Breakup Survival

Week Two: Surveying the (Newly) Single You

The rubble begins to settle. The dust clears. The shock starts to wear away -- leaving you to face the project of rebuilding your life. You've been through a big change, an event that has probably had a profound impact on the way you see yourself. You may still feel wounded and vulnerable, or you may be anxious to move on and see what new people, experiences, and possibilities await you. Both of these mindsets are common. But if you've moved past the turbulent emotional state that defines ground zero, you've arrived at an opportunity to decide just who the post-breakup you is, and who you would like her to be.

Rebuilding can seem like a daunting task. And in truth, it isn't all that easy. It's uncomfortable to be faced with so much change at once. You may struggle financially. You'll probably lose some people from your life. And you'll be faced with a new single self -- someone you have to redefine and get to know, someone different from who you're used to being.

As a newly single woman, one option is hitting the swinging scene of casual -- yet safe -- sex.

But rebuilding can also be tremendously exciting. You have the opportunity to renew every aspect of your life, if you choose. In the rebuilding process, you continue to sort through the rubble, making piles of things to keep and things to discard. Once you say good-bye to the rubble of your past relationship and haul it away, you'll have an assortment of ''keepers'' that you must reposition in your life. And suddenly you'll have all of this new space in which you make your life a custom fit. As you begin to cope with your feelings and acknowledge and accept the past, you'll make your way to a life brimming with new possibilities.

Sex and the Single Girl
As they rebuild, many women find themselves reawakening sexually. Because you're no longer operating in trauma mode, you now have more room and space for sexual feelings to reemerge.

As a newly single woman, one option is hitting the swinging scene of casual -- yet safe -- sex. For many women, this is a time of sexual experimentation where trying on a more liberal persona and fulfilling fantasies of single, sexual freedom can feel like stretching your wings after a long confinement.

Next page: Reinventing the Romantic Ideal

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However, don't be surprised if along with the intrigue of hopping into bed with someone comes some confusion. In fact, you might find that casual sex just isn't your style. As in all the changes you've undergone after your breakup, trusting your feelings is probably the best path. If you dive into sexual encounters against your better judgment just because you're lonely or because you think you should be using your freedom, you may get yourself into trouble, physically and emotionally.

In fact, while many women decide to experiment with their sexuality at this point, others decide to stay away from physical relationships and partnered sex for a while because they feel they need more time to heal. If you thing that getting into partnered sex could seriously disrupt any emotional equilibrium you've achieved, there's no reason not to hold off. Listen to your feelings and follow your needs.

Of course, you may run smack into the fact that you don't feel ready to jump into the dating game or even the land of the one-night stands at all. Issues around body image, trust, anger and downright fatigue from dealing with your breakup may make the prospect of sex with another person unrealistic. What's a woman to do? You guessed it: masturbate.

We probably don't need to tell you that masturbation can be the post-breakup woman's best friend. And while some women see it as a lesser substitute to ''real'' sex or as symbolic of their solitary state, masturbation can be a way to really love and appreciate yourself.

Reinventing the Romantic Ideal
When a romantic relationship ends, many of us also begin to scrutinize the very idea of the romantic couple, and what our vision of romantic love is. Those of us who were raised with traditional romantic ideals of how love should be find ourselves taking another look at those beliefs. Some of us feel as though a veil has been lifted -- and this can bring a lot of anger for those of us who feel that we've been duped by our romantic ideals. We find that, instead of expecting a relationship with a real human being, we were taught to expect some impossible ideal.

This is a good time to explore the idea of developing more realistic expectations about love and relationships. It might be difficult, but in doing so you can find strength -- and more healthy, suitable partnerships in the future.

From sex to spirituality, you'll find that this time of rebuilding your post-breakup self can be heady and exciting. Some women use it as a period to figure out where they want to go in life -- which can be exhilarating. This is not to say that there won't be moments of fear, pain, sadness and anger. But this is the state where you have the strength and the energy to start looking at you. What you've experienced in your breakup has been difficult, to be sure. But it has also allowed -- and probably forced -- you to grow.

What has surprised you the most about life after the breakup? Talk about it here!

Next week: Revamping Your Social Scene

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