There are two types of people in this world – those who want to win their breakups, and liars.
No I know, I know. Relationships are not a game. Breakups are not the playoffs. True happiness can only be found when you stop comparing yourself to the people from your past and find a way to genuinely move on with your life.
Now that that’s out of our system, let’s talk about winning and losing.
The traditional mark of winning the breakup is finding someone new before your ex does. The traditional mark of losing is exactly the opposite.
Nobody wants to be the person crying alone into a pint of Chocolate Chip Ice Cream while they click through pictures of their ex’s new relationship on Facebook. Everyone wants to feel coveted and desired by people who are not their ex when a relationship ends. And we’ve learned to measure whether or not we’ve moved on by whether or not we’ve found a new person to love.
This sounds simple enough. Except it’s also unhealthy as fuck.
The truth about moving on is that it’s not about fucking someone new. It’s not about diving back into the dating game. It’s not even about falling in love with someone perfect and bringing them home to meet your parents.
Moving on is about taking your life back. And if the only way you know how to do that is by getting under somebody new, you have much bigger issues to tackle than whether or not you’ve won the breakup.
The true measure of moving on isn’t whether or not you’ve invested yourself in somebody new – it’s whether you’re investing in your own life in a way that isn’t affected by the relationship you once shared with your ex. It’s about whether or not you’re making your own choices, pursuing your own desires and cultivating the big, important changes you need to make, without worrying about what your ex is thinking along the way.
For almost two years after my last long-term relationship ended, I assumed the fact that I was still single meant I hadn’t moved on. I went on dates, but never let them develop into relationships. I hooked up but always wanted to keep things casual. I kept my life and myself on the move – going from place to place, engaging in fling after fling, and assumed that my lack of interest in a serious commitment meant I just wasn’t over my ex.
Until one day I bumped into my ex on the sidewalk and realized that I’d all but forgotten about his existence.
Somewhere in between a move, a career change, several months of traveling and a whole lot of personal reflection, I’d altogether stopped being brokenhearted. I was happy again, on my own. I’d moved on – and my lack of fixation over whether or not I had done so was perhaps the clearest indication of that.
But all of this happened without me falling in love with someone else. It happened without a relationship status update or a couple’s beach vacation or a new man or woman to bring home and introduce to my parents.
It turns out moving on, to me, didn’t mean being committed to someone else. It meant entering the phase of my life where I was only committed to myself.
Moving on meant finding a new apartment that I loved and decorating it exactly the way I wanted. It meant planning a move to a new city without considering how it would impact somebody else’s life. It meant working hard and traveling extensively and rising to new challenges regularly, without pausing to report back to somebody else. It meant cultivating a full, happy life in which I belonged, first and foremost, to myself.
And if we cannot call that moving on, I don’t know what we can call it.
The truth about moving on is that it just doesn’t look the same to all of us. For some people, it means falling madly in love with someone else. For others it means building an independent life in which their happiness is only their own. There are a thousand different ways to push our lives forwards into new stages and phases and no two ever look exactly the same.
At the end of the day, ‘moving on’ is a simple measure of one thing – when you’re happy again without your ex.
When your thoughts have stopped fixating on him or her. When your mind has stopped dreaming up ways to win them back. When your life has subtly, decidedly moved on to bigger, better things and your focus lies solely on those.
You truth about winning the breakup is that you win it the day you stop caring about doing so.
Because what’s happening for you in the present has become infinitely more interesting to you than looking back.