Break ups, loneliness and the dreaded Valentine's Day

Yup. It’s that time of year again. Dust off the champagne flutes and tap into your inner poet for some romantic Valentine’s Day card content, the big day is nearly here!. No matter how you feel about the relevance of such a date on the calendar, for those of us who are single or are dealing with a relationship breakup or divorce, Valentine’s Day can be difficult to ignore. If you’re struggling, don’t ‘text the ex’ or spend the day under the duvet crying… read this instead!

The chances of getting what we want increases dramatically when we let go of our need to have it.

About 2 years ago I sat in a coffee shop with a very good friend of mine, Edith. Being sat in a coffee shop was not unusual, we would often meet and talk about life, love, work and anything else that was interesting news. Both being in our 30’s, relationships was something that would come up often - recent dates, past relationships, future aspirations. But this time was different. This time Edith had a different energy about her. Edith wanted to have her own family, to maybe one day get married, have her own home, just as so many of us do. However, the ‘dating scene’ had proven to be pretty weak for the past couple of years, her modest salary barely stretched to cover rent and the cost of living in a big city, and like a lot of women in their 30’s, Edith believed that time was really running out to ever start a family. “I’ve come to the realisation that the life I want is not going to happen. It’s just too late to meet someone and settle down in time for us to have a family now. I haven’t got any time to date and I’ll never be able to afford to buy a house here on my salary alone”. This wasn’t a cry for attention. The air of resignation and surrender was clear, and so was the tone. This wasn’t a demand for sympathy either, much more an acceptance of the facts, a cold hard look at the numbers, and a choice to focus on living her life with other aspirations than a search for Mr Perfect and the happy family. It was a very powerful moment.

Fast forward to today and we find that Edith has booked in to see me next week at the clinic. Is she still coming to terms with that decision she made sat over coffee that day? Nope. Edith is coming to see me for some techniques to help with childbirth… that’s right, Edith is pregnant! In fact, Edith isn’t just expecting her first child, she is engaged to be married and living happily in her own home with her new fiance. Absolutely true story.

Just a coincidence you might think?…

The reality is that this happens way more often than you might imagine.

The power of a word.

Have a read of the following statements:

“I have to meet someone in the next 2 years or I’m going to be too old to have children.”
”I can’t find a decent woman anywhere, they’re all the same.”
”I need to buy my own house as soon as possible, I’m wasting all my money renting.”
”I am going to be on my own for the rest of my life, old and lonely.”

When you read those statements, what kind of feelings do you get? Certainly not a sense of fun, relaxed, happy individuals. You probably get more of an immediate sense of pressure, urgency, obligation or desperation? These linguistic structures indicate that these ‘are people being driven by necessity, certainty and impossibility. They have created rules and absolutes which are based on beliefs, not facts. What kind of behaviour do you think follows on from these kind of rules and beliefs? Can you imagine being on a date with someone who believes that you’re ‘the same’ as all the other women out there? Or starting a relationship with someone who has already marked on the calendar when you ‘need’ to have conceived your first child?

These are not extreme examples. These are language patterns and drivers of behaviour you see every day if you look around you. Perhaps you can even recognise similar patterns in your own language or internal dialogue?…

Change your language. Change the stories you keep telling yourself and other people. Change your outlook and just accept that you can’t force these things, what will be will be. You’ll be amazed how your life will change as a result.

There is always a blessing amongst the pain.

For those of you reading this who are still struggling with a breakup, here is something really powerful to consider after some time when things are not so raw.

Some people come into our lives for a second, some for a season, a decade or perhaps longer, but they all provide an opportunity to learn something about ourselves, or about life. Some of these lessons can be really painful. However, if we allow ourselves to explore these experiences openly and honestly, we can often come to realise that we learnt vital lessons from these experiences which serve us in a positive way today. Perhaps you ignored some red flags and warning signs early on in a relationship, and you won’t make the same mistake again? Perhaps your controlling ex partner has given you a sense of gratitude for your freedom and independence that you never had before? Perhaps that horrendous breakup led you on a journey of self-discovery, a new career, a new friendship group, new hobbies?…

So before you go putting any more pins in that voodoo doll of your ex, have a real hard look at what they’ve taught you. You might surprise yourself and find that you actually have some things to thank them for!

The truth is that you are enough. You have everything you need within you.

It might sound like an old cliché, but it really is the truth - if you’re not happy on your own, you’re not going to solve that by trying to find someone else to ‘make you happy’. Spend some time alone, get to know the real you! Find out what you really want, what makes you happy, what your boundaries are, what you are looking for in a relationship, if you even want one at all… Once you have that, you’ll be in such a strong position to accept and attract the right type of people into your life. It really is enlightening to know this:

No matter what happens, you will be okay on your own.

If you’re spending this Valentine’s Day on your own this year, write a little list of all the benefits of being single, buy yourself some flowers or something nice and spoil yourself rotten for a change. On Friday the world moves on and forgets about Valentine’s Day for another year and, just like my wonderful friend Edith, who knows what’s around the corner for you with the right mindset…

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Ed Smith