(note: This is Part II of What to Do After "I Don't" - Part I.)
It's been a few days, weeks, or maybe months after the breakup. That searing pain in your heart has begun to subside. But the dull ache that’s left can last as long as we let it.
We all have friends who—years later—still haven’t made a full recovery. If you’re in that boat, my heart goes out to you. It’s an awful feeling. While I can’t pretend to have all the answers, I have found these principles helpful in the next phase of moving on.
Reach out to friends, old and new. Use your new-found free time to focus on your other relationships. Take time to deepen budding friendships. Renew old ones. You may discover someone going through the same thing, or someone who quickly becomes a kindred spirit.
Don’t pretend to swear off men all together. Men aren’t all bad. They won't always hurt you, even though Mr. Very Close did. Discern how long that purposeful break from dating should last until you're ready to start seeing other people again.
Tell your friends to get over it. Many of them may have been convinced you’d marry Mr. Close—and remain dumbfounded weeks later. Well, you’re not marrying him, and it’s not doing you any favors to be reminded of how close it could have been. For you to move on, they need to move on, too.
Have fun! This is the perfect time for a reminder of just how much life has to offer—and how much you have to offer it. Go on some adventures that will put a smile on your face. One day you may even come home with cheeks sore from grinning too much.
Do something you’ll be proud of. Face a fear. Finish something you’ve been working on. Learn a new skill that will help you professionally. It could be as simple as driving on unfamiliar roads without GPS or showing up to an event where you don’t know anyone and making new friends.
Open your heart to the idea of someone new (though you still shouldn’t be jumping into anything). Once you can be excited about the prospect of meeting the man who will one day become your husband (and stop picturing your husband as Mr. Close), returning to a more normal mindset will get much, much easier.
Moving on requires a great deal of mental strength and willpower. Reader Christina reminded us not to dwell on the past, to avoid indulging in idealizing the relationship or harping on its flaws. You don’t have to erase it, but that part of your life is over and needs to get filed away with other parts of your past that don’t need to be revisited often. Once you can see ahead and around that bend, life looks beautiful again. You'll begin to grow in ways you never could have before--and after a while you'll may even be grateful for this season of singleness. Join me in tearing off that rear-view mirror and throwing away your rose-colored glasses. You won’t need them anymore.
(Image via flickr user WTL photos)