Saying goodbye to someone you had feelings for is difficult. Walking alongside someone only to eventually turn in different directions hurts in every place a person can feel, which is why we so often think and act on ways to avoid that pain. Maybe you had to say goodbye to a relationship, or worse, the almost of a relationship that had a false start, without a real chance to play out. I think what we most often forget is that every loss is a lesson; every goodbye closes one door, only to open up another, with the chance to say hello to someone else more aligned with where you’re going versus where you’ve been.
Negative feelings can be a positive action; this has been a hard lesson for me throughout the years, but I’m finally starting to see the good within the bad and how positive a goodbye can be for your present—and your future. For me, exes always seem to come back one way or another, no matter how ugly things ended. Who else can relate? I know I’m not alone in my confusion towards this weird phenomenon where dead relationships try to resurrect past feelings while ghosts try to come back to life.
But when I take a step back, I can acknowledge that the behavior makes sense if you think about it. The millennial generation has access to an overload of dating options through smartphone technology; this keeps consumers hyper-focused on not missing out on something that could be bigger and better, while often missing the quality of people directly in front of them. So we run at the speed of light, backtrack, and miss a lot in between.
So when someone that left decides to come back, at first my mind instinctually remembers the sting of that goodbye, of where we left off. Naturally, I don’t want to feel that pain again. My body fights, having to feel my way through it, distracted by my desire to make it stop. So at times, that means welcoming back someone under the impression that their validation will stop that memory, with the potential to nullify past heartbreak.
It’s a vicious cycle, giving someone the power that brought you down to lift you back up, only to retract back and forth at their discretion. Just like that, you can find yourself ignoring what’s in front of you, stuck analyzing the past, and trying to people-please until your last breath.
Only you can break the pattern by understanding the power you’re giving to someone else and reassigning it back onto you. This is so important because our perception has the authority to control how we see ourselves. When you focus on trying to redeem yourself for someone, you’re living to please someone other than you—and you’re trying to control the feelings of someone you don’t have control over. The hard truth is that when we focus on finding validation from someone who broke us, it’s just another form of avoidance.
I know when feelings are involved, hurtful actions can feel personal. I know it because I’ve been there more times than I can count. But what I’ve learned over time is that someone’s hurtful actions almost always have nothing to do with you—and everything to do with them. No matter how personal things may feel, negative actions are often motivated by individual deflection. Understanding this supports an objective lens, helping you heal from relationships that end without a desire for redemption or reconnection post-breakup.
Forgiveness does not require reconciliation. Moving on from a place of raw honesty prevents you from seeking validation from anyone other than yourself. When a relationship ends, you don’t need closure or an explanation; all you need is a clear and honest headspace to understand how you feel and why you feel that way.
Not everyone needs to like you, but you need to like yourself.