Art by Kaley
Recently, a friend of mine was dumped. They’d only been dating for a month or so, but the blow hit her as hard as if she’d been dating him for a couple of years. She told me that what started out as a conversation about strengthening the relationship, turned into a discussion on why they needed to break up, and before she knew it, she had been dumped with a capital D.
I started thinking about how we’re supposed to move on from such disturbances in our day-to-day lives. As a college student, I find it really difficult to move on from a breakup or the end of a friendship, or really from the end of anything. Whereas in high school you were allowed to shun the ex-friend or ex-significant other, in college you have to put on a smiling face when you see them because we all think we’re mature. Nothing is permanent, we have to say goodbye all the time. But because we’re “adults”, we’re expected to already know the formula for saying goodbye and moving on, even though it was never taught to us.
You might have to adjust your posture so you look tall and regal, like you just got back from a soirée with Kate and Will, politely ask them about their day, offer to buy them coffee sometime, and worse, answer their awkward questions like, “So, are you seeing anybody?” “No, I am not seeing anybody, you broke up with me 5 days ago.” Part of being an adult is learning how to move on from the end of something. Oh and grace under pressure, that helps.
The first step toward moving on is to cut connections. It may seem like a good idea to maintain relations with that person, especially if you just ended a relationship and they want to maintain a friendship with you. But 99% of the time, it’s not a good idea to see them so often. It’s perfectly fine to take some time apart, even if they were/are a big part of your life. People are going to want to know what happened, but scouring through the details of the breakup only makes matters worse. Provide yourself with a time buffer. Realize that it’s not about looking like the stronger person, it’s about getting better and moving on with your life. Delete all those sad breakup playlists you made on your iPod! Throw away, or at least put away all of the relationship/friendship memorabilia. Hide them from your Newsfeed on Facebook. Try to avoid places filled with memories, this way you’re less likely to see them.
Realize that a bounty of opportunities just opened up for you. If it’s a relationship that ended, you have more time to be by yourself and really get to know yourself better. When you’re in a relationship, for however long it is, you often begin to see yourself as you and that person, as opposed to just you. Take all the time that just opened up to do something you’ve never done before: go to a party that you thought you were too shy to go to before. Just get out of that comfort zone with a friend; the world is your oyster! Focus your energy on something productive. Your mind may want to stray to that friend or ex, but don’t allow it! Take on a new hobby. If you’ve always loved to read but didn’t have the time before, make time! Sew, knit, watch Game of Thrones, join a new club, or just refocus your energy onto your studies or work.
How I Met Your Mother doctrine says moving on could take: half the relationship, a week for every month,10,000 drinks, or my personal favorite: steps from the bed to the door. If you felt like you’ve had a sufficient amount of time to get over the person, meet with them. Remember that they were an important part of your life, and unless the relationship ended on a sour note, grab coffee with them. If the last few strategies worked, you could be over them. If you find yourself still having feelings for them, or if you feel like you haven’t gotten the closure that you needed, take this time to talk to them about what happened. If it was an ambiguous break up or friendship that drifted apart, maybe this will be the moment they tell you that it just wasn’t the right time, or that they weren’t in a good place. Sometimes all you need is that little bit of closure.
If you don’t want to meet with them, don’t. Continue to do your own thing, and although it takes some time and can be painful, you will move on. I always like to project into the future and think about how awesome I’m going to be. To do this, first think about how you were one year ago. Hopefully you were at least significantly different than you are now. Now think about how different you’ll probably be in just a couple of months. Maybe you’ll meet the love of your life, or get an awesome internship, or meet a new best friend. No matter what, things are always changing, so in some ways the fact that nothing is permanent is a good thing!
If you employ all the of the previous steps, all that’s left to do is allow time to pass. Once you get through this, you’ll realize that you are unsmoteable. You will look back and most likely laugh or at least smile fondly at how the experience changed you and how different you are from how you were back then. Now go take on the world!!