A new MODA column by Hester Prynne
It’s the beginning of a new year and ALL I see everywhere are articles on how to revamp my weight, my style, my love life. But what about those who end relationships at the beginning of a new start?
No one ever talks about what it means to dump someone. No one ever talks about the absolute necessity of a crazy rebound that you never thought could happen. And no one ever talks about how awesome it is to be single. How many times have family members, friends, relatives asked me if there is anyone special in my life? Honestly. I get asked all the damn time and – let me clarify – I’m never the one to say, “I am by myself and I LAAAHHHVE it!” Because sometimes it sucks and is lonely.
But being single for the past three years has given me a huge sense of clarity and drive towards what I know I deserve. I know I will come off as having too high of standards or being too judgmental, but you know what the break-up-rebound-singledom/the wise words of our age’s sage John Mayer have taught me? Don’t be afraid to walk alone – don’t be afraid to like it.
Maybe the biggest issue with what I did to The Ex three years ago was dump him right after a really shitty Valentine’s day that I admittedly ruined because I was being a brat. I broke up with my long-term boyfriend because I had gotten to college and had no idea who I was outside of him. Breaking up with someone who deeply cared about me affected me more than I expected and has since colored how I see break-ups. I felt incredibly horrible over what it did to him, and I ended up losing, like, 15 pounds over it. The first piece of advice on this process is to never get caught up in the pettiness that is so easy to revert to. You hold an incredible amount of power over your significant other and if you so choose to let them go, do it with class, grace, and respect.
After I broke up with him, I distinctly remember being on the phone with my parents, crying in a snow bank down the block from his house. Their response was, “Thank god, we didn’t want that to be it for you.”
I come from a pretty liberal household when it comes to love and sex. My parents have brought me up to see that there is no rush into lifelong commitment and that there is no way you’ll know what you want unless you try everything. And this was precisely their advice when I was rebounding. Mind you, I was not encouraged to be a big ol’ hooker at all. I was encouraged to try different people, experience different styles, date someone who was totally wrong for me. Because you know what, when life asks you to sit on the lap of a paraplegic in a dance club in Europe to make out with him – you’ll regret not having done it. Plus now I know that I can totally hold my own with someone in a wheelchair.
Rebounding, or the delicate art of using someone as your comeback to the world of sex and love (but ultimately, it’s probably sex), should never be dropped by the wayside. The rebound’s value is threefold: 1) you are worthy of another person’s time and you will be reminded of this; 2) you will discover a newfound sense of sexuality when a new person is actively trying to woo your vageen/peep; 3) you can and should be selfish. My second piece of advice thus is: Do not waste the rebound on someone vapid and gross. Shoot for the stars. No, look at where your stars might be and then find the one you totally had a sex dream about when you were in a relationship. Then go and do that sex dream, because it is totally possible.
I am told quite often that I “get with” guys that are surprising (in the most judgmental, “you aren’t that hot” kind of way). Yes, I know that I am curvy, that I am short, that I have, on occasion, snort-laughed, but that doesn’t mean I can’t turn it on at the 11th hour. Every single person can. How the hell else do you think Geoffrey Arend is married to Christina Hendricks? She legally agreed to ride him without any coercion.
Harness your new sense of self. Don’t lose your sexuality in the drudge of moving on – reinforce it on the ruins of what was. Additionally, being selfish with the rebound allows you to set and keep high standards. You’ve been through the lowest point in hurting someone else or being hurt, it’s your turn to take what you want. You’ve always known what your dream is when it comes to a sexual or emotional counterpart, don’t agree for what is second-rate compared to this standard. In the words of Rex Philpot, “if you aren’t selfish, then you aren’t yourself.” Never let the word “settle” cross your mind. Settling is for nursing home sex when you really just have to search for the least saggy balls, and then it’s game over.
However, the best part of being single is the relationship I’ve cultivated with myself. Sorry, that sounds really hokey. This doesn’t mean I meditate at 5am every morning and found the cure to world peace while saving orphan cancer patients. I am no better a person than I was before this experience. Something that I read by Agnes Repplier right after the dumpage really stuck with me: “It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves and it is not possible to find it anywhere else.” Being single does not mean you are alone. You are with yourself and must remember that that is enough for you to be happy. I had to learn how to be fully content, bursting at the seams with joy, on my own accord. I didn’t pick up a billion hobbies, I didn’t start volunteering and I didn’t stop eating as much sharp cheddar as I did before (if anything, that has increased).
I learned to be joyous and excited about my life for my own goals and achievements, not the entangled experience of myself and another person. I pat myself on the back when I think I deserve it. I get angry with myself when I did not live up to my standard. I now think a little sliver of sunshine definitely shines out my own ass. The most consistent feeling that I experience now is elation over my own life. I am completely independent of the emotional turbulence of a relationship and see that the joy that I emit is drawing that same light back in other people. Unlike how I acted in a relationship, I no longer slow down my journey to accommodate those that don’t support me. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “[T]he girl really worth having won’t wait for anybody.” Although I happily walk my path alone, I know that if someone can keep up with my pace, I will gladly hold their hand.