What to expect when you’re breaking up


It’s over. This weekend will mark the formal end of the relationship. She packs up her belongings and sets off to make her home somewhere else, leaving you alone in the place you once called home together. You’ve known this day was looming. You hastened her departure by prodding her to find her own place after she dropped the break-up bomb. The last month or so has been a roller coaster of emotions: Wishing her gone one moment, then crying yourself to sleep wishing she’d stay the next.

But this weekend she leaves.  As she does, know this:

      1. You will always love her. You’ll sift through the good and the bad. You’ll waiver between angst and anger. You’ll analyze and re-analyze every step of the relationship, trying to figure out what went wrong, what you did wrong. This analysis will lead your heart and your mind in endless circles. Basically, you’ll drive yourself crazy. When you’re done with that, you’ll find that you will always love her.
      2. You will drive yourself mad wondering how it is that you can simultaneously both wish you’d never met her and wish you’d never lost her.
      3. You will lose patience with friends who repeatedly tell you, “Time heals,” and “You’re right — you won’t meet anyone else like her; you’ll meet someone better than her.” You’ll think they don’t understand. You’ll think what they’re saying is patronizing, but they do and it’s not.
      4. It will take a long while before you can truly be friends. She was “the one” and you won’t soon be equipped to hear about how well she’s doing or with whom. In order to be friends, you’ll have to forgive both yourself and her — one or both of these might take longer than you think.
      5. You’ll make plans to get together with her at some point far too soon to be doing so. A cocktail of emotions will swirl within you; repressed anger and unprocessed sorrow will mix with the elation that comes from seeing her again. Your healing process will take a few steps backwards as a result, but you’ll do it anyway.
      6. You’ll continue to find little things around the house which will serve to remind you of her in the months (maybe, years) ahead. Something as simple as a bottle of salad dressing will have you waxing nostalgic. It was her favorite, after all.
      7. There will be days when you eat and/or sleep too much or not at all.  Be good to yourself. Some days a bubble bath, a good book, a good friend, and a journal are life rafts to get you through to the next day.
      8. For weeks and months, you’ll compare anyone new you meet to her. No one will be as cute, as funny, as sexy or as intelligent as she was. Those you meet and who think they have a chance with you will suffer as a result, but they should know better than to get involved with someone so freshly heartbroken.
      9. Holidays, birthdays and anniversaries will be difficult, especially the first year. When your birthday rolls around you’ll want her to send a card, as this will validate that she’s not forgotten you.  When you receive the card, you’ll wish you never opened it, because it will be signed “your friend,” “peace,” “hope all is well” or some other equally feeble combination of words that leaves you yearning for the old “Love Always.” When Christmas comes you’ll unpack the ornaments, only to find the one she bought for you the first time you celebrated the holiday together. You’ll stand there holding it, wondering if you should gently wrap it back up in its tissue paper, hang it on the tree, or shatter it on the sidewalk in front of the house. You’ll opt for one of the first two choices.  
      10. You will often take two steps forward and one step back as you attempt to let go.  You’ll start to make plans in advance, no longer keeping your evenings and weekends free in the hopes that she’ll call and want to get together.  But then you’ll hear a song on the radio that reminds you of her, and you’ll be surprised at how easily it still brings you to tears even though months have passed.
      11. You will realize how your ex felt when you broke up with her. You’ll understand that she wasn’t insane when she tried to call you day after day, sent you mix CDs with songs that reminded her of you, and literally begged you not to leave. You may even call and apologize.
      12. Months or years later, when you least expect it, you’ll meet someone to whom you are drawn, and you will be both surprised and elated that your capacity to be attracted to someone besides “her” has been rehabilitated. When this new person doesn’t reciprocate your feelings it will act as a minor setback, but you’ll walk away knowing that your capacity to feel and your willingness to do so remains intact.
      13. Even if she doesn’t admit it or show it in any way she will miss you, too, and she is hurting in her own way.
      14. There is life after her, love after her, and you will meet someone at some point who will leave you wondering how it was that you thought you’d never love again. You will realize that the heart, just like any other muscle, is made stronger by first being broken down. You will heal, you will laugh, you will love again and the person with whom you find that joy will be an incredibly fortunate woman. You will savor this new love all the more for now you will fully grasp its true value.

8 Responses to “What to expect when you’re breaking up”

  1. bea

    Thank you, I needed to read this. Helped me a lot at this moment. Just broke up.6 year relationship. Thanks, BEA

    • candy

      Thanks, Bea. I’m happy that you found some solace in reading the article. Trust me, no matter how bad the break-up or how corny this sounds, things absolutely do get better in time. Hang in there!

    • candy

      Thanks, Novia. I’m glad you found the piece helpful. It’s always difficult to let go and move on, but no matter how dark the night, the sun always rises the next morning! All the best to you.

  2. Mandy

    Thank you so much for writing this…I broke down and sobbed that finally someone put into words what I have been going through and understanding completely how hard it is… Now I don’t feel so alone. Thank you, thank you.

    • candy

      Wow. Thank you, Mandy. I’m so glad you found the piece helpful in your healing process. While we are all unique human beings, our experiences are more alike than we can often imagine. When you’re going through a particularly tough time, it’s hard to fathom that anyone else ever felt quite so low. But they have and they’ve gotten through it. Hang in there.

      I’m not sure time “heals” as much as it simply makes the memories, good and bad, fade and though it seems eons away at this point, you will absolutely get to a place where you start to feel ambivalent about the ex. Believe it; it’s true.


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