How to live alone happily after a marriage break up

Feeling lonely after divorce is normal but not forever.

For some freshly-separated women, the mere thought of living alone after divorce is downright terrifying and something to be avoided like the plague. 

It conjures up nightmarish visions of that eccentric cat lady from down the road, swathed in a moth-eaten cardigan and wrestling with a hoarding habit. But let me tell you, it’s all a trick of the mind.

Divorce and loneliness aren’t inseparable bedfellows. In fact, living solo post-divorce can be a magical time. You could even make this the best time of your life, and many do, whether or not they have a parade of 26 rescue cats marching in tow. 

What you really mean when you say you’re divorced and lonely

So, with around 50% of all marriages ending in divorce, you’re definitely not alone in feeling alone as a divorcee. But that simple fact alone doesn’t make the pain easier to bear. 

The question that used to niggle me after hearing friends complain of loneliness after a separation was this: What do they actually mean by lonely? What is really going on in this lonely aftermath of divorce? This is what I found out…

So, your spouse is no longer there, that’s the cold, hard fact.  But were they the only person in your world? Most likely not. 

What the freshly-divorced often mistake for loneliness is the ache for what is no longer there. 

Neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman paints a vivid picture – Your brain creates a construct of your intimate partner as a three-legged tripod made up of time, (physical) space, and closeness. Your spouse is gone, so the space leg vanishes, but the closeness? That’s still there, confusing the hell out of your brain.

These feelings are like withdrawal symptoms, and not to be underestimated. Whether your marriage ended bitterly or was a sweet-sounding ‘conscious uncoupling’ as Gwyneth Paltrow once coined, your brain built up some sophisticated circuitry around this relationship thanks to the performance of dopamine and oxytocin over the years.

And now the plug has been pulled.

Your systems need to rewire themselves, to find balance once more, a bit like going through the perimenopause. And the good news? You can get yourself some Divorce–HRT, figuratively speaking, to ease the symptoms. 

Time to rediscover yourself

So, the plug’s been yanked out of the socket of your life as you knew it. But hey, who says you can’t roll up your sleeves and rebuild it? This time around, you’re the architect, and you get to design it exactly the way you want.

Every design project starts with a discovery phase, but you might be feeling like you’ve lost yourself in the chaos of divorce. But here’s what you do: you dust off those passions and dreams that got buried beneath the rubble.

Start by making a good old-fashioned list of all the things that set your heart on fire. 

What are you passionate about? What are those dreams you tucked away, thinking they were long gone? Remember the plans you had scribbled in a diary, the ones that got abandoned somewhere? Well, guess what? It’s time to resurrect them.

If you find yourself struggling, consider a little rendezvous with a life coach – they’re like personal detectives for your soul. They’ll help you uncover your values, find out what makes you tick, and reignite that spark within you.

Think back to the music that used to be the soundtrack of your life, the films that made you laugh, cry, and feel alive. Remember all those things you loved, but somehow got drowned out by your ex’s preferences? It’s time to reclaim them.


And what about those places you’ve always dreamt of visiting, the things you’ve longed to learn or study – like the saxophone or ancient Greek philosophy? It’s time to make those dreams a reality. 

Create some goals that are solely about you. Maybe you once whispered to yourself that you wanted to run a marathon or embark on a new diet journey. Well, there’s no one to cater to now but yourself – go vegan, keto, or embrace intermittent fasting. Your choices, your rules.

There’s no one around to cast judgement at home or raise an eyebrow at your eccentricities. Paint those walls in fuschia pink and yellow stripes if it tickles your fancy. Get that pet parrot you’ve always wanted. Transform the living room into your very own photography studio. 

Watch whatever your heart desires, listen to the tunes that make your soul dance. Reconnect with yourself, and in your solitude, you’ll find the most exquisite version of you.

Start going out with yourself

Going out solo when you already feel lonely after a divorce might seem as helpful as curing a hangover with another round of tequila shots. But bear with me.

First off, you’re dating yourself now, and if you’re not enjoying your own company, it’s time to address that issue head-on. As mentioned earlier, after a divorce, your brain’s in a bit of a rewiring phase, like fixing a blown circuit. So, the quicker you adapt to doing things on your own, the better.

TOP TIP: Your brain is trying to plug that gap and will resort to telling lies like a desperate drug addict. So as you venture out solo, pay close attention to that inner monologue. Stop deluding yourself with thoughts that the grass is always greener. Instead, think about all those miserable couples out there, tolerating their partners’ snoring, excessive drinking, Netflix bingeing, and slacking off on house chores, and breathe a sigh of relief.

Recognise your brain’s trickery, and quietly carry on with your mission.

Begin with baby steps – the cinema, a gallery or museum. Places where you can blend in, where you won’t feel like you’ve got a spotlight on you. Then, graduate to a café, and eventually, a solo evening meal at a restaurant. Observe the world around you, soak up the atmosphere, and relish the freedom to savour the experience without your miserable ex-spouse staring back at you and telling you what to order.

If you’re a bit self-conscious at first, take a book along as your companion. Remember, you’re never really alone when you have a good book.

Recall that self-discovery list you made? Now’s the time to check those boxes. You’re free to pursue your passions and interests, so embrace it.

Here’s the beauty of going out alone – it’s a two-for-one deal. First, you’ll fall in love with your own company, and second, you’ll become a more captivating and engaging individual. You’ll be the one invited to dinner parties because you’re a blast to hang out with, not just because you’re part of a couple.

Look out for the sign telling you that you’ve accomplished this phase of the mission: It’s when you find yourself booking a solo foreign holiday, not out of desperation but out of a sheer desire for adventure. That’s when you’ll know you’ve mastered the art of enjoying your own company.

Rebuilding your social fortress – finding connection after divorce

Post-divorce, you might think it’s time to dive headfirst into the dating pool. Well, if you want to avoid trouble, I tell you it’s not! That doesn’t mean you should live like a nun, but the focus now should be on fortifying your life with meaningful connections, both old and new.

You see, forming a rock-solid network of friends and family is like building an unshakable foundation. It’s the kind of support that can withstand life’s toughest knocks. So, let’s get started, shall we?

If you’ve noticed a bit of awkwardness in your friendship circles due to your divorce, don’t sweep it under the rug. Be upfront with pals – especially the ones you made through your ex – let them know you cherish their friendship, and express your desire to spend more quality time together. Who knows, they might be secretly yearning for a break from their partners too. So why not organise outings with friends – sans their significant others. Picture this: a weekend of hiking in the hills, topped off with a blissful spa session. 

But don’t stop there. It’s never too late to make new friends who could turn into lifelong bonds. Remember that passion list you crafted earlier? Well, now that you’ve mastered the art of solo outings, joining a group should feel like second nature. Get out there and start mingling with kindred spirits.

Now, here’s a golden rule: these groups should have nothing to do with divorce or dating. This is about your growth and reclaiming your identity after divorce seemingly shattered it to pieces.

RELATED: Why am I suffering from this identity crisis?

And while you were knee-deep in the divorce process, did you lose track of what’s happening in your own backyard? Nothing brings people together like a common cause. Whether it’s fighting neighbourhood crime or rallying against plans to bulldoze a motorway through your village, these local issues can be your ticket to reconnecting.

So, get to know your neighbours, throw a barbecue, and start building bridges. 

With the support of your existing connections and the excitement of forging new ones, you’ll soon find that life after divorce can be just as fulfilling, if not more so, than ever before.

Yes, you can be happy alone after divorce

Think of this chapter as your personal rebirth, a chance to emerge as a more vibrant, refined version of yourself. 

Loneliness after divorce may linger, but it’s simply the yearning for what’s no longer in your life. 

Give your brain time to rebuild its circuitry. Meanwhile, embrace the process of self-discovery and dive into your passions.

And remember, just when you declare your love for the single life, fate has a sneaky way of introducing you to someone new. So soak it all in while you can!

Photo: Alex Green

Gabrielle Collard
Verified Coach
Verified for professional standards and commitment to clients. Read more Close

I’m a marketing consultant and coach from London. For enquiries email or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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