1. Breakups are, almost step by step, the same process as grief. It seems silly, but breaking up with someone also means saying goodbye to everything that person was. Their presence, their texts, their smells and laughter and even the annoying way they shake their leg when watching a movie: you’ll be constantly reminded of all these little quirks, and each day, will have to remember and embrace that they’re now gone.
2. Breakups are pretty hard. In the grand scheme of things, a breakup is a rather normal part of life (I’ll get to that in a second), but I think most grown people are pretty quick to dismiss how hard it really is. You shouldn’t feel silly about how crazy and emotional and up-and-down this process is. Some days you’ll be fine, and some days you’ll be crying your eyes out or cussing out the sky.
3. A breakup isn’t the end of the world. There may have been many promises made and a lot of sweeping romantic plans for the future together, but no, a breakup isn’t a world-ending event. They happen. Two people may be perfectly wonderful people, but the timing wasn’t right or they discovered they weren’t compatible, and that’s okay. It’s hard, but you won’t always feel the same splinter of grief like you do now. Breakups are built into the eventualities of life.
4. Be ready for social fall-out and a lot of uncertain discomfort. If you and your ex shared a lot of friends or you’ve hung out in the same places, then expect a lot of clumsy, uncomfortable shuffling as everyone tries to re-organize their standing with you. Some of your “close friends” might choose your ex as their new company. It really, really hurts, but 1) it doesn’t mean they’re a terrible person, 2) everyone processes things differently, and 3) no one is taught how to handle these things with cordial panache. It’s easy to get bitter at this time as friends and family “pick sides,” but please consider that they might be just as confused as you are in this strange season, and when things settle, you can start figuring out how to assemble a new-normal as you initiate open discussions with the people who remain.
5. Singleness is a really good season (and for some, a life-choice). Don’t rush to get out of it. I hope that the pain of a breakup won’t rush you into any half-formed decisions. I hope it won’t rush you back into recycling your ex. I’ve seen this play out over and over, and it always leads to more trouble. You may have heard this a billion times, but it’s no less true: please take this time as a gift to learn and to laugh on your own, to cherish experiences without second-guessing, to really lean into your convictions without worrying how to dress or impress for someone you might be “attracted” to, to utilize your time and freedom for new open doors and opportunities.
Trust me: there’s no other unique position like singleness, when you’re free to be completely for yourself — and while marriage and raising children are wonderful gifts too, we cannot live with our heads in a possible future all the time, and singleness lends to a mobility and drivenness that cannot be found any other way.