Okay I'm going to level with you here, guys. Relationships are hard. Love is hard.
And therefore it stands to reason, break ups are hard. Arguably, they're harder.
Because you acclimatise to all that your partner offered you and the more you realise what you are missing, the more you will miss it. Obviously. However, things aren't all doom and gloom forever – as always – there are lessons to be learned. I don't mean this in the dramatic sense that all suffering is always worthwhile because we can learn from it.
It's too intense and insists upon us having a break down to know what we're made of. I think there are plenty of realisations we can – indeed, have to – come to alone. This comes from time spent in our own company and figuring out who we are and what defines us.
Yes, at the moment we're spooning an ungodly amount of salty comfort food into our mouths while we gratuitously rewatch old episodes of Friends, but it won't always be like that.
Comforts like that exist for a reason – to make us feel better.
There's nothing to be ashamed of in engaging with them, but once they are no longer consoling us, we need to try and reflect and move on. Love that journey for us!
Therefore, I humbly escort your attention to this article. We can try to think of constructive ways in which we are improved or bettered by our experiences, no matter how positive or negative they may be. Sometimes we learn things not to do or discover things we should have offered. Heartbreak is not a deterrent against falling in love but it is something that you should listen to.
Just like when you have an injury in sports or need a mental health day, you have to listen to what your body and heart and mind is telling you. Sometimes, you need a break from socialising. Or to be kept busy. Maybe you just want a rogue night or unexpected fling to get something – or someone – out of your system. All modes of dealing with the trauma of a breakup are valid. You just have to start trying a few out!
Therefore, without further ado, here is a by no means exhaustive list of 5 things that we stand to learn from our exes.
1. What our standards are
This is maybe a self-explanatory section, but it needs to be discussed nonetheless. Sometimes we need to be shown what we don't want, or what we no longer are attracted by in order to realise what it is that we do want. It can take a whole relationship of excusing behaviour or slowly falling out of love to realise that what you wanted at the start of the relationship might not be what you want now. Indeed, both of you are likely to have changed over time.
That's perfectly natural, but you have to be open-minded to the reality that the people you are now aren't necessarily as compatible anymore. This also causes you to look around yourself and realise how much self-worth you have. If one guy or girl do you dirty, then you have to recognise that you deserve better. Everyone is valid and worth loving – don't feel the need to settle just because you're afraid that this person showing interest might not come around again. Don't look for the one out of fear that they might be the only one.
2. What we want out of a relationship
Again, you are likely different people now, halfway out of a relationship, than you were a year ago, 5 months ago, or even last week. Therefore, after a relationship ends, reflect on how it might be for the best. If he wasn't prioritising you or willing to commit, then where could the relationship have even gone on from? It's best to feel rubbish now, early on and know than to waste more of each other's times in the long run. Indeed, the wrong relationship if left to fester can turn very toxic very fast if neither person wants to be there. Therefore, you learn the importance of….
3. How to communicate effectively
Seriously, it solves a multitude of problems. The simple reality is that all relationship advice boils down to either 'communicate more, or break up'. Because that's all there is to it. Again, making a few mistakes in a relationship is absolutely fine once you extract yourself from it. Discover things that you now realise you want in a relationship that you didn't or did get before. Recognise where you maybe didn't communicate your needs or say what you meant. Even if it leads to breaking up or awkward conversations, communication can clear the air and make sure everyone is on the same page. Relationships are a two-way street and you have to ensure that all parties are heard.
4. The importance of prioritising and protecting yourself
This is another killer point. I listened to a podcast once about how all relationships are asymmetrical. That one person is always more invested in it than the other, or more willing to risk themselves. I thought it was very cynical at the time, but the reality is that we can work to equal things out. We should aim for an equal, giving, reciprocal relationship. If you are giving out affection, sacrificing your time, and prioritising the other person, they'd better be doing the same in return. If not, you have to ask yourself what you are actually getting out of the relationship. Sometimes we cling to what is comfortable, even if it doesn't actually bring us comfort anymore. Such is life.
5. Reminders to love ourselves
We are all convinced that we're the worst person we know because only we hear all of our dodgy, intrusive thoughts. But it sometimes takes loving another person and all their flaws to realise that it's okay to have flaws yourself. You are allowed to make mistakes and to look those mistakes in the eye after a relationship ends is so important. It allows for clarity and conviction, and often gives you the emotional clear-sightedness to try to move on. Not always, but it's certainly a start.
And there you have it, a couple of consolatory ways to emotionally approach a breakup. It's so tough, and you won't feel better overnight. But these feelings and the way you feel now won't last forever. Try to think productive thoughts about what you've learned and even if it hurts, mistakes aren't reasons to never try.
You've got this. Now go and finish your Friends episode and go to bed.