You may have heard that breaking up is hard to do, but that doesn't mean it's not without some benefits. Shelve that bottle and put a smile on your face because now that you're single, things have just gotten better.
By Victoria Witchey
Can there really be a silver-lining to ending a relationship, to the heart-wrenching pain of a lost love, of finding yourself suddenly single? The answer is a resounding and emphatic HELL YES. Often when we end a relationship, we focus so intently on what we have lost that we fail to notice what we have gained. Contrary to broke-hearted belief, there are extraordinary bonuses, perks and fringe benefits to being a party of one. Lets take a look at some of the handsome rewards that accompany your new found single status and the glorious gains of recent partner elimination.
Freedom, oh sweet freedom. Being solo affords you divine freedom, previously swallowed up by a companion. There's this extraordinary freedom to do, say and act as you please. You are no longer bound by someone's expectations and judgement, you are able to cultivate your life as you see fit. You can flirt with that sandy-haired coffee barista, stay out till the wee hours or finally accept that dinner invitation from the cute girl in accounting.
Its not only actual freedom, its perceived freedom as well- the mental calm from knowing you have no one to answer to, elaborate to or be held accountable to.
When I first ended a three year relationship, I was delighted to discover how much free time I suddenly had. We all recognize a relationship involves work and oodles of quality time, and once we are relieved of coupledom, we realize what a time-sucker it actually was. All those obligational hours of time spent helping them with errands or attending their family or work events are suddenly freed up.
Weeknights become open with possibilities and the weekends transform into gaping wide chunks of time to be spent as we please. In a world where we bemoan the lack of time, a break-up might be the ultimate act of time-efficiency.
A romantic union brings to mind that big C word – Compromise. While it's altruistic to de-prioritize your needs and wants in the name of love, its even more rewarding to liberate yourself and rack up some selfish points. The only person's opinion that matters anymore is yours – how refreshing! You want sushi and a milkshake for dinner? Done. Want to spend Friday night in your boxers watching bad kung-fu movies? Check. Have a hankering to shave your head, horde the box of Thin Mints for yourself or buy a ridiculously expensive surround sound system? Okay, then.
With the luxury of focusing on ourselves as priority numero uno, we begin to make choices about our money, time and pursuits that truly focus on our own preferences. Concentrating on our own desires, opinions and inclinations allows us to theoretically maximize the enjoyment we get out of life. So forget putting yourself second and giving in to the whims of someone else- be selfish!
4. New Hobbies
Photography and writing were two pursuits I enjoyed in my pre-‘him' life. But once we were together, these leisurely activities melted into the background. Emerging from the relationship, I jumped back into them both and regained the passion I had let lay dormant for so long. I had always wanted to take up yoga, and suddenly single, I enrolled in a class and fell in love with the practice of this body-beneficial art.
Being single places you in a spectacular position to take up a new – or old – hobby. Now is the time to dive in head first, take that painting class, learn web design, start training for a 10k, join back up at the gym, sign up for that kickboxing class or business workshop. The rewards of doing so are twofold, not only are you enjoying this new pursuit, but you're also building confidence, skills and extracurricular interests that ultimately make you a more complete and well-rounded individual.
While we are involved with someone, it often seems our friends and family take a backseat. Caught in the time-consuming crossfire of romantic relations, they regrettably fall to the wayside. Now is the time to take your old college roommate up on his offer of tickets to a baseball game, to spend time with your siblings or reconnect with your inner circle. Renewing relationships we have neglected can be energizing, inspiring and hell, often fun.
The opportunity to re-prioritize the people in our world is valuable and should not go to waste. Whether catching up with your mom about the recent exploits of the extended family or hitting the local pub with your buddies, re-connecting with the people we adore not only benefits these important relationships and reaffirms the bond, but also provides us with a support network and reminds them that they are valued- even if you did go six months without calling them while hibernating away in relationship Siberia.
6. Spontaneous Travel
Before, you were limited by someone else's schedule and obligations. But free of those, its prime time to head to Vegas for the weekend or a retreat in Costa Rica. Now more than ever, travel is beneficial for the soul and cathartic for the spirit. Have you always dreamed of seeing the Egyptian Pyramids or standing in awe of the Taj Mahal? This is your moment to throw caution to the wind, book a last minute ticket and scurry off to the destination of your choice.
While planning a trip with close friends has its benefits, there is certainly something to be said for traveling solo. It allows time for reflection, assessment, reclaiming your independence and of course, adventure. If sipping lattes in the Paris cafés or a volunteer vacation in Tanzania isn't your bag, theres always the wild singles cruises and getaways to consider. Head to the Alps for hiking if you've just escaped a nature-loathing ex or hit the world cup if your former flame despised sports. Point is, the opportunities are endless- all you need is your passport and an open mind.
7. Financial Liberation
With a never ending stream of birthdays and Valentines days and the seemingly endless parade of gift-giving holidays, our wallets usually suffer. Lets face it – showering our loved one with affection can be an expensive endeavor. Our income is whittled down in the endless quest for the perfect gift, not to mention the stress and expectations that transform us into quivering messes.
Free from the required purchases of flashy jewelry or fancy gadgets, we suddenly realize we have – surprise!, disposable income. Those four dollar hallmark cards and costly dinners add up quickly, and, quite frankly, there are better things you can do with your money.
This financial windfall is one of the most tangible benefits of breaking up and if taken advantage of properly, by doubling your 401k deduction or setting up a new savings account, can have long term benefits. Whether you want to splurge on a new laptop or a Brazilian steak house, your cash flow will finally be fully benefiting the person who so rightfully earned it: you.
8. New Opportunities
When we say yes to a relationship, we undoubtedly say no to a plethora of opportunities. But now you have re-opened that door and are fortunate to be able to take advantage of countless options. Unattached individuals gain a multitude of chances to say yes to things that were previously out of the question. You can change careers without worry of your partner's disapproval or move to a new city without concern about their circumstances. You're now able to join the Peace Corps, get your Masters Degree, teach English in China, or go to racing school…or any other crazy adventure you can concoct.
Think about what you'd like to accomplish and take a chance, leaving your worries at the door.
Hear that? Its the sound of someone NOT whining to you about their day, NOT tossing and turning in bed and NOT blasting their crappy Fiona Apple music. Welcome to reclaiming your precious space. In this space, all bets are off. You can leave your socks on the floor without nagging and leave your face unshaven for weeks without so much as a raised eyebrow. Its your world now, and you're the only one living in it, baby.
Reclaim your sloppiness or neurotic OCD habits. Leave the toilet seat up or your dishes in the sink. Alternatively, if you've banished a messy mate, take satisfaction in the absence of the aforementioned atrocities. You have no one to answer to when it comes to your decor choices, driving style, bathroom behavior or sleeping habits. So indulge your hankering for jazz, finish the last of the pringles, immerse yourself in your favorite action flicks, eat in bed and leave your towels on the bathroom floor. Spend time to focus on you, reclaim yourself as priority number one and make yourself the center of your universe.