Until this year I didn’t realise that you can be the one to end a relationship and still be heartbroken.
My boyfriend and I had been together for 3 years from the ages 17 to 20. He was my best friend and my first real love, the person I told anything and everything to. We had always been quite different people and had butted heads occasionally, but I thought opposites attract and had tried to suppress my doubts about our compatibility. Coronavirus and lockdown brought out the extremes of our differences, and I realised that the relationship I thought would be my forever was coming to an end.
It’s hard to end a relationship when there’s no one factor that caused it; no explosive argument, no cheating, no toxicity. It’s hard to understand, and even harder to explain ‘I’m sorry but I’ve fallen out of love with you’. But the truth of the matter is that this is real life, not the movies, and as hard as we try; some things just aren’t meant to be. I couldn’t pinpoint the moment I realised I didn’t want to be with my boyfriend anymore, I didn’t wake up one day and decide – it was a gradual and painful decision.
The pain and guilt I felt when I ended my relationship confused me – if this is what I wanted why did I feel so sad? Breakups are heartbreaking for both parties, not just the one who has been broken up with.
With all that in mind, here are a few things that helped me get through my breakup, that are slightly deeper than eating my feelings (but I absolutely did my fair share of this too…)
1. Surround yourself with people that make you happy
We all know that a problem shared is a problem halved, and this goes for breakup problems. While you have undoubtedly lost a huge part of your support system, don’t underestimate your friend’s love for you and the valuable support they can give you. Without my friend’s love, advice and shoulders to cry on I don’t know what I would have done.
2. Trust your decision
A breakup is not something you decide on overnight. You have no doubt spent countless hours tossing and turning, deliberating and weighing up pros and cons. You didn’t come to this decision lightly, and understand you made the right decision.
3. Be kind to yourself
This was a hard decision and undoubtedly caused a lot of pain for both people involved, but you can’t punish yourself for prioritising you. You can’t help how you feel, and something I’ve recently learnt is that you have to live life for you. As upsetting as it is to realise, you can’t stay in a relationship which is no longer serving you. You did the right thing for yourself and you need to love yourself for that.
4. Trust that it gets better with time
That old chestnut, I know – but time truly is the best healer. The first few weeks after I ended my relationship were hell I’ll be honest; I couldn’t stop crying, thinking I had made a mistake and wishing I could turn back time. But slowly I started feeling better. It isn’t something that comes overnight and even now over 6 months on my heart still hurts sometimes, but ultimately I am happier now than I ever have been.
It would be insincere and wrong of me to suggest that breaking up with my ex wasn’t one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do, and the fact that the pain I felt was self-inflicted somehow made it worse; knowing I was the cause of both of our sadness. I would also be lying if I said I’m completely fine now. I still have moments of sadness, but it now shows itself in a sense of nostalgia, not the raw heartbreak I once felt. Feeling like this is normal, don’t be hard on yourself for missing the person who was such a large part of your life, even if you were the one who chose to move on.
I would never have thought it at the time, but my breakup is the best thing that ever happened to me. I was by no means unhappy in my life when I was in a relationship, in fact I thought I was the happiest I could be. Choosing to be alone meant that I had to actually get to know myself, to learn who I was without my boyfriend and the person I had grown from a teenager to an adult with.
It turns out I’m pretty great.
Putting myself first and living life for me has taught me so much about who I am and what my goals are. This time last year the thought of being alone terrified me, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have never been so content in my own company, and as cringey as it sounds I am loving dating myself and I’m so excited to continue putting myself first in 2021.
To live life to the fullest you have to be prepared for the ups and downs that come your way, and be willing to give yourself wholly to everything that life brings you.