In case you missed it, the guy and I split right after Thanksgiving. That means that the weeks leading up to my birthday and Christmas have been kind of lame. Actually, that’s not true. They weren’t half bad, just kind of meh emotionally. You could say I haven’t been brimming over with holiday spirit.
But still, I’ve been doing lots of yoga, reading depressing fiction, shopping impulsively for tights, watching cooking shows and spending time with friends. I went to a fancy spa and got a massage for my 34th birthday. And then I consumed massive amounts of Blue Point oysters and champy with my best friend. It was solid way to celebrate my birthday/ the world not ending. Everything was fine until someone close to me said: “You shouldn’t wait, you should just get back on OK Cupid right away.”
FUCK NO, I SHOULD NOT. I didn’t say that. But I was thinking it. This particular bit of unsolicited advice pissed me off so much, I found myself crying in the yoga changing room, snotting onto my mat. That was really the only time I cried after the breakup. Not about the guy, but because I was frustrated that I would have to deal this bullshit again.
The thing coupled people tend to forget is that when you lose someone you care about, you need a minute to grieve them. Sure, we only dated for four months, but that time was special. At least, to me it was. I’m not desperate to replace him with another warm and willing body. I’m not holding boyfriend auditions on my casting couch. I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea that we’re no longer. I need a minute — lots of minutes — alone.
There are some people who seem to be able to get out there days after a breakup. That’s not me. I take hiatuses. I do my own thing, enjoy my own company until I feel ready again. Because we all know that dating when you’re not in the mood is like having someone slowly and methodically rip your eyelashes out. It’s awful. So, don’t let anyone bully you into abandoning your hiatus until you’re good and ready.
Below are some things I do NOT recommend doing while on a dating hiatus:
1. Contact exes. I know it’s tempting to browse through the catalogue of men who have been. To scroll through your phone and Facebook for easy distractions and ego boosts. There’s nothing wrong with this, per se, only let’s be real here: getting in touch with an ex is not going to make you feel any better. After the momentarily rush of seeing him, you’ll remember exactly why he’s an ex and be yearning to be back in your bed watching Netflix live streaming. It’s worth it to learn how to distract yourself and boost your own ego, if you know what I mean.
2. Worry about dating again. You don’t need to put your profile back up on OK Cupid (even if some well-meaning but misguided person tells you to) or go on dates or do anything proactive to try to go on dates or even to worry about when/where/how you will ever meet another man again. You will figure that out when you’re ready. But you’re not feeling it right now. So go busy yourself something else.
3. Let yourself go. Your hiatus is not an excuse to be the worst you can be. It’s not an excuse to indulge in all your favorite self-destructive behaviors — to drink too much or gorge on junk food or stay in your sweatpants for days on end or fuck up at work. It’s not a valid reason to throw your life in the toilet. It’s an opportunity to focus on yourself and become better. Do something constructive and self-growthy with your time alone. Gaze at your belly button. Or take up obscure Pinterest projects. Or brush up on your existentialist philosophy.
4. Get all bitter. Oh, get over yourself. Please, don’t be that person at the holiday party who says, “I’m done with other human beings. I will die alone.” That’s so unflattering. Even if you’re purposefully trying to be dramatic. Still not cute. Don’t even think those things. Or if you do, try to challenge your own thoughts. I was talking with a friend who told me that after her and her long-term boyfriend broke up, she found herself in the kitchen clutching a carton of milk, catching herself thinking I am unlovable. She said it was a big moment for her because she became aware of this awful thought that she hardly even knew she was thinking. She said she slammed the milk down and told herself That’s enough! This stops now! Your hiatus is not a time to indulge in negativity. Feel sad if you want to feel sad, but don’t let negative, catastrophic thinking take over.