Things I've learnt thanks to my break-up
There’s nothing quite like a bit of pain to inspire a new list of life lessons
After I caught my boyfriend cheating, I started taking notes. Despite having introduced my parents to something like six boyfriends, I hadn’t truly experienced a break-up like this. But taking notes and documenting the wisdom that’s come from my experience and others is a useful habit of mine. Many lessons will be unique to my experience, so take what you will and leave the rest, and if it’s something a friend is going through maybe this can help you understand them a bit better, too.
So let’s start with the obvious but the hardest…
Keep contact to a minimum (ideally none). It took me weeks to learn this lesson. Every time I speak to my ex, even if it’s polite and admin related, I feel worse. It ruins my day. When I go cold turkey for an extended period (sadly, he’s not gotten the memo so the max space I’ve had of no contact is a couple of days), then I feel a lot better.
Break-ups are expensive.
Self-help helps. I’m a self-improvement junkie and a break-up is the gift of a bit of a clean slate.
That urge to contact them is just boredom. You’re used to talking to them all time, so it’s hard. You’re also feeling a lot of uncomfortable things that you don’t want to feel and so the urge to get in touch comes. But it’s the same as when I feel the urge to pick up my phone, procrastinate, have a drink or snack etc. It passes. Grit your teeth and ride it out.
You can change your flights on Ryanair. (WHO KNEW?)
Leave the revenge to the imagination. I’ve had so many brilliant ideas that will make my ex suffer. However, I know for myself, (I don’t care about him) that it’s important that I behave in a way that I’m proud of. As Michelle Obama says: ‘When they go low, we go high.’
Shopping helps. A new life needs new clothes and there’s nothing like a new pair of jeans and shoes that help you bounce out of the house with your head held high.
A break-up is a death and what you’re experiencing is grief. I’m still struggling with focus and am distracted a lot of the time. I know that it’ll pass.
Hide them from your Instagram stories. It doesn’t help to live your life as a performance to them. Nothing good comes from exes and social media: ‘Research shows that it is associated with greater distress, longing, negative feelings, and sexual desire for the ex-partner.’ BLOCK.
It’s not just what they did that’s the problem, but how they responded to it. I don’t want a partner who can’t take responsibility for their actions.
A break-up is a form of rejection and rejection causes us humans insurmountable pain in the brain. Admit that’s what you’re feeling and do whatever you need to build your WHOLE self back up again. Spending time with friends, seeing culture, looking after yourself, working hard: all these things remind you that your partner was just one slice of your life pie and the rest is still beautiful and full.
Only cheaters say cheating is not a big deal.
If you find yourself thinking about them with someone else, then say to yourself ‘so what’? I love analysis and thinking about things but there are some times when you have to say no to your brain and switch the thought off. I mean, in my case, he was ‘moving on’ while we were still together so I know for a fact that he’s up to all sorts and SO WHAT.
There’s a difference between him not wanting to lose you and wanting to commit to you.
You will move on, too. I lamented once that I couldn’t imagine fancying anyone else again. A friend reassured me that they often think that when they stop seeing someone, but then once they get back into ‘the pool’ again, it’s fine. The next day, I had a flirty chat with someone attractive and I realised my friend was right.
Flirting with new people feels GOOD.
It’s called hindsight. When I went back and blamed myself for not spotting the signs of his lack of commitment earlier, a friend told me that’s just hindsight and I stopped beating myself up about it and felt better.
Friends - be careful not to be too negative about the ex. Yes, he’s a moron and did a bad thing, but the brain automatically justifies the time you had together if people go too hard on the negative. It can make you feel lonely and that only you and your ex understand what you had together, but saying that…
A bit of negative is good, though. It’s hard to stay strong and away from someone you shared your life with. A reminder that they weren’t that great and definitely aren’t the right one for you, helps.
Your friends outlast romantic partners. They always have and they always will: treat them with the priority and love that this fact means they deserve.
It’s funny when your angry Cypriot father refers to your cheating ex as ‘the one with no name’.
Even if it’s the right thing that it’s over, it’s still ok to feel sad. On reflection, I’ve been so happy when friends have left bad relationships that I wasn’t as empathetic to their sadness as I could have been. Two things can be true.
Doing hot yoga most days helps. Move, sweat, walk, eat well and nourish the soul. I am going to look and feel good through this.
Hold up: the anxiety has gone. I had a latent, ongoing hum of anxiety (I literally wrote about it in this newsletter) that this person may not be right. The anxiety has lifted and I feel lighter.
He didn’t cheat on you because you were too much or too little. Or because your skin is too pale, your nose is too big or your belly too wobbly or because you don’t wax your vagina and get bad PMS or whatever else your brain claims. It’s him who’s not enough. And as my mum said…
You deserve 100 times better.
If you’re craving more listicles from me, try my 33 Lessons at 33 and my (very old) Alternative Guide to Confidence
One of the best newsletters I've read in a year. So true we have to remember these things and we will pull through. Especially the part about being bored. And yeah, we aren't the ones who aren't enough-- they are. 100 percent better we deserve. Loved this. ❤️
Thanks for sharing and sending you love x