It’s been three months since I broke up with Boyfriend #4. And man, I’m so glad I can say that without tearing anymore.
At the start of this year, my friends were still betting I’d be the first among them to get hitched. In our two-year relationship, he and I had talked about marriage like it was a given. I’d visited his home regularly and was considered a part of his family.
Then it ended. We realised, belatedly, that we had different life goals. He also confessed to growing closer to a female friend. Hearing that crushed me. I suddenly felt our time together had been a sham.
In the last eight years, I’ve weathered four break-ups. I’ve always prided myself on being able to overcome heartbreak relatively quickly – sometimes within a fortnight – but this last one was tough as I’d thought he was special.
In the weeks after, I felt like a robot, throwing myself into work so I wouldn’t feel anything. But I was still distraught. One emotional Sunday night, I e-mailed my boss asking if I could work from home as I needed some space.
My turning point came when I met a friend who had recently broken up, too. I was appalled by her story. A month after the split, her ex applied for a build-to-order flat with another woman. Upset, she binged on alcohol, developed rashes all over her body (an allergic reaction), and made mistakes at her new job. Her supervisor was unimpressed and passed her over for a coveted training programme.
“I was silly to let a guy mess up my body and career, the two things I have control over,” she said. “Now, I’m putting in 120 per cent at work to make up for it.”
She was my wake-up call. I was outraged to think that I’d potentially let a man mess up my life. I’d lost his love, but I’d not let him take away from me anything else that mattered.
After that, I pushed myself to forget him. It wasn’t easy, but I’m now back to normal – almost. I’m still getting used to being single again, but I’ve got my emotions in check. That’s a big step forward.
And because no one should be derailed by a man, I’ve compiled my personal road map to post-break-up recovery and happiness. These are lessons I’ve learnt with each split and they now form my “manual” to cope with heartbreak.