love life: how to deal with breakups
Welcome to Camilla Patini’s new fortnightly column on all things love, life and relationships!
So it’s over. He’s taken back the jumper he gave you, returned the books you lent him. From now on he is only to be referred to among your friends as He Who Should Not Be Named. He is just somebody that you used to know. You spend three hours reminiscing and eating chocolate – okay, enough with the clichés.
I was hesitant about writing a piece of this sort. One risks falling face down into the sickeningly sentimental and swimming in the downright soppy. But more seriously, I was hesitant about writing this because to do so is to recall cherished moments and powerful memories – times that can be no more. It is also to recall failures and disappointments and no one likes to do that.
I am also afraid my ‘pen’ will reveal secrets it is dangerous to give away. There are so many opportunities for embarrassment so one doesn’t want to disclose too much. But for your sake, readers, here are some of the things that have come out of my breakups. Hopefully, these thoughts will be of use to you in your attempts to move on from heartbreak, now or in the future.
(If you’re wondering how much of this is autobiographical, all of it is. Where would any writing come from if not the self? But I guess people always want to clearly demarcate what is real and what is fabricated post-experience).
Anyway, here we go:
1. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. There are some things that are totally outside of your control. You can’t control whether someone decides to up and leave one day. The bad news is, we’ll never be immune to heartbreak. But on the other hand, heartbreak doesn’t mean we should never have the courage to love someone else.
2. It is pointless to recall that which is no longer, especially when the memories are fresh and you are still trying to get over that person. I don’t wish to diminish the pain we all feel after breakups but don’t waste any more time. All this does is cause a lot of pain and suffering. There are other aspects of your life which cannot be neglected for too much longer.
3. But you do need to recognise your thoughts. They’re important and you can’t move forward without having expressed them. Write your angsty and teary thoughts down once – only once – and then leave them behind to linger on the page. Never look at them again. After a while you have to accept things and open yourself up to letting other people into your life.
4. How we react to a breakup depends on the meaning we attach to the ending. The pain of heartbreak cuts deep because we feel as though we have lost someone who is irreplaceable and unique. We couldn’t possibly imagine loving anyone else. But this mindset is ultimately destructive. It is much easier to manage the pain when we realise that it comes from the disappointment that this person wasn’t ‘the One’ (a rather questionable concept, to begin with, anyway). It’s sad, yes. It hurts, yes. But it’s not catastrophic and it’s something you can get over with time.
5. What’s most important after the breakup, in the way you relate to that person, is respect. Put any resentment or anger aside, keep your distance and if you do see them be kind. Show them that you are doing well. It is the only high-value thing you can do.
There is ultimately no point in mourning the loss of someone who doesn’t want you. That is one of the most unromantic things I can think of. Because really, if you have to be with someone they must adore you. Nothing less, ladies and gentlemen. They must absolutely cherish you and you them. We are all worthy of that type of love.
OBVIOUS DISCLAIMER: I am no love doctor or relationship expert.
Join Camilla again in a fortnight for her next instalment of Love Life, Lip’s new column for all things love, life and relationships, when she will delve into the process of Finding ‘Mr/Ms Right’: knowing what you want in a partner and not settling for a relationship you’re not happy with.