well, speed of this form of dating that sits uncomfortably for many ladies.  “It all comes down to time and numbers,” says advocate Amelia Sullivan.  “We want and expect the quickest and most efficient way to achieve our goals, and dating is no different.”  In a speed dating session, you get to ‘date’ 15 similarly aged singles over the course of a couple of hours in a relaxed and friendly environment.  Just think how long it would ordinarily take you to meet 15 similarly aged singles, all looking for love – talk about a time saver!

Thank fully, there’s no such things as being an ‘old maid’ (and I’m yet to see any of my single lady friends over indulge in pet cats).  Being single is not a curse, it’s actually a life style – and a chosen one at that.

As Mandy Hale, author of The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass said: “Not everyone has to ride off into the sunset with a man.  Some of us just want a tan.”

Did you know?

According to the latest Census data, single ladies looking for love should head to Prospect for the highest chance of finding Mr Right, with almost 200 more single men living there than women.