The hardest part of a break-up is telling everyone you know that you are no longer in a relationship. They inevitably ask why? and what happened? and you have to go through the painful story over and over again.
It’s the admission of failure that stings the most. You put so much hope, so much trust into someone and actually believed that you could potentially be with them for the rest of your life. Most people do not get into relationships with the idea that it will end. We believe that we are building a life and future with our forever best friend. So when it ends it feels like such a crushing defeat.
Now all of those ideas and plans that you’ve been building up in your brain have to just stop. You truly believed that your life was going right, when all of a sudden it takes a sharp detour left. It would be more painful and frankly silly to keep planning how you’re going to decorate your apartment together or what you were going to name your children. All of those thoughts that made you so happy to think about have to get tucked away in the deepest, darkest part of your brain.
And those thoughts will never be resurrected because with any new person comes new plans. And because of how badly you failed last time you wonder if you should make those plans at all. The idea of another failure keeps you from going that far this time.
The thought of starting over again and giving a new relationship a clean slate honestly feels delusional. How could you possibly go through having your hopes dashed once again? Admitting to everyone that you endured yet another failure? We never think they are going to fail until they do and then we wonder how we ever believed that it could possibly last.
Of course there are ways to try and avoid the inevitable failure. Do you keep choosing partners who are wrong for you or who want different things? Maybe you’re attracted to cheaters and liars or people who are emotionally unavailable. But even still, you never know who someone really is upon first glance. Or you’re just too blind to see it. And you accidentally on purpose get involved and it blows up in your face.
Even if you are the one who initiated the breakup it doesn’t make it feel any less like a loss. It’s almost worse because you have to admit that you were the one who gave up. If someone breaks up with you, at least you get sympathy from others. You were blindsided, you were betrayed. But at least you didn’t willingly give up.
Those who have been divorced probably know this feeling on a much more elevated level. After saying vows that include the words “until death do us part” in front of ALL of your closest friends and family, to have to admit that it failed would be cruel and unusual punishment. Every wedding gift, every shared asset, every talk of “we” probably feels like a mockery.
Especially if you tried really hard and did everything you could. When it fails after that point you feel exhausted on such a level that it feels hilarious when people suggest that you start dating again. Why? What’s the point? The success of a relationship feels like it has the same odds as winning the lottery now.
This isn’t cynicism, this is facing the reality that sometimes things end. And having hope in the face of that reality is such a challenge. Having to tell someone new who you don’t trust yet all of your beliefs and dreams and fantasies and childhood memories all over again seems worse than a torturous death. The thought that another person out there in the world could be walking around without you, holding onto all of your secrets, makes your hesitations seem legitimate.
I don’t want to have another ex ever again. I cannot fail anymore. Multiple relationship failures over the years creates PTSD. People who met their significant others early on in life will never know what this feeling is like.
I’m a competitive person so the idea of accepting any more defeat feels so heavy and tragic. The next man I meet and fall in love with has to be my husband. But how can I know that ahead of time? And that seems like way too much pressure to be putting on him. Alone forever it is, I guess.