So you’re doubting yourself. You were so sure that he was the one. At least I was. When we met, we felt that chemistry and we committed right away and talked marriage and babies. In my case, after having been dating for a while, I thought I had fallen into a gold mine. So it’s three years later and I’m sure that breaking up was the right thing. I’m not sure I know who that person is any more that I fell in love with and I’m not sure I even know myself any more. I’ve changed – some for the better, some for the worse.
The better part are the lessons that I learned about what not to do and also the times when I kept my class and cool even though I wasn’t feeling reassured or validated or loved. Another good was that some of the old relationship “baggage” that I had, managed to resurface and I got the opportunity to re-do some things and learned that I can do better when I’m angry or hurt and I can react better in a more positive manner. The worse part is, somehow in that relationship, I managed to lose my own happy self and have gained almost twenty pounds (stress eating!)
So now looking forward. After three years, I’ve lost practice and have been so busy focusing on the relationship and whether to stay or leave, that now that I’m finally out, I need a plan. Here’s what I did:
First: Make sure you let your body experience the stages of a breakup and grieve it properly before thinking about dating again. There are 5 stages to grieving the end of a relationship: 1. Denial; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. It takes different lengths of times for different people and only you know yourself where you are. I found that I would jump back and forth with some days feeling angry about what he said or did and others in full acceptance that this is the right decision.
Second: Make sure you sleep well, work out regularly, and take care of your appearance and grooming. This sounds obvious, but I actually had to keep reminding myself to do that. There were some days that I seriously just wanted to curl up in bed and not go to work. Or, I would be all together and ready to work, only to hear a song and start crying again. Sounds pathetic, I know, but it’s just being human and surrendering to your true feelings and the sadness of breaking up.
Third: Decide whether or not remaining friends with your ex is realistic. Sometimes it’s not a healthy choice and sometimes it’s not a decision that you can make right away. The key is to take care of yourself first, give it some time, and then evaluate. Think about whether there was a friendship to begin with. Were you guys friends while you were together? Or were you friends before you got together? Was there mutual respect while you were together? How will you feel when you see him or hear him talk about his new girlfriend?
Fourth: Take time to introspect. Do spend the time to re-hash and think about whether there were any patterns that emerged from the relationship and also over the lifetime of your dating history. Is there a certain type of person that you seem attracted to? Have they been echoing the same feedback about your behavior? Are there things that you should change in future relationships? Go as far as even asking some of your exes for feedback, if appropriate. Ask them if there were things that they wished that you would have changed. This type of feedback is invaluable to you in learning about yourself and making improvements. Try not to take the feedback as criticism. It’s hard, I know, but you will ultimately have to take a hard look at yourself so as to avoid getting yourself into another similar type of relationship.
Fifth: Beware of the rebound effect. What I mean is, dating the wrong type of person shortly after a breakup. Sometimes we subconsciously look for someone that’s quite not right for us to compensate for what didn’t go right. So, if you find yourself dating someone that your friends are confused about or questioning about, take note. Under no circumstances should you propose or accept marriage within the first six months to a year after a break up – that’s my humble opinion. I think that we look for substitutes and tend to try to mask our pain by finding someone new that makes us feel better. I can’t emphasize this enough.
Finally, take things slow and be very honest about where you are emotionally. We can’t fight it; listen to your heart and your body and let it heal naturally. Rely on friends and family and do lots of nice things for yourself. You deserve it! Remember, a relationship fails due to acts from both parties and the circumstances surrounding the relationship. You could have the most perfect couple but it doesn’t work out due to circumstances beyond their control. Be kind to yourself and hopefully to your ex.
The silver lining in my experience has been the kindness that was extended to me by friends and family. By sharing the news of my breakup, I found that at times when I needed the most, I would get calls and texts from people who cared enough to check on me. This has made me realize how lucky I am and feel hopeful that maybe, just maybe, that guy is out there for me and it’s just a matter of time. Maybe, I’m in training now so that I can be at my best when I meet him. So please don’t give up in finding love and don’t be hard on yourself. Take some time and enjoy the little things. Things will work out for the best, I am sure of that!