Monday, February 1, 2010

The No Good Very Bad Break-Up

It's painful to see relationships end. In the beginning, you're kissing under the dining room table like kids and going everywhere together and imagining the big, wide, vast, open expanse of possibility that is your Great Wonderful Perfect Relationship. And then that vast expanse comes hurtling inward on itself resulting in changes only comparable to the Big Bang. Breakups often leave you devastated, confused, and perhaps bargaining like a mass murderer trying to get the judge to forget about that silly death penalty thing. I mean, seriously, a lot of women go absolutely loopy at the end of their Great Wonderful Perfect Relationship. Because break-ups? They suuuuck.

I've been the crazy ex-girlfriend who just wouldn't let go. I've seen plenty of my friends be that insane ex. It happens, and maybe you've been there, too. But, seriously, you don't have to go off your rocker over anyone-- and even more seriously, you shouldn't.

During the Break-Up:

1. Don't Bargain

I have a habit of bargaining with the breaker-upper. This, however, is a big, huge no-no. If someone you feel you truly love and value is breaking up with you, it can be hard not to turn into the world's best haggler. Here's the thing: a lot of the things you might throw into the bargain are just not good for you. It might seem like a good idea to try to strike a deal, but I have a feeling that whoever you're talking to is pretty sure he doesn't want anything to do with you, you know, since he's dumping you. Any conditions this person agrees on are probably just for their own benefit or because s/he's too taken aback to say "no." Bargaining is not fair to you.

2. Understanding "the Break"

A "break" is a break-up. If your guy or girl wants a break, they want a break-up, but they're (in my experience) too afraid to say it and/or too afraid to cut their ties to you just in case they don't work something out with someone else very soon. Often they'll say it's because of some "legitimate" reason, like too much school work or stress at home, but to me, "break" is just a cowardly way of telling someone you can't stand them anymore, so I just don't respect a guy who will do the whole "break" thing. And you know what? If they can't deal with whatever it is they're going through while in a relationship with you, how can you deal with problems in the relationship? Just run out again? If they need a break from you in general (which is more likely the case), how do you know they can commit to you for any length of time? They probably can't. Let 'em dump you. They're not worth it.

After the Break-Up

3. Allow Yourself Some Time to Wallow

I'm an advocate for crying and writing nasty things in your journal and punching your pillows and kicking your feet in the middle of the room. After a big, terrible break-up, you're probably so upset that you want to do all those things at the very same time. You should. I'm serious. It might sound a little immature, but I think the first thing you should do after all is said and done is have a goddamn tantrum. And eat ice cream. Eat so much ice cream. I mean, it sounds a little unhealthy, but it works. Listen to sad songs, clutch your teddy bear, and bawl until you can't breathe. Let it out.

4. Sever Ties-- at Least for Now

So your significant other is now your ex-significant other. You probably still want to interact with them. Don't. No good can possibly come of you hanging out with someone who has made it clear they don't want to be with you. You may have said that you still want to be friends, but in my experience, this rarely works. Being around this person, talking to this person, is just going to tear those fresh wounds open wider, and you don't need that. Delete numbers from your cell phone, unfriend him/her on Facebook, block his/her AIM screen name, etc. I know this is hard, but spending time with this person will only be a constant reminder of how hurt you are. You feel bad enough already, I'm sure. Also, some time away will help give you a little perspective.

5. Make a List of Everything That Sucked

It might take time to be able to do this, but please do. I bet there are a lot of things you didn't like about the relationship, and for the sake of getting real about this terrible event, it's time to think about them. Still too heartbroken and in love? Employ the help of some friends. Every time I've been through a break-up, THAT was when my friends let me know all the red flags that they saw but I didn't. Was I happy to hear that a man I still adored treated me like crap? No. I didn't want to believe it. But was it true? Absolutely. The truth hurts, but you need to hear it.

6. Keep Busy, See Friends

It's going to take a long time to feel better. For me, the worst moments always hit when I was alone in my room doing nothing. The solution? I know you may not want to venture back into the real world quite yet, but occupying your time with friends and things you love is going to really help you. You'll be keeping your mind off of you-know-who, and maybe even getting something productive done! Throw yourself into school work, practice extra hard with your sports team, get writing that story you always meant to write but were too busy hanging out with Loser McLoserface to find time for. Go out for a drink or two, have a No Boys Allowed slumber party, or just have a nice, long heart-t0-heart with your best friend ever and you'll soon be on the road to healing. Even if it's a long road, you'll know you're not going it alone.

7. A Note on Friends With Benefits

Been there, done that, wouldn't do it again. Many girls think that being friends with benefits can either repair the relationship or let you still enjoy being intimate with someone even though there's no official dating-type title. I'm sure some people can actually have this kind of relationship very successfully. Most? Probably not. All I got out of being friends with benefits with a certain ex was feeling more attached than ever and more desperate and confused as to why he wouldn't date me again. What I needed was to cut off the relationship, not keep on some twisted sort of life support. One of the nicest things a different ex ever did for me was to refuse my offer to be friends with benefits. That was the only was I really knew how to deal with a break-up: beg to be together again, and if not, just have sex until he realizes how much he loves me still. The kindly ex told me while he still felt attracted to me sexually, he couldn't do it. Your ex? Might not say that. Don't offer. There's like 99% chance you'll feel like crap about it at some point in the future. It's more trouble than its worth (and I'm sure that person isn't the best you'll ever have anyway).

How did you survive your last break-up? What advice do you give your friends when their relationships end? I'd love to hear from you!


Kimbirdy said...

I definitely relied on my friends and kept busy. I embraced each phase of my feelings - incredible sadness, rage blackouts, etc. And I focused on how awesome I was as a young woman.

The thing I did that was NOT helpful was start dating too soon. I didn't allow enough time to become my whole self again before coupling up. I transferred a lot of my baggage onto the next guy instead of working through it. So I totally agree with you on #3. Feel it all out and become stable again before moving on.

Nina (Femme Rationale) said...

i think this is a great "check list". break ups are so hard to deal with. i think the most important thing is to remind yourself that you didn't "fail" and to surround yourself w/friends and family so you know you're loved.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Chelsee said...

Ive come here to seek solace for a relationship that just ended. I mean not ever three days ago. I'm trying to get over it but it hurts and I just want a quick fix which I know I can't have and is frustrating. The worst part is that our relationship was great - he just didn't love me anymore.

Janelle said...

Exactly what Chelsee said happened to me except it was 4 days ago :(
I'm finding it so hard to accept that after 2 and a half years of what seemed great, he doesnt love me anymore. And he dumped me yet he took it so badly also that it confuses me.
Everything you listed is what people suggested to me but I didn't wanna try. I thought it'd be a bad idea to listen to sad songs but I'm gonna try it.
I know this is gonna take time because since we were together so long, everything reminds me of him and I keep remembering the good memories. I know I need to stop talking to him.
Hopefully I can only get better from here.

Thank you for a great article. I'm gonna go use up some more tissues now.


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