I generally say little about my personal life on this site. I am an expert on finance after all, not relationships. However, I have recently been through a life changing experience that I finally feel up to talking about.
About two months ago, my four and a half year relationship came to an end. The relationship was not perfect and I had been contemplating a break up for quite awhile. I could go on about why, but to summarize, it felt like I was doing all of the work in the relationship and was not being appreciated. She was the one, however, that broke the ice on the breakup topic.
We really were on different paths in life, and she decided it was time to branch off on her own. Next month, she is moving away to Boston while I am staying here in Denver.
The initial realization that she was gone was the most devastating moment of my life. When I closed the door as she left, I completely lost it. I felt physically ill for days. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t focus. I didn’t write on the blogs for days (a record). I didn’t know what to do with myself.
What was the first thing I did? Not surprisingly, I turned to Google. I read all sorts of thoughts about how to get over a breakup. Each guide had advice, anecdotes, tidbits, and stories that were truly heartfelt and honest. The advice didn’t help much, but it was nice to be able to relate.
So, here is my own version of “How to Get Over a Breakup.” As I said, I am no relationship expert. I am not a qualified health professional. I am just going to spill my guts and tell you what helped me to move on.
1. Be more intelligent than your emotions.
This is a rule for both professional and personal life that has treated me well. As humans, we are designed to be emotional beings. Whether that is a benefit or flaw to our species is up for debate. What is not debatable, however, is that it is easy to get caught up in the moment. I had to remember to rely on my greatest asset, my brain, when dealing with the situation.
2. Set boundaries.
When we broke up, we first decided to take a week off and regroup. After that week, she offered to still be friends and talk. I needed to set a firm boundary between her as a girlfriend and her as a friend. To get to that point, I needed time off. Whatever you do, don’t give in and call. Don’t text, don’t e-mail. Be strong and wait until you are over the other person before reaching out and trying to become friends.
3. Spend time with people that care about you.
I am lucky enough to have a handful of good friends. I went out with a friend or two every night for about two weeks after the breakup. As one of my best friends said, “I have been drinking a lot more since you have been single.” Just to be clear, drinking was by no means an escape or drug for the purpose of dulling the pain. I am in my mid twenties and going to bars is a common and a socially normal thing to do. Going out let me get used to being a normal, single twenty-something and let me rediscover social life on my own.
4. Give yourself time, but set a deadline to move forward.
It just so happened that my breakup coincided with a major religious holiday. During that period, I had 49 days without shaving where I was counting toward the next major holiday. That period is called the omer. This year, the omer was not just about counting from Passover to Shavout, it was my healing time. When I got to the end of the omer, I shaved, celebrated, and moved on with my life.
5. It will really, really suck.
I really did love my girlfriend. I saw her more than anyone else for about 20% of my life. My best friend literally went away overnight. If you have a breakup, it sucks. Just remember that it probably sucks for both of you. As a healthy person, you will feel bad. Just remember that time heals the wounds and you will get over it. Life does go on. I promise.
6. Be mature.
It is okay to be mad at the other person. It is healthy and normal. But whatever you do, don’t break into their e-mail and cause damage. Don’t mess with their Facebook or mess with them on Facebook. You will just look bad.
7. Remember the bad times.
While we have many wonderful memories, there were a lot of problems in my relationship. Whenever I felt a weak moment, I had to remind myself that she treated me like shit far too often.
8. Define your new normal life.
You had a life before the relationship, and you will have a life after the relationship. If it was a long relationship, some things from that person will always be a part of you. However, don’t define yourself by someone else. Before the girlfriend, I was into outdoor activities (rock climbing, camping), going out with big groups of friends, and putting myself in situations where I would meet lots of new people. Those are things she did not like, so I didn’t really do that very much. Now, I can do those things again. In fact, I am going camping this weekend.
9. Internal reconciliation.
I did have a lot of good times with her. I admit that I was not sure ending the relationship was the right thing to do, but intelligence had to win out over emotion. I have reflected on our time together, and I am truly glad we had that time together. I would not be the person I am today without that experience. Like all other life experiences, I had to take time to reflect and learn from what went right and what went wrong.
10. Get over it already.
I am still working on this step. I think I am ready to go on a date, but I am not going to rush and force it. Whatever girl I end up with on the rebound is likely doomed to fail from the get go. I am sure I will compare any girl to the one I loved for years. I just have to keep reminding myself that I am a catch and any girl will be lucky to get me.
So, that’s it. Words are only something on paper, and there is a lot more going on in my head that I can’t really explain. I do know that life has moved on. I have made new friends. I have been to more happy hours. I have focused on doing well at work. I have spent more time with my family. I have spent more time with close friends.
Surprisingly, I have watched fewer movies. I have spent less time playing video games. I have spent more time away from the computer. I guess those were just fillers taking the space of something missing from my relationship. I still miss her every single day, but I am able to just be me again. And I have to admit, being just me is a lot of fun.