1. The one who broke your heart for the first time
Whether this happened in middle school, high school or years later, this was the one that threw you for a loop. You bought prescription ice cream and cried into your sweatpants as you’re supposed to. This is how heartbreak works, right? you thought, a faithfully sad movie playing faintly in the background.
How you’ll get over them: Cry. Eat that ice cream. Dribble it on your sweats. Trash all the gifts they’ve ever given you. Go through the motions. You’re supposed to face your first heartbreak this way, because it shows you that the sun’s going to shine again and you can wash your sweats and that this is only the first in a long line of relationships and subsequent aftermaths.
2. The one you weren’t ever really dating
But to explain the intricacies of your kinda-sorta-maybe-maybe not? relationship would take a lot of therapy, a lot of screenshots of text messages (and oh, you have those in spades, my friend), and general frustration of the ??????!!???!?!???!!!? variety. And even though you were ‘just hanging out’, the way that flirtation gave way to kisses and feelings was undeniably real, so to chalk it up as nothing when it was clearly something is to discount weeks and maybe even months of effort and butterflies in your stomach. You’ll never know what went wrong or why.
How you’ll get over them: Give yourself enough time and space to understand that sometimes things just don’t come to fruition. And that’s okay. There might have been a whole world of potential in this one person, but if it was never cashed in, what good does that do? Spend a night going out with friends, flirt with strangers, and just revel in the fact that you were kinda-sorta single all along. A rebound here isn’t really a rebound, after all. Faking it until you make it is a real life strategy – you can fake being happy about being single until you (surprise!) actually are.
3. No-Closure Charlie
No matter how hard you try, you’re never going to really understand why the break-up happened. You thought everything was good, everything was wonderful — and then you were blindsided by The Talk. Maybe you were taking the good time vibes for granted and were oblivious to Charlie’s growing restlessness or resentment, or maybe they just had their own M.O. that had nothing to do with you. It’s okay to not go searching for the answers, however desperately you want to. Sometimes it’s not your responsibility to have this knowledge. It will be super tempting to always wonder about what went wrong, but that’s a k-hole of replaying every moment in the relationship ever and that never ends well. And sometimes, as infuriating as it is to admit, you can’t find the answers because they simply aren’t there. Sometimes things really do just fall apart, and trying to make sense of the vague, intangible decomposition won’t yield answers, just prolong the hurt.
How you’ll get over them: Repeat after me: Sometimes things just happen. We don’t have control over everything — only how we react to them. The minute you’re exes with this person, it’s officially not your responsibility to dissect their every last motive. You can’t control what they do, so take a deep breath and focus on your next move. Take it step by step, and soon enough you’ll realize that you’re far enough away from them to think straight. There is closure in distance. Make your own here.
4. The one where you miss their friendship more than the romance
Maybe this was the first boyfriend or girlfriend you ever lived with, someone who was a friend before you took the plunge and began dating them, or somebody who you just clicked with. Whatever the case, you miss the inside jokes, the laughter, and all the knowing little looks you shared. Sure, these things are unique to the person, and it’s not that you don’t miss them, but while you know you can move on and mend the romantic hole they’ve left in their absence, friends like that are few and far between. If you can actually put your differences aside and remain friends, then this is admirable and very grown up of you. If not, that’s only human, and you’re going to have to take a step back and really just take time to breathe.
How you’ll get over them: Hide their Facebook profile, unfollow them on Twitter and Instagram for a little while, and cling tight to the friends you maybe didn’t see as often when you were in your relationship. Rekindle those connections, and remind yourself that there’s a whole bunch of people who care about you. When the time comes, you can tweet at them, but only if there’s a genuine care for who they are and what their 140-character jokes are, not that maybe enough favs will win you a reconciliation. Actually wanting to be friends with an ex, and pretending to want to be friends with an ex because you really want to get back together, are two very different things – make sure you’re honest with yourself about which applies to your feelings before you reconnect.
5. Boomerang Bob
You break up, you get back together, you break up, you get engaged, you call it off, you reconcile… I mean, you get it. No matter how much you try, you just can’t seem to quit this person. Even if it’s volatile, it’s some kind of stability, right? Maybe? Really, as hard as it may seem, it’s best to walk away, wait a little while, and see if you’re still really into them for them, or into your set ways and patterns.
How you’ll get over them: Try some new hobbies. Take up a new sport, read a new book, spend a whole day exploring a part of town you’ve never seen before — by yourself. Sometimes all it takes is putting yourself out of your comfort zone to see how much you can still grow when you’re left to your own devices.
6. The first one who broke your heart for real
This one is where you really felt just… not even sadness, but an inconsolable void, an acute sense of hurt that blindsides you and settles firmly in the left side of your chest cavity. This is the kind of hurt that really makes you believe that the heart is the muscle that holds love. Sometimes this is the one you never quite get over, and sometimes this is the one that measures exactly how much the human heart can hold.
How you’ll get over them: It will feel impossible, but it will happen. Eventually. Just give yourself time, and compartmentalize them slowly, bit by bit, until they live more in your gradually fuzzing memory and less in your heart. You may not ever fully recover from this pain, but at least you’ll know that this too shall pass. Try not to tell yourself that you never want to face something as difficult as this again. Of course you don’t. Nobody does. But hopefully, you won’t have to. It’s this hope that will keep you going.
7. The One Who Got Away
The fabled One Who Got Away is the person you never really appreciated while you had them. They really might not have been perfect, but hindsight tends to either put things in stark relief or glaze them over in a pretty little sepia-toned filter. Either way, you deeply want what you can no longer have, but living in the past isn’t going to help you win them back or get over them. Whatever ultimately drove you two apart — their job, your hangups, the fact that you couldn’t agree on kids/marriage/whatever — is an opportunity for you to learn from it and better yourself, so that maybe, if someone else like them comes around, you won’t mess it up the second time. Onward, starcrossed lover.
How you’ll get over them: As much as it may hurt, spend some time really thinking about why it was that you didn’t appreciate them when you had them. Were you complacent? Were you being selfish? Was there something else going on in your life competing with your time for them? Sometimes things are really just all about bad timing, and we have to realize how much we can handle at once. If you really lost them due to things you did, try to learn from them so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes next time.
8. The Worst. Ex. Ever.
You and your friends might compare horror stories to see who wins out on having the One Ex To Rule Them All, or you’ll commiserate over your shared agony. We all have our own Vietnams, after all. The Worst Ever could have been completely awful in the relationship and you couldn’t get out of there fast enough, or they turned on you in the break up and transformed into a veritable monster of ex-dom. Nobody willingly wants to be someone’s Worst Ever — I mean, maybe you do, and you’re just vying for the Worst Human Ever award — but sometimes rebuffed emotions just take over and you’re left with a shell of your former self and lots and lots of hurt feelings.
How you’ll get over them: Go to brunch. Bitch about them. Get really angry and really scandalized and really upset… until you begin laughing at how outlandish some people can become. Sometimes all it takes is laughter to put things in perspective, and to remind you to maybe not be this crazy person yourself.
9. The one who gets married before you do
You’ll be there, just minding your own business, logging onto Facebook, when — bam! suddenly you see it. A life event, a relationship status update garnering likes into the veritable hundreds — they’ve become engaged. You’ll spend approximately 5-17 minutes searching for any and all existence of the ring (your peace of mind in the situation will rest largely on how nice the ring is), the details, their overwhelming happiness of it all. You’ll then be subjected to countless posts about planning, tandem juice cleanses in preparation for The Big Day, and cheesy engagement photos galore, all the while wondering why you haven’t found somebody to share these experiences with.
How you’ll get over them: Facebook has a handy “hide updates from this person” feature. Use it. Better yet, unfriend them. You really don’t need that recipe for jealousy in your life.
10. The one that helps you realize that you are one (or more) of these exes to someone else
Heartbreak is a very self-absorbed thing. This isn’t inherently bad. Of course you’re going to focus on how you feel. It gives you time to reflect on the experience, maybe even in the hopes that you can work on yourself, mend your wounds, and learn to open yourself up to somebody else who you can maybe grow to love. But still, you’re not going to be at your best in the middle of the heartbreak, and there’s going to be one person who reminds you that somebody else is going through the break up, too. Getting outside perspective is helpful, and reminds you that sometimes, break ups just are. There’s nothing to do, really, but learn from them and hope that maybe, the next time won’t end this way.
How you’ll get over them: Promising to try to be better next time to the next person. that’s all you can do. Because as much as we don’t want to be someone’s Worst Ever, we can also strive to be someone’s Best Ever, and neither of you will want to get away.