I have never been the type of girl who has dated a lot. In my three decades of life, I have had very few boyfriends, only one long-term relationship. Ironically, the long-term relationship broke my heart the least, but it did have the most lasting impression on me. It was what I consider now, not a failure, but an important learning experience.
We were together for three years and had a good relationship, but it lacked the fire and passion. We got along well, but I always knew deep down that some big piece of the puzzle was missing. When we broke up I wasn't surprised, I wasn't devastated, but my world was turned upside down. I moved back to my hometown and tried to sort out my life.
My healing time was surprisingly short for how long our relationship was. I set myself to doing things that would have been harder to do if I was in a relationship. As an independent person, this was important to me to get it out of my system before someone new came into my life. I talked to recruiters about joining the military, I took flying lessons, I traveled, worked out a lot, and got my dream job. I didn't put myself out there with men. I didn't want to have someone persuade my thoughts and ambitions and prevent me from doing the things I wanted to do.
Then, six or seven months post-breakup, I realized something about myself. I realized that I was totally okay and comfortable being single, being on my own. I could go out as a third wheel with my married friends and not feel a pang of jealousy or sadness. I could look at pictures of my ex and not feel anything. I knew he was dating someone new and had been since a week after our breakup, and it didn't bother me in the slightest.
Instead of developing crushes on new people I met, I tried to concentrate on my writing, pouring my soul into my characters and their imaginary lives. In doing so, I tried to envision the ideal guy that I would one day want to meet. I created a character that was kind of like me and lost myself in her own quest for love.
Once I realized that I was totally okay being single, I knew that only then could I look at a new relationship objectively and not pining with emotions, the wrong kind. I knew then that I could embrace someone new and not have my head be clouded with the wrong feelings. My slate is clean, and although thoughts of my ex will never totally leave me, I know now that it's a learning experience now, and I can use my past relationship to make my new one a better one.