After the break-up: What does it mean to “focus on yourself”?

self care o-diaries

We’ve all heard it, whether from our own lips or those of others. Indeed, it’s an almost obligatory sentence at the end of a long relationship: “I’d like to focus on myself for a while.” But sometimes it’s more than just an excuse to be single, and the preference for spending time with oneself really does mark the beginning of an important period of self-reflection. “Emotionally, it can be very healthy to reflect at the end of a long relationship and realize where you are in life right now. What was special about the relationship and what were the challenges? Which of your very own needs were you able to realize and where did you have to compromise? Maybe in the end some of these compromises turn out to be the wrong ones,” says Nicole Engel, certified psychologist and our go-to expert on everything about relationships.

Focusing on yourself: an appraisal

The “I’d like to focus on myself” sentence often marks the beginning of a sort of mental settlement. “One may reflect and test whether certain values and needs are still relevant, or whether a relationship has promoted positive or negative change.” Indeed, at the end of a relationship, it can be necessary to evaluate areas such as work, relationships, health, fitness, creativity, image, personal finances, adventure, spirituality and lifestyle to determine if anything is lacking. In other words, it’s an appraisal. Have I remained committed to my hobbies? Have I neglected my friends because of my relationship? Have I changed to make my partner find me more attractive? What do I enjoy? When do I feel empowered?

By focusing on yourself, the emphasis is shifted from the WE to the I and you have a chance to become more conscious of yourself, which has a positive effect on low self-confidence after a failed relationship (Nicole Engel)

Here, we’re talking about self-love, something that requires a close look at one’s emotions. Only if we are aware of what makes us happy and unhappy can we design our (love) life according to our desires, Engel confirms. “Reflection is important to assess the areas you may wish to change in order to avoid similar behavioral patterns in a future relationship and avoid relationship failure.” According to Engel, speaking to an impartial person may be a valuable step in reflecting more honestly, because our judgment of ourselves is often clouded. Naturally, it’s easier to just blame an ex and pretend the bad times weren’t so bad after all. But being honest is an important prerequisite in order to avoid carrying over the same issues from relationship to relationship.

Self-reflection doesn’t exclude a new relationship

Everyone should do what feels best when a relationship ends, but it’s helpful to remain aware of what it is you are choosing to do. Mindful Tinder? Super! Consciously try something new? Great! Intentionally spending time with yourself on the couch watching TV? Super duper! O*Diaries celebrates “Me-Month” this February 2019 – all in the name of self-love. On that note, no matter where you are in life: just focus on yourself for now.

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When I was a child I never understood why my friends’ parents would tear out the sexual education pages of BRAVO, the German teen magazine. Why didn’t we just talk about it? After all, sex concerns us all. That’s why I embarked on a career as a journalist 12 years ago. Here, I got to work closely with the Dr. Sommer team – a group of journalists answering questions about puberty and teenagers’ sexual concerns. Since then, I’ve been publishing content across a wide variety of German media. Having overseen the launch of media company Refinery29 in Germany as editor in chief, I now work as a freelance journalist and author, focusing on pieces about strong women, sexuality and body positivity. Through my work, I aim to challenge obsolete and outdated gender stereotypes and the discrimination of women.