When we talk about relationships, a lot of the times we need to talk about the flip side of that coin. Dating is hard, and even when things seem to be perfect, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to stay that way. And while there’s a lot of things that can be done during a relationship to keep things going, sometimes it’s not meant to work out.
So, in my case it didn’t work out. The question that needed to be asked was, what now?
Here’s how I answered it:
5. I Cried About It
Contrary to popular belief, it is actually okay for you to cry about a loss. You’re sad, so as long as you’re expressing that in a healthy way that feels natural to you, go for it!
After the chips fell, I wasn’t sure what to do or what I needed, but I did know that for whatever reason, I was not about to stop crying anytime soon. I spent the weekend at home with my family, wallowing in self-pity and pain. Even when it felt like I was done with the water works, I wasn’t quite yet. I held it together in the moment we were breaking up, then I let it all out over the next two days.
One of the five stages of grief is mourning, because, as John Green teaches us, some pain demands to be felt. Humans by nature are part beast, and that part demands to feel. Let it.
It’s okay not to be in control. Take a moment to grieve, then move forward.
4. I Got Angry
Even when we’re trying to be our most mature, it is easy to fall back into that old habit of anger. This is someone who you were close with, who then hurt you. Who wouldn’t be a little peeved!
In my case, I screamed to angry musical showtunes as I drove the hour back from my hometown to DU in traffic. I went out with my friends and cursed him out, and we had a bonfire with the old pictures from the relationship. Not only was it cathartic, but it helped me to get out of the mindset that I had done something wrong, which is important.
This was also good for me because it gave me something to feed off of. When you are deeply upset about something, it is easy to just give up. If you can’t have that you don’t want anything else, and if you have nothing you want you have no reason to get up in the morning. But if you’re angry, you have fire, and that can help you get through a really hard time.
Now, I’m not saying to go out and key Carrie Underwood’s name into the side of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive. But you can think about it.
3. I Got Involved
One thing that is really common when you get into a relationship is to let it take over all, or a substantial portion, of your time and attention. This was really easy for me to do, especially because I was new to school. Not having a lot of friends already, or an established group of clubs, it was easy to say yes to staying in and watching movies every night.
That… is not the best idea. After my relationship ended, I had a lot of time on my hands and I didn’t want to be alone. So, I started trying to make closer friends with my acquaintances, went out with my roommates, and made dinner plans with old friends. I joined new clubs and got reinvested in old ones. I started thinking about my faith and my future, and what I wanted to do with them.
I started running (which to anyone who knows me was the biggest shock of their lives) and really became invested in my own health, after not doing so for some time.
The week after we broke up I let a lot of things go; I stopped eating and put my hair in a bun when showering was just too hard. I made poor choices for both my mental and physical health, ones that I should not be mentioning on a University blog.
Even before we broke up I wasn’t taking the best care of myself. Afterwards, that changed. I really made a point to learn about myself and to take care of myself. I ate right and took care of my body, became mindful and took care of my soul.
When you’re not feeling your best, it can be really easy to shut out the world and give up. Don’t, or if you do, don’t stop there. Even though your relationship is over, you aren’t.
2. I Thought About It
In fact, I overthought about it. Although, I have always been one to introspect.
I thought about what went wrong, the different stages of our relationship, and the different things that could have been different. I thought about those things that were inevitable, and the things that each of us could have done better. I blamed myself (a lot), I blamed him, and I blamed fate.
Which was good for me. It helped me get back into writing (artistic temperament thrives on suffering and all that) and it helped me to understand objectively what had gone wrong. Emotionally I was still not okay with what had happened, but rationally I understood it. And that made it a little easier.
You see, humans have this tendency to assume that anything goes wrong is a personal slight against them. It’s called intentionality bias. Especially in the case of a relationship ending, it is easy to blame the other person for everything, or to blame yourself (because if they did it to slight you there must be a reason, right?)
Odds are, this isn’t the case, and it helps you to move on to understand what really did go wrong.
1. I Talked About It
I talked about it with everyone. Another quirk I have is that I talk almost constantly. I mutter to myself when I’m thinking, I go on tangents about my passions, and my roommates tell me I talk in my sleep. I’m a talker, I need to flesh things out in order to move past them, and as I writer, I use words to do that.
After my break up, I talked to anyone who would listen. I sobbed to my father after it first happened, sharing my pain. I ranted to my friends when I felt up to it, using them as a sounding board. I talked to my doctor, and found hope. (I highly recommend therapy for those who like to talk about their problems, its not just for those you deem to have “serious problems.” All problems are serious. Why not get help?)
And, eventually, I talked to him about it. We talked about the future, if we could ever consider getting back together. If the problems were still a factor. We talked about becoming friends, if we could put aside the past and remain in each other’s lives. And we talked about moving on.
Which could have gone better. I was happy to talk to him and relate on a personal and rational level and really communicate with someone I care about.
But I wasn’t happy to hear about how he was moving on, finding new passions and yes, even new women. It hurt, but it was honest, so there’s that.
I strongly recommend deleting your former other’s social media, or at least muting it for a while. It can seem so harmless to check in every once and a while to see if they’ve viewed your latest Snapchat or to check out what they’re doing this weekend, but don’t.
The thing about social media is that it connects us, which is great. But when you’re going through a break up, you don’t want to be imagining connections that aren’t there, or trying to establish new ones. Plus, its just an unpleasant reminder.
So, make a conscious effort not to be looking at their online presence. If that doesn’t work, maybe mute them, and if that still isn’t helping, don’t be afraid to delete them.
That’s what I ended up doing. I deleted all of his contact information, all the messages we shared, and all the pictures we took.
I needed a fresh start. Don’t be afraid to take yours.
Break ups are hard, in the same way that relationships are amazing. It’s hard and vastly unfair that they have to come together sometimes, but we take hope in knowing that one day they won’t have to. So be patient, with yourself and your situation, and know that you will be okay. I am.