How to survive a Summer break up

If I had a penny for every time I heard that summer is the absolute BEST time to be single, I would be able to afford this.

But since I don’t – and, well, I can’t – the summer of 2017 has thus far been decidedly dampened by the crippling demise of a long-term relationship and bog-standard, high-street priced orgasms.

But still, better than no orgasms right (hey, just because she costs less than half the price doesn’t mean she can’t ride some seriously powerful waves)?

It’s a common affliction of the spurred among us – hearts get broken, showers get skipped and pleasure falls way down on our list of priorities. Breaking up, at any time of year, is hard.

There was a sordid kind of satisfaction in feeling sorry for myself for a while, but once I started listening to my well meaning friends, and nights in the pub got longer and conversations got deeper, I realised that maybe I was, in fact, lucky to be dealing with a summer break up. Better than cold, lonely nights struggling to keep warm, or suffering through family festivities where distant cousins are so interested in your marital status.

I’m a few weeks in now, but deciding to embrace a summer newly single has made me feel better than I have done all year. I’m learning that whatever I have lost, right now I have everything to gain.

Here’s how I’m doing it…

I’m pretending I’m totally fine

Before the inevitable last goodbye, I basically drowned my friends in the sordid details of my falling-apart-at-the-seams relationship. I nearly fell out with one, who told me she resented having to deal with the fallout of a relationship she wasn’t in.

I knew there was a cut off point, and I made the decision not to talk about it, or him, or how I was feeling to anyone, once I reached that point. For the first time in months, I was going out with my friends and being present, rather than dragging them down into my hole with me (trust me, beer gardens are so much more fun when you’re not crying, or looking forward to a drunk argument on the phone later.) And after a few days of telling everyone who asked that I was ‘fine,’ I actually started to feel it. I could do this. I’ve put aside some time where I can mourn, but it’s done in private, and it can be switched off an compartmentalised.

The placebo effect has proven to be a powerful one time and time again, but this study from the University of Colorado lays it out straight.

I’m having sex

And no, not just with myself – although a truly conscious effort not to slack on my once-a-day rule has kept my motor well and truly oiled.  Mainly one-night-stands, but a few illicit liaisons with old friends, too.

This one is often easier said than done, but I’ve been able to use the experiences I wasn’t able to have with my ex – the fantasies we didn’t share and the sex toys we didn’t use – as incentive to actually go out and get those things. And god damn, I’m getting them. Inching my way into my mid-twenties, I had been worried, at times, that I wouldn’t be able to experience all the things I’d wanted to, and though I remember the sex I had with my ex with fondness, the sex I’m having now is just as mind-blowing – if slightly less memorable…

I’ve deleted every vestige of him and the years we spent together off all social media and personal devices. Every. Last. Bit.

This seems a little extreme for some people. Most will want to remain friends with those who occupied significant places in their lives and hearts, after the romantic relationship ends.

But I know this about myself – I’m not capable of that. Knowing how his life continues without me in it means I won’t be able to focus on mine with the wholehearted selfishness that being single allows (and isn’t that the best part of being single?). I realised this worked for me at 16, when I was unceremoniously dumped by my first love over MySpace (I had, perhaps unsurprisingly, met him over MySpace too). Social media was a bitch for break-ups back then, and it’s ten times worse today. Block, delete, and move on I say – it’s the only way.

But I haven’t let go

And this is where it gets a little confusing – for me and, I suspect, for you too.

Whilst I’ve indulged in the metaphorical burning of our memory box and officially allowed the first man other than him to grace my bed-sheets with his semen, this time round I refuse to forget what my ex meant to me or how he made me feel. I’ve learnt that bitterness and resentment – conditions we’re taught we are entitled to when we’re suffering from a broken heart – don’t make me feel good, just as evenings spent pouring over old photographs wouldn’t either. In an article for Psychology Today, psychotherapist Dr David Braucher discusses separating the ‘internal image’ of a loved one from their actual physical self – in very simplified terms, he means remembering how they made you feel can help you to stay in touch with yourself and how you process emotions, rather than the relationship.

Rehashing old sex scenes between the two of you can still turn you on and ultimately be what gets you off, and be totally productive. I used to feel guilty coming to memories of an ex (especially if it was with someone new – sorry lads!), as if I was taking a step backward in my recovery, but in this sense, says Dr Braucher, they become the fantasy, ‘not the real life person who screwed you over and ran off with your best mate, or whatever.’

Maybe it’s the clear skies and the increased scope for socialising, but summer has given me clarity in ploughing onwards and upwards through a difficult time.  I would rather enjoy the freedom of having no strings tying me down, even if I do sometimes find myself missing the security and companionship a relationship offered.

I’ve got a good few months before winter kicks in and my bed starts getting cold, anyway.

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