It was October 31 and Boris Johnson made the announcement that we were going into a second lockdown in London. I was in a situationship with “Hinge” and things were not going great by any means. We met in February and dated for nine months (six long-distance essentially).
The following morning, Hinge mentioned us taking a break — which turned into a breakup. I won’t go into the nitty gritty details, but I ugly cried so hard after AND we weren’t even in a relationship. If that’s not some insight into the struggles of millennial dating, I don’t know what is.
Those first few weeks were awful, but I’m doing much better now, and I’m here to give the do’s and don’ts for the newly singles out there who can’t simply party or drink the troubles away.
DO: Overload in self-care
I don’t think I’ve ever done so many face masks in my life. It really is a harrowing scene, me grabbing a plethora of face masks, bath bombs and candles from the grocery store without a single care. I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon Prime started sending condolences with each parcel that came my way.
In all honesty though, the whole self-care thing is real. I know it’s hard, especially with lockdown, but try to look put together during work. Buy yourself vitamins. Make that doctor’s appointment you’ve been slacking off on. These are all little changes, and while you might still feel emotionally numb and detached from all the self-care you’re showering yourself in, I am telling you, it works for the long term. A month ago, I would have told you bath bombs are a scam, but now nothing is more pleasurable than watching my bath water turn 11 shades of purple.
DON’T: Hop back on the apps — trust me on this one
Ever since I joined dating apps, I haven’t given myself a break. Even when I was single, I would mindlessly swipe on the apps while watching TV in bed. However, I wanted to heal and be single for a while, and I 100% knew that returning to the apps wouldn’t solve anything. If anything, I’m bringing my pain from one situationship to another.
It sounds silly, but for the first time, I wanted to be intentionally single. And with little to no interaction, that seemed easy in theory, but mentally, it was hard at first. Even with tons of distractions, I was still feeling that itch to swipe away and form a romantic connection. I would say about three weeks into it, I already felt so much better that I didn’t. Instead of putting my energy into someone else, I was putting all my energy into myself — and that means facing some of my shortcomings, such as my anxious attachment style, my fear of abandonment issues, and my inability to face rejection.
That’s not easy to do, but in the long run, it’s the stronger thing to do.
DO: Take up new hobbies
Who knew Origami was so fun? I can successfully say that I can make a fox out of a napkin now. That’ll be fun for dinner parties.
I’ve never been a great cook, but I started making meals I never made before. I downloaded SuperCook, which generates recipes with whatever you have in your fridge and pantry and it was life changing for both my palette and my bank account.
People will tell you to distract yourself, and I think to some extent you should, but what makes distractions actually helpful is when it helps you become a better person too. That might mean reading self-help books, starting a blog, or trying to make sushi for the first time. You don’t have to necessarily do the Eat, Pray, Love adventure (even though it might be more fun).
DON’T: Ruminate, ruminate, ruminate
I am telling you, this will be the death of you. Do you know how many times I thought to myself, “Wow, why was it so easy for him to end things?” or in the middle of crafting my morning avocado toast, I pondered, “I wonder if he was dishonest about anything else?” Rumination is having the same continuous thoughts run through your head. And replaying a relationship can be torture.
Talking to my therapist on a regular basis helped (though affording a therapist is a privilege I recognize). Speaking with a professional about all your thoughts helps reduce those all consuming thoughts especially in a time when there is very little stimulation. If you can’t afford therapy, Mend might be a helpful breakup app to try out, or you can start journaling your thoughts in a notebook.
DO: Talk to your friends about it
Be careful with this one. Should you confide in your friend who’s codependent and gushing about her boyfriend 24/7? Fuck no. You need to pull in independent and compassionate friends who will show up for you and let you grieve and rant for however long. And by the way, this doesn’t just mean all your single friends. One of my best friends from Turkey is in a healthy relationship but went out of her way to send me the benefits of journaling, along with some breakup quotes. You need friends like this to have your back during this time.
DON’T: Drink your sorrows away
This one might be tempting and I’ll give you a week. Drink, cry it out, be angry and repeat if needed, but then, you need to pull it together. You’ll wake up feeling pissed you have to nurse a hangover and won’t do anything productive that day.
DO: Go for walks and runs
Walks have always helped to clear my head and get in my 10,000 steps, but if you’re coping with a lot of emotional stress, some running can definitely help release some much needed endorphins. If you’re not into running, I highly recommend going to YouTube and trying a home workout whether that be pilates, yoga, or a dance workout.
DON’T: Be so hard on yourself
I know it sucks. This is an awful time to go through a breakup. While I was dating Hinge, I felt unseen and misunderstood by the end of our situationship. And I felt like he projected a lot of his expectations and past relationships onto me.
When things ended, on top of already feeling insecure, I was now with this deep sense of rejection and loneliness. I was also beating myself up for being in such an unfulfilled situation for so long without speaking up for myself more.
But I’ll tell you this now: It does get better with time. Being unkind to yourself in the meantime won’t do anything. I’m sorry if you’re hurting right now, but just know you’re worthy of a love that can survive a pandemic.