No one prepares you for what it means to accept that someone you love isn’t going to be part of your life anymore. For whatever reason, your relationship ended, and all you’re left with is the messy, painful confusion of suddenly being on your own again. Maybe you both wanted each other but life got in the way. Maybe you outgrew each other after all those years. Maybe they changed, or you changed, or life changed.
When we have to let go of someone who we once thought was going to be a constant in our life, our whole world shifts radically and irreversibly. Our present, our future, everything we thought was going to be certain no longer is.
I will be honest with you. In the first weeks following the breakup, they will be everywhere. They will be there with everything you do. Everything will remind you of them — your songs, the films, the places you went to for coffee, the breakfast you used to make, that dress they liked so much on you, and all those little things in-between that no one else will ever understand. They will be everywhere, and it is going to hurt.
What you need to do right now is to validate your feelings, and feel them. Feel it all. Curl up and cry whenever you need to. Let it all pass through you. As often as necessary. Call your best friends or your mum for the hundredth time. Don’t fight the missing, the heaviness, the pain. Your emotions will come in waves, and they will overwhelm you. It will be hard to breathe when something reminds you of them, when you hear someone say their name, when one of your songs comes on, when you read through your old conversations. Your heart will sink looking at pictures you took when things were good. Yes, you will miss them beyond words. But despite all of this, I need you to remember that you are not lost. The pain you are experiencing — the incomprehension, the longing — is a catalyst for you to change and grow in ways you can’t yet understand.
I promise you, you will survive this. It sucks, it hurts, it is uncomfortable. It is painful. But it is temporary. It does get better with time. You are going to survive this, and you are going to get through it no matter how dark it may feel right now.
As much as we’d like to convince ourselves that we were just right for them, that the relationship was generally good, that life simply got in the way, we need to understand that things ended for a reason. We naturally tend to have the need to blame something or someone for it. If only they hadn’t moved to another city or country you would still be together. If you had just been a little funnier, a little more loveable, a little more desirable, maybe they would have chosen you despite the circumstances. Whatever story we tell ourselves to rationalize a breakup, we need to understand that things didn’t work out because they weren’t willing to make them work. That’s why.
The fact that they chose to walk alone never meant there was something wrong with you, never meant you weren’t good enough, never meant you weren’t worthy of their love. It doesn’t mean your relationship was bad, or fake, or in vain. It was what it was, but sometimes people are at a stage in their lives where they can’t commit. Sometimes people aren’t willing to change their future for you, and you have to let that be okay. They have plans and dreams and things to learn, and they need to learn them alone.
Do not vilify them for not knowing what they’re truly looking for. You cannot blame them for not being ready or for not being compatible with you anymore.
Maybe they want you, they feel for you, but they can’t appreciate everything you are and have to offer. And you might be ready to give them so much of you, thinking you can love for two until they’re ready, but you’re wrong. See, you can’t love someone into choosing you. You can’t love someone into staying. If they aren’t ready, they aren’t ready, and the truth is, you probably aren’t, either. There is a reason why you feel drawn to someone who is not fully committing to you. There is a reason why you are so desperately trying to make them love you, why you think your life would be so much worse without them in it, why you think you deserve half-hearted love.
Why do you want to be with someone who is unsure of you? Now is the time to figure that out.
The fact that your relationship didn’t make it doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it. It was. All of it. Trying is never in vain. Believing in love is never in vain. It wasn’t for nothing. Memories that now feel too heavy to carry one day will no longer taste bitter. They won’t hurt anymore because you will grow to understand that the time you shared was nothing but a gift.
You will grow to understand that it was meant to be — it just wasn’t meant to last.
You will grow to understand that sometimes even the best love stories end — whether they lasted three months, or three years, or 30. You will grow to understand that the way they impacted you was only ever supposed to open you up to what is really meant for you.
See, there is purpose in endings, too.
You both go off into the world knowing you’ve been changed in the most beautiful of ways, that you felt deeply, that you risked something. The person may no longer be part of your life, but you were given unforgettable moments and memories for a lifetime. As you move on, slowly putting the pieces back together, you will get a better understanding of who you are, what you value, and what you can’t compromise on in a relationship. You will come to realize that, at the end of the day, you’ve gained so much more than you think you lost.
So maybe what you need to learn right now is to recognize all the parts of yourself that have been silenced. The parts of you that you kept quiet for so long because you didn’t want to come on too strong. The parts of you that you thought were too clingy, too needy, too much to handle. Maybe what that person you are no longer with has taught you is that you need to stand up for yourself. That you have to learn how to ask for what you want, for what you know you deserve. Maybe what you’re supposed to learn from this breakup is how to heal the parts of you you’ve deemed inadequate and unworthy of love.
Maybe all of this is teaching you to love yourself fully and unconditionally so that you can attract someone who is ready to do the same. Someone who sees you and everything you are, someone who doesn’t hesitate to choose you when life gets in the way. Someone who is not just another lesson. Someone who is ready. Someone who stays.