The Single Most Important Thing No One Ever Told Me About Breaking Up With Someone You Still Love

There are no how-to-guides to breakups.

This is a lie.

There are many how-to-guides to breakups.

There is, however, a gross misconception associated with them. For the most part, these lists of tips for a supposedly easy and painless breakup ignore an incredibly vital aspect of a breakup: they assume that you, the heartless initiator of the breakup, no longer love or care about the former object of your affections.

To be fair, this is a somewhat understandable mentality. We have been taught to believe that True Love will conquer all and that Love is something that we can always work out and fight for, regardless of conflicting life circumstances. Our fairy tale-infused brains and hearts believe that Love can overcome any obstacle.

This may very well be the case, but sometimes Love shouldn’t. Sometimes, loving someone means letting go of them and letting life take you where you both belong—even if that means apart from each other.

When I broke up with my first boyfriend, I was absolutely distraught. We had a mostly happy relationship together. The decision to let him go stemmed not from no longer loving him, as so many of those how-to-guides assumed, but from the realization that his desires for his future, and my own desires for mine, would not allow for both of us to be happy and fulfilled if we tried to mesh them together by remaining a couple. The practical side of me could not rationalize remaining in a relationship that was doomed to fail from that point onward.

Despite this, I loved him still. I loved him as we had the conversation that broke our hearts into separate ones again. I loved him when I asked him not to text me anymore. I loved him in the days and weeks that followed our breakup, when I spent my days avoiding my dorm room and any moment of solitude, busying myself to the point of not feeling the hurt. I loved him during the next date I went on, the one that went well but I couldn’t bring myself to happily accept.

It was during this time that I turned, as I so often do, to Google for the answers to life’s questions and woes. I wanted to find someone, somewhere, who had gone through my situation before and could help me make sense of my feelings—to no avail. All of the articles and wikihow pages that I read assumed that either I could only be sad if I had been broken up with and only would initiate the break up if I didn’t love him anymore. Because of this, I was left with no sympathy from the Googled-set.

This is my attempt to remedy that.

When you break up with someone you still love, you are going to feel like the devil. You think that you never could and never would intentionally cause someone pain—particularly someone you care so dearly about.

And then you do.

When you do it, two faces will be burned into your memory: their face when they realize what is about to happen, and again as you take one last glimpse before you leave the last thing you were meant to do as a couple.

Both will make your heart drop into your stomach, where it might stay for a few weeks.

You will have days when you hate yourself for bringing this level of heartbreak upon yourself. You will think that all of this could have been avoided if you had just stuck with the relationship and tried to make things work. Your life, for a time, will be filled with regret and what-ifs.

You will cry some days, not for what you’re going through, but for your former love. You will wish that you could stop their hurt, and then realize, once again, that you are the one who caused it.

You will spend some nights so happy for the freedom to pursue everything you gave them up for, and others willing to do anything for another moment of holding and being held in the safe space your relationship used to be.

You will be forced to understand that some Love isn’t forever. You will fall out of Love in the same way you fell into it: each day walking a little farther outside of its reaches, instead of towards it. You will fill your life with other things and other people that make you happy—and so will they.

When you are ready, you will welcome Love back into your heart again. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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