One thing I want to start by saying is, this is THEIR loss. I am not sure how your relationship ended, as I’m sure my past relationships all ended in a completely different way than yours - and that is okay. Some relationships deteriorate in an awful, heartbreaking way, and others can be mutual. No matter the significance, one thing that they all have in common is that the next step is letting go.
Now I know this is easier said than done, especially if that person was all you knew. Being with someone for so long and having that suddenly end can throw your world upside down, and let me tell you: it's not fun. I personally never knew the single life until college; I dated the same person most of middle school all throughout high school. And I can tell you now how important those years are for not only getting to know others, but also for getting to know yourself. I never really got to grow up alone and discover myself without the influence of a male figure by my side. I never had to go out and talk to boys; I never had to be single. I first-handedly know how hard it can be to get thrown out into the world of boys and booze and dating and have to learn to be single again.
Let me tell you: I had NO idea how to talk to men, I had no idea what the appropriate way to flirt with guys was, and I definitely did not know myself without a man next to me. This can be overwhelming - the overwhelming feeling of being alone can cause you to want to put yourself out there and meet every single person with a penis that walks by, so you can regain that attention you were so used to getting.
Now, I’m not necessarily saying that this is a bad thing, but what I think everyone needs to do is take a step back and find themselves before trying to find others. I learned this the hard way, as I used to be someone who sought attention from others in order to feel confident in myself. Looking back, I can see that I put myself out there in a way that I might not have if I knew what life alone was like. I know I was only so young in high school - and that I shouldn’t be using the excuse of being tied down for so long - but those years really are so important. They are the starting point before you leave home for the real world of college. A million men you’ve never seen before are thrown right in front of your face; how the HELL are you supposed to know what to do with that if you never even had to do it with the few guys in your high school?
Instead of worrying about all these men that your newly-single self is surrounded by, you and I both need to start seeing ourselves as individuals. How are we going to be able to form strong relationships with others if we don’t have one with ourselves first? We spent so long molding our lives and morals and interests based on the person we were dating at the time, and it was so easy to discover ourselves with the influence of someone by our side. Now that we are given the opportunity to be alone, we need to take it. We need to run with it and yes, go out, meet some friends, meet some men, but don’t do it for the wrong reasons. Don’t do it to fill that empty space you feel in your heart and your mind, because you can take this time to fill it with the pieces that were missing from you when you were with your significant other. You might feel like the loneliest person in the world, but you can learn to be alone and not feel lonely.
Why do we need a significant other to make us feel good about ourselves? I know how tempting it can be to text an ex and beg for friendship or something more, but maybe this breakup is what’s best for you. You can finally live your life the way you want to without always looking for permission or acceptance from someone else. There is still so much out there that you have to learn if you allow yourself to meet people - the wrong ones and eventually the right ones - and build a character on your own. Do not do anything you don’t want to. Do not sleep with people, unless you WANT to. Don’t seek attention from others because you feel like you are missing the attention you used to get. Instead, get out there and get the attention you deserve: for your talents and your ability to walk with your head up high, all alone.
Before you know it, as you are finding yourself, someone you aren’t trying to find will come to you. You will meet someone that will make you forget the person you once lost. I have not yet found this person, but I know people who have. My single, wild college self loves being single. I have learned so much about myself that I can finally feel comfortable sharing myself with someone else. Life is about meeting people, having experiences with them, and continuing this cycle until you meet the people who you will hold by your side until the very end. So for now, go out with friends. Laugh at yourself when you try and flirt with long, tan and handsome, because I’m sure he once laughed at himself too. No one is perfect, no one is always in a relationship, and no one can love someone else until they take the time to love themselves, first.