What Nobody Tells You About Break Ups
Hard to believe I know. In this Kim Kardashian world we live in, how is it even possible that there would be things nobody will tell you about going through a break up? Well it is. No two relationship breakdowns are ever the same but I noticed some interesting things after my nine year relationship came to an end that I thought were worth sharing. Before I share them I need to preface that this article is focused a little more on the relationship break down where both of you don't exactly hate each other and are still at least a little bit amicable. So here goes.
1. Your friends in happy relationships will have no idea how to comfort you.
This is true. They're not in your relationship and can't see things from where you are. Even if they have been through something similar themselves, they're happy and they haven't just been dumped, they haven't just broken up with someone. Misery loves company and in the early stages of a break up your single friends; your scorned permanent spinster relatives; that friend who has a restraining order against them for trying to burn down their ex's house; these people will understand you. They will listen to you as you cry and get drunk, but remember there should be a shelf life on this kind of negative ion attraction (I'm aware that phrase is probably scientifically inaccurate but I like the sound of it). Eventually it's important to be around those who don't really understand. I remember that when I told my mother that things had ended she gave me the most honest response out of anyone around me. "I'm really sorry son, but I have no idea what you're going through." I heard her begin to cry down the phone. Her primary instincts to comfort and protect her son were thwarted by the reality that she had absolutely no idea how I was feeling. She's in a happy marriage with my father and has been for 37 years. They met in their late teens and have been each other's best friend and soulmate since then. What I told my mother was that it's ok because just knowing that she wanted to help was enough. I also found that my own break up was like a magical key for bringing people together. I had friends who I thought were in happy relationships reveal the issues they were facing. I witnessed some of these friends work harder at making things work than they probably ever did before, and the best thing is that I saw a lot of them succeed. It would be easy to get jealous of this but I'm a huge believer in paying it forward. If someone can learn from what I have been through and take an extra step here and there, I'm really happy for them, mainly because they all now owe me big time.
2. Your Break Up Can Be Devastating for other People.
Break ups do interesting things to people. We all grieve in different ways. Initially I chose to become a puffy alcoholic but later decided to channel my emotions into other things, like hommus. One thing that was surprising and at times uncomfortable was the level of interest other people had in the reason's why it happened. My relationship wasn't the most private. I made a fucking movie about it after all (the Doctor's Wife). What I never really expected was that so many people would have shock and disbelief that it was over. I spent hours fielding messages through Facebook (some from people I had never met). All of them offering support but a lot of them needing reassurance. "What happened?" "Are you sure it's really over?" "Have you tried counselling?" There were times when I had to remind myself that people mean well because that last statement in particular can come across as downright condescending. "Yes we tried things," I would say. "No, we don't hate each other." It was after these messages that I realised my relationship meant something to people I had never met. It meant enough that they felt the need to reach out and comfort me, or even help it to be fixed. That's pretty awesome. The main lesson I learned here is that people are going to want to be there for you and sometimes you just have to let them.
3. You will move on at very different times
Everyone thinks that they're going to be different. Everyone thinks both parties be able to move on and date other people in a respectable time frame and all will be well. Except for the fact that this never happens. The main issue here is that there is no poll results to show just how long a respectable amount of time is. The end result is almost always a situation where one of you will hear about the other now dating someone new and it will be shit. For some people a few months is enough, for other's it's years. For some it's a few weeks (as they try to convince themselves that this is a great new connection and not just a rebound). Timeframes aside, it's important to remember that the moment of the actual, "I don't think we should be together," conversation isn't necessarily the actual start of the breakup. We humans are very good at continuing to go through the motions of something long after we have checked out. The only advice here is that if you are the one not dating yet, don't worry you will. If you are dating, don't be a douche, keep it to yourself.
4. You probably shouldn't see each other for a while.
If you genuinely wish to not hate each other, stop seeing each other.. at least for a bit. You can't honestly expect to learn how to live a life without each other while still being in each other's pockets. Even if you are totally best friends already and ok with absolutely everything, you still need to have space. I still lived in the "marital home" for a couple of months after the break up and although it was nice to have the familiar things around me, I wasn't moving on or healing. That didn't happen until I got out and went somewhere new. The issue about constant exposure to each other is that it can make you fall into familiar patterns that stop either of you being able to establish a new relationship, and this is exactly what you have to come to terms with. The relationship you have with your ex now is different to the one you used to have with them. You get to have all of the ground rules and boundaries set all over again, just like making a new friend. Except this is a new friend you used to schtupp.
5. It's a fine line between love and hate.
You will both say and do things that the other won't understand. Worse still, you will probably do things that hurt each other and have absolutely no idea you are doing it. A very wise friend once told me that it doesn't matter how kind or balanced we are, everyone becomes a different person during a break up. You will have moments where you think, "I have absolutely no idea who this person is!" and that's normal. This is another reason to back up the above point (you should have space). The less time you spend together in the beginning, the less likely you are to get burned our soured by something they say or do that will hurt you.
6. You need to do you gurrl.
Does this one really need explaining? Yes indeed, you need to take the time to be selfish. This is an important time for you. It's a time where you get to discover how to live for yourself only. It's the most "sex and the city" moment you will probably ever have. Although you may be in pain or missing something that is no more, you also get to do things that you stopped doing because your partner didn't really like them. Yes it's sad but the world is once again your oyster(or maybe even another sea creature that is a little less vaginal looking), and you need to do you.
7. Stop getting Hung up on the failure.
Yes it's over. Yes it's sad. No it isn't a failure. Just because the relationship came to an end doesn't mean you failed. It doesn't matter how long you were together, there was a period where you and your ex succeeded (remembering this is more about those amicable type break ups - not the ones where you were forced into a sister-wife cult underground against your will). You both had a period of time where you were in a successful relationship and you should be happy that you got to experience that. One could also argue that the relationship ending was a success too. If it wasn't working you succeeded at recognising this and dealt with it appropriately. And yes probably inappropriately too, like that time where you drank too much gin and left your wallet in a cab before throwing up on your neighbours front lawn. We're all human, and breakups can be hard.