How To Deal With A Breakup (It’s not what you think)
Letting Go: Hold On To That Thought
He says it’s over. He says he still cares about you, but doesn’t want to be together anymore. He wants to breakup but stay friends. You had no idea this was coming. It came out of nowhere! You thought everything was fine! With his words, you feel like he punched a cold dark hole in your chest and ripped out your heart. The despair with which you are left seems to extend outward and overtake your entire being. You’re paralyzed with grief and sadness. Your heart is broken. The hole in your chest won’t stop hurting. Your dreams are dashed to pieces. You feel like your future has been ripped away with his words. Your mind whirls with self-doubt. “What did I do wrong?” you ask yourself. “Is there someone else?” you wonder in despair. Then comes the self-blame of “Why aren’t I good enough?” “What would make him love me?” “What do I need to change to make him love me again?” You’re sure he was the only chance for a happy life.
I understand. I have been there. Every woman (and man) who has lost love has been in this deep dark place where we can’t see light much less hope. We find ourselves in a place unable to let go. After a breakup we are left with the broken pieces of dreams and self-worth wondering if we will ever feel happiness again. We are sure we will never feel better again. But I’ll tell you a secret: It’s not about you. It’s not about you at all. It’s about him. Hold on to that thought.
Unless a relationship abruptly ends with a catastrophic fight, I can guarantee you that everyone says “I want to be friends” in their final breakup speech. Just as he is thinking about himself when he breaks things off, you must now think of yourself. Take the idea of being friends off the table, at least for a while until you’ve gotten a handle on your emotions. Trying to remain friends right after a breakup can do real damage to you if you’re still grappling with the emotional turmoil. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person and it doesn’t mean you didn’t love him. It just means you’re taking care of yourself first and his wants can’t come into that. Hold onto that thought.
The damage comes in because the definition of friend means different things to different people. To you, it means continuing the emotional nurturing he gave you when you were still together and that he’ll be there for you. To him it might mean something very different. To him it might mean avoiding a scene when you see him with someone new. To him it might mean maintaining the emotional nurturing he received from you when you were together with no obligations of a relationship to reciprocate. To him it might mean the possibility of being “friends with benefits”. This kind of difference of opinion on what it means to be friends can lead to confusion, hurt feelings and misinterpretations which leads to feelings of betrayal. This is where the real damage can be done. Hold on to that thought.
Call me old fashioned, but after a breakup, the moment he says he doesn’t want to be together anymore, the possibility of sex comes off the table. End of discussion. Your self-worth depends on it. Even with the most well put together emotional life, sex is confusing while you’re grappling with emotions of not being together anymore. Don’t complicate it by thinking friends and friends with benefits can work. Sex, no matter how good it is, will not make him change his mind. Hold on to that thought.
A few days later, maybe a week or so, he call or texts you to ask how you are and say that he misses you. Your heart melts. He misses me! He still cares! He does not convey a word about reconciliation. It’s a red flag warning that he’s not thinking about you. He’s not thinking about a relationship. He’s thinking about himself. It can set the stage for a revolving door of him being in and out of your life. If he does the come and go thing, close the door and lock it. He won’t like it. But this is about you and your self-respect. He isn’t thinking about you so must think about yourself. Don’t let him treat you like an emotional back-up plan. He reached out to you expecting you to be there and respond. That doesn’t mean he wants to reconcile. Hold on to that thought.
Reaching out with the admission that he made a mistake is a different matter. If he comes to you after a breakup and says he was wrong, it is an entirely different situation. It’s at that point you are the one who must ask questions and make sure there’s clarity in the situation. Do not play the blame game and ask if there was someone else. Assume there was someone else. If that’s a deal breaker then don’t move forward. If it isn’t a deal breaker, then hammer out the grounds for reconciliation. There needs to be ground rules for a reconciliation. To dive back into a relationship doesn’t mean that the issues that made him end things are gone. They need to be identified and addressed. Keep it about the relationship. Don’t dissect him, but ask him what rationale did he make in deciding to break it off? Instead, ask him what made him unhappy about the relationship? Go from there to try to address these issues. It can’t be handled all at once in one marathon conversation. Give the guy a break. He already admitted he was wrong. That must have been hard enough for him. Hold on to that thought.
“The breakup was not about you”
He doesn’t reach out. Don’t expect him to. It’s over. I believe the most important thing in coming to grips with the chaos of emotions that we are left with after someone breaks it off is to change your mind. I know that might not make sense, but when you’re dealing with the aftermath of a breakup, you need to remember it’s not your fault. It’s about him. His choices, his feelings and his actions. His actions adversely impact you, but it does not define you. When you are in that whirlwind of self-doubt, self-blame and self-loathing stop yourself. Change your mind by telling yourself the breakup was not about you. It was about him. If it was about him then he wasn’t thinking or caring about the relationship. Hold onto that thought.