1. You need your friends.
Who else is going to listen to you go on for hours on the phone about how much you don’t actually care at all when it literally could not be more clear how much you care? Who else is going to take you out drinking and dancing and flirting and remind you consistently how much of a loser your ex was and how much better off you are now? Who else is going to make you remember that you are actually still an awesome person with so much to offer outside of a romantic relationship — someone worth knowing, worth laughing with, worth giving time and love? Thank god for friends.
2. You aren’t perfect, and neither are they.
It’s so easy to feel, when in the heady, dizzying heights of a good relationship that you are both these infallible, god-like beings who are just made for each other, who — despite any disagreements or fundamental differences — are destined to end up together. A bad breakup, though, serves as a rough reminder that there is no such thing as “perfect” in a relationship, and though flaws can be hard to see during the good times, sometimes two people are just going to be incompatible, no matter how much you want to make it work. Letting go of that image of romantic perfection in your mind can be difficult, but will help you in every relationship — romantic or otherwise — to be honest about what you could be doing better.
3. Mistakes can be too easy to make.
We often don’t realize when we hurt people. Little things we say, dates we forget, things we don’t consider important — they are all small slips of attention that, though they may seem insignificant to us, can hurt the people we’re with in profound ways. It’s often not until things are over, and the dust has settled on everything that transpired, that we can see the places where we took a wrong turn without even knowing it. Empathy can be a hard thing to keep in focus, especially over long periods of time with the same person, but it’s something we can never let ourselves forget.
4. Words can hurt worse than any action.
Isn’t it strange how, even with years of beautiful experiences with someone else, we can remember most vividly the nasty things they may have said in a moment of anger? Words that, in a fight, replace the dinnerware you might throw at the wall — something to grab attention and show how incredibly angry you are — are the kind that burrow themselves into our deepest, most insecure places, ready to come up at anytime we might be feeling low or unsure. This desire to hurt, to make someone feel the pain that you can’t escape and thus want to share, is a misguided one. Because long after we’ve apologized and gone our separate ways, we’re going to wonder how someone who claimed to love us so much could really think such awful things — and if they had really thought them all along.
5. Moving doesn’t necessarily fix things.
There is often a desire, shortly after a breakup in which everything around you serves as an unbearable reminder of what you used to have, to get away from it all. Even if you don’t change cities, you can start to leave the places you used to love, find new hangouts, take new routes, and consciously avoid all of the things you used to love (even if you loved them before the two of you got together). Sadly, the pain you feel of being around the places you once loved isn’t going to dissolve completely with a simple change of scenery. Maybe a small break from the routine will help in terms of temporarily forgetting certain details, but ultimately the change is going to have to come from you. You never know when you might have to pass by a certain restaurant or side street, and who wants to burst into tears because they’ve been avoiding it? You don’t want to have to cede entire zip codes of your life to a bad relationship, and no matter how far away you go, you’re not going to escape yourself.
6. You might have forgotten who you are.
It would be wonderful if relationships were just a moment in which, while continuing steadfastly in your own life and towards your own goals, you walked that path simply next to someone, existing in a harmonious parallel and able to separate with no complication. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on how you look at it), our paths with someone become these tangled, knotted messes where we can often lose sight of what we wanted, or how we did things, or what we even liked before meeting them. We give up parts of ourselves to please our partners, to compromise, and to bend to their lives — often at the expense of what we wanted. And when you break up, it can be like a splash of cold water, reminding you how far you’ve come from where you wanted to be. Re-learning how to be by yourself, to follow your own dreams, and to do things the way you wanted can be painful — but it does make you grow.
7. You can’t make the process go any faster.
No matter how much you wish you could just curl up in a ball and cry your way through the two months following that broken heart, it’s just going to have to be something you live with every day. Numbing it with alcohol, or constant socialization, or dating just to date, are all temporary fixes to a problem that is going to have to be dealt with eventually. There is only so far we can run from things that exist inside of us, and no amount of pushing things out of your mind or pretending like they didn’t happen will give you a pass from accepting it. There are lessons to be learned, and though they may hurt to think about, we can’t just erase a big part of our lives.
8. It’s actually going to be okay.
For some reason, no matter how many times we may have had our hearts broken in the past, we always get that feeling — for at least a bit after we break up — that this is going to last forever, and we are going to be stuck in the crippling fog of depression and regret for the rest of our lives. It’s a tunnel we can’t see the end of, and sometimes we’d rather linger in the darkness of it than get out there and move forward, but we eventually will. Getting your heart broken makes you realize, after it’s over and you can actually go extended periods of time without even briefly thinking about that relationship, that even this moment of pain has its end.
9. Self-care is irreplaceable.
Whatever makes you feel good — dancing alone in your underwear, singing horrible karaoke, baking pineapple upside-down cake and eating it with friends straight from the pan, whatever — you should do it. Do it, and feel good about it. Take extra time in hot showers, try on lots of great new clothes, discover your body again, watch whatever cheesy movie your heart desires. And don’t apologize. Loving yourself, making yourself feel good and worthy, is essential to feeling complete, and being able to love anyone else. Use your broken heart to indulge in long, wonderful moments spent doing exactly what you love, repairing yourself with the kind of attention and simple joy that we deserve to feel every day, but so rarely allow ourselves. You have every excuse to feel amazing.
10. You’re going to love again.
There will come a time, whether or not you believe it while in the depths of your broken heart, when you will meet someone and once again feel the rush of infatuation and the earnest desire to start something new. It will feel at once completely foreign and strangely familiar — something you might have not been ready for, but you knew was coming — and it is awesome. Perhaps the best part of a broken heart is realizing that it can be repaired, and that the end of one thing is absolutely not the end of everything. And sure, this new love might result in heartbreak, but life is too full of opportunity and beauty not to take that risk again.