Everyone always talks about how hard it is to break up. It is hard. However, every time I’ve broken up with someone, while being awash in sadness and melancholy regret, I’ve also felt a strong pulse of hope and excitement about the possibility of dating someone new in the future. There is a lot of sadness in breaking up, but a lot of hope too for new relationships, new friendships, and a renewed relationship with yourself.
I may not be very experienced in sustaining relationships but I’ve certainly had experience breaking up. The vast majority of the relationships and dating experiences I’ve been involved in have ended at my own say-so, not necessarily because I did not like that person anymore, but instead because I knew they couldn’t enter into the type of relationship I want. This may be the result of them not being nurturing or attentive enough, not sharing my core views of the world, or simply not desiring the same sort of relationship that I do. Whatever the cause, breaking up is difficult and emotionally draining, but in these situations staying with that person would be much more harmful over time as the incompatibility grates on your spirit.
When you have only dated one person, or never experienced a major break up, the prospect of such an event occurring is a threat to be avoided. You can get stuck in dating situations if only for the reason that both parties are too afraid of the pain of a break up. How many times have you heard someone say, “I can’t believe I dated that person for so long,” or, “We should have broken up months ago?” These are after-the-fact acknowledgements that a couple dragged their feet in breaking up. All of the time spent prolonging a dying relationship is time not spent healing, growing, learning to be one with yourself, and meeting new people.
Experiencing break ups makes you much more able to let go of attachments in dating situations. After a painful break up, you realize that you’re strong and you can heal. I’ve found that a lot of strength comes from knowing that I can break up with someone whenever I need to and this eliminates the fear of a relationship going dead without ending. This makes starting new relationships less stressful. You understand that it may well end, but that you’re prepared for that possibility, and you are able to be present and enjoy that person’s company to determine whether there is a fit. You are less likely to project your own expectations on someone else and instead can learn about who they really are and then determine whether you’d like to continue seeing them.
Another fear I used to harbor was one that a relationship would end and I would be inconsolably sad. Break ups helped me learn that emotional pain can be overcome and that the presence of such pain gives you a greater appreciation for the small joys in life. It also helps you not fear that pain in the future and appreciate present happiness more. One Marion Keyes quote I’ve loved for a long time states, “When happiness makes a guest appearance in one’s life, it’s important to make the most of it. It may not stay around for long and when it has gone wouldn’t it be terrible to think that all the time one could have been happy was wasted worrying about when that happiness would be taken away?”
The most resounding reason for appreciating break ups is the possibility that they offer for personal growth. When you end a relationship that’s not right for you, you prove that you really and truly love yourself. You demonstrate that you love yourself more than you love anyone else and you will put your own needs before any desire for or attachment to being in a relationship. You will put your own needs above the rapport you have with another person, no matter how much you love them. The knowledge that you are willing to subject yourself to temporary pain and discomfort to pursue personal truth and self-love will make you more confident in yourself. This confidence and self assurance will surely make you a more lovable person in both romantic and platonic situations.
Dating someone who does not nurture your true self is draining. Much time is wasted spent worrying about whether your friend will change and whether they will ever appreciate you and treat you the way you’ve hoped to be treated. It is important to voice our concerns and stand behind our truths. Through this process we learn more about ourselves and learn how to love and appreciate ourselves, whether this ends the relationship or not.
I have a very distinct memory of taking the bus to break up with the only person I’ve ever loved. The entire way there and the entire way back I listened to Silver Lining by Rilo Kiley and still believe that Jenny Lewis’s words aptly embody my message here, “I was your silver lining but now I’m gold.” You can mean a lot to a person. However, if there is not a fit, leaving the relationship to strike out on your own will be immeasurably difficult but will result in the sweetest of rewards.