Losing a relationship is a lot like giving up an addiction. Throughout the course of your love affair, your brain becomes conditioned to seek a reward, that reward being interactions with your (now) ex. When this is suddenly taken away, you turn into the equivalent of the crazy junkie you always crossed the street to avoid when walking home. You know your ex has got the goods to kill your withdrawal, so why have they stopped supplying? Do they not care what it’s doing to you? And the worst thought of all: are they selling to other people? Before you know it, your tequila fingers are texting him begging to work things out. I’m here with a little outside logic to tell you why that might not be in your best interest.
1) Sometimes what you want isn’t the same as what’s good for you
Throwing caution to the wind with a casual YOLO isn’t always the best phrase to live by, yet we’re prone to do exactly that with relationships. It’s similar to when your dog begs so sweetly for that slice of chocolate brownie, and pouts so dejectedly when you refuse. You may chuckle, knowing you’re only doing what’s best and saving her a torturous visit to the vet. Does she see it that way though? Absolutely not. She’s focused only on her sadness in the present and all of the temporary joys you’re depriving her. Everyone needs a mourning period, Fido included, but with time will come understanding, and you may even find yourself grateful that things didn’t pan out the way you had once hoped.
2) You’ll strengthen relationships with friends and family
Romantic relationships can often push other relationships to the background without you even noticing. One bright side of a breakup is that room is made for these other relationships to take on more starring roles. When you experience a difficult split, it leaves a hole in your heart. An all too common mistake is to assume that this hole will forever remain empty. However, this space becomes a vacuum that will pull all the love and support from the family and friends surrounding you into it. You’ll soon find out that dinner and a movie is just as fun with your girlfriends, and that your dad will always love you more than any other man could. These are the people who will always stick by you, so be sure to give them the love and attention they deserve.
3) You’ll gain crazy amounts of personal insight and independence
Think: if you found yourself single 10 years down the road, what would you need to be happy? What are your career goals? What would you want to have accomplished? Nothing is sexier than self-sufficiency and confidence, and nothing creates a healthier environment for a relationship. Join a club, volunteer through community service, pick a long-term goal and work toward it. Change your mindset to view the breakup as motivation for bettering yourself, and relish the high you’ll get from self-achievement.
4) Your experience can help others in the future
To be able to fully understand how someone is feeling, it’s relatively obvious that you have to have gone through the experience of something similar. With breakups, this can only be learned the hard way. The recovery process isn’t easy, but you’ll pick up tips and tricks along the way that ultimately strengthen you as a person. Though this may not be apparent when you’re digging into your third Girl Scout cookie box of the night, being able to lend advice to a friend in need makes the experience completely worthwhile in the end.
5) The Hedonic Treadmill
For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, “hedonic treadmill” is a term that popped up in the field of psychology around thirty years ago. The general idea here is that research has found that humans have a “happiness set point”; essentially, it is proven that people believe they’ll remain happy or sad for far longer than they do in reality. What does this mean for you? However you’re feeling now, it won’t last nearly as long as you believe and certainly won’t last forever. I’ve been there done that, and can tell you that this is entirely true. But if you don’t believe me, believe science.
At the end of the day, breakups bring out the crazy in us all. You’ll send texts you wish you hadn’t and become a CIA-level social media stalker. You’ll find that any pizza is a personal pizza if you’re sad enough (pro tip: folding it in half like a taco helps) and crushed cookies make a fabulous breakfast cereal. At first, you’ll feel like you lose them all over again in small ways each day—there’ll be songs you cannot listen to, shows you cannot watch, and teams you don’t want to hear the name of. You’ll ache when you see him on campus and ache when you don’t. Then one day, someone else’s song will fill your mind and your heart will change its beat to match, and the sadness you felt will pale in comparison to the excitement you feel when you learn to love again. It’s up to you how you choose to live your life in the meantime, so choose wisely, choose lovingly, and choose happily.