I always say the beginning and end of a relationship are the hardest parts. You go in with the best intentions, hoping you connect with someone who will hopefully be around for a while, and even so, there’s a good chance it may not work out. Whether it was weeks or years getting out of a relationship may be the worst thing about being human (I lied, it’s bills, definitely bills) but it happens to everyone and is yet another universal feeling that transcends culture, race, and sexual orientation.
I’ve been on both sides of the coin in the past few years. I’ve watched as a long-term relationship weathered an overdue ending. I powered through a breakup with someone who just wasn’t right for me. Then I endured two back-to-back heartbreaks that changed my views on love and relationships completely. Because of this, I feel like I know a thing or two about breakups and the things you should know no matter what happened.
1. It’s okay to be sad.
Mourning the loss of what could have been or should have been is almost elusive to our generation. There’s always another swipe keeping us from feeling anything about our previous relationship and forever giving validity to the term, “there’s plenty of fish in the sea.” Yet, to be honest breaking up or being broken up with is sad, and that’s okay. You should be sad if you cared about the person and you’re allowed to be disappointed that it didn’t work out.
2. Being happy and alone is better than being with someone and miserable.
Breaking up with someone is a scary thing and sometimes our fear of hurting someone or potentially making the wrong decision can immobilize us from doing what needs to be done, but it is so much easier in the end to leave a toxic relationship than to stay with someone who doesn’t make you happy.
3. Memories are hard.
After a breakup you have two choices: remembering all the good times or focusing on all the bad times. If you had a fairly healthy and good relationship, the memories start to feel like an old-school black-and-white movie that plays endlessly in your head. That time you went to that place you both love for the first time, the way he wraps his arms around you, the way she laughs at all your jokes. If you were in a terrible and hurtful relationship, the memories start to feel like PTSD after remembering every fight, every slammed door, every night where the other person just didn’t make you feel good. Memories are hard no matter what.
4. Time heals all wounds…most of the time.
Of course we all know the famous breakup saying. There are many, but having recently gone through a breakup, I’m pretty sure this is the one people use the most. And for the most part, it’s true! Over time, things become less intense, less emotional, less fresh — but even that sets up a societal pressure to get over things on a timeline that may not be conducive to you or what you experienced. When it comes to breaking up, time is your best ally, but so are friends, exercise, going out, and all the other things that heal you from the outside in.
5. Never apologize for your behavior post-breakup.
If there was ever a time to act like a straight-up fool, this would be it. Symptoms of recent breakups include, but are not limited to: random hookups, forcing everyone to do shots, changing your physical appearance, impulsivity, increased wanderlust, bad decisions, frequent uptick in vices, and way too many calls to your friends when you realize you are alone.
6. There is no blame — no one is at fault.
The exception to this being cheating, lying, and/or they killed someone. But for every other relationship, it’s never anyone’s fault no matter what your ex says. Sometimes, things just don’t work out. Sometimes, you just don’t want things to work out, and that’s life. It’s not personal. The truth is, we all have to date more people than we end up with. Not everyone you date is going to be the “one,” which isn’t anyone’s fault at all.
7. You’ve got to have friends.
This is where not neglecting all your friends during your relationship comes in handy. No one is there for you like a friend. No one can prop you up, take you out, and dust you off quite like someone who has always been there for you and who you’ve possibly done the same thing for.
8. You have to be ready to let go.
I could write an entire novel about this part of breaking up and it still wouldn’t be enough to cover how hard this is for almost everyone. Letting go of someone is the only way you can move on and yet no matter who initiated it, there is a part that holds on. It holds on to the memories, the good things, the bad things, the sexy things (especially the sexy things) and it holds on to the idea that maybe this could work out. But when you let go is when you realize that it didn’t work out and that’s okay. When you let go, you finally accept that you’re better off without them.