My girlfriend of several years recently left me when I came out to her as poly. In an ironic twist, I need to ask you guys a question: How do you live alone? I’ve been in relationships for as far back as I can remember. Relationships and emotional connections come naturally to me, but I’ve always had someone there for me and to talk to and now I’m faced with the crippling loneliness and I don’t know how to deal with it. Can you guys offer any advice?

It’s just one of me here :) but I’ll do my best. I am sorry to hear about your breakup - that’s rough, and one thing you need is just time to heal and get used to being without her. This cute little poem-video called How To Be Alone made the rounds a while back - you should check it out!

First, think of it not like being alone, and more like dating yourself. All the energy and compassion you used to pour into your relationships, try pouring it into yourself. Do little things just to make yourself happy. Have long introspective ‘talks’ to get to know yourself. Build that relationship. Pick up a hobby, watch a bunch of movies you always wanted to see, buy some awesome solo sex toys.

Second, not being in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean you’re alone. Cultivate a strong social life! Go to Meetup groups in your area, sign up for a class, organize a happy hour with your coworkers. Reach out to friends and plan fun things with them, or write emails/letters to those who are far away. Recognize that being close to other people is important to you, so make that a priority in your life, even if romance isn’t the center.

There may be more unique ways to make use of your natural tendency toward relationships and emotional connections that are fulfilling to you. I used to volunteer for a mental health website that needed “community guides” to hang out in their forums and keep things warm and welcoming. You could volunteer with a hotline - anything from suicide prevention to sexual health advice. You could become a big brother or big sister. You could visit shelter dogs, or read with the elderly. You have a gift, and you enjoy using it, so get out there and be your warm, loving, empathic self!

Third, if you feel like you need someone to talk to and you feel crippled by your loneliness, consider talking to a therapist! They’re not just for people in crisis or people diagnosed with a mental illness. Being on your own for the first time and figuring out how is a perfect reason to chat with a professional.