“Both parties don’t have to consent to a breakup,” Jerry Seinfeld famously quipped on his sitcom. “It’s not like you’re launching from a submarine and you both have to turn your keys.”
He was talking to George Costanza, who had previously tried and failed to breakup with his girlfriend. The girlfriend wouldn’t accept. I suppose that’s one way to handle it.
Being broken up with is a test of emotional maturity and control. We all have been inundated with stories of angry exes, but there is a positive way to be broken up with.
Take Your Time
It’s important to be patient throughout and remember that yes, time will help heal everything. It won’t feel like that, but trust yourself in that moment that at one point you believed it to be true. What’s more, when the initial break up happens, don’t rush to say or do anything. Don’t necessarily filter yourself, but don’t just snap back. Use as much time as you need, in the moment and then following, to collect your thoughts and feelings so as to better understand what is happening.
Just about everyone wants some sort of closure to a relationship, and while it won’t likely come right away, it’s an opportunity to start. You probably won’t like some of the answers to your questions, but then again, you’re probably not thrilled about the breakup, so the reasons aren’t going to sweeten anything. Still, it’s important: take time to reflect, perhaps even respectfully disagree. It’s unlikely that anything you say in the moment will change your partner’s mind (which is not to say they won’t reconsider down the road), but it will help get a better grasp on the situation in the immediate and long term.
If you’re going through some sort of amicable ending (really any one where you’re not screaming and throwing things, or slamming doors) at some point you will have to say goodbye and take your leave. It’s likely the end; surely not the last time you reflect or regret, but probably the last time you’ll be in such a tense, emotionally-charged situation with the person discussing such matters. Turning around, walking away, saying goodbye, will be among the hardest and strangest things to do.
Again, all of this is going to take time. Resist the effort to get in touch with your ex, and resist the effort to do something reckless in order to lessen the pain. You’ll be the most tested late at night, or when venturing through any familiar territory once traversed as a pair. Don’t ignore the sadness, surely time in bed with Netflix and ice cream isn’t particularly harmful, but when that massaging of despair goes to numbing pain with alcohol and sex, then it’s a problem. Time will take care of everything.
There is always another train coming. Eventually you’ll come to terms and be able to not look back in grief. The ideal situation is one where you accept what has happened without denying it, remembering the positive while tolerating the bad. This was a part of your life that isn’t something to either regret or be ashamed of. It’s a pretty common thing, which never makes it easier, but remain calm, embrace the good, and trust knowing that you’ll be able to survive and thrive, alone or with a new partner.
Anthony Marcusa is a Toronto-based freelance journalist whose writing dabbles in film, TV, music, sports, and relationships – though not necessarily in that order. He’s simultaneously youthfully idealistic and curmudgeonly cynical. You can follow him on Twitter @MrAnthonyWrites.