Let’s be real for a moment: Breakups are terrible. It doesn’t matter whether you got dumped, did the dumping or separated because of a mutual decision; it’s hard when someone who was a big part of your life suddenly becomes a stranger, leaving you with feelings of loss and emptiness. It can however be reassuring to know that you’re not alone when it comes to the way you’re feeling. We all go through the same phases when it comes to break ups and for some of us, it just might be a learning experience. The important thing to remember is that life goes on.
Denial is undoubtedly the first emotion one feels after a breakup. The wound is fresh and raw, making it hard to believe that it’s really over. The finality of it all can often be overwhelming and denying it all might be the easiest way to deal with it. Common phrases like ‘It’s just a fight’, ‘We’ll be okay tomorrow’, ‘Maybe we just need space’ might be floating around in your consciousness but it is important to not get carried away by this feeling if you want to avoid getting even more hurt later. Denial taught me that the easy way out isn’t the best one. Denying my break up did make my days easier, but it was only when I confronted my feelings head on that I was able to make sense of the situation and start the healing process.
It’s inevitable; a break up will make you sad. Be it the loss of a love, feelings of regret or a jab to your self esteem; the grief that follows a breakup is unavoidable and often suffocating. It’s all you can think about, your daily routine is interrupted and there are strong urges to reach out and fix things. Stop! This is no time to make decisions. Your mind is clouded with emotions that you think you will never get over but that is often not the case. Grief taught me patience. It taught me that the only way forward is through and when it comes to feelings of sadness, it’s advisable to let it all out – talk to a friend, cry it out, and whatever you do, do not contact your ex.
Sadness and anger go hand in hand and one often finds themselves slipping in and out of both these emotions before reaching the next step. ‘How could they have done this’ soon becomes ‘How dare they do this and get away with it’. Your self esteem needs reassurance and suddenly, all the terrible things your ex ever did come back to you in flashes. You despise them, or at least you think you do and you’re soon telling all your friends how you’re over them. Plotting a sadistic revenge is usually not the solution here but anger can be good. It was only when I felt anger was I able to really distance myself from my ex and convince myself I was better off without him. Your anger towards your ex may or may not be justified but at least it works in your favour.
Code Red. Your ex is back in your life in some capacity. Maybe you’ve bumped into each other, maybe one of you have reached out to the other, maybe you’ve decided to be friends – or more. There are a whole bunch of situations where it is easy to feel the emotions that led to you both dating in the first place. The trick is to not get carried away. A relapse might just be a good thing, igniting the spark of romance again. But more often than not, it is a huge mistake. It’s like reading the same book and expecting a different ending – a painful reminder of why things didn’t work out. Relapsing taught me cautiousness. Think hard before you jump back into any sort of a relationship with your ex – especially the physical kind.
So you’ve been getting used to being single now and people around you are noticing. Maybe you’re getting attention and enjoying it. A little harmless flirting here and there might actually be good for a change – and your self esteem – but getting into a new relationship isn’t. Be it insecurity or feelings of vengeance towards your ex, a new relationship at this point is usually not borne out of genuine affection; being unfair for you as well as the new person you’re with. Rebounding taught me to refrain. It was easy and convenient to forget about my ex by being with another person but it ended in disaster. He ended up falling in love with me while my feelings faded and turned into guilt as I got over my ex and no longer needed him around. If you feel like you are leading someone on, stop. Use this time focusing on yourself, learn to be alone, let go of your insecurity and no matter what you do, do not start dating someone new.
It’s finally all okay. You’ve spent weeks, maybe months mulling over what went wrong and you’ve either figured out that everything has happened for the best, or you just don’t care anymore. At this point, you probably don’t think about your ex as much- barring the occasional online stalking that is all too natural. Good for you! Life is so much more than romantic relationships and you can now appreciate the emotional growth this breakup put you through. This doesn’t mean the end of course, you might still be hurt or bitter but at least you know better than to dwell on those feelings anymore. At the end of the day, you might just be able to appreciate the good times with your ex without the bad times getting in the way. You’ve accepted that it’s over and whatever will be, will be. Acceptance might take time but you will be relieved you didn’t act upon your turbulent feelings earlier. Congratulations, you’ve finally moved on.