The Ex Files Vol 2: Thriving in the single life

If children can be single and happy, so can you.

In many ways, becoming single after a long-term relationship is a child-like, cathartic experience. Your breakup is the first blank page of a new chapter in your life, the content of which is bound by nothing. It's time to go out and play.

Maybe your relationship wasn't a ball and chain. But the responsibilities of long-term romance invariably conceal paths in life that you have yet to explore. This is your opportunity to find and explore them.

You may long for a return to the la-la land of committed intimacy, but you'll only attain it by moving forward in your life - not by looking back. Every path you take, every chapter you write, will contain an abundance of new relationship possibilities.

But let this be your incentive rather than your priority. As you discover new paths, be inspired by fresh romance, but don't chase it. Hook up and date, but don't step into anything too deep until you get back on your own two feet.

If you don't want to suffer the classic faux pas of a rebound, wait until you are just as happy or happier being single before you even consider another commitment.

If you're still entrenched in the emotions of the breakup, still living in the memories rather than the moment, and still fixated on how you'll win her back, you'll probably meet the blank page with writer's block. To break through, focus on anything empowering.

Listen to a great song (that doesn't remind you of her). Start exercising or lifting weights. Write down a list of your fears and face them one by one. Embark on a challenging project. Master hobbies you haven't practiced in a while. Or simply chill with friends who could give a damn about your love life.

Whatever path you choose, you must partition the relationship-you from the single-you by breaking your emotional state and taking your life in a new direction that excites you.

The courage to handle the breakup as a fresh start rather than an endpoint will expand your personal evolution and open you to future relationships better than you ever thought possible.

Commonly, women subscribe to the post-breakup-makeover philosophy; in the irrational throes of heartbreak, we've been known to tout accouterments just a few ridiculous steps short of a parasol in order to appear that we're settled in single life.

Freshly shorn hair, new outfits and glowing makeup are not indicative of thriving in the single life. By simple virtue of participating in a makeover after your previous relationship, you continue to give that relationship dominance. If you're exfoliating, applying or depilating to elevate your mood post-relationship in pursuit of la dolce single vita, you're doing so as a direct result of your failed relationship, sine qua non.

Don't stoop so low as to give your old relationship eminence, even in this indirect way. Are you truly single if, when getting dressed in the morning, you do so with "moving on" constantly in mind? When performing an action with your previous relationship in your thoughts - be it a toxic thought such as "I'll show him/her" or one as innocuous as "If I get a haircut, I'll feel like new" - you are, by definition, not thriving in the single life.

When you make yourself over post-breakup, you imply that something about your appearance was insufficient to sustain your previous relationship. You can't truly be single if you're still attached (indicated by attempting to change your outward appearance) to what you perceive to have been faults in your past romance.

Subscribe instead to the deeper meaning behind the makeover cliché: self-confidence. Bear in mind that faux self-confidence stemming from external changes (that are made on account of negative feelings from your previous romance) is not something substantive upon which you can build your next relationship.

Are you truly being yourself if you're seeking to change your outward appearance? Can you truly be self-confident if you're not being yourself? How, then, can you expect anyone to have confidence in you?

To live the single life well, do that, and nothing more. Be single. Be yourself. Don't let your past relationship continue to control you through the subtle strings of the makeover.

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