Breakups are tough across the board, but it’s a different beast for the one who gets dumped. While the dumper tiptoed off the rug, methodically rolled it up and placed it in the hall closet, the dumpee simply had it tugged out from underneath them.
They’re hurled into a whirlwind of anger and shame and disbelief. They feel betrayed, yet still in love, which in turn makes them feel crazy. Their self-worth plummets, then rises on a good hair day, then plummets again when they see a sandwich that vaguely resembles the dumper’s face.
It’s very touch and go, and I feel for the dumpee. But I’m not talking to the dumpees; I’m talking to the dumpers. And dumpers, I’m here to tell you this:
Have you ever been in this break-up scenario? You’re ending it, and one of you says, “We should just be friends.” People say it so often it’s hard to tell when it’s sincere, but when it is, it’s something to seriously consider. Truthfully, it can be difficult as hell to stay friends with an ex, but it doesn’t have to be. If you see it through, you can get a trusted friend out of the ashes of your break-up. You can have a friend who knows you really well. Knows your history and your story.
So should you be friends after your break-up? Let’s break it down.
Years ago, a former roommate had a particularly acrimonious breakup with a man we’ll call Frank. They’d fallen hard and fast at first, and everything was sprinkles and roses for eight months. Until one evening over dinner, when Frank told her he wanted to be JUST FRIENDS instead of DATINGPARTNERTHINGS. But, Frank said, he did not want to lose the wonderful friendship they had. So he swore he up and down that they would be buddies, and he would henceforth make every effort to make things not-weird.
This roommate went home tearfully, got drunk, and then proceeded to spend the next six months doing what all naïve heartbreak victims do: she allowed Frank’s barrage of ‘friendly’ text messages, Facebook likes, and mass-emailed happy hour invitations to pour an enormous pile of salt on her infected, open flesh-wound of a heart. He had certainly made good on his promise of platonic kinship, and the more casual offers he dispensed the more the rusty knife in her hopeful little heart twisted.
Their strained relationship rotted quietly for a few months, occasionally bubbling over into a stank mess when mixed with alcohol. Each time it did, she’d melt into a pool on the bar bathroom floor/house party bathroom floor/apartment lobby floor and wail the same old wail: “Why is he [verbage implying sexual congress] that [noun implying a loose woman] and then being totally [adjective referring to Frank’s narcissistic lead-ons to emotionally crippled exes]? Are we even FRIENDSSS?!”
I found his sock.
That was what did it. That stupid, little piece of beige fabric was my undoing. Months of holding myself together gone to waste. Maybe I’m just too sentimental. But that damn sock hit me like a punch to the stomach.
I was freshly graduated from college, and packing up my life for the past three years, and as much as I wanted to deny his role in it, he crept in. I was onto a bigger, better life in New York, already seeing college in my rearview mirror. But one rainy day, I found myself sitting on the floor of my walk in closet, surrounded by clothes and shoes strewn about, crying…clutching a dirty sock. How pathetic.
I hadn’t spoken to him in about six months, blocking and deleting him from all social media accounts to protect myself from desperate cyber stalking. For all intents and purposes, I had effectively erased him from my life. But somehow he still reared his head into what should’ve otherwise been an exciting moment in my life.
It’s hard – actually impossible – not to look back when you’re getting ready to leave everything you’ve ever known behind. It’s even harder when it’s staring you right in the face. But eventually you have to make the decision to either get stuck in suspended animation, or go on. So I did.
After a break-up, there are a lot of things to consider, one of them being, what do you do with the stuff your ex got you while you were in a relationship? What should you keep from your ex?
First, I firmly believe that there are no “shoulds” in relationships, and thus, no “shoulds” in break-ups. If you want to keep something, keep it. Don’t feel you have to give it away. Don’t let anyone dictate how you should feel, because there are no shoulds; every relationship has its own story, and there are no set rules.
Maybe you’ve recently gone through a breakup or know a friend who has. This stretch of time might be a bummer, but remember: breakups aren’t the end of the world. It’s just the end of what you thought it was going to be for a while. And you can totally handle that.
As someone who’s been dumped more times than the Doritos Locos Taco in toilets across America, my expertise in the realm of post-break-up remedies can and should be trusted. First and foremost: you don’t need a boyfriend because you have television. Here are my top picks for shows to ease the heartache:
This gem on TLC follows individuals with unusual compulsions like sniffing gasoline or eating drywall. Sounds fun, right?! RIGHT! This is the reason we watch T.V. after a break-up—to feel better about our shitty lives by comparison to other people’s even shittier lives! You have to go to your sister’s wedding solo now? Well this chick just ate 17 dryer sheets! Your bed feels like a vast ocean of despair as you lay alone in it wondering where it all went wrong? At least you’re not in love with fifty thousand balloons! (Season 4, Episode 7. I could not make that up.)
The worst thing about breakups is when they never happen. When you get dumped, when a guy or girl breaks up with you, then you can watch Almie’s video and take her sage advice, and you will suffer and grieve, but you will survive. But what about the non-breakup? The disappearance? The ghosting? The slow, inexorable self-removal of a person from your life, via unreturned text, via sudden, unexplained, constant busy-ness, via silence.
You think you want closure. Or you think it’s “just a phase” and that s/he really is that busy right now. Or you make a list of all the things you did wrong, all the signs you should have seen, all the ways in which you let yourself get too invested. Too vulnerable. Too needy. Too independent. Too Much Too Soon, or Too Little Too Late. You blame, blame, blame, him, her, or yourself. You dwell and obsess and it all spirals down into anger, hurt and sense of helplessness or is it hopelessness? No. The sadistic thing about the non-breakup, the slow fade, the disappearance is that there remains a tantalizing sense of hope. You guys had something! It was real! Technically speaking…it hasn’t even ended! Maybe he/she really is just that busy right now!
And so it goes, but that is not the worst part.
1) Get deep into a dramatic TV series on DVD.
I’m talking The Wire, Dexter, Homicide etc. You need to have intense characters to bond with and twisting plots to gasp at. Pick something withthree seasons or longer depending on how lonely you are.
They are time consuming and you look smart doing them at Starbucks. Extra points if you subscribe to a newspaper to get your crosswords since this gives you a little something to look forward to every morning.
How do you win a breakup? Quit the games, put on your fancy shoes, and move forward.
Who hasn’t gone through heartache– the kind that makes you feel like life can’t possibly go on, or at least EVER, EVER be the same. Of course, it will go on… and, hopefully, you will be better for the experiences you’ve been through. But, how do you get from HERE to HAPPINESS?
RELATED: 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Dating Again
We saw this whole cycle play out recently with Katy Perry. Behind her colorful and bubbly pop personality, Perry has had her share of relationship darkness and pain. She recently opened up about the devastating early days after her separation from outrageous comedian Russell Brand. The two divorced in December 2011 after 14 months of marriage. Katy’s new album “Prism” includes one song about her suicidal thoughts after the break-up. The lyrics demonstrate how consuming the end of a relationship can be, and how difficult it sometimes is to imagine life without that other person. It also shows that no matter who you are, even if you are a celebrity, a star shining bright, your light can still go out when you feel rejected or abandoned, or that you have lost the person you think might be the love of your life. How then do you find what you need to go on with your life and mend a broken heart? Books and books have been written about this, but here are a few quick tools to help you start to get back on your feet.
Has your relationship been the cause of more stress than sweetness lately? Perhaps the guy that used to bring a huge smile to your lips now sparks more of a knot in your stomach, a tear in your eye, or just a plain sigh. If it seems like your relationship has seen better days, it may be time to ask the obvious question:
Is it best to move on?
In fact, the biggest mistake people make is staying too long in a relationship that is heading nowhere. If you love yourself and your partner, you owe it to both of you to look the ugly in the eye, be honest with each other, and make a courageous decision that frees you both for what you really long for: A love that actually works.
How do you know when it’s time to call it quits?
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
Follow Dating & Hookup on Instagram
Follow Jess on Instagram
Follow Becky on Instagram
Follow me on Twitter