Learning to focus on myself post-breakup

A student discusses leaving her relationship and entering the dating world amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

After an abrupt end to my relationship in July, I spent several days hiding under my sheets at home, learning to cope with a breakup amid a pandemic. 

The decision to end it was mine, but that didn’t make the separation any easier. Seeing someone I fell in love with fall out of love with me was painful to watch.

The isolating feelings brought on during the COVID-19 pandemic made me realize I had lost the emotional safety net of having a partner who I could depend on when life was uncertain.

That truth hit me the hardest.

I became single during a public health crisis that prevented me from seeing my friends or having a social life. I lost the security of having a partner who made me feel safe and who I could trust to take proper health precautions. 

I felt more alone than ever before.

I may have had a tough exterior, but when I moved back to my apartment in Philadelphia in August, leaving behind my family and no longer having my boyfriend by my side, the reality of being by myself was a lot to take in. 

As much as I wanted to let go of my ex, I could not seem to move on. Although I wanted nothing more than to forget about my ex and feel like myself again, I was stuck in a slump and unable to come to terms with being single.  

Initially, I didn’t join any dating apps because I was nervous about seeing a stranger outside of my social bubble, and I was still not over my ex.

As time passed, I eventually decided to return to the dating world to lift my spirits. I thought, maybe it would be fun, and it’s what a 20-something like me should be doing anyway. 

But meeting new people in public settings isn’t a luxury many of us have amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

I didn’t have much luck in my attempt to have a cute and safe first date. Even trying to maneuver awkward run-ins with guys on my apartment floor was unsuccessful.

So I moved onto dating apps. I refused to entertain the notion of hooking up in the middle of a pandemic, but I did want to meet someone new so I could have a sense of normalcy and company during a time when both were sorely lacking. I tried Tinder and Hinge, but both of these apps got old pretty quickly. 

My self-esteem was low, having been cooped up inside wearing sweatpants and no makeup every day. I wanted to finally have a reason to get dressed up again after two months of being single and six months of being on lockdown.

My paranoia of contracting COVID-19 led me to cancel any date plans I had. One weekend, I was supposed to go on a date and eat outdoors at a restaurant in Center City, but I bailed the day before. 

In any other case, this would have been irrational. But I felt my response was warranted, given the circumstances. 

This constant dread was exhausting. I had been investing all of my time and energy into dating, when I should have been utilizing it for my own personal development.

These dating apps were merely a distraction, so I had no regrets deleting them off my phone, and I had no doubts that my new mindset would help me heal from my break up and boost my confidence. 

Between being a college student and living in a pandemic with no end in sight, I am straying away from the dating world for a bit.

Dating isn’t worth it for me because I just see it as an added stressor in my life right now. Leaving a comfortable relationship made me feel obligated to go on dates right away, but now I know it was a sign that I should take a step back and get to know myself better first.

I’m saying goodbye to dating apps and focusing on the only person who will keep me safe and has my best interest at heart: myself.

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