On learning how to dance on my own (and be happy doing so)


I was quite hesitant about writing something of this sort. Firstly, because you’d only have to make a quick Google search to discover that there are countless articles about dealing with break-ups out there, and I hardly think I have anything new to add to the table. Secondly, I didn’t want to risk sounding soppy/pathetic/completely hopeless at this whole ‘life’ thing. I want to be as honest as possible, but I’m a little worried that I’ll get carried away, reveal too much, and subsequently embarrass myself enormously.

But at the same time, I think a little vulnerability is good for a person. It builds character.

Also, YOLO.

So here we go:

Until April this year, I’d never dated anyone. I’d been out with people on occasion, but nothing really lasted past a few hours of painfully awkward first-date small talk that I’ll maybe write about in a memoir one day.  Whenever I was asked why I didn’t have a boyfriend, my response was always, “Well, I’ve never really met anyone who I’d like to date and also, I honestly don’t think I need one.”

Needless to say, I thought I’d laid some pretty solid foundations when it came to building the strong, independent, Sasha Fierce-esque woman I’d like to be. I went to all-girl schools for my primary, high school and college years. I have four sisters, making me one of six women at home (please do take a moment to think about my dad and brother, who pretty much never get a word in edgeways). Instead of taking a partner to my year 12 formal, I chose to go as part of a group with my friends because we decided that we’d have much more fun with each other (which we did). “Single Ladies” is my jam, obviously, along with “I don’t need a man” by the Pussycat Dolls.

And then I met someone who I quite liked. And who quite liked me back. And so he asked me out. And then we started dating. And he introduced me to his friends, who I got along with really well. And so I introduced him to my friends, who he got along with really well. And he didn’t mind that my music knowledge doesn’t really extend past Taylor Swift. And I didn’t mind that he is a cyclist (even though I typically think cyclists are the worst. But that’s an article for another time). And I had an Oprah moment of “Ohhh so this is why people date. Because it’s pretty awesome.” And everything was great.

And then he broke up with me.

So, yeah.

There’s a whole lot of advice which people tend to dish out in this sort of situation. “You’re better off!” is probably the classic line. And while, intellectually, you probably agree with your very well-meaning friend who’s only trying to help, you don’t feel better off. You feel way worse than you could have imagined.

I wish I could say that I have some excellent and concrete advice on how to get over a break up, but the truth is I really don’t.

The only thing I can say is that sometimes you find comfort in unexpected places. For me, it was while watching The Real Housewives of New York. There I was, sitting on the couch drinking tea at what must have been close to midnight, when LuAnn de Lesseps came out with this gem:

“You don’t need anyone, Sonja. All you need is to learn how to dance on your own tabletop.”

If you’re familiar with The Real Housewives series, you’d be forgiven for thinking LuAnn is speaking in a literal sense. And, while table dancing is obviously an important life skill to master, in this case LuAnn is making an analogy about relationships that I think is pretty spot on.

You always hear people going on about how important it is to be satisfied with yourself before you get into a relationship with someone. I thought I knew what this meant. So it sucked to discover, after 19 years of being perfectly content with my singledom thankyouverymuch, that someone who I’d known for less than six months was able to single-handedly demolish those “Sasha Fierce” foundations. I know it’s completely crazy and irrational for this to be the case. But that doesn’t mean it’s not the case.

So now, I’m re-learning how to metaphorically dance on my own. It might take a little bit of time, but that’s okay. And I’ll need a few friends around to hold my shoes/ catch me if I fall off, but that’s okay too. Because ultimately the world will keep spinning madly on, and of course there will always be tables to dance on top of. As long as I’m comfortable with being up there by myself, I know that it will all be fine.

Love, Maeve4


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