Not all troubled relationships are alike, but they do share some key qualities. Most involve painful emotions that keep us from seeing clearly. This leads to confusion, which distorts what we once knew to be true. When you’re suffering in a relationship that’s falling apart, it’s common to feel disoriented—like you’re living in a bad dream.
After you finally break free, time passes very slowly at first. Because you’re still confused and now bereft as well, it might take all the willpower you’ve got to resist returning to the bad dream you just left. But if you stick with it—through a lot of soul-searching and processing—the fog will begin to lift and a glimmer of light will appear at the end of the tunnel.
Here are eight signs that indicate you’re on the road to recovery, and soon you’ll be ready to step into the life (and relationship) you deserve. And if you read this and realize you haven’t hit these milestones yet, that’s a valuable lesson, too. Let what you read here help you recognize and honor wherever you are on your journey, and remember these insights in the future so you can more deeply appreciate your progress as it unfolds.
1. You feel attractive.
In a troubled relationship, compliments and encouragement are generally either in very short supply or entirely absent. This can take a toll on your self-esteem, so it’s normal to not feel attractive or confident in the first weeks or months after a breakup. As time passes and your grief lessens, you’ll start noticing how people are responding to you. You’ll welcome their support graciously and feel thankful for the positive energy coming your way. Little by little, you’ll realize you are attractive after all.
2. You find others attractive.
How many times did you terrify yourself into staying with sentiments like “All the good ones are taken” or “I’ll be alone forever”? As you start getting out more and feeling how light and joyous you are without that toxicity, you’ll see that those thoughts were just fear. Cool people are everywhere, each of them possessing unique gifts. Sure, we all come with baggage, and few of us look like movie stars, but maybe that’s a good thing. As your heart opens, you’ll become less critical. You’ll learn to see the flaws of others as endearing.
3. You’re being treated well.
It’s wonderful to be treated well, but it may also shine a light on how much you tolerated in your previous relationship. You may regret that you allowed yourself to be mistreated for so long. You may spend a lot of time considering the bigger question: Why didn’t I take better care of myself? But as you get stronger, you’ll be able to stop dwelling on the negative. Instead, you’ll begin to cultivate gratitude for the attention and respect coming your way. This is a wonderful time to make a new commitment to always be there for yourself going forward.
4. Your personal pursuits are inspiring you.
It’s hard to feel inspired about anything when you are drained by a drama-filled relationship. Once you are on your own, you naturally have more time to fill so you pick up some of your old hobbies. Beginning to rediscover your favorite pastimes starts to revive your creativity. You want to learn more, share your existing interests, and seek out new ones. The more you engage with your pursuits and acknowledge the satisfaction you are receiving from them, the more inspired you feel.
5. You’re back with your tribe.
Many people in bad relationships tend to isolate themselves. We don’t want to inflict our sadness on others. Sometimes, the endless recounting of the troubles we faced in our relationships drives people away. Don’t be afraid to reach out and reconnect now. Your friends will be thrilled to welcome you back. Even if you haven’t spoken in a while, they’ve been rooting for you all along. As you mend fences and find ways to give, you’ll remember that friends reflect your great qualities.
6. Your health is improving.
One of the first signs you made the right decision about leaving is a decrease in stress. Your sleep will improve, too. You might even be losing some extra pounds—especially if you tend to eat your feelings. New interests that involve getting active can also improve your health.
7. You’re enjoying romance again.
When you were with your ex, romantic songs, poems, or movies probably made you feel sad because they seemed to highlight the absence of intimacy and positivity in your relationship. Now that you’re single (after the first wave of loss passes), you can watch as many rom-coms as you like or listen to those happy love songs that make you want to dance around the house. You may even begin to fantasize about the love and romance you want in your life. This is one of the ways you prepare yourself to receive that love when it comes.
8. You feel hopeful.
Before you left your ex, your future probably looked gloomy, scary, lonely, or all of the above. Now, you’re beginning to remember what it feels like to enjoy being alone. You are reacquainted with the peace of solitude, and you begin to notice the small moments of synchronicity that you hadn’t seen for a while. It feels as though life is telling you you’re on the right track. Your choices are empowering, and you grow more hopeful day by day.