It’s been months since the breakup. You wish your feelings would disappear like the Snapchat message that ended everything, but unfortunately, they haven’t. Between the rapture of the past and the undecided future, you’re stuck in the “not over” stage. You can’t move on because you feel like it’s not over. It’s not over because you haven’t moved on. The only way to get out of this transition is to review the facts and go from there.
Your last significant other was a dream. They were absolutely wonderful and perfect. Even their flaws were quirks you learned to deal with. They were your ride-or-die, your best friend; plus, they set the standard for everything good in life. You remember every moment in their presence as if life was put in high resolution, sparkling like the couple photos you scroll past on Instagram. They taught you how to be in a relationship. They made your past hurts not hurt. You took photos every chance you could, snuck out every night, became a person that made you both proud. They made every other person you thought you had a connection with cease to exist. Love was alive. Your first? The second to hear you say those three words? Who were they? Now you only know love by one face, one name. Moment by moment, they taught you the difference between “I love you” and “I’m in love with you.” You planned for everything– the future, the next summer, moving out of your childhood home, the distance you’d both feel when you went to separate colleges. “We want this.”
Yet, it ended. The connection you had with that special person crashed and left shrapnel in your face, embedded betrayal in your heart. Humiliated, ashamed, and upset; insecure, confused, and hurt. Oh god, it hurt. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to go to school. Looking past them and not bringing them up felt like a scream building up in your chest that couldn’t be let out. Finding a new place to eat lunch felt like a bookcase crashing down on you. Having no one to text and spend time with after school deflated you like a days-old balloon you took home from the fair.
But life kept going. For a whole month, you grieved. You cursed yourself, you loathed the circumstances, you raged at your special person. It didn’t change anything. When you finally came to acceptance, you gave all the fear, hurt, and sadness away. They called you “psycho.” As if caring deeply, honestly, and unapologetically were lunacy. You realized you wouldn’t find closure in how they left. So you made your own.
Seven months later and they walk your dreams smiling as though you were still in the Lifetime movie. As though they didn’t go back on every promise and kiss you shared. You know the two of you can’t get back together; you’re different people that need to start over. Plus, they’ve got someone else.
So you keep your eye out for Love disguised in different clothes. You keep talking to the new one who brings you boba tea while you play PC games. Everything about them is foreign; they not only pick up when you call them, but actually prefer to talk over phone instead of text. They’re universally attractive and you know your mother would approve of them. They don’t receive any internet memes from you and they share your culture and skin tone. You try to get to know them, to hang out. They want to take you to a movie and blatantly communicate their interest in you. You want it to be, but they aren’t.
Then you go on a date with an older one. They’re direct, put-together, and pleasant enough to be in the company of. They pay for dinner and buy you expensive clothes, even going so far as to hold your hand on the first date. Suddenly you’re at their house in a rich neighborhood. They take advantage and take your clothes off. And take. The first time you think it’ll be pleasurable as you haven’t gotten any since Love. You expect it to be electric, personal, loving. And it’s not. You want to cry; the second time, you dread it before it’s begun. After they finish and leave the room, you sit there shaking, not succeeding at holding in tears. You tell yourself to pull it together. You can’t stand the thought of a third time. You never opened your eyes during any it. Love was on your mind the whole time. This was nowhere close to it.
No matter how good or bad the experiences moving forward, you aren’t over the last one. And why should you be? There’s no time limit to moving forward from something you enjoyed. Maybe you’re over the person and feel nothing when you see them with their new boo. Maybe you’re not not over your ex; maybe you’re just not over being so happy and sharing that connection with somebody. Maybe you genuinely do miss them and want to get back with them. Take the time to examine how you truly feel. And be gentle with yourself. You can’t force yourself to feel something. You can’t force yourself to get over somebody.
Your ex was not a mistake. No matter how badly others want to poison the memory of how intense and beautiful your brush with love was, they simply cannot. They might fool you, heck, you might even fool yourself into thinking it wasn’t that great, but if it wasn’t great, why are you still thinking about it? Why do they walk your dreams, reassuring you with just a glimpse? It was good. You had fun. You now have so many fond memories to draw feelings from. You two were so lucky to experience something like that at the same time. That thing called love? It’s so statistically improbable that it makes what you had, by definition, a miracle. Don’t be in a rush to say goodbye to a time you treasured in the moment. Let your heart feel what it needs to. If you force yourself into situations, it just makes things suck more. Charlotte from Sex and the City said, “It takes half the total time you went out with someone to get over them.” Someone out there says it takes double the total time to get over someone. Whether it be half, double, an eighth, or quadruple the time, you need all of it. There is no difference between heartbreak or a cut; you can’t force either to go back to how it was or heal any faster. You can only keep it protected and help it along its healing process by leaving it alone. Time may heal all wounds, but you have to let it.