Getting your heart broken sucks. Tremendously. It spans the spectrum of inability to drag ourselves out of bed-utter devastation to unbearable, cringeworthy proclamations to the entire bar about how your ex was a dick, or 3 am drive-bys to pathetically (and arguably creepily) weep outside their house to Adele or Iron & Wine. (Not that I know from experience or anything…) Despite how terrible it feels to have our hearts broken, it’s an essential experience that allows us to look at ourselves holistically and presents us the opportunity to take accountability for our own feelings, expectations, and miscommunications. Here’s a few take aways from those you loved, almost loved, or wanted to love but it just didn’t seem to work out.
- You were vulnerable. Regardless of how the relationship ended, falling in love in the first place takes a remarkable amount of courage and a willingness to be open. You most likely put yourself out there and took a chance on something that you hoped would be pretty incredible. It means that both hope and optimism existed, and that you were able to relinquish the need to control the outcome. In a world where people are often unable to accept a simple compliment, showing enough vulnerability to get close to someone is enormously brave, so instead of beating yourself up, give yourself some much deserved cred.
- You most likely learned more about yourself. It’s almost impossible to engage in any relationship (romantic or otherwise) without discovering something new about ourselves. Whether that be something that triggers, scares, excites, surprises, or arouses us, we gain new awareness about our own internal landscape and desires when we choose to participate in relationship. You are being bestowed with the beautiful gift of insight, an invaluable abstraction that is only gained through the reveal of our blind spots. We may find that we actually hate it when someone gives us a pet name, or that we totes adore our partner posting pictures of us on social media, or that when our SO talks about the future, we become triggered by our past childhood traumas of feeling abandoned or suffocated and want to run away. All of these instances are magnificent opportunities for us to both work on and feel more at home within ourselves. Sometimes we equate break-ups with failure, but the only way we fail is if we refuse to be introspective, take ownership, and learn from our part within it.
- You probably discovered what you don’t want. Oftentimes, we see only what we want to in relationships. We ignore some of the red flags and assume that someone will change. Sometimes, we end up in relationships that are toxic or dysfunctional and only through hindsight are we able to uncover which parts were unhealthy and undesirable. Maybe a serious career is important to you and you don’t want children, cool, you probably aren’t going to want a boyfriend or girlfriend who has a dream of one day being a stay-at-home parent. Maybe your passion is traveling or exploring the outdoors. Great. It’s probably not a great idea to date someone who sole loves bingeing on Netflix and staying in with their cat in their spare time. More complexly, maybe you really want commitment, in which case a partner who is less afraid of intimacy or more open to long-term monogamy is a better fit than the emotionally unavailable bad-boy all of your friends think is a douche. Be kind and honest enough with yourself to consider the can haves, must haves, simply cannot have at alls before entering a relationship.
- You’re more resilient as a result. Heartbreak sucks ass. There’s no getting around that and recognizing that it’s an inevitable part of life if we are to desire love. Each time we feel broken beyond repair, or betrayed beyond comprehension, we are presented with a brilliant opportunity to rebuild what we believe was lost as a result. By recognizing that we have gained the ability to bounce back from loss, we both empower and expand ourselves, developing a more sophisticated arsenal of tools for navigating the wondrous and unimaginably complex world of love.
So, allow yourself the time to be pissed, sad, disappointed, bereft. Give yourself permission to delete their number, then get it back and drunk text on accident, forgive yourself, say things you may not mean, be melodramatic and drink wine in the tub then fall asleep, call your girlfriends furiously when your ex gets a new beau, be patient and kind to yourself when you slip up, and eventually forgive the person for not being what you thought they should be. When you’re ready, let yourself fall in love again.
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