The day that it’s over is never actually the day that it’s over.
Because you’re too connected. You’re too intertwined. You know each other’s families. You know each other’s friends. You know everything about each other’s lives.
And that doesn’t just stop on the day you break up. It takes days, weeks, months – sometimes years – to untangle your lives from one another. To separate your existences enough to the point where you can actually visualize the possibility of moving on without them.
The way that a breakup is supposed to happen is that on some ordinary, uneventful night, somebody decides it’s over. After weeks or even months of doubting the relationship, one or both of you decides, usually on an impulse, that today is the day to end it.
And it should be over in that moment, after you’ve hugged and cried and said goodbye.
But it’s not. Because although you’re saying goodbye to them and to this idea that you have any future together, they’re still going to be in your life, unintentionally.
You’re friends with all of their friends on Facebook. You probably follow all of their family members on Instagram, and they probably follow you. They’re all over your Snapchat. Your social circles are completely intertwined. They’re in your profile picture. Your friends have become friends with their friends. It’s impossible to just cut them out, one hundred percent, all at once.
And so, little by little, you have to dismantle all traces of them – praying the whole time that nobody notices too quickly and that you don’t receive a string of texts over the next couple weeks asking what happened. I thought you guys were happy! Are you going to stay friends? What if you still see them all the time?
And you finally, truly understand the meaning behind the idea of ripping the bandaid off. It would be so much easier to shut it all off at once, to experience the breakup like a punch in the gut. Something that throws you off your feet and knocks the wind out of you, but is at least over in one continuous, swift motion. A dark period that lasts perhaps a few weeks, and then it’s done. You’ve grieved. It’s over and you can accept it.
Instead, every little thing you have to do to sever ties with them is just another painful sting to add to the pile. It’s useless to defriend them, or unfollow them, or delete them on Snapchat, or the thousand other things you’re tempted to do to erase all traces of them. Because they’re still everywhere. Unless you delete every single close mutual friend you have with them, from both your virtual presence and your real life, they’re going to show up. In other people’s videos and pictures and posts. At other people’s parties and weddings and events that you’re also going to.
It’s the digital age. Everything is in permanent marker. The footprints of your relationship are never going to go away, not matter how hard to try to erase them.
You can get a new job and a new social life and you can move a thousand miles away from them. It’s not going to change anything. You’ll still be running, and no matter how far you go, you’ll never get fully away.
Sometimes, it’s not about tearing the bandaid off. It’s just about accepting that, one way or another, it has to come off. And even if it takes a really long damn time, and it hurts and stings and pulls at every ounce of energy you have, you have to do it. You have to accept that this is your reality, that this is what breakups are like now.
And if you just work to keep your head above water, to look at the breakup as something that you’re going through as opposed to looking at it as your entire identity, you’ll be okay. Maybe it will take a while, maybe it will completely suck, maybe it will be a pain in the ass to try and move on when they’re everywhere. But it will happen. You will get there. And at the end of the day, you’ll be a better person for what you went through.