17 Things I Wish I'd Known About Getting Over an Ex When I Was Younger
There's no such thing as closure, friends.
By Anna Breslaw
1. There is no time limit in which you "have to" be over someone. Everyone has that one obnoxious friend with an ice heart who insists that you must be over them in approximately half the time that you dated them. People insist on these arbitrary deadlines for the #feels because having someone take a big dump on your heart feels endless, and it’s easier to deal with it if an end is in sight. But really, if you try to force it to end too early, it’ll just be worse. Let your sadness breathe and go away in its own time.
2. Also, that’s not wallowing. It’s healthy. Anyone who calls that “wallowing” has forgotten what breaking up with someone is like.
3. It is incredibly easy to lie to yourself repeatedly about being over them, but if you keep saying it to yourself over and over, you probably aren’t. Otherwise known as the "I’M SO CHILL, WE’RE JUST FRIENDS NOW, TELL ME ALL ABOUT YOUR NEW GIRLFRIEND, I’M SO CHILL, SO SHE’S AN AMERICAN APPAREL MODEL, WOW, THAT’S GREAT, I CAN’T FEEL MY HANDS" dance.
4. Sometimes you need to sever all social and social media ties with the person (at least for a while) in order to fully move on. I know that makes it look like you “care too much” or whatever, but trust me, it’s better than Facebooking him when you’re lonely.
5. Speaking of which: Keeping tabs on them, even occasionally, is highly likely to rip off your emotional scab. There he is on Instagram, holding a baby, that’s nice. Does anyone have any liquor?
6. It’s not your fault. It wasn’t that you weren't good enough for him in any way. There is no such thing. That is false.
7. Sometimes it’s not their fault, either. The ability to zoom out of your hurt and acknowledge that a relationship ended for gray reasons, rather than black or white reasons (one of you was a dick face, the other one was a saint), is very helpful, although that might initially be even more painful to process.
8. No drunk communication — no texting, no GChatting, no nothing. Maybe you’ve memorized his number, in which case you give your phone to your friend every time you get drunk. Unfortunately, you might have to learn this the hard way, after repeatedly having stomach-churning emotionally charged conversations that you will regret in the morning.
9. Most of the time, closure is a myth. You probably won't have that perfect closing-of-the-book moment that you see on TV. Don't let Hollywood trick you into continuing to communicate with this person until there's some deus ex machina that lets you Finally Be Done For Good. Make yourself be Done For Good.
10. Don’t take your wrath out on his new girlfriend, who is a complete stranger to you. It’s Mean Girl-ish and it’s bad karma. If you must have the two-second thought that her hair looks flat and her Twitter isn’t funny, fine, I know sometimes you need to. But lashing out at women who have done nothing wrong, even just obsessing about his new girlfriend with your friends, is not who you are.
11. If you spent most of your time upset, nervous, or concerned about this person while you were dating, it’s much, much better that it’s over. Louis CK has a bit that’s like, “Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it's true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce.” People should be congratulating you for getting out of an unhealthy relationship, and you should feel sort of relieved, really.
12. The horrible gut-wrenching process of getting over the first person you ever really dated and/or had a horrible on-and-off relationship with will make you #wiser. You will realize what you want and don’t want for your next relationship.
13. Your worth is not tied to another person. No matter who they are.
14. And he’s not as amazing and unforgettable as you think he is. He’s not Armie Hammer. He’s a cute-enough grad school dropout who works at Build-a-Bear and likes dubstep.
15. Sometimes you can’t stay friends, and that’s OK. I am of the personal opinion that anyone who can stay friends with their ex is either the Dalai Lama or didn’t really love them that much as a significant other to begin with. Not being able to make small talk about the paleo diet with someone whose balls you once licked does not make you a petty and immature person.
16. Turning the breakup emotions into a positive drive (e.g., working out, excelling at work, cleaning your home) rather than a negative drive (e.g., drinking too much, smoking too much, wallowing, having sex with a guy with a soul patch) is so much better in the long run. The latter is basically a self-destructive punishment/immature "I'll Show You (By Making Bad Decisions)!" taunt at Life and will only make you feel worse.
17. It didn't work because it wasn’t right. This is the most important lesson, because it'll help you move on and find a partner who is right for you.