Singledom Recovery

Breaking up is hard to do. It’s painful, sometimes bitter, and sometimes bittersweet. Failed love turns into angry text messages at 3am from outside Cadillac Cafe. It morphs into you sitting alone in the dark, recalling every little detail about your ex while blubbering into a box of tissues. But no matter how it ends, it is how you recover that seems to matter the most.
Recovering from a long-term relationship is so much like recovering from any kind of addiction – alcohol, tobacco, heroin…you know, the usual suspects. Most of the time, your significant other is more like an abusive substance than a best friend.
When you quit smoking, the experts tell you to replace your habit with a healthy alternative: journaling, long walks on the beach, exercise. Yet, somehow, most of us end up replacing the negative with another negative.
It’s the same thing with relationships. You either end up replacing a serious partner with a new relationship, or you end up an addict of singledom. And what, you might ask, is wrong with that? Well, let me tell you. Everything.
Don’t get me wrong; living the single life has some serious perks: late nights flirting with that hot thing at the other end of the bar, dirty dancing at The Station with someone you’ll never have to think about after that night, secret sex with a mysterious stranger and sneaking him out your window before your roommate finds out. Oh, I could go on.
Really, though, you’re free to act like an ass, throw caution to the wind, and party like you’re still in college. But then, you meet someone that throws your world into disarray.
You know exactly what I’m talking about. One casual afternoon, watching LSU painfully play through three overtimes, you meet someone who is nice, cute, and genuinely interesting. Sh–t. Now what?
Well, I have the answer for you, of course. Actually, I have 12. Think of these as your 12 Steps on the Road to Singledom Recovery. Let’s review:
1.                 Admit that you are powerless over your sex drive. Hell, it’s a part of your very being. It makes you take home questionable strangers and leads to freakish nights (see “Give It to Me Good” in the October issue for further details). It entices you to call your ex after all-day tailgating for some no-strings sheet action. And it wears out your hand or your handy little battery-operated friend.

2.                 Come to believe that there is a greater power than your reckless sexual urges. It is called the desire to go to sleep next to a warm body, the want to no longer be the third or fifth wheel at dinner, and the satisfaction that the next time your mother calls to ask if you are seeing anyone, you can tell her yes.

3.                 Make the decision to turn your life over to this power. Ask that cute stranger on a date. Let free of your fear of rejection. Navigate away from and hit the club, coffee shop, or local singles night for some much needed human contact.

4.                 Make an inventory of all of your good qualities. No, I don’t mean the fact that you are double-jointed in your toes or that you can recite the lines to all of the Star Wars movies verbatim. I mean the fact that you are attractive (hopefully to someone) and that you have numerous traits to offer a partner in and out of the sack.

5.                 Admit to yourself that you are only human. I realize that you were probably the Hulk or Justin Timberlake for Halloween, but let’s be realistic. You probably fart at inappropriate times, you probably dance like a freak in front of the mirror, but all of those damning qualities aside, you are just a normal person.

6.                 Accept that you are entirely ready to hide these qualities for at least three months while dating someone new. Yes, yes, I know I’ve told you to be honest and up-front, but let’s not scare your potential date away with your freak qualities right off the bat. Chances are, he is a little bit of a freak, too. Who knows, maybe he can recite all of the character names from Star Trek, but you’d forgive him if you saw his positive qualities first.

7.                 Humbly accept the possibility that you may have to throw away your childhood blankie in order to get some nookie. Yes, we know it made you feel loved even when your mom and dad were fighting all the time, but you’re an adult now, and damn, that thing smells!

8.                 Make a list of all of your ex-partners you’ve wronged, like your college sweetheart, or obsession, who you posted nude photos of on the web, trashed on Facebook after your break-up, or revealed to be a bed-wetter in your online blog. Whomever it was, you know you’ve done wrong; just admit it.

9.                 Make amends with these people, if at all possible. Permanently delete those photos on the web, rate them cuter than your friends on the Facebook “Rate Me” function, or post a new blog that highlights how your ex never stole the covers and thus only wet the mattress and not the blankets. You get the point.

10.              Take personal inventory of your desire to stay single and admit, aloud, that you will not end up the creepy old woman in the dilapidated house with 30 cats or that creepy guy at the end of the bar who stares at girls when they walk in the door.

11.             Seek through contact with new people the social interaction that will pull you out of your rut. No, your online friends and your characters in the world of Sims™don’t count. I’m talking about real, living, breathing human beings. You know, those people you usually avoid at work and in the supermarket checkout line.

12.             Having had a singledom/relationship awakening, commit yourself to be open to new people in your life. Yes, I know it can be difficult. Giving up the guilt-free trysts with nameless strangers can be so hard, but you have to do it. Seriously, do you want to attend another wedding alone, only to eat your dinner at the kid’s table?

You must complete each of these 12 Steps. And if, at the end, you’re still single, sitting alone on a Friday night, eating an entire pint of chocolate-chocolate ice cream till your teeth hurt, I’m sorry; I just can’t help you.

No, really, it’s all about getting out there again. Your teacher always told you, “You’ll never know unless you try,” and she was right. The effort is necessary and absolute.

And if you’re struggling for a reason or inspiration to start, just think about how good it will feel to not roll over in the morning onto a cold and empty side of the bed. Revel in the thought that you might actually have someone to take to the work holiday party. Dream about the mind-blowing, heart-pounding sex you can have with that new significant other when no venue is off-limits – think washing machine, kitchen table, or your boss’ desk at work.

So come on, get started already!