So I’m almost, but not quite, a year past my rebound pain, I’m feeling a little less tender talking about it. I don’t know about others, but for me, when I came out of the long-term relationship, I was very beaten down and broken up. When it came to dating, as I’ve mentioned here before, I wasn’t in a place where I really wanted anything serious at all. I just wanted to meet new people, go on a few dates, and have a bit of fun. I was very clear with anyone that I was seeing that I wasn’t in it for the long run, and I was going to continue to see other people.
However, about 6 months in to my new-found single life I met someone that I really liked. Someone that I started to think that I might want to stick around. I put a lot of effort into spending time with them, I got butterflies when they text and I started to think about mid-length plans. All in all, I was smitten. They said all the right things, told me that they liked me just the way I was, that I should never change and were just lovely really. They lived a bit away, so it gave me this wonderful sense of freedom whilst also feeling connected to another person.
However when visiting them one weekend, they basically started a sentence with ‘It’s not you… it’s me’. I was very swiftly dumped, in a city that wasn’t my own. And fuck did it hurt! It hurt more than the initial break up. It was a swift, sharp pain to the solar plexus and my god did I cry. Hot fat tears (not in front of him, thankfully) in a strange city, where I knew nobody, and had approximately 10 hours left before my booked transport. I spent a lot of time questioning what was wrong with me. Was it because I wasn’t pretty enough? Was I too needy? Too weird? Was my strange obsession with Irish music off putting? Did I talk too much? Too little? I questioned everything about myself, trying to figure out what it was that I had done wrong to cause this to end so abruptly.
I went to town on myself, I went the route of claiming I was never going to meet anyone else. I was destined to die a lonely old crazy cat lady, but without the cats because even they wouldn’t love me. I sifted through every wrong thing I’d ever said to someone, went into total introspection mode, and I plagued my friends. My friends were beyond fantastic, as I sat in an airport and berated myself for all my perceived faults, my friends talked me down. They reminded me that I was stronger than this.
It took longer after this rebound failure for me to want to talk to new perspective dates than it had taken me after the original break up. This short intense ‘relationship’ and subsequent break-up had shaken me to the core. In retrospect, I can see now that it wasn’t the feelings that I thought I’d had that had caused so much hurt, it was the fact that I’d let my guard down and been burnt. I had let in a little chink in the armour I’d been holding around myself since the initial break-up. I’d let myself become slightly vulnerable with someone, and I’d been bitten, hard. Not only was I sad that it hadn’t worked out, but I felt like I’d failed a test.
I’d been building this strong persona for myself, as if nothing could phase or hurt me. I’d been working so hard on it, that I’d started to believe it myself. I honestly had felt that I had come so far in rebuilding my self-confidence, my self-worth and my resilience, however at the first set back, I was an emotional wreck. I was angry and upset at myself, not at him. It was at this point that I realized I needed to take a break from dating.
I spoke to some friends and concluded that although I may not have been pining over anyone, I still wasn’t ready to be with anyone. I wasn’t ok in my own company yet, and I was still looking for someone to fill the time that I didn’t want to spend with myself. I needed to be more than ok on my own, I needed to be happy on my own, before I could even consider being happy with someone else. I had to want someone, not need them. So I took a break, quite a long break, and came out the other side better for it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a nun. In fact I don’t think I could be celibate, no matter how many times I joke about it, but I did learn the following things;
- Enjoying my own company is the most valuable thing I have ever done
- After a break up, it’s so important to rebuild your life around yourself, not around dates.
- Prioritize your friends, spending time with them and building friendships, because they are the ones that will always be there.
- Let yourself feel sad, let yourself cry, but don’t beat yourself up. Don’t expect yourself to be strong, just let yourself be.
If you’re like me, you’ll hate the phrase ‘It is what it is’, but my rebound brought that phrase home to me. It gave it real meaning. It was what it was, and all I could do was pick myself back up, and care for myself. That’s all any of us can do, make ourselves number 1, and remember that all we really need is good friends and to love ourselves. All the rest comes second.