I’d definitely say my last break-up was the most significant in my life so far. That’s an understatement actually. It tipped me upside down, inside out and floored me! I hope to not have many (well, if any more!), but who knows what life will throw at us. My last break-up taught me not to be dependent on the outcome.
I think there’s something that makes break-ups different in your 30s because not only do you have to deal with all the emotional turmoil, you have the added pressure of feeling like your relationship should be the thing you have all figured out by now. I know, I know. We shouldn’t give in to society pressure and all of that, I get it. But when most of your friends are settled down and your Facebook feed is an endless documentation of weddings, babies and baby number 2 and even 3, it’s quite normal to feel a void. It all seems to harshly illuminate what you don’t have.
“I don’t get it – how has she ended up with this amazing husband and family? I don’t know where it went wrong for me”
“I just want someone to share my life with”
“I want someone but I hate dating because I never seem to meet the right people or get hurt!”
…are a few things I hear regularly from 30-something folks who are single and feeling frustrated, jealous and saddened because of it. Like it’s a code they can’t seem to crack. And yep, I’ve felt and thought all of these things too. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others.
But what I’ve come to realize, is that it’s more than okay to want someone. And when you use it as an opportunity to acknowledge what you know you do want, instead of dwelling on what you lack, it can change your whole outlook on the situation.
It’s been tempting in the past to get into something with guys who aren’t a ‘hell yes’ for the sake of settling down. But why would I do that because it’s going to lead to unfulfilment and probably, another break-up, which isn’t really on my agenda if I know I can avoid it! The thing is, other people might have what you don’t have, but you also have what they don’t. You have freedom, you have opportunity, you have the right to be as selfish as you like when it comes to your life, hopes, dreams, desires. You have the freedom to be experimental, you can travel, see friends, you can date to your hearts content or you can throw yourself into your passions and work. You can do whatever you want.
If your ultimate goal relationship-wise is to find a partner to settle with, brilliant! But moping about the fact that you don’t have that now is a sure fire way to ensure that you won’t get it anytime soon. Your energy will be one of lack, urgency and probably settling for the wrong people.
Really, you have 2 choices. Embrace where you are and all the opportunities that presents. Work on yourself. Unravel where you could have gone wrong in past relationships and figure out what you need to do to change that. Become the person you want to be in the relationship you truly want. Don’t seek validation in a relationship or someone else because it will never ever work. (That is a lesson I have definitely had to learn!) Strive for something, strive for yourself. Try new things, go to new places, take risks, be bold. You never know who you might meet and that’s just an added bonus. Hang out with people who are also single instead of focusing all your attention on your coupled up friends. More importantly actually, just be around people who make you feel good and excited or at least enthusiastic about life.
The other choice is to dwell. Feeling what you are feeling is important. It’s needed and it can reveal some cold, harsh truths that might need to be attended to. But dwelling overload is a slow plummet down the rabbit hole of anxiety. It’s like aggravating a wound again and again. It doesn’t heal.
If you are single (at whatever age!) and unhappy about it, that’s ok. It reveals what you want. But don’t waste what an incredible thing it is to be where you are. Friendship, contentment, fun, excitement, romance, passion – it’s all out there right now if you can allow yourself to see it. The relationship will come once you learn to be happy or at the very least, accepting of where you are.