Sometimes You Really Do Need To Burn Bridges If You Want To Move On

Legend has it that when Cortez arrived to conquer the Aztec empire (rude) he burned his ships so that the crew was left without an escape route — they would have to stay and battle it out. Now, this — as most glorified tales of white-man valor are — is probably apocryphal, but that’s fairly irrelevant, because it’s an achingly beautiful sentiment. Moreover, it’s a sentiment we should be following. Especially when it comes to break-ups.

In my personal experience — and the experience of those around me, whose lives I’ve cherry- picked from to write articles about — I’ve never once seen keeping contact with an ex post-breakup yield high returns. I’ve seen people end friends-with-benefits relationships smoothly, and then seamlessly slip back into a purely platonic friendship, which is supposedly the unicorn of the dating world, but I have never seen two people stay in regular contact with one another and it not lead to some sort of prolonged heartache on one pour soul’s end.

Does this mean it’s never happened? No: maybe my friends, family members, and the people they date are just shitty at compartmentalization, or are grossly hindered by pesky emotions. I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule, and you should always do what’s right by you, but staying “friends” after the break up is (in my opinion) like walking around with a broken leg and no cast just hoping that it will heal itself. Sure. Sure it will. Good luck with that.

Burn that ship. Incinerate that bad boy. Delete her number and never speak to her again if at all feasible. Ok, that’s likely out of the realm of possibility, since a fair number of people actually allow their significant others into their lives in meaningful ways while dating (or so I’ve heard). That doesn’t mean you can’t limit contact. No more good morning texts. No more calls to see how your day is going. No more sending them cute photos and intellectually stimulating articles just ‘cause you were thinking about them.

I have a friend who was still skyping his long distance ex-girlfriend for months after they “broke up” only to get back together with her for another 7 miserable months, in which all the old problems presented themselves ten-fold. She thought he’d had a fair taste of the single life, but the thing is, he never had to actually put himself out there, cause he knew he had her to fall back on.

Even more common than that is the classic problem of stringing the other person along, breaking his heart day after day with your text messages and face-to-face interactions that can no longer be romantic, but also aren’t fully platonic ‘cause, hey you’ve seen (or worse) that persons balls before, and ain’t nothing causal about that.

Burn the ships. Go out and do you for a while. Starve yourself of that special brand of guaranteed-attention that comes with having a relationship. Become a ball of neediness with your friends. Eat enough chocolate to kill every dog at your local humane society. Get really really into the All-American Rejects at a level that hasn’t been seen since about 2004. Whatever it takes, but do something different. You can’t drive looking in the rear-view mirror. Strand yourself. You’re the general here and you must force yourself into battle. There should be no exit strategy in sight. Trust yourself so implicitly as to know that you will be ok alone. Even better than ok. Fucking phenomenal.

Burn the ships. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

featured image – Brittani Lepley

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Gillian Bennette

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