You know how they say one should try to keep elderly people from falling because it takes a long time for their broken bones to heal? I feel it’s the same way with women and their hearts. I think that the older a woman gets, the longer it takes her broken heart to heal.
I remember when I was in my twenties and a relationship ended. I cried till 3 in the morning. I called my brother the following morning and told him I didn’t feel I could go to class (as I was at university at the time). To his credit he didn’t laugh at the dramatics of his little sister, instead he empathised, encouraged me to carry on with my day and told me to call him again if I felt like it. Within two weeks, I had almost forgotten about that boyfriend and was back to my happy self.
In stark contrast, when a relationship ended when I was in my thirties, I was devastated. And embarrassed. I had dated someone against my better judgment and to make matters worse, it was clear I was miserable at work. When a few colleagues asked me if I was okay, I knew it was serious. Instead of two weeks, it took me the better part of two months to get over that relationship.
Happily, I got over that heartbreak, had my heart broken again but still found reasons to smile and laugh. In fact, I can laugh about all those sad episodes now. They give me material to gist my friends and you too.
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And now, on to the meat of the matter – how to get over a broken heart as a single woman over 30. Here are my tips:
1. Realise that nothing lasts forever.
Even though it feels like you will never be happy again, the truth is that you will. It is human nature. Eventually, you get over everything. If you remember that the horrible way you feel is only for a time, you can actually relax, ‘enjoy’ the period so to speak and move into the zone of happiness at your own pace.
2. Do things that make you happy.
Please don’t say the relationship was what made you happy. This is why people often say you shouldn’t make a relationship your whole life. Even if you feel the person you’re dating is the One (which I don’t believe in), you still need interests outside of them. Even if you don’t believe the relationship will end, you still need to find happiness outside it. And by the way, every relationship ends. If not by someone calling it off then by death so build some insurance and create a life outside your significant other.
3. Talk to someone.
The older I’ve gotten, the more emotionally independent I’ve become so while in my twenties, I immediately called my brother when I was heartbroken, when that happened in my thirties, I kept it to myself. I do not advise that. Keeping things like that to yourself is the long, difficult route and may even be why it took me longer to get over a few of the dead-end relationships I had in my thirties. When you do decide to confide in someone, please don’t turn to the first person who asks you what’s wrong or who acts concerned. Instead, think about it and open your heart to someone who has shown you in the past that they are sensible, reliable and have your best interests at heart. Do not turn to another ex to get over an ex. That is just a nasty carousel that will make you throw up when you finally get off it.
4. Focus on your career.
Even if you think your career is a joke. Even if you think said career is going nowhere. Focus on it. Think of ways you can get better at it. Can you take a course part-time? Can you take one online? Can you organise work events? Can you organise in-house seminars? And if you don’t have a job, this is the perfect time to throw yourself into job-hunting. Re-work your CV (again). Revamp your LinkedIn page. Remind everyone that you’re looking for a job. Offer your services free at a start-up you admire. Start a blog. Eventually, something will turn up. Hopefully, it won’t be your ex although that often happens.
5. Go out as much as possible.
I find that going out even when you don’t feel like it forces you to be sociable. You have to smile and talk to people. Though you may feel sad and ugly inside, I’ve found that it’s not immediately obvious to people. Which probably isn’t surprising as everyone is basically concerned with themselves. If you smile and show interest in people, they show interest in you in return which boosts your confidence. If a friend asks you to hang out with her, go. Even if it means also hanging out with her spoiled brat of a daughter because that little girl’s antics will make you smile. It’s like Mae West said, ‘Don’t cry for a man who’s left you. The next one may fall for your smile.’
If you try these tips, I believe that slowly but surely, you’ll start to get happy and will start to build a life you love again. In my experience, I’ve found that when you get your life back together and are all cheerful again, that same ex who caused you pain will try to get back in your life and if they don’t, more often than not, someone else will. It’s like magic. Once you’re happy again, you’ll find yourself having to fend off suitors (don’t I just sound like Barbara Cartland there?). Whether you get back with your ex or move on with someone new, the good thing is you know you’ll be able to cope if your heart is ever broken again and that is a liberating feeling.
Get your copy of my book, How to be a Single Woman in your 30s in Lagos, here.