Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Cycle Begins Anew. (Being Single Pt 1)

Several weeks ago a good friend of mine asked me to write something about being single. Despite the fact that I had been in a serious relationship for over two years, I still had a lot of strong opinions on the subject (shocking, I know), so I agreed. But I quickly got distracted by life, primarily the organizing and implementation of our annual Halloween party, so I procrastinated.

The next week my girlfriend broke up with me.

I am a prophet when it comes to costume selection.

So, now that I have a lot of free time and the subject matter is once again fresh in my memory, I thought I'd write a series of posts, starting with the beginning of the cycle: the end of the last relationship.


Unless it's your first time around the block, your entrance into the single life is usually born into chaos.

The occasional thrown cookware might also have been involved.

In many ways this is a newer version of you, a rebirth if you will. Technically you're still in the last relationship, emotionally if not locationally, and you will spend a considerate amount of time reflecting on everything (mostly who they're sleeping with already, even if it isn't true). This is a real sweet spot for meeting someone. Many of my serious ex's started their next relationship in this phase of their newly acquired singleness. It doesn't always work out, every relationship starting during this time period will have it's own challenges, but you're used to being WITH somebody and the transition is pretty easy to go from serious relationship to serious relationship. Granted, you'll be burdening your new partner with insecurities as you talk about your ex incessantly, but it sure beats crying by yourself amiright?

I sure as hell don't do it like that, but some people are more lovers than fighters, it's best not to judge them for what the rest of us consider a severe character weakness just because there's nobody around to pick up the pieces when most of us get broken up with.


For the rest of us poor bastards, it means trying to find a balance between the past and the present. Depending on how the last relationship ended, my recent one has been very amicable and mature, there might still be fights with your last relationship, like emotional aftershocks, as both of you adjust to the new reality and still have blame laying around that has to go somewhere.

Then comes the silence, and it comes quickly. Phone calls, usually frantic and common at first, tend to peter off as you don't really have anything new to say to each other and every third time you hear their voice you feel your throat tighten up, so it just isn't worth dialing the phone anymore. Sometimes you'll forget that they aren't there anymore and you'll want to call them with something exciting or funny, or you'll actually reach for their warmth in the night, and that is one of the worst sharp, emotional pains I have ever experienced. In one breakup this phase lasted so long and was so powerful that I used to hear her voice in every crowded room, I almost gave myself whiplash every other day. After that, especially when you let your guard down, is when you really start to notice how quiet things have gotten.

Shouldn't somebody be making me a sandwich about now?

If your last relationship had any legs to it, especially after a couple of years or if there's children involved, every decision you made, most moments of your day, were highly influenced by the presence, decisions, and the noises of the people you shared your life with. Suddenly you wake up one day and it's just gone. No more drinking coffee while playing fetch with the beagle every morning, no more bouncing your random thoughts off of somebody you know and trust enough to share with, no more private jokes or shared secrets, and certainly no more of the casual touches you've become accustomed (addicted) to.

And this is hard. There is no shortcut through this process, if you ignore it your memories will ambush you when you least expect it and, I don't know about you, but I have a hard time thinking up excuses for crying during a haircut. Some people never leave this phase of their last relationship, pining for their loss like dog sleeping on their master's grave. A lot of women handle this phase a lot better than most men, most women having something of a social safety net which helps to absorb the blow, but the secret here seems to be to keep active and to set new goals for yourself*.

I would recommend writing it down, it helps.

Eventually your friends adjust to your open schedule, you fall back into the things you loved to do that you stopped doing for one reason or another, and you put your gameface back on for the next phase of your singleness: Lying to Yourself. This is where things get interesting...

(to be continued...)

*- I'm currently focusing on my eyelash growing, but I think I might take up competitive napping.


  1. Oh, the silence. That is the part that got to me too. Eventually I noticed that I could fill it with repetitive formula pop songs at 3am if I wanted to. And that I could have complete silence when I wanted it without having to negotiate anyone else's needs. I know it's hard in the meantime though. Absence has sharp edges so try to pad it with squishy feel good things: puppies, cartoons, taunting hipsters, one man flash mobs, sending ridiculously funny new jokes to a friend who is also undertaking a rebirth :)
    You do have a safety net. Remember that.

    As for the tears at the barber, tell them you weren't crying, you were just practicing your Tibetan throat singing.

  2. I'm actually much better prepared for this than I used to be. I've been in several 2-3 year relationships, enough to notice the cycle. Luckily, I've gotten better at adjusting to the emotional turmoil, it's the adjusting to the day to day stuff that can take a while.

    How did you know I took up Tibetan throat singing again?