Does this sound all too familiar? When you were in a relationship with your ex, your social calendar was so full, you had to turn down invitations to hang out with friends from your various social circles, just so you two could have some alone time together. You two would schedule your weekends together…game night with this group of friends once a month, a double date with this couple every third Thursday, happy hour with the couple you just met in your condo building, and so forth! But now, now that you’re single and ready to mingle, you have to seek out friends to spend time with if you don’t want to spend your Saturday nights crying over your sushi after the world’s worst date (I speak from experience…sushi tastes much better lightly dipped in a low-sodium soy sauce rather than being drenched in your tears from an ugly cry). So, where are those friends now…those friends that would send you an evite months in advance to ensure that you were free to come to their Halloween party when it was only July?!? Well, they’re long gone, honey! But don’t worry your pretty little head…they’ll be back, just as soon as they start seeing your new couple pics in their Facebook feed! It’s a given that the friends he brought into your social circle will go by the wayside once you break up. It’s kinda like dividing your assets when you get divorced…he’ll take his friends with him when he goes on his merry way, and you’ll do the same…or so you thought! After each breakup with my long-term exes, my “high school sweetheart,” my “best friend,” and my “perfect on paper guy” (read more about them here), there was a period of time where the invites stopped coming in and those “couple” friends stopped blowing up my phone wanting to hang out after work and on the weekends. In the age of social media, it can be a bit of a double-whammy to the ego when you see both your ex and your friends moving on with their lives. Sometimes I think it would be easier to just blame the mailman for losing your invite to that memorial day BBQ that you saw everyone having a blast at on Facebook. The least those “friends” could do would be to hide those pics from you on FB so you don’t feel more pathetic than you already do, sitting in your jam jams and binging on Netflix, while licking the last remains of your favorite junk food from its wrapper.
So why do they do it? Why do your friends dump you after getting dumped (especially when you’re feeling your most vulnerable)?? It’s really not their fault, you see…coupling up goes all the way back to the time of Noah’s ark…even before then really. It’s only natural for people to want to couple up and to see those around them do the same. I’ve discovered recently (yet again) that it makes some people uncomfortable when they’re confronted with something they don’t understand, especially when that something is a 34-year-old single gal pal without any kiddos in tow. So rather than acknowledge the elephant in the room (yours truly) at couple’s game night, it’s just easier to “forget” that person’s invite altogether. But don’t be fooled into thinking this only happens with your couple friends! Oh no, it will happen with your single friends too, but hopefully not as much. If they’re your ride or die friends, they’ll be there to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s with you, while simultaneously affirming your awesomeness and condemning your ex as a major loser! But just make sure not to ride that misery-mobile for too long, otherwise your bestie is going to get tired of your whining and jump ship. So pull up your big girl britches and show the world just how awesome you truly are by living life to the fullest (and I don’t mean from ice cream and potato chips) and being the most authentic version of yourself that you can possibly be. However, don’t be surprised if some of the ladies in your she-wolf pack drift away and become lone wolves. Your misery and insecurities after getting dumped may bring out similar feelings of loneliness/hopelessness/discontent/etc. in your girlfriends. The best thing to do in this situation is to not take it personally and just keep doing you (minus the wallowing in self pity part). We’re all doing the best we can do in life, and I’ve discovered that 99% of the time, when a friend goes MIA, it’s not about you. It’s about whatever is going on in that person’s life at the time, and unfortunately, whatever is weighing you down in life at the moment may trigger certain land mines in your friend’s life. Instead of resenting that friend, just work on you and your happiness, and if the friendship was truly meant to be, they’ll be back. This doesn’t make your friend shallow or any less empathetic, it simply makes her human. 🙂
So what should you do with yourself and your newly found free time? First, set a finite amount of time to grieve over your failed relationship. For me, this was a two week process. I binge-watched lots of sappy, romantic comedies and tragic romances/stories of unrequited love on Netflix. I sat around in my jam jams and stuffed my face with my favorite comfort foods. I went out salsa dancing to let off steam. I cried on the phone to my mom and cursed his name to my best friend (and kicked myself for not breaking up with him first)! Then, when my two weeks was up, it was time to pull myself up by my bootstraps (I am a Texan, first and foremost) and get on with my bad self! I started a one woman movement to rediscover myself…my passions, my desires, what makes me unique, etc. And just how did I do this, one might ask? Well, I committed to doing something social and something new every week. One week, for example, I took my dogs to a new dog park I had been meaning to try and then got all dolled up for a date with myself at a local wine bar to listen to flamenco music. I ended up chatting with a complete stranger all night who had the most fascinating life stories to tell. We somehow never exchanged names, but I felt like she was a kindred spirit sent to lift my spirits. The next week, I ordered groceries online for the first time ever and then dragged my sad butt to a salsa dancing social. Another week, I chopped off all my hair and explored a nature preserve with one of my besties from college. And I kept doing this every week until I got my groove back! I was very intentional about being social and trying something new every single week, and I didn’t let myself slack off. I even kept track of what I did every week in my Erin Condren planner. This was a way to hold myself accountable, and it forced me to not only get out of my rut but also out of my comfort zone. I went from feeling sorry for myself (because it seemed like no one wanted to hang out with my sad mac self) to finally living life to the fullest on my terms!
This one woman movement to rediscover myself has completely revolutionized the way I live my life and has helped me gain an immeasurable amount of self-confidence, while letting go of self-doubt/pity/loathing/etc. And ya know what? Even though I don’t have a man cheesing next to me in my Facebook pictures yet, some of those friends that went all lone ranger on me have started resurfacing, just like I predicted they would! If you’re in a similar sinking boat like I was last spring, commit yourself to doing something social and something new each week, and let me know a few months from now what your awesome, new life looks like! I am soooooo much happier now than I was when I settled for just being content in my last mediocre relationship. And guess what! This new life that I’ve created for myself looks nothing like my coupled-up life looked like at the time, and it’s way better than anything I had imagined. It takes courage to imagine a new life for yourself. Since courage is defined as strength in the face of pain or grief, and just like the incomparable Kelly Clarkson reminds us, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” it’s time to flex that she-muscle and live your best life now!