Thought Catalog
August 19, 2015

17 People On What Their Greatest Heartbreak Taught Them About Love

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via Flickr - Leo Hidalgo
via Flickr – Leo Hidalgo

1. “Mostly I learned that what you leave unsaid can kill whatever love you might have shared.”

—Aaron, 25

beetlejuice

2. “I learned that heartbreaks are temporary. Thankfully this is a simple lesson that I only needed to learn once in order to remember it. Every time I’ve had a breakup I’ve remembered this one truth and it’s helped me get through it.”

—Nora, 23

beetlejuice

3. “I was devastated when my college boyfriend sat me down a year after we graduated and told me that our relationship wasn’t working for him anymore because he wanted to fuck every breathing biped of the opposite sex, pretty much. The whole girlfriend thing was getting in the way of that. He told me I was like ‘a second job,’ which is hilarious in retrospect because he was unemployed at the time. What I learned from that awful breakup is that love can really take over your entire being—make you do and think some crazy stuff about yourself and the world. But no matter how painful the end may be, love is always worth it. Oh, and don’t expect a 22-year-old dude to commit. Like, ever.”

—Aubrey, 27

beetlejuice

4. “About five years ago I got a job in another city for more money. My boyfriend and I talked about it and decided that we’d both move and that he’d move after I did and get another job. I moved first because I had to and the plan was that he’d wind things down at his work and finish out our lease which was ending in just a couple of months. As soon as I moved things started to get weird and he was distant over Skype. Eventually he told me he’d renewed the lease and was staying there. It took me nearly two years to get over that and I still have abandonment issues. What did I learn? That being hopeful isn’t enough.”

—Ella, 29

beetlejuice

5. “Honestly, I don’t know if I learned anything about love from my greatest heartbreak which was probably my first heartbreak other than learning that he didn’t love me.”

—Gavin, 30

beetlejuice

6. “Some heartbreaks are worse than others, I think. I’ve had breakups where I’ve been really sad afterward and ones where she was very sad afterward. Usually someone feels betrayed, of course. Cheating breakups are on a whole different level though. I had a girlfriend who ended up cheating on me with a pretty good friend of mine, someone I trusted. And, because God hates me, I ended up walking in on them just after they’d had sex and he was trying to leave. There are some things you just can’t get out of your head. The thing I learned from that was to not just wave away nagging doubts you might have. Trust but verify.”

—Zachary, 26

beetlejuice

7. “I learned that if you’re trying too hard at the beginning it’s not going to get easier as you go on. Great loves, like many of the best things, are simple. At least in the beginning. Sure you have to put in work as you do with anything. But remember trying too hard can have equally damaging results as not trying hard enough.”

—Jaimie, 26

beetlejuice

8. “I learned to be a better person. In the worst breakup I’ve ever had I was the mean one and the controlling one and he was a good guy. It took me a year after the breakup to really look it in the face and see just how much he was putting up with. It helped me grow into the person I wanted to be and I have to be thankful for that even though it was hard.”

—Hailey, 24

beetlejuice

9. “I learned that sometimes things aren’t going to feel resolved. You’re probably looking more for a relationship story here but my worst heartbreak had nothing to do with a relationship. It had to do with my childhood dog dying when I was 20. He’s been my dog since I was 10 and I was away at college when my parents called and said they were going to have to put her down because she’d develop a neurological disorder that resulted in her being completely unable to stand anymore. It was fucking awful not being able to get home to see her one last time. My whole life was spent with that dog and we basically grew up together. I did everything with her. So far, no breakup with any man has topped that in terms of pain.”

—Abigail, 25

beetlejuice

10. “I learned that there are some people you just never get over. I dated a girl for the last three years of college and was completely in love with her although she wanted to break up soon after we graduated. We did, of course. I’m 31 years old and I still think about her at least once a week. I love the woman I’m currently seeing and I want to marry her but there are some loves and heartbreaks that follow you around for years.”

—Thomas, 31

beetlejuice

11. “I literally married my high school sweetheart and he also happened to be my first boyfriend. I’ve honestly never experienced heartbreak. Yes, all my friends hate me.”

—Charlotte, 24

beetlejuice

12. “There are some breakups you can take lessons from and others you can’t. Sometimes they lied to you or you just weren’t right for each other or it wasn’t the right moment. For me, breakups are best remembered from the broadest possible viewpoint rather than from up close where all the pain is. If you can look at things broadly then it’s a lot easier to see why things didn’t work out and take it as a learning experience.”

—Natalie, 26

beetlejuice

13. “I don’t know that I’ve learned any eternal lessons from any of my breakups but I have learned how to cope with them better by staying busy. The way I see it you’re going to be thinking about it all the time if you don’t do something to occupy your mind. In the past, I’ve racked up the overtime after a breakup.”

—Brian, 28

beetlejuice

14. “I had two kids before my divorce at 25. Since then I’ve learned that most men view single women with kids in a certain way. It’s something every single mother I’ve known has learned quickly and I don’t put my heart out there nearly as quickly as some of my single friends do. You learn to compartmentalize.”

—Sarah, 27

beetlejuice

15. “Sometimes ‘separated and working through the details of a divorce‘ just means ‘I am never getting a divorce and I’m not separated.’ If they’re wearing a ring then they’re off limits. The end.”

—Kaitlyn, 25

beetlejuice

16. “This happened a long time ago but I learned that even if you think someone being your first is a big deal they might not feel the same way no matter what they say. That’s pretty much been borne out as a life lesson. Some people will say anything just to get what they want from you.”

—Hailey, 25

beetlejuice

17. “The most heartbreaking thing I learned was the realization that love—like life—never lasts. You think you’ve found this little island, this little safe space away from the world where it’s just the two of you together forever, but along comes a tidal wave and suddenly there’s no island left. Love fades, and that’s the most heartbreaking thing about it.”

—Jeff, 29 TC mark

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