You can’t escape this: at some point, as a newly single person, you’ll be alone with a lovey-dovey, kissy couple. The “get a room” type.
Be prepared! Here’s the strategy to handle it.
It’s Friday evening. I’m newly single and dining with a couple married 3 years. Second marriage for both after lousy first marriages. Now, marital bliss. (Yes, they met on E-Harmony.) I kind of hate them. Not really of course. It’s jealousy I’m battling, here.
We’re seated at a four top. There are 3 of us. The server cleared the place across from me, declaring to the whole restaurant, “No one will be joining her. That’s for sure.”
We all grin and toast. TGIF? I’m missing my former spousal unit. Or am I missing the habit of a partner? Doesn’t matter. Tonight, I feel the divorce deeply – alone and empty. But I smile hard.
“Time to move on”, I tell myself. I shake off gloomy thoughts of alone forever (the first Manhattan helps). After all, it’s thoughtful of them to invite me “out”.
To prove to myself that I haven’t lost it, and just in case Mr. New Wonderful shows up, I’m prepared, wearing a breezy casual slightly sexy outfit. You never know.
More wine. More Manhattans. Frivolity and the world seems rosy again! I can do this! (I’m well aware that alcohol gives you that happy high, and the downward spiral is coming.).
Then, as if to activate that descent into the abyss, my friend reaches across the table for his beloved’s hand. He squeezes it. He turns to me and says, “I’m so damned lucky to have found Peggy. We fit so perfectly. I’ve never been so happy.” His eyes sparkle and transfer to hers. “I love you, darling.”, he says, and mouths her a big kiss. “I love you, too, Ralphie.”, she says, a little embarrassed but too drunk to do anything about it.
I gag. “I’ll have another Manhattan, waiter.” A little voice tells me this is not the answer. Nope. Bad choice for coping.
They tell me about their forthcoming trip to Europe. I tell them how much fun they’re going to have. We finish the meal. I call Uber, go home, cry hard, and fall dead asleep.
The next morning, I review my divorce, separation, and break up strategy that would have prevented (or at least diluted) the emotional catastrophe of the night before. It’s the plan I share with clients. It works – but only if you do it.
Here’s how to handle the situation when you, newly single and alone, are out for the evening with that gooey-eyed couple.
The essence: Plan ahead.
- Set realistic expectations. You are single. They are not. Expect pangs of loneliness, but know that they will pass. Also, look for reasons that you’re happy to be single. (I get a free dinner out of this. Better than watching Netflix by myself. I’m not fighting about the look he just gave me when I ordered dessert. I have a glorious opportunity to start again with the right person [if that one’s too extreme, skip it for now. You’ll come back to it as you heal.]).
- Allow the couple to be happy. Jealousy is a vicious emotion. It serves no one. Remind yourself that they, too, had their moments like yours. Loneliness doesn’t last forever. Seeing a happy couple can go two ways: it can remind you of how alone you are, or it can give you hope for the future, that you, too, will be happy again. Choose the latter and work hard to focus on it. No one said it would be easy. The reward will be happiness sooner for you!
- Keep alcohol to a minimum. Limit yourself to one – maybe two – glasses of wine. Stay away from high alcohol content drinks – bourbon, gin, etc. When you’re feeling insecure, it’s a sneaky little devil. Alcohol starts as a stimulant – makes you feel happy, self confident, flirty, sexy. Its evil twin kicks in just about the time you’re feeling the best. It becomes a depressant, and increases anxiety and sadness (think drunk dialing and texting). Right now, you need to stay as steady as you can. It won’t be this way forever – but for now, you need to protect yourself. Keep alcohol at bay, or at least limited.
- Dress up. Wear clothes that make you feel beautiful, handsome, attractive. Make it a habit to honor yourself by looking the best you can. It tells your brain you’re a worthwhile, capable, loving being. Dress that way, you’ll act that way. Its not about attracting anyone else. It’s about believing in you, and attracting you!
- Remember: Your brain believes everything you tell it. Give yourself great messages of faith in yourself. “I will be just fine tonight as a single person.” “I’m happy with the way I look tonight.” “I’m going to enjoy being out with my friends.” “This is part of my break up recovery. Each time I do this, it gets easier.”
Being newly single after a divorce, separation, or break up is a challenge that most of us dread. Believe me, it gets easier and better with time. Right now, it may feel like you will never find another partner, or you will be alone forever. Here’s the amazing part: there will come a time when you won’t miss having a partner – and usually that’s when a new one shows up! When your grieving and healing subsides, you may even decide you prefer being single.
You can do this! Yes, you can! It’s simply another step along the road to your new life.