Aside from the most cynical or broken among us, most of us don’t enter new relationships expecting them to fail. Expect them to be a mess, maybe, but not necessarily to fail.
Most of us begin most romantic relationships optimistically — we set a date, we decide where we’re going, whether they’ll pick us up or meet us there. Or, if you’re like me, you probably run through at least 10 excuses in your mind to cancel until it gets a little too late to cancel, then somewhat hopefully walk out of your apartment just hoping that he’s not weird and won’t murder you if you let him drive you to the restaurant.
Let’s face it; no one goes on dates to restaurants these days. I meant bar.
But, as it tends to be, most of them will curse too much, or call you cagey, or their fingernails will be too long, or they won’t understand how your mind or your sarcasm works. You’ll end the date saying the usual: You had a good time. You can’t wait to do it again. Both of you knows the other is lying.
Then one day, something else happens.
Maybe you kiss your friend while you’re both drunk at a party and you like the way it makes you feel. Maybe you meet a guy on Tinder and stay up talking on the phone until the sun comes up. Maybe one of those awkward first dates turns into an awkward second date, then a comfortable third and a promising fourth.
If you’re lucky, one of those things happens to you and the rest is history. If you’re not, it eventually ends.
This thing you thought was going to be so easy, because it started so naturally, is suddenly the reason you can’t listen to certain songs without your mind going somewhere far and sad. When a friend asks how you’re doing and actually means it, you can’t answer without choking up (in public).
And let’s face it — advice doesn’t help when you’re sad. No one knows how to give advice to a sad person who isn’t ready to stop being sad. There’s nothing anyone can say. Breakups suck and they call for one thing: Riding it out. Time heals all wounds, right?
From my experience, time and space seem to do the trick.
Shortly after I broke up with my first serious boyfriend, he blocked me on every form of social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — I think I’m still blocked on those last two, though we did become Facebook friends again, eventually.
At the time, that dug deep. Man did it hurt to realize I had done so much damage that this person I had loved couldn’t even bear to see my face electronically. But looking back, blocking me was the best thing he could have done for both of us.
In the age of social media, it’s so easy to stalk our exes and see things we don’t really want to see. My ex started dating a girl I introduced him to, and looking back, had I gotten on Facebook or scrolled through Instagram and seen pictures of the two of them smiling, doing the things we used to do, it would have felt like little punches in the gut each time. I wasn’t ready for that.
Even when you do the heart breaking, your heart breaks a little too. It’s easy to question your choice. No matter how long you rolled the idea of a breakup over in your mind and decided it was for the best, there’s always the second or third guess.
But, also speaking from experience, rushing back to reclaim what was yours is rarely the right move either.
You can’t control whether your ex will start dating someone you know, be at the same bar as you, pass you on the street and avoid eye contact, or whether you’ll run into them at the worst moment — hair a mess, yesterday’s clothes, no makeup. But you can control your social media.
Purge. Let go. Move on. Maybe reconnect someday, years into the future. That ex who blocked me? We are actually friends now — on Facebook and in real life, if you can imagine. Time and space did that.
It’s amazing: When you have the time and the space to move on, you actually mean it when you wish your ex nothing but the best.