When was the last time you took a break from coupledom? I don’t mean being in a bad marriage, or a relationship where you felt single even though you weren’t. I’m talking about being really truly alone. Voluntarily.
Some newly separated folks jump back into the dating scene before the ink on their settlement agreement is dry. For others, dating is the last thing on their minds. It’s a personal choice - obviously - but the benefits of choosing singledom for a while post-separation are worth considering.
There’s a lot of value in spending time on your own. Little things like making what you want for dinner and going to bed when you’re ready (with lights out and tv off!). Bigger things like discovering what you enjoy doing and making your own rules.
Can you remember what it feels like to be alone? When was the last time you
didn’t have a roommate?
Another benefit to being single is having your own physical space. Space to decorate as you choose. Space to fill with things you love and that make you feel good. If you’ve been married a long time - and especially if you have littles - it might feel like you don’t have anything that’s just yours anymore. As one divorced friend said “When you get married and have kids, suddenly you’re the only person in the family who doesn’t have her own bedroom, her own bathroom, AND has to sit in the middle seat on the plane all the time! I thought the space that was only for me was my handbag, but apparently my kids rip right through that too.”
For some women, taking time to be single after divorce means a period of self-reflection. Of contemplating what went wrong in their marriage and deciding the person they want to be in their next relationship. Here’s what a few women in our community have shared:
-“It helps to take a step back after a divorce, whether it was your idea or not, to evaluate what happened and take responsibility for your role. I didn’t want some of those negative patterns repeated in my next relationship.”
-“Being single after my divorce meant I suddenly had physical and emotional privacy for the first time in 20 years!”
-“I’ve jumped from one relationship to the next since high school. I was never really alone. After my divorce, I didn’t go on a single date for 6 months. I discovered I actually enjoy my own company - I don’t think I ever knew that.”
If you like the idea of not dating and want to take it a step farther, consider a period of celibacy. One woman I know - I’ll call her Jane - made a commitment to celibacy for an entire year following her divorce. Not only did she stick to it, but Jane spent that time doing amazing things: traveling on her own, reading, meditating, and figuring out who she was (which can be hard to do after 17 years of marriage and 4 kids). By the end of the 12 months, she was more centered and sure of what she wanted. And when the right guy came along, Jane knew she was ready.
If the idea of being celibate for an entire year doesn’t sound appealing, consider trying it for a shorter period of time. Make it long enough to really give yourself space and time to be on your own without the distraction that sex brings. The idea here isn’t to just “not date.” True, a casual fling isn’t the same thing as becoming romantically involved. But we all know that sex impacts our emotions.
But be careful just how long you go. There are some really positive effects of sex: improved immune system function, reduced blood pressure, lower stress levels, and less risk of heart problems. And for women, sexual activity can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that do important things like support the bladder. Which means that lack of sex might increase your odds of, ummm….leakage. I’ve also heard there’s a bit of “use it or lose it” when it comes to your female sex organs. I don’t know if it’s true, and I don’t want to find out. 😳