On the day of my wedding, my father made the toast. His little girl — all grown up. As he looked across Tavern on the Green at all of my closest friends and family members, he raised his glass and said, “May this be the day that you loved each other the least.” Not a dry eye in the house. Even the New York Times reporter was so touched that my father’s toast and benediction closed out his article.
As a New Single, I realized that day was the day we loved each other the most. And now, I was The New Single — trying to learn how to survive a breakup. It’s certainly not easy. But there are a few tips that worked for me to figure out how to get through the toughest of time and finally could see the light.
1. Learn Who You Are Now
Easier said than done, but it is possible. Remember, the dating scene changes all the time. Even if you’ve only been out of it for five years, it’s going to look different when you jump back in. It sure did for me. If you’re in your forties, don’t run around like you’re in your twenties, going out to nightclubs and partying all night. If that was never you to begin with, trying it now may feel awkward. You run the risk of being miserable. Maybe bowling is your thing — so go bowling! Or go to an art exhibit, the theater, whatever — but make sure you’re being true to yourself.
2. Your Ideal Man Might Not Be Your “Perfect” Man
We all have a list of the good and the bad, the characteristics we dream about in our “perfect” man, mate, and partner; and the deal breakers, too. Those “perfect” qualities don’t always add up to Mr. Right. Look instead for someone who makes you a better person, someone who makes you want to get up in the morning and say hello, or jump into bed at night to cuddle. Most of all look for someone who respects you RIGHT NOW, not who will love you when you land a more fabulous job or when you become the person who you want to be in the future.
3. Value Your Values
Know yourself and what’s important to you. Know the person you are and the person you want to be in a new relationship. Do you want someone who can support you so that you don’t have to work one day? Are you dreaming of a partner who will inspire you to be a better version of who you are right now? Do you just want to laugh your days away? Or maybe you require all of the above.
4. Stay You — Stay Me
I once dated a man who said I made him chew too fast, and when he chewed “too fast” food came up into the back of his throat. Confession: I have a tendency to speak very quickly, and this would make him nervous. Despite the fact, he thought I was amazing and we had a fabulous time together, when we ate together, I essentially made him ill. He would say, “It’s not you, it’s me.” “Damn right,” I would think, but I really liked him and thought he had all the traits that I thought were ideal for me. So to please him I stopped talking when we ate. Imagine that! Eat, drink, be merry…but please don’t say anything.
It wasn’t until I looked up one day and got real with myself: the fact was, he was not the right guy for me, and an unconscious part of me knew that. I realized I was being passive-aggressive by my all-or-nothing response to his digestive tic. Never once did it occur to me simply to talk more slowly. I came up with a more drastic, and ultimately unsustainable, solution that enabled me to realize that we were going to be that couple that sits together but doesn’t speak together. We parted ways. I learned a valuable lesson about myself, though: I am who I am, and I cannot change that for anyone. You are you — and this lesson applies to you, too. Stay you. Not him.
5. Pamper Your Body
Undress more. Obviously, within reason and in the right environment. But to me, it is critical for you to fall back in love with yourself. I put two huge full-length mirrors in my newly decorated apartment. I walk by them all the time. I used to not look at myself. I had not seen my body and self for a long time. Both literally and figuratively. Now, (blinds shut) I no longer hide from myself. We often take care of anyone and everyone else in order to avoid ourselves. From massages to emptying out my bathroom and replacing almost all of my bath products with healthy alternatives.
Again, these things sound simple and perhaps even silly, but when I walk out of my house, I do it proudly and with purpose, and all of these things contribute to the confidence I continue to work on every single day. Stay tuned for part two of this article next month and remember to take it all one day at a time.
Tamsen Fadal is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.