Big Questions: How Do I Find Myself Again After a Breakup?

Welcome to Big Questions, the weekly column in which Zach Miko answers your questions about body image, self love, relationships and more. Have a question for him? Click here to ask it.

Anonymous: My partner and I broke up after being together for almost a decade. I don’t feel like I will ever be good enough for anyone else, so I can’t see how I could start dating again. How do I get over my past relationship and feel worthy of love again?

Dear Anonymous,

I’m sorry, I know how much the end of a relationship hurts, especially a long term one. So much of your lives were entwined with one another. Maybe it feels like you are starting over from scratch, but you aren’t.

Your relationships are not who you are. We often refer to our partners as our “other half”. It’s a sweet sentiment, but it can be misleading. It makes it sound like no one is complete until they find their special someone, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. You are a full, complete person whether you have a partner or not.

You said you don’t feel good enough for anyone else. It can be heartbreaking to realize that the person you spent a decade with didn’t turn out to be the person for you. Sometimes it takes that long to really learn who a person is. You deserve someone who loves you, and loves everything about you. The next person you are with will be lucky to be with you. You need to understand that somehow. We are conditioned to be humble, to not think highly of ourselves. We shouldn’t be asking “Why am I not good enough for anyone?” but instead “Why can’t I find someone good enough for me?” What is wrong with that!? If you are going to have a partner, it should be someone who enhances your life.

You can’t share yourself with another person until you are ready. A relationship has to be two whole people and not two halves. Your focus now is to become whole again. Don’t even think about falling in love with another person until you are in love with yourself again.

My wife and I only worked out because for the first time in our lives, we both individually loved ourselves. Each of us had been through big break ups, and we thought the people we had been with were our “other halves”. Laura had even become engaged and began planning a wedding. When these relationships ended, we both took time just learning to love ourselves. I learned to love my own company, the company of my friends and family. I traveled, I experienced, I learned who I was all over again. For so long, the relationships I was in defined who I was. Over time, I realized that I get to define who I am.

When Laura and I met, we were both happy with who we were as individuals. We were happy with ourselves and okay with being single. Then we met, and hit it off. If it hadn’t worked out, we both would have been fine. Luckily for us, we fell in love and decided to share our lives together.

Honor your loss, but get excited for the future.

How do you get over the end of your relationship? Time. It’s a shitty answer. I wish there was a less shitty answer, but that’s it. You’ve been focusing on someone else for the last decade. Now, it’s your turn. Take this time to get out of your comfort zone. Do all those things you’ve been waiting to do in life. You may feel like you’ve wasted time, but you haven’t, this is just another chapter in your story. Self love do can do radical things for you. Make your life into everything you dreamed of on your own, and one day someone will be lucky enough to share their life with yours. Honor your loss, but get excited for the future. Nothing is ever holding you back.