Dear Dr. J.
I am a mid-30s newly single man, and finding it difficult and a bit lonely to navigate my solo status after my 5-year relationship ended. I am not ready to date, but I also wouldn’t mind having a special friend to hangout and do things with. How can I maintain my current relationship boundaries, but still have an active social life?
All by myself
We are social beings, and if you are accustomed to being out and about with friends and such, being single may put a damper on things. Depending on how your relationship ended, you may feel a variety of positive or negative feelings, and not be sure how to process them and move on. You may want to jump right back into the dating pool, but it may be wise to consider taking time to reconnect with yourself before entering into a new relationship. I know for some this will be easier said than done, especially if your circle of friends is mostly partnered.
After a long-term relationship ends, being single can have its own benefits. Embrace this new level of freedom with a renewed since of self. Use this time to focus on self-care, and self-awareness of your personal interests and desires. Having time to reflect on if you want to be in a relationship, what you want in a partner and relationship, what your boundaries are, and exploring your love languages will help you to heal any relationship wounds and prepare you for future relationships.
As you begin to adapt to your new normal, you may have the opportunity to re-establish old friendships. This is a great place to start when seeking out a connection with someone who is familiar with you and may have common interests. When engaging with others, the first thing is to be open on what you are seeking. Be transparent in what your desires are, and why. If you are truly looking for companionship only, communicate that to them. You don’t want to lead them to think that this relationship is more than platonic. You want to create an environment that fosters healthy relationships and friendships. You may find a friend that is looking for the same type of arrangement and is looking for an emotionally safe space without the headache of traditional dating.
When establishing new friendships, consider the activities that you enjoy doing solo and those that you enjoy doing with company. This is another great way to foster friendly interactions. Get out and live. The best place to meet like mind individuals is doing those things you would like to interact with others while doing. Frequenting locations with a different view and perspective can contribute to how you show up in those spaces. Meeting in a natural and organic manner may also alleviate some of the awkward beginning stages to determine if you all have commonalities.
Lasty, enjoy all the phases of your journey. Each has its pros and cons, and we learn more about ourselves along the way. The biggest thing is to be honest with yourself about how you are feeling, and what you truly want. This way you can be more thoughtful in what you communicate to those you decide to include in your personal space. Take the time you need to heal from the breakup, but also, don’t stop living and enjoying life. Embrace the change and move forward with a positive outlook.
Peace, love and orgasms,
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Column Disclaimer for Readers
The information contained in this column is for educational and informational purposes only. The information contained in this column is not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as, medical or health advice. While the professional does address sexual health issues, the information provided in this column is not a substitute for medical or health advice from a professional who is aware of the facts and circumstances of your individual situation. The views and opinions expressed in Dear Dr. J. are solely of the author Jennifer Scott, PhD, MPH, CHES®, CSE.