Pathways through Losses, Breakups, and Transitions...
Losing Your Best Friend Leaves a Gaping Hole
Single people can face many losses and transitions; sometimes they aren't obvious nor do they garner much recognition or support.
For people becoming “single-again” through the divorce or death of a partner, the loss can be profound. Not only are they losing the partnership, but often they grieve the fantasy of "what should have been" as well as the structure(e.g. routines, home, friendship networks, and financial arrangements) of the life that they had built.
But there are other losses, less acknowledged but equally challenging. For example, the loss of a best friend-whether through death, moving, or a serious argument.
And then there are the losses that occur in the dating cycle-meeting someone exciting, getting psyched, becoming anxious or disillusioned, breaking up, and recovering. Demoralized and exhausted, some singles decide to get off the dating merry-go-round altogether.
And lurking behind these “break-ups” are even more powerful losses. Some singles have hoped that this relationship could be “the one” and the stepping stone towards other dreams- having a child and/or building a life with someone. Accompanying the loss of "the dream", one can also experience a loss in one's self esteem and sense of self worth. As Dr. Karen Gail Lewis points out, many women blame themselves if their dream has not materialized. These losses of best friends, romantic relationships, or dreams are often mourned in private. “I can’t share my recent breakup with Bob" says Miriam. "My friends are sick of hearing about him and they don’t understand- they are in relationships and they don’t know why it is so hard for me.” Julie also felt ashamed to talk about her best friends move to Seattle. “Christie was so excited and I knew the move was right for her; I feel selfish for being envious-and angry at her.”
However, there is a “silver lining” in these losses. They can become the opportunity for resiliency and self confidence- which is an oft unacknowledged strength of being single. As Dr. Bella DePaulo and Dr Kaye Trimberger have found in their research, single people develop a “diversified relationship portfolio” which provides emotional support and intimacy. In so doing, they have the opportunity to develop self-sufficiency, confidence, and mastery.
Finally in her article Writing to Help with Transitions, Dr. Beth Jacobs illustrates how Journals can be a powerful and stabilizing support during transitions. Our listing below of of Blogs and Books will connect you to other useful sites as well.