If you have been following my blog from the beginning, you know that my ex-boyfriend, Gardner, used to be a huge part of my life. I haven’t really talked about our break-up on my blog out of respect of privacy for him and because I didn’t really see how it could be beneficial for me or anyone else… But now it has been over a year since we broke up, and I have learned so much about myself and relationships so I feel like it could really benefit some people to hear what I have to say about how to handle a break-up.
Gardner and I were together throughout huge transition periods in both of our lives. We went through a lot: a long-distance relationship (he’s a year older and went to school 1000 miles away), me being forced to switch high schools my senior year, my eating disorder, and more. Obviously this was a lot for a couple people our age to handle. I’m saying all this beause I want you all to understand how serious the relationship was and why I truly do think I have some perspective on how to get over a relationship. I didn’t handle the break-up perfectly whatsoever, but now, over a year later, I have a pretty good sense of what I did right and what I did wrong. I’ve come up with a few pointers that I think are really helpful. It is also something I want to share because I do think that my bingeing and ongoing eating disorder has had a lot to do with my inability to face my emotions, but now that I know that it is much easier to control the symptoms.
1. Don’t hide from your emotions. After any relationship ends, It Is completely normal (and HUMAN) to feel a huuuuge range of emotions (angry, sad, confused, lonely, hurt, I could really go on forever). The worst thing you can do is to avoid them… I can tell you that from experience. I tried SO hard to pretend like I didn’t care but it only ended up hurting me in the end. In reality, I felt best the few times that I did allow myself to be upset or angry.
2. Accept that it is over. Although there is always a chance that you will get back together, I think it is so important to treat a break-up like a break-up. Don’t spend your time wondering if you two iwll get back together or thinking of what you can do to change the situation. Instead, accept that there are obviously reasons that it ended and accept that you have to move on. If it is meant to be, I truly think it will be and I also believe the only way to truly know if you REALLY want to be with someone is to let yourself move on and see how life is without them for a while
3. Ask him (or her) as many questions as you need to. I personally know that I was so confused after the break-up. I had so many questions I felt needed to be answered and at first I avoided asking them because I thought it would show weakness. I changed my mind when my mom gave me great advice- she said, don’t kill yourself over not talking to him (or something like that). The truth of the matter is, after such a long relationship, I deserved to talk to him If I needed to. I’m not saying that you should bug your ex 24/7 after a break-up, but if you can’t get something off your mind, It Is perfectly ok to ask and talk to him as needed.
4. Cry. This kind of goes with the whole don’t be afraid of your emotions thing but I think one of the worst things to do after a break-up is not let yourself cry. Crying really can help you feel better (reminds me of a cheeeesy song I used to listen to when I was a little kid). I think it helps to give yourself time to be as emotional as you want, but then to move on with your day. Not in the sense that you are masking your emotions, but in the sense that you are able to fully be a part of your other activities (and be fun to be around for that matter) since you have already gotten out a lot your emotions.
5. Try new things and take advantage of the things you may not have done as much while in the relationship. I know that I was personally really excited to spend more time with my friends after the break-up. Take this time to get to know your friends better and maybe pick up some new or old hobby that you can spend your free time on. As amazing as relationships can be, there are also so many pluses to being single (especially when you’re young or in college!)
6. Learn to love yourself and love being with yourself. Admittedly, my relationship (and Gardner) was a safety net for me. I could always count on him to make me feel good about myself and although I am still so thankful to him for that, I now realize the importance of being able to feel good about myself on my own. Of course your significant other should make you feel good about yourself, but it shouldn’t be the main source of your confidence. I think it is so true when people say you can’t truly love someone unless you love yourself first.
7. Find people to confide in. It helps so much to talk about what you are going through. I am definitely not someone who likes to put my problems on other people, but you should be able to find a couple people to help support you through this. I can’t even tell you how much my friends helped me after Gardner and I broke up. Writing about it also really helps (even writing a letter to your ex that you never plan on sending can be a great release).
8. Go out. Staying home and moping will never help. Don’t force yourself to move on when you aren’t ready to, but do go out and meet people and spend time with your friends. It truly does help!
Honestly, break-ups are incredibly difficult and the only real remedy is time. But I honestly think that if you approach it in the right way, you can learn a lot about yourself and about relationships in general.
“After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul, and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning and company doesn’t mean security, and you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises, and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open, with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child, and you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans. After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much. So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really can endure… that you really are strong, and you really do have worth.”~Veronica A. Shoffstall