• Stephanie Hinds

The Dangers of Post-Break Up Dating

After my relationships come to the usual gruesome and gradual halt, I often find myself alone again.

I always follow my usual routine of giving my number to every walking penis I encounter, standards completely abandoned, only to ignore the endless calls and stream of text messages.

I find that for the first few weeks after a break-up, this does me a lot of good. It gives me people to talk to, when I feel like it, dates to go on, if I feel like going out. But I think ultimately, what it does is help to make me feel desired-a feeling many normal human beings long for after a split, and often the few weeks before the split.

But I also find that in the few weeks after the first few weeks, there is a pang of loneliness that sets in amidst all the phone calls, text messages, unread Facebook messages in the inbox, and so on, that is so hard to explain.

But then I had a revelation.

As I sat in my girlfriend’s living room last night watching I Survived, a woman told the story of how a man broke in to her house and dragged her out into the woods by her home. Despite fearing every possibility that ensues in this kind of situation, the only thing that she could think of was how to keep the man away from her husband who was upstairs sleeping.

She stayed quiet, did exactly what the man said, and even though she could have screamed at once, letting her husband know she was in danger, she knew that meant also endangering him.

At the very end of the show, she talked about how she had used this experience to connect with other rape victims and said:

“It gave all of this a purpose. And that’s all I need.”

The effect of watching this woman’s retelling of her survival story was twofold. The first effect was how she could love someone so deeply that she was willing to endure the dangers of the unknown, so long as it meant protecting him. The second effect was how important purpose can be, and the dangers of doing something with the absence of it.

I realized, in that moment, that the reason we feel so lonely after we get over the excitement of being newly single, free, is because we indulge in things blindly, with no direction and no purpose, that feeling empty and unfulfilled at the end of it, or before it even ends, is entirely inevitable.

Truthfully, the type of shallow desire we crave after a split is a breeding ground for disappointment. The satisfaction of sex is not at all the satisfaction that is grown from a deep and true connection to someone and a complete understanding for who they are, where they are coming from, and where they hope to go.

Despite this revelation I had being quite miniscule, it was the greater understanding that allowed me to forgive myself, and arrive me at peace.

For so long, I found myself making the same mistakes repeatedly. I had these outrageous double-standards with myself and others, and as much as I felt like I was this big bad wolf that knew exactly what she wanted,

I really had no idea.

The truth is, no one knows what they want after a break-up.

Knowing when to leave a relationship doesn’t mean you’ll know what to do after the fact. Having the courage to go after what we want doesn’t mean we actually know what we want. And do you have any idea how much what we want changes when we’re on our own?

We might want to love, so deeply that we’d be willing to be dragged into a forest to protect our partner. We might want to care about someone so truly that their well-being is our greatest concern. We might want to be desired so much that it becomes about the soul, not the sex.

But just because we want something doesn’t mean we get it. And certainly not in our timing either.

My advice, and this is for you just as much as it is for me, is this:

Don’t force yourself to do anything.

If you don’t want to pick up that phone don’t you dare pick up that phone. If you don't want to go on that date, don't go on the date!

Be interested, not desperate.

People can sense weakness like some dogs sense danger. More importantly, it can make you easy prey for ill-minded people looking to get the best of you. Keep yourself and your feelings at bay.

Recognize what is and what isn’t.

I know a break-up can blur our vision sometimes, but if we lose our ability to call a spade a spade, we end up falling for people who don’t truly care for us, and end up caring for people who aren’t true to us.

And one last thing…

Always, always, always find your purpose.

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