Adjusting to being single

After six years in a relationship, I’m a few days away from my final move into my own apartment again. It’s a civilized parting, two people who realized they were not meant to be life partners but could still be friends. It’s still very hard to get used to though, especially since I’m not just leaving her but her son. I’ve lived in this house with them for almost five years and they’ve become my family. Now they’re not…I’ll still get to see him occasionally but it won’t be even close to what it is now.

I’m 38, and on my own again. Children and family responsibilities fill so much time, and now all that time is available. I have no idea what to do with it, how to fill the void. Any advice from people who’ve dealt with similar situations would be appreciated.

Don’t go nuts. Contrary to what a lot of single people will urge you to do, don’t go out hard-partying and trying to go back to your bachelor youth. Obviously, don’t become a shut-in, but just keep yourself cool.

Also, my commiserations.


The couple of times I’ve left long-term relationships, I usually just make sure I get out. Go see friends to have dinner or play games (video, board, poker, whatever). Also, I get back into hiking heavily whenever I’m single. I don’t know where you are, but I find hiking to be so incredibly relaxing while providing your body a decent workout to relieve the stress of readjustment.

Good time to take up a hobby. Hobbies are great ways to meet people in a neutral environment. Sierra Club, gardening, board games, bowling, golfing, etc.

If you don’t have a hobby, get one. If you need to work off a couple of pounds or improve your current great body shape ( as in Brian’s ‘lost job’ thread) join a gym and lose yourself in it for a week or 2. It’s a good physical workout, create endorphins and all the rest of the stuff, plus after a month or so you start to see results and it’s better than sitting on the couch drinking beer and pigging out on pizza.

For me it’s been better to not see the other person for a while after the ‘break/move out’ - maybe a month or 3. Give yourself time to ‘find yourself’ and get used to not having 2 other people around all the time.

I’ll second what Telefrog said - no need to go overboard on the going out thing, but don’t stay home all the time too. Get some social and human interaction outside the office.

After one of my breakups I did about 2 months of going out to watch bands and write crap reviews for a local website, It took my mind off things, gave me something to do, exposed me to other people and I like live music and dabbling in writing, so it worked out pretty well. It was also nice to have the “potential” to chat up people, or if I didn’t feel like it, I could play a “sorry - I need to go home and submit this review” angle.

Get a dog, put frilly dresses on it, and give it the name of your former significant other.

I would be devastated if I grew attached to a kid and then wouldn’t see him anymore. The dame I’d probably be cool about. Good luck!

Familiar with the comedy stylings of Louis CK? Much of his comedy comes from a similar place, though in his case, he was married and is now divorced.

Entire sets of comedian are available on YouTube (his HBO One Night Stand special, Shameless, Chewed Up, and most recent, Hilarious) if you know where to look. His not-quite-a-comedy show on FX is on Hulu in its entirety.

That’s not really an option with a kid.

I’m in a similar place as you right now, Mad Hatter (might be a decade or two between us age-wise, though). For the next two weeks, I’m losing myself in work. As soon as I get a chance to catch my breath over the Christmas holiday, I’m going to hold my own december-wrimo.

Oh, and probably play a lot of Halo: Reach with my brother. Just do something, with someone.

I’m sorry to hear that, Hatter. A kid must make it even worse. Even if you weren’t legally married, you’re essentially getting divorced.

I think you moving out to a new place will help more than you think, just in terms of what you see every day. A significant other moving out of a house/apartment YOU own is harder, imo, because your mind keeps sliding into the assumption they’re there. It results in a frequent re-living of the loss (sort of like the death of a pet), while being in a new place is in many ways a fresh start.

I’ve had a girlfriend living with me for about a year now. I occasionally get a wave of dread when the thought of the day the breakup hammer falls pops into my head. I just kind of instinctively expect it to happen some day, but I guess I’m a pessimist in that way. Or just a commitaphobe. Or have had so much negativity regarding marriage drilled into my brain that I can’t even consider an endgame other than a breakup (which is odd, considering my parents have been together for over 30 years now).

Remember to avoid the three R’s:

  1. Recividism: Whatever progress you make, don’t backslide. Don’t spent an inordinate amount of time thinking on how things were back in the day or how things “might have been”. Move forward, not backwards.

  2. Rebounds: ESPECIALLY when getting out of a long-term committed relationship, do not even consider jumping into something new. Your brain isn’t adapted to it yet, you need time to depressurize, like a deep-sea diver. All your emotional reflexes are conditioned to that familiar, lived-in relationship feeling, and trying (even without realizing it) to judge a new relationship with that metric still in place is a recipe for failure. Give yourself time to adjust to your new situation before diving into that pool again.

  3. Redheads. They will destroy you.


Obviously we were too late to save this one from his own folly.

The main point(s) stand, though: keep a sense of humor and keep yourself busy, and try and focus on something constructive to fill the void - and there will be a void. Learn a new hobby, take up a musical instrument or sport, or even become a masked crimefighter. “Evil crimson-tressed strumpet! Step away from that innocent young man, lest he be led into iniquity!

Okay, maybe not that last one. (That’s my gimmick, dammit.)

Fixed. At least in my case. :)

Build a fort out of sofa cushions and pillows.

And soon to be mine.