By Anna Sampson
After a breakup, especially after one that is particularly devastating or ugly, it is natural for many people to seek out consolation and support. We turn to our family members and our trusted friends to be there for us in our moment of need. We tag along with our friends to dinners, movies, and parties we would normally not attend, unwilling in our post-breakup misery to spend a night alone. And, of course, we start looking for a physical replacement if not an emotional one through a process often referred to as a “rebound.”
While all these actions are understandable, and although it can be healthy to seek out emotional support in the days or even in the couple of weeks following a breakup, the termination of a relationship offers a tremendous opportunity for asserting your independence, bolstering your sense of self, and moving forward with strength and confidence. Some people are naturally more independent than others, but even the most hardy are likely to face a test of that independence in the period following a breakup. At the same time, those who are typically less independent can use the post-breakup period as a chance to go forward with fortitude and to grow as a person.
For someone whose relationship has recently come to an end, how can this independence be asserted? Primarily, it can be accomplished by setting and following specific guidelines and goals. Don’t let yourself spend time with a friend simply because you seek emotional support. Don’t vocalize your self-pity in an attempt to draw sympathy from those around you. Don’t eat every meal alone, but certainly you can set a limit for the number of dinners you eat with your best friend.
So, among all these “don’t” and these self-imposed limitations, what exactly should you do? The answer depends on the person, but there are a few general categories that many people choose to explore. Some seek out a new hobby or more passionately embrace one they already have. Some join a gym and start exercising more. Some throw themselves more wholeheartedly into their work. That last approach should be taken carefully, however. If you do choose to work harder, make sure it’s a healthy outlet – in other words, that it’s something you enjoy.
Being an independent doesn’t mean being an anti-social hermit. Rather, it simply means relying less on your inner support circle. If you make new friends in the pursuit of a new hobby, you are actually handling your breakup in a highly healthy and beneficial way. This approach, if done right, doesn’t simply help you deal with your pain from the recent past; it also gives you confidence and outlets as you move forward. Ultimately, there’s only one person who you truly need for support: yourself.