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When my last relationship ended, I wasn’t happy about it. Neither were my friends. While I lived in my pyjamas and had my favourite pizza place on speed dial, they were trying to set me up with every single guy they knew. For a long time after the breakup, I felt like a third wheel accompanying my married and matched-up friends to social events. I smiled and laughed at all the right times, but inside, I was lonely, jealous, and feeling sorry for myself.

Fortunately, that period didn’t last long. I soon realized that by obsessing over finding a ‘better half,’ I was selling myself short. Being single didn’t make me half a person – it was an opportunity to live my life to the fullest, learn about who I really was, and about what I truly wanted.

#SingleLadies: If you need some tips for loving the single life, here are the ones that really work.

1. Go Free (And Go Wild!)

When you’re in a relationship, you do a lot of negotiating and compromising. If you want to buy new living room furniture, book a Niagara wine country vacation, or move into a new condo, you have to run it by your partner first. When you’re single, these decisions are yours to make alone.

What would you like to do with your new-found freedom? Try new cuisines that your ex hated? Use your vacation time to visit Italy instead of taking the trip to Mexico that he wanted? Paint your bedroom mint green instead of the taupe that he preferred? The only limits here are those you set.

Note: I opted for a two-week guided tour of Cambodia and a turquoise bathroom. No regrets.

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2. Discover Yourself

Your time is now your own. There’s nothing selfish about self-exploration – you learn more about what makes you happy, what you’re willing to settle for, and what is an absolute no-go. When you’ve been in a relationship for years, it can take a while to identify these ‘me’ needs.

Those salsa classes you attended as a couple? You might find that you’re more of a ballroom dancer. Remember all those Breaking Bad marathons that you watched with your ex? You may discover that you prefer the documentaries section of Netflix instead.

Try this self-discovery activity: Start by making a list of five things that you’ve always wanted to try but couldn’t do while you were in a relationship. Then go and do them.

3. Reconnect With Old Friends

When you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to let some of your friendships slide, especially if your ex was insecure and demanded a lot of your attention and time. Now that you’re single, take a close and honest look at these friendships and reconnect with those who are supportive and care about you.

Remember: These reconnections need to be sincere. Don’t use old friends as a crutch to fill the void until you find someone else. Make sure that when you have a new relationship, these friends remain an important part of your life.

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4. Change Careers

Your career is another area of your life where you might feel like you need partner approval. You may be unhappy in your corporate job, but your ex has become so accustomed to the perks of a high salary that you wouldn’t dare tell him that you really want to go back to school to become a graphic designer.

Now that you’re single, you alone decide what you’re going to do with the rest of your life, career-wise. Collect those college or night school brochures and start following your dream!

5. Start a business

This one is along the lines of the previous tip except, in this case, you’re working for yourself. Who hasn’t dreamed about taking control over their future? There’s over 3.5 million entrepreneurs in Canada right now, and there’s nothing to stop you from joining them.

Even if you’re not ready to go full-on ‘solopreneur’ yet, you can test the waters by opening an Etsy store if you’re an arts and crafts virtuoso. Try freelancing if you’re a writer, graphic artist, or IT professional, and you might just find that you make more money doing what you love than what you’re currently being paid to do ‘professionally’. Then, ‘the dream’ begins!

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6. Volunteer

For me, the first few weeks after the breakup were the hardest. I found it hard to be alone on weekends, so I started volunteering for a friend who operated a soup kitchen. Doing something for others temporarily took my mind off my personal problems, and soon I wasn’t thinking about my relationship status at all.

7. Treat Yourself On Special Days

Let’s face it: Valentine’s Day can be a downer for single people, but there’s no law saying that you can’t buy those flowers and heart-shaped boxes of candy for yourself. If you have a lot of single friends, why not have fun throwing an Anti-Valentine’s Day party? Or a Galentine’s bash with your besties? Making fun of romance has never been such a good time!

Another option (for those of you who might share my dark sense of humour) is to have a funeral for your past relationship. It’s all about saying goodbye and finding closure. Just don’t invite your ex!

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8. Moving Forward

If you’re single and not loving it, you can turn things around by changing your perspective. When I changed my perspective, my life transformed in ways that I never thought possible. Now I’m happy and have a productive career, working at a marketing agency here in Hamilton, Ontario. When I find the right person, that relationship will complement an already-amazing life; one I made my own.

Chances are that you’ll meet someone new one day, but until then, spend your singleness living life to the fullest. The best relationships happen when both sides have a solid understanding of their desires and values, and being single for a time lets you focus on these aspects by yourself. You’ll be confident and happy, and your future relationship(s) will be so much better for it. Rest in peace, old flame.

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