Back in the Saddle Again
This post originally appeared on Girl's Gotta Eat, Lauren's chronicle of her dating adventures.
Let me set the scene for you.
2 weeks post-major breakup. My kitchen. About to go out on my first date back on the scene.
I was surprised at how excited I was. I’d treated myself to a new cold-shoulder mini dress and spent hours doing my hair/makeup (no judgment please – it’s my greatest form of personal relaxation).
I’d ordered my uber and was about to walk out the door when I realized – I had forgotten my #1 first date rule! You MUST have a drink before you leave the house.
Frantically, I ran to the fridge and flung open the door.
Nothing. I had nothing.
Exasperated, I opened the freezer door…and there it was. My greatest enemy staring straight at me.
No, not Freezer Lea Michele. VODKA.
Besides a couple of extremely successful homemade batches of skittle vodka in college, I’ve never had a particularly good track record with this particular spirit.
But what’s a girl to do? I knew I needed a quick fix to loosen up a touch before heading out. So I figured I’d take a shot college-style: I’d plug my nose.
Nothing but class over here, people.
I tossed it back, and INSTANTANEOUSLY upon unplugging my nose, before I even had time to turn my body 90 degrees to the sink…I projectile vomited all over myself and the kitchen.
Now, I nannied babies for years. I know the difference between throwing up and PROJECTILE. VOMITTING.
It was like a freaking crime scene up in that kitchen. But luckily, the laughter beat the tears.
I looked up to the heavens and dramatically shook my hands, palms-up - was this a sign? Was I embarking on a date too quickly post-breakup? I genuinely considered taking my barf as divine intervention, and cancelling the whole shebang.
Instead, I cancelled my uber, and texted the date saying “running 15 behind”. I cleaned the damn kitchen, frantically changed, fixed my hair…and was out the door in a cool 13 minutes.
Ya HAVE to wonder though…was it a sign? After what was probably the worst 7 days in the history of me (breakup, losing a singing competition I’d prepared for for 6 months, throwing out my back, and losing my job), was a date the absolute last thing I needed?
How do we know when it’s time to get back in the saddle?
As I often do during times like these, I gave my wise friend Maddie a call a few days later.
“Oh no, Laur. My dad (a psychologist) has clients all the time who met their now-husband immediately after a break-up. Do your thing”.
Girl’s gotta eat, am I right?
I took Maddie’s advice like the word of God and ran with it. It wasn’t like my breakup had made a ton of self-work evident. If I wanted to go on a date, I could go on a date. And guilt-free, at that!
So... does this mean that I magically just stopped hurting and immediately moved on? Of course not.
But something I learned years back is that nobody knows what’s right for you except you.
Did I have friends who didn’t agree with Maddie, and thought I might be jumping into things? Absolutely.
But here’s the thing- - nobody can tell you how to grieve. Nobody knows how you best process loss.
For the record: if you’ve gone through a breakup and you have no desire to date again anytime soon – MORE POWER TO YOU. To each his own.
There’s not one fool-proof breakup formula to follow (unfortunately). Going out with new people, if nothing else, is a distraction. And like we’ve discussed before, as long as you’re honest with your date about what you’re looking for/where you’re at, you’re totally in the clear.
Yes, being alone and working on yourself is SO important. It shows intelligence and self-respect.
But so does putting yourself back out there.
If you’re ready and wanting to move on (and you’re past the curling up on your couch and soft-crying nightly phase) – dating is one way to do it.
Dating after a breakup can actually work incredibly well. It’s a regular reminder of how many fish there are in that dang sea. It gives us perspective! It’s fun to spend time with new people, and it’s fun to go out!
It can also be incredibly fascinating to begin dating again, when you haven’t in some time. The things you notice and are looking for have changed. You’ve changed. Meeting new people can shape and illuminate the self-discovery you’ve already been experiencing on your own time.
As long as we’re not using dating like a band-aid to cover up our breakup wounds, I don’t think there’s a wrong or right time to get back at it. Nobody knows what’s best for you more than YOU do. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.