Breaking up sucks part I: what I’ve learned

"2005/2010" BP and I reflect on our relationship history in a self-portrait.

In 2007 I took a strong stance against bringing relationships online via Facebook information, overly-cute profile pictures and status updates about loving someone ever so much.

That was also just after I went through my first public breakup, the kind where you change your Facebook relationship status to “single” and all of a sudden are flooded with messages and comments asking what happened and hoping you’re ok.

This weekend I was let down again, only ironically it was for the third time this year. And it’s only August. Ouch.

Which has got me thinking about my past relationships and breakups and what has come out of each one, either as a good story or as a life lesson.

Here are the highlights of my past breakups:

BP (December 2004 – July 2005, again September 2010 – January 2011)

Now, this boy was a real catch when I was 16. He was older, had a car, was in a local band, everyone at high school knew and liked him AND he was super cute. I was his first kiss and cuddle and for the next eight months we were in high school love.

Then he called and dumped me, supposedly because he thought I was going to dump him first. Sting.

The next time we got together it was a whirlwind romance; exciting, volatile, unstable, passionate and intense.

This time he stopped talking to me for two weeks before sending me a message to tell me we were through.

Somehow we’ve managed to remain great friends through this drama.

BS (December 2005 – August 2007)

We dated for about two years and one morning his phone rang when I was staying at his apartment. It was a Saturday and before 8am. Having absolutely no idea who the girl calling was, I woke him up.

Turns out he’d been cheating on me with the girl on the phone.

Not so pleasantly surprised, I grabbed whatever I could and rushed out of his house, down to my car and tried to drive off – only he was standing in front of my car telling me he could explain what was happening.

Eventually I was able to drive home, and for the next couple weeks he hung out outside my house trying to talk to me. Needless to say that when that ended I stopped hearing from him all together.

MS (February 2011 – May 2011)

My first experience dating a British boy, I quickly realised that I was way out of my depths and there was a definite cultural difference surrounding dating. I spent this relationship confused about how to act, finished with a quick round of, “My ex-girlfriend and I have decided to get back together,” after a three-course meal. Not easy to digest, but easy to get over.

But that leads me to what I’ve learned, from how to not end it to moving on.

  • BP is the only boy I’ve remained friends with, even after the second breakup. Just today we were joking that the third time is the charm in between him telling me about his new romantic interest and my venting about my most recent breakup. This is one of my strongest friendships because we know each other inside and out and respect each other fully. We also recognise that we’re a toxic couple and should probably never, ever date again. Ever.
  • If you’re going to break up with someone, tell the truth and be prepared to explain it simply and directly because that makes moving on much easier for the other person. I literally cried for an entire two minutes over MS when we broke up, but was fully over him before the week ended. Just hearing the simple truth made it easy.
  • If you aren’t prepared to explain it, make it obvious that you want to end things by creating distance. Ok, I’ll admit that not talking to me for two weeks was intense and caused a lot of confusion for me, but when I finally got the message from him saying it was over it was more of an, “Ah, ok,” moment than a, “How could you do this to me?”
  • On more than one occasion I have been chased down the street after a break up. Just don’t do it unless you have realised you’ve made a mistake in the moment and want to initiate a conversation to discuss what is happening instead of leaving it as a final end to the relationship. It’s annoying, dramatic and unnecessary.
  • Do not go in for a goodbye kiss or expect a goodbye hug. Also do not try to console the person you’re dumping; it really just makes things worse for them and can cause conflicted emotions about what you are saying. This is a breakup and not the time to make it look as though you care about the other person and still want to be with them.
  • Being friends only works once you’ve both moved on and never before then. It also doesn’t always work out because you both grow in different directions when you’re apart, so be prepared to watch this person leave your life.
  • Try to breakup in private when the other person is on an empty stomach. Having just finished dinner is an awful idea. I’d say going for coffee is an option, but if the other person is a crier that will be awfully embarrassing for the both of you. Phone calls, emails, Facebook messages, instant message, Twitter and Skype are not options. (Unless it’s long distance, then it must be a video chat.)
  • Crying and venting to friends makes everything better, even more so when combined with a sloppy night at the bar and a breakfast date after noon the following day.
  • Remember to eat and exercise after being dumped, don’t allow yourself to mope and keep busy. It helps you feel good about your body and keeps your mind off the person who left you.
But at the end of the day, breaking up is something you must risk experiencing if you decide to be brave enough to open up your heart and life to someone else; you never know if they’ll drop it.
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