Please don’t say “you’ll find someone else”

Image by the fabuloua Stuart F Taylor

Since I broke up with my ex, quite a lot of people have sought to reassure me that “you’ll find someone else.” It’s incredibly kind and well-meaning, and tempting as all hell to lean in to the idea. Go shopping for men, you say? Sounds fun! Pick one who’s better? Sweet! Hey presto – happiness awaits! I get why people offer this advice, and I don’t want to bat it away with a sarky response because it comes from a place of kindness. It’s understandable and admirable to try to comfort someone who’s hurting. But I don’t really like “you’ll find someone else”, and I thought I’d have a crack at explaining why.

I don’t want to find someone else

Boring heartwank coming up here: I don’t want someone else. I wanted him. I rarely spent much time during our relationship fantasising about other men. Sure, I’d have the occasional daydream, wondering what sort of couple I might make with this tattooed punk lad or that well-dressed posh boy. And often I’d ponder how lovely it would be to have Alex Horne whimper in eager compliance as Taskmaster Greg Davies instructs him on how to fuck me. But it was all theoretical. Distant. Unreal. I didn’t truly want to be with anybody but my dude. I know that sounds odd coming from a horny slut like me, but it’s true. Frankly, it’s fucking embarrassing.

It took my ex a lot of work to persuade me that he was worth betting my happiness and stability on in the first place. Going all-in on a relationship after the previous one had left me smarting seemed like a foolish thing to do. Especially as I’d kicked some serious ass in the in-between years: bought a flat, made tonnes of friends, had a lovely time with random dates and fuckbuddies, became The Person Who Hosts Cool Parties, loads of great stuff. Then I fell in love with him. Suddenly the idea of not being with him felt ridiculous, and constantly hurling up new defences against intimacy seemed like a form of self-harm.

It always breaks me a bit, I think: the intensity of love. Like a weight hanging round your neck, making ‘moving on’ feel as tricky as giving up smoking. It takes a long time to drag myself out of love – love is an addiction and it isn’t easily thrown away just because your head knows that’s the sensible thing to do. Nowadays I find it hard to locate my mojo for men who aren’t him. I am horny as fuck, and excited by guys, but light-years away from being ready for new commitment or intensity or emotion. My head says ‘yay’ but my heart says ‘what the FUCK?! Who the hell is THIS guy?!’

Everything becomes a comparison, and when it comes to relationships, comparison is the enemy of joy. So when someone tells me “you’ll find someone else” my inner stroppy brat stamps her foot and petulantly declares: “I don’t WANT anyone else, I wanted HIM, because he’s the BEST!” Could anyone else make me laugh the way he could? Does anyone else know the exact glass I prefer to drink milk out of? How could anyone else possibly SMELL as lovely as he does?!

I’m a dreamer, and over the last ten years I have dreamed and dreamed and dreamed about my future. He is in every single picture. Smiling, laughing, holding me, supporting me, nurturing me. Being my partner-in-crime and my muse. If my life were a sitcom, he’d be the main fucking character. You can’t just replace a main character!*

*[Unless the sitcom you’re writing is Cuckoo and you’ve got Taylor Lautner on board in which case jolly well done]

This isn’t to say my ex is necessary: he isn’t. Sometimes, no matter how amazing someone is, there comes a point when you have to recognise that they are not amazing to/for you. Having no one is better than having someone who – despite all the love – makes your life infinitely harder. Which brings me neatly onto the most important reason I don’t like “you’ll find someone else.”

My happiness is not contingent on being in a relationship

When someone tells me “you’ll find someone else”, I bristle because… well… what if I actually don’t? What if there is no one else out there with whom I want to have this kind of partnership? For various reasons, right now the sensible part of my brain is telling me to never again get as thoroughly entangled with someone as I did with my ex. Financially, emotionally, all that bollocks.

I used to be strict about entanglement: I promised myself I wouldn’t do it. Before I met my ex, I was perfectly content with being single. No, really: go read this post I wrote about not wanting a boyfriend. That wasn’t a lie – I genuinely meant it. I didn’t want a boyfriend, or any of the complexity and heartache these fuckers inevitably drag into my life. As someone who is cursed with more than her fair share of FEELINGS, the risk of being heartbroken looms large any time I start to fancy a particular guy more than I fancy a wank and a Toffee Crisp. And as a child of extremely messy divorce, I have seen the horror that can pour forth when people who used to love each other try to split apart their lives once they’ve been mushed together by mortgages, marriage and children. I have seen what happens to otherwise independent, brilliant people when they agree to become vulnerable with someone who later lets them down. I have seen the future in the past, and it’s not pretty.

I gave up a lot of my stampy independence and principles to be with my ex. It was worth it at the time, because I would rather have tried to make things work with him than throw in the towel early and miss out on the chance to try and build a future with a guy who felt so very right for me. But I know more now than I did back then, so the risk calculations have changed. If my happiness is contingent on being in a relationship, I doom myself to actively searching for someone with whom I can make the same mistake. My future looks narrow and bleak: a hunt for a guy I can form a partnership with, who fits a list of wildly speculative criteria, and is able to persuade me that it’s worth risking that future all over again. Seems unlikely, doesn’t it? Definitely an unfair task with which to present a nice dude who probably just enjoys my company.

On the other hand, if I recognise that my happiness isn’t contingent on being in a relationship, the bleakness disappears and is replaced by a rosier picture. I don’t need a relationship in order to be happy, so I get to explore all the joys life has to offer elsewhere. I’m not laser-focused on ‘replacing’ my ex, I’m focused on exploring what it is that I actually enjoy. Somewhere in that rosy picture there’ll be ‘men’ because I’m horny and I love ’em, but there are plenty of other cool things there too: friendship, traveling, work, family, cycling along the north bank of the Thames going ‘wheeeeeeee’ on my way to a spontaneous picnic… all sorts.

When you tell me “you’ll meet someone else”, you are being kind and you mean well, so you’ll never get a ‘fuck you’ in response. But before you say it to someone who’s just been through a break up, consider what it means: in offering a vision of the future that seeks to replace their ex with someone new, you’re encouraging comparison between the ex and whoever might come next. More importantly, you’re implying that they will only truly be happy once they’ve found an adequate replacement.

I don’t want to replace him, not right now. And knowing I don’t need to is the thing that makes me happiest.




  • Oxyfromsg says:

    You said it all

    So I will just say your writing is amazing and inspirational, as always

  • Martin says:

    I get all the heartwank stuff where by someone is so ingrained in your own feelings that everything you do with another people just isn’t the same, people are tricky and weird, and fuck-annoying but they are also loveable goofy and generally alright. and its hard when you find someone who’s the right balance and then they have to leave, whatever reason that be.
    But happiness has never hinged on another person, or your “taken” status. Alot can be said for being single and happy, which happens more then most people would think.
    Watching a series, going for a jog, doing stupid voices to yourself in the mirror while your washing your hands as you engage yourself in a verbal sparring match of wits (which of course you win) are all little slices of happy i think people forget about.
    any way , TL;DR
    Excellent writing as always, deliciously hot take and keep being awesome.

  • Joy says:

    This is so good and I relate to the bit about seeing the future in the past and being a Woman of Many Feelings so much- and that’s without the experience of ever having found someone with whom I want to spend my whole life.

    I think so much of this stuff comes from peoples’ discomfort with the pain of others. You are in pain- they don’t like seeing you in pain, and done want to feel that discomfort- they imagine a place in the future where neither of you will have to feel pain or discomfort. It’s kinda codependent. Let people feel their feelings! Own your discomfort with seeing people you care about hurting!

  • David says:

    But what if I never love again? – Adele.
    Alone is not the same as lonely, independent is not the same as alone.
    Enjoy where you are and what the world brings you, there is no rush for anything.
    You got this.

  • The One says:

    It’s like you took nearly all of this directly from my head, including the bit about Greg Davies. I mean, is there anyone hotter? Anyone who would issue fuck instructions with more confidence and smooth authority than a tall, hilarious, manly ex teacher? Jfc, if you need your mind taken off a break up or the terrible price of love (great and sustained misery), it’s thinking about Greg Davies telling you what to do. Sorry, entirely carried away there. Wonderful relatable piece about relationships, thank you so much. And thank you for confirming that Greg Davies as a crush is anything but weird.

  • Pietro Panetta says:

    As a 71-year-old subscriber to GOTN, and old enough to be your dad (and even grandad: creepy?), reading your ‘heartwank’ turned the clock back to my first teenage breakup. Hearing the same ‘plenty-other-fish-in-the-sea’ reassurances from my friends, brought the same response: “But it won’t be HER!” Thank you for sharing something so personal with us. This is what we love about you, GOTN (whoever you are): your fearless candour. Although there is no substitute for suffering, by being so intimate (physical and otherwise), you show us what it means to be human and help us get through life. As fellow sex-blogger Horny Greek Girl said about one of your books, it made her hug her copy to herself upon completion of reading it. Exactly the same response I had when I finished Not So Shameful Secrets, xx.

  • PLJ says:

    “Comparison is the enemy of joy”…so true. The hardest part for me post breakup is figuring out how to fill your life with experiences that will ensure that you don’t compare anymore, or don’t think whenever you are doing something that it would be better if so-and-so where experiencing it with you.

    I find people say “you’ll find someone else” not to reassure you but to assuage their own guilt towards you for being happily ensconced in their own cocoon of security.

    Everyone has their own time cycle and adjustment mechanism to cope with relationship break up. I have always been terrible at it, getting hopelessly cut up emotionally…for me, however, the whole point of love is that you are so open that someone can really hurt you. That’s what I look for in a partner–not that they would hurt me of course–but that it is someone that I am willing to be that open to…and that was always the benchmark for me alongside chemistry–do I trust this person with my heart…knowing that was what I was looking for always made a lot easier to move on after a breakup, no matter how rough.

  • fuzzy says:


    Diane Duane wrote something in one of her books where Goddess says, “it appears your heart didn’t set quite right last time, so we’re gonna break it to reset it again”, when talking about heartbreak.

    the “knowing that you don’t need to” part really shows how good stuff. blessed be.

  • Growl4u says:

    I get your viewpoint. I really do. A couple of years ago I reached out to a counselor for the first time in my life. I needed help processing the end of a relationship with my “seule au monde”, my only in the world. It was a decision based on time, distance, a border, language, and the expense of flying 2500 miles twice a month. Nevertheless, it was killing me to know that everything I’d imagined my future to be was forfeit.

    Like you’ve experienced, people would assuage with platitudes. I’d smile outwardly, and tell them to fack off inwardly. It pissed me off to have my feelings negated even if they meant well.

    I will forever and always love my “met in hell hot angel”, but since then I’ve met my sexual and life doppelgänger and am immensely happy. Were my friends and counselor right? Yes. Did I want to hear their blah blah blah at the time? Hell no. So for that, gotn, I do apologize for my earlier message.

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