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Monday, December 30, 2013

adventures in dating: breaking up

For over a year, I kept bumping into this guy that I had met through a mutual friend. When our paths crossed for the third time, he asked me out. I felt unsure. Actually, I was sure that we would hang out, figure out we didn't like each other, and go on about our business. I'm pretty certain that I even looked like a hot mess on our first date, that I made us call a non-date. Embarrassing. 

Of course, you know how it goes with the one that you don't see coming. Around the fourth date, I definitely wanted to date the guy I didn't want to date. For a time, we we made a great team and really cared about one another. I guess what happens in a lot of relationships happened to us, everything is great until it isn't. Even if you weren't anticipating it, there it is.

It had been a while since I had a relationship I cared to have an official break up over, but I've learned some things through my years of dating:

You can't compete with old relationships they are not ready to move on from or things they have not wrestled with yet. We all want to be that one that finally helps them forget about that ex or move on from a certain issue but the reality is that you cannot control this. It has to be their choice. Relationships are worth fighting for, but if you are always fighting for it, it might not be as good as you think. Muster up the courage to move on when you need to. 

Social media will not be your friend at first. Hide, block, remove, or whatever you need to do to stop yourself from the endless amount of torture that you could cause yourself. Do you really want to watch them courting someone else? And don't post things to purposely torture them.

Appreciate the positive things the relationship brought into your life but don't get stuck there. Sure you shared interests and experiences. They may be the only person you've dated or will date that enjoyed watching your favorite movie or did your favorite activity with you but don't stop yourself from moving on because you feel nostalgic. If there are stellar qualities about them that you came to learn you need/want from a relationship or in a partner, identify and seek them in your next relationship.

Stop being an option. Your breakup or separation might be just what the two of you needed in order to create a healthy relationship. In that instance, go for it! There are the times though that you become an option they are keeping versus the one that they are choosing. I admit, I failed here, for a long while. It feels good to have the person you care about calling, texting, or wanting to see you. They may even still care for you, but if he/she isn't choosing you, stop choosing them. 

Some days you will just miss them. There will be all the little things you miss about them. The heartbreakers are the ones you almost did not even notice until they were not there anymore. Then there will be the big stuff, like getting a new opportunity at work or finding out a family member has cancer, and you'll wish they were there. I distinctly remember the moment I was crying in the bathroom at work over a family member being sick, and then crying more remembering the person I really wanted to call had a new girlfriend. Take deep breaths on these days. You will get through them. 

Express your feelings but stay away from the words you will regret. There was a moment I wanted to fire off a message that said, "must be nice to....", but I resisted the temptation. How you handle your communication will reflect more about you than them. Be the person you will feel proud of and not the one who took a jab and is regretting it. Communicate the things you need to say to them. Vent to a trusted friend. 

Give yourself time to heal. Whether it was your choice, theirs, or a mutual decision, it takes time to move through your feelings about a relationship you have been in. It may mean you have to make some tough choices to create space for yourself, such as stopping communicating with them or admitting that you aren't as ok as you want to be. The two of you might eventually even be the best of friends. Give yourself the time and space you need. Do what you need to do. 

Maybe you'll realize this person is the great love of your life and you'll figure it all out. Don't stop your life holding out for that. It is more likely that you will learn from this relationship and apply that knowledge with your next partner. Either way, have courage to do it all over again!


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