I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person. – Oscar Wilde
Throughout all ages and cultures, a common story threads its way through each of our lives.
We are alone. We fall in love. We fall out of love. We are alone.
Nearly all of us will experience this familiar cycle over the course of our lives, possibly many times. In the lovey-dovey moments, we make space in our lives, in our hearts, and even in our bedrooms for another person. Understandably, if that person exits, we feel a gap in our lives. “The Gap” can be painful, lonely, heartbreaking, uncomfortable, and worthy of a monumental chocolate binge.
As an introvert, I did not anticipate to feel the crush of “The Gap” too tremendously. I overestimated the strength of my introversion. I literally felt myself becoming more and more willing to morph into someone I wasn’t, hoping to find anyone to quickly fill the gap. It was like an addiction. Must. Fill. Emptiness. The realization that I was doing this became a flashing neon sign: Danger ahead. I suddenly realized that “The Gap” was only in my head. “The Gap” is a lie. I am a whole person. I am not empty. I am already full. I just had momentary amnesia due to swooning love and the subsequent loss of swooning love.
The movie Jerry McGuire has done a disservice to humankind everywhere for nearly two decades with the famous line: “You. Complete. Me”. This line perpetuates the lie of “The Gap”. Nobody completes us. We are already complete. I am already complete.
While it is exceedingly important to lean into friendships and family relationships during the post-break up period, it is equally important to nourish, cultivate, and embrace relationships with ourselves. If we do not pause and re-discover who we are, what we like, and what makes us tick, we heartsick singles will inevitably rush into another relationship to fill the ugly lie of “The Gap”.
So I decided to date myself. Dating is an institution created to get to know somebody, to learn what makes them laugh and makes them cry, to discover their personalities as well as their likes and dislikes which was exactly what I needed to do with myself. Furthermore, dates provide something to look forward to. In the “blahs” of the post-break-up, there can be something exciting to anticipate at the end of the workday or school day.
I had been wanting to do two things: buy new clothes for spring and try a local gluten-free-friendly Indian restaurant, but I had created many excuses. I was “too busy”, “too tired”, or “too single”. Finally, I decided to trash the excuses and take myself out on a date. First stop, the mall; second stop, Tikka Masala.
I spent an excessive amount of time trying on the new spring fashions. I slowly strolled through beautiful jewelry departments. I stood still and admired shoe after shoe after shoe. I shopped the way I like to shop. I relished in every second of my nag-free shopping adventure.
When I arrived at the Indian restaurant, the very kind restaurant owner was puzzled by the fact that I wanted a table for one. “Just you?!” he asked not incriminatingly, but in absolute confusion. I reminded the traditional, older man that the table was indeed just for one. The younger waiter approached the table and when he realized I was its sole inhabitant, he asked with a baffled expression “Just you?!”. Just me. I scarfed large quantities of the best Indian food that has ever graced my mouth. It was not pretty, but it was glorious. I enjoyed myself immensely. I was quite the fun date, if I do say so myself. I discovered that I could easily sit at a table in a restaurant by myself. I reminded myself that I am whole.
So, all you in the post-break up blues – go to the theater and see the movie you want to see, take a walk through the park and see the blooming flowers, go painting or ice-skating or rock-climbing. Date yourself; reconnect with yourself. Rediscover who you are and what makes your heart light up. Remember that “The Gap” is a lie. Dare to say with confidence, “Table for one.”
Featured image via Unsplash