Make no mistake about it: Getting dumped is painful. You invest weeks, months, or even years with someone — then the person you love decides that he or she would be better off without you. Suddenly, there’s a hole in your life where a significant other used to be. Nights, weekends, holidays, vacations... everything takes on a new shade when you’re flying solo. And while it’s tempting to wallow in misery, keep the points below in mind; soon, you’ll realize that hey, it’s not actually that bad. In fact, getting dumped can be good for you! Here are five reasons why:
Reason #1: This is a perfect opportunity to reconnect with other people in your life
Sure, you had a good run with your ex — theater, travel, and invites that come with a plus-one option are best shared with a significant other. But think of all the things you used to enjoy that have fallen by the wayside since you coupled up. Like, say, your friends? “I didn’t realize how much time I spent with my boyfriend until we broke up,” said Sherry, 41, from Santa Monica, CA. “That’s when I looked at my life and I realized that I only saw my closest friends every other month!” Sherry quickly set about changing that when she realized how much she’d missed them. Your family will also always welcome you with open arms — and what could be more rewarding than spending some quality time with mom or a brother you usually only see during the holidays? What’s more, now that you’re single and have a bunch of free time to fill, you can indulge in all those things you’ve been meaning to try for years, like redecorating your home, working out at the gym, taking adult education classes, and so on. While getting dumped may leave a vacuum in your social life, there’s an infinite world of things with which you can fill it.
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Reason #2: Being single is a perfect chance to learn about yourself
Lots of valuable learning happens within a relationship, but sometimes, that curve can also be limiting. You may be an expert on how to react to your partner’s mood swings, but you may have lost sight of what’s most important — yourself. Being alone, on the other hand, provides ample opportunity to take stock of your own life, to shine the light on the dark corners of your psyche, and to figure out what hasn’t been working so you can address it. Elaine, 54, from Austin, tried some soul-searching in the wake of her most recent breakup — and is very glad she did. “I wasn’t emotionally up to dating again yet, but saw a perfect chance to start seeing a therapist and to catch up on some recommended self-help books,” she says. By making self-improvement her priority for a while, she now feels better equipped than ever to take on all the world has to offer — whether she’s single or part of a twosome.
Reason #3: There are other fish in the sea — a lot of them, actually
After all the time and emotion that you put into the relationship with your ex, it’s easy to despair that time was wasted. Few people get excited about starting over when they are still holding onto feelings for someone else. However, if our parents have taught us anything, it’s that there are a lot of other options for us out there, and we deserve only the very best. America is literally teeming with single people — around 100 million, at the last U.S. Census count. And it doesn’t matter if you’re reading at the park, buying fruit at the supermarket, or flirting with someone on Twitter, the more you make yourself available, the more likely you are to erase the memory of your most recent breakup. Jeremy, 34, from San Francisco, couldn’t agree more: “I may have waited three months to be emotionally ready to date, but discovering online dating was like finding the holy grail,” he says. Now, he feels he could be on a date every night of the week, which is quite an ego boost... and it also gives Jeremy hope that he’ll find love again soon.
Reason #4: This was the way it was supposed to be; otherwise, you’d still be together
Not in any fatalistic, predestined sort of way, mind you. But in the cold light of day, the conclusion is obvious: By definition, Mr./Ms. Right just doesn’t dump you. The true love of your life would give an arm and a leg to be with you, because that’s how deep, unconditional love works. So, to a degree, it doesn’t matter if your love was unconditional. If your date didn’t feel the same way, then it wasn’t meant to be — a lesson that Marcus, 35, of New York, took to heart after one of his more heart-wrenching breakups. “I was positive she was my soul mate,” he says. “But if she no longer had the same feelings as I did, then I must have been mistaken. And realizing that made it easier to move on.” So, in other words, there’s no reason to pine or be bitter over what happened. In fact, one might argue your ex did you a favor by freeing you up to find the person you are supposed to spend the rest of your life with, so it’s really not a bad thing after all.
Reason #5: Your next partner is going to be an even better match for you
Presuming you pay attention to steps 1-4 above, the sky’s the limit for your next relationship. Being a happy and optimistic single person is the key to attracting a healthy partner. Taking responsibility for your mistakes is the key to future growth, and acceptance of the things you cannot change is the key to moving on. And realizing that your last relationship has no bearing on how your next one will turn out is crucial to creating a fresh start emotionally. “The second I learned to stop holding my ex’s bad behavior against my current dates, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders,” says Jessica, 39, from Los Angeles. “Some guys can communicate! Some guys won’t cheat on me! Knowing this made me feel much less tense on dates.” One thing’s for sure: Love might not walk into your life tomorrow, but having the right attitude makes it much more likely to peek in your open door and ask if you’ve got plans this weekend.