Not long ago, I had a boyfriend. Now, I’m single. Again. I’d been feeling like my relationship wasn’t working for a while, but that hasn’t made the breakup any easier. I miss my ex, but even more, I miss the idea of us having a future together. At the same time, I’m getting into the idea of being single, and trying to embrace that rather than rushing to find someone to replace him. (There are few people I’ve had my eye on.) I’m reminded of “Single Girl” by Lush. It starts with “Single girl/who would want to be a single girl?” and ends with “I’m so happy I’m a single girl.” In the interest of focusing on the latter rather than the former, here are the top 10 reasons I’m happy to be single.1. Freedom
I was in a long distance relationship, so it’s not like anyone was checking up on where I was at all times. As much as I love being part of a couple, there is a mental freedom to being on your own. If I want to stay out all night, I can. If I want to make out with a hottie at a bar, I can. My time, which is very precious to me, is 100 percent my own.
2. No More Mixed Signals
Because we only saw each other once a month, or once every other month, there were many chances for us to misinterpret the other’s silence or read too much into a quick email. The truth is, there still is, but the whole “trying to read his mind” thing? Over, and that frees up a lot more space in my head. I didn’t realize quite how much time I spent thinking about where our relationship was going.
3. Peace of Mind
I still love my ex, and we talk and email, but I don’t have the same heightened level of concern for him, one that was probably unhealthy. Now I feel like I can care about him as a friend but not try to take on his issues as my own. Plus, I can focus on my life and my own issues, which are many. (Yes, I should have been doing that all along, but I tend to get wrapped up in whomever I’m seeing, making it very easy to gloss over my own messes.)
When I go to parties, I can flirt with people and not feel guilty. It’s always awkward when you’re dating someone and meet someone you think is hot. You don’t want to lead them on, but you don’t want to throw in “my boyfriend” every five seconds. From this day forward, I can flirt and mean it.
5. Dressing Up
When I’m stressed, or just lazy, I sometimes use that as an excuse to pare my daily ritual down to the very basics, as in, shower, brush my teeth, put on some deodorant and perfume, and go. I forget that a little lipstick goes a long way. So I’m making sure I get a weekly manicure and pedicure, scheduling an appointment to get my unruly long hair cut, wearing heels instead of sneakers, and adding a little color to my mostly black wardrobe. It’s not like these are huge changes, and I wear dresses and skirts every day anyway, but they make me feel pretty, and, therefore, a little bit happier.
6. An Excuse to Shop
It’s the holiday season, the time to shop for gifts for other people, but I’m using it as an excuse to shop for myself. That cute dress from Urban Outfitters? On it. The sparkly Lavaliere necklace from Objets d’Envy? On its way to me. I used to send my ex little gifts all the time. This is a time when I can indulge in myself. I’m a huge believer in retail therapy.
I’m not exactly one to take criticism well, which is a character flaw, but it also means that when I feel like someone is judging me or telling me what to do, I get defensive. That happened a few times with my ex, and now I have quality time to figure out why I reacted like that, and how I can be a better person.
8. City Hopping
We used to bat around ideas for places we might like to live — Portland, Austin, Minneapolis, Costa Rica — some more practical than others. Before we hooked up, I’d never really considered leaving New York, where I’ve lived since 1996. I think maybe I’m ready for a break, even if it’s just a temporary one, but instead of having to accommodate our disparate interests, I can contemplate a possible new home based on what I like about any given city.
9. Letting the World Know
My Facebook status has said “It’s Complicated” for most of the last six months; I changed it from “in a relationship” when things were looking pretty rocky, and I never changed it back. (My ex’s said “single” the whole time, but he is less of a Facebook updater than I am.) Who wants to hang onto the past? I updated it. If you ever want an ego boost, this is a surefire way to get one. Friends and acquaintances I’m rarely in touch with immediately offered up sweet notes of sympathy and “You Go, Girl!” encouragement. That helped counteract my worst moments, when I get all, “I’ll never find someone I click with like that again.”
Okay, this one hasn’t happened yet, but I think about it all the time. Who will be the next person I’ll sleep with? Will we have slow, romantic sex in a candlit bedroom or dirty, up-against-the-wall, screaming-loud sex in some bar bathroom? I get to picture my various crushes in bed, to wonder what those first times would be like. I’m a firm believer the best way to get over someone is to jumpstart your sex life, even if it’s just a fling. I’m looking forward to ringing in 2009 with a new lover, even if I haven’t figured out who it’ll be yet.
Lest I sound too cavalier about this, trust that I’ve spent plenty of time staring into space, randomly crying, and generally being utterly confused about whether or not I made the right choice. But I’m an optimist at heart, and I’d rather look forward to the future than obsess over the past.