break-up

Great Girls and Mean Men

There is a lady in my life I’ve always had a bit of a crush on (okay, there’s more than one but I’m only here to talk about one for now). She started off as the friend of a friend. She was one of those girls I instantly liked, before I even knew her. One of those girls I Facebook stalked constantly, thinking how gorgeous she looked in all her photos. As it turns out, she’s a total babe in real life, too.

Now that I’m actually friends with her (it’s so much easier to stalk someone once they’ve accepted your friend request) I’ve learnt that even people you think are amazing will have doubts about themselves. Hearing truly amazing girls doubt themselves is always disheartening. Knowing it’s because someone else has made them think that way is sickening.

You see, my friend is struggling to let go of a relationship, something almost everyone can relate to. The problem? This is a relationship that has done nothing for her confidence except bring it down. This is a girl who is worth so much more than she is being told. And the worst part is that the longer someone tells you that you aren’t good enough, eventually you start to believe it.

The irony is that my friend is painfully aware of how bad this boy (not worthy of the title ‘man’) is. She knows he is deceitful, rude, selfish. Unfortunately, it is easy to overlook the bad parts once you’ve fallen in love with someone and it is hard to let them go. It is hard to get out of the habit of talking to them every day. It is hard letting go of a relationship when it feels like giving up, when it feels like failing.

But sometimes, giving up on someone doesn’t mean you are failing and it certainly doesn’t mean you have failed as a girlfriend. It simply means you are giving up on being disappointed, frustrated, upset or annoyed.  You’re giving up the part of your life that was bringing you down.

So to her, or anyone struggling to let go of a relationship that you know isn’t good for you, the self doubt has to go. You are stunning, smart and talented. You have achieved great things (in her case, among others, raising 2 beautiful little girls) and will continue to do so. You are a total babe and ‘total babe’ is a trait everyone loves. Anytime you doubt this, just come back here and remind yourself of how truly awesome you are. After all, if you don’t love yourself, how will anyone else? The key to future happiness in relationships is to start by being happy with yourself. The key to being happy with yourself is to let go of all the things that are making you unhappy – ungrateful, no good ex boyfriends included.

Yes, it can feel close to impossible to get over someone you dedicated your life to for some length of time. But when that person is lowering your self-worth, stressing you out and making you cry more than they make you smile, it’s time to kick them to curb and never look back. And if that’s too hard to do on your own? Gather your friends and ask them to skip with you along that footpath, smiling and laughing and yelling at you if your head even slightly turns to look around, until you’re able to do it on your own. And remember; don’t be afraid that you won’t find someone to settle down with one day, be afraid that thoughts like that might lead you to settle for less than you’re worth – because that would be the real tragedy.

The Good Break-up

I need to start this by saying that I’ve never had a particularly bad break-up. I’ve had break-ups at bad times – the middle of the night on Valentine’s Day – but the break-ups themselves have all been civil. However, my most recent was a really good break-up.

Good in the sense that it was for a good reason, with good intentions, at a good time and involving a good discussion. Girls have a bad habit of walking away from a situation and relaying to their girlfriends all the things they wish they’d done. “I wish I could have told him this” “I wish I didn’t let that slip by” “I wish I hadn’t acted that way”. We tell our girlfriends everything we’re thinking, but sometimes only say half of it to our partner. My break up went against that. I told him everything I was thinking, even if I knew it didn’t make sense, even if it was contradictory. I told him I loved him but was annoyed at him, that I understood but it made no sense, I made jokes about it while I cried, I cried because of the very person who was comforting me. I was honest with him. And I asked him so many questions to make sure he was honest with not only me, but more importantly with himself.

And at the end of it all, I realised that this was a really good break up. A good decision. It was one I would never have been able to make myself, but it meant that I can stay friends with him for so much longer. I get to keep this boy in my life. That in itself is what made me realise that breaking up is completely fine. I’ve always understood, but I know now more than ever, why he has been able to stay bestfriends with his previous girlfriend. He makes it such an easy transition, it seems like the most natural thing in the world. It’s everyone else that seems crazy when they tell me you shouldn’t stay friends with an ex because for me, with him, there’s no other option. It’s not a choice. That’s just the way it’s going to be.

This blog is really more for me, or him, than any of you. It’s not written to the best of my capabilities, it’s not witty, it’s not relevant for anyone except me. I just needed to get it down in writing. I needed to express how grateful I am for my good break-ups and how much I’m looking forward to being friends with my ex boyfriend.

The “Too Young” Break-Up

There are many reasons to end a relationship. I think most of them can be grouped into a few categories. There’s the “I’ve fallen out of love” break-up. This can mean you’ve drifted apart, become different people or fallen for someone else. It also generally involves everything your partner does that you used to find cute now annoying you so much you want to smash your head against a wall. Or smash theirs.

There’s the lifestyle clash. This is where one of you might be moving away, one of you needs to focus on work, your religious and they’re not, your schedules make it impossible to see each other, or any other outside factors that influence your relationship in a negative way and make it too hard to go on.

The third is that one of you has done something wrong. Someone’s cheated, been abusive or is just always acting like an inconsiderate dickhead. Pretty simply, really.

Then there’s the “we’re too young to stay together” break-up. This one seems to be appearing a lot in my life lately, with myself and the people around me. It often works alongside one of the other reasons I’ve mentioned. It always comes up when you’ve been with someone a couple of years and are still only in your early 20’s.

There comes a point in every long term relationship where you have to ask yourself if this is person you want to spend the rest of your life with. If they’re not then it’s a simple of matter of leaving so you’re not wasting any more of your time, which is obviously invaluable and could be spent in much better ways (like looking for someone you do want a future with).

If they are someone you’d want to spend your life with and you met at a young age, in particular during your teens, then you also need to consider whether you might feel like you’ve missed out on anything by staying with the same person from that age.

Putting aside the fact that the relationship may not work out in the future anyway as you both grow up, mature, and no longer want the same things you did when you were 17, it really hits home the younger you are that this could be for the rest of your life. Do I need to point out that this is a lot longer the younger you start out? (I’m sure I didn’t need to point it out because it’s so blatantly, you’d-be-crazy-not-to-know obvious, but I just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page here).

So, the rest of your life is a long time and being with the same person from a young age could mean that you miss out on … well a few things. You could miss out on experiencing any other relationship – think typical pre-wedding night cold feet; “I’m never going to have a first date, or kiss, or anything else ever again!” You could miss out on taking off for a weekend with your closest mates, without telling anyone you’re leaving, for a crazy road trip that will be talked about for years to come. You could miss out on potential jobs because they involve travel or don’t fit in with the ‘we’ lifestyle you now base your decisions on.

This is a lot to think about at 20 years of age and 3 years into a relationship. Nobody wants to hit 30 and feel like they may have missed out on life. Nobody wants that kind of regret or wonder. And so, I know a considerable number of couples who have split after years of being together, to “figure out what they want out of life” or “re-evaluate the relationship after some time apart”.

Honestly, I wonder if time apart would help or hinder the relationship. That’s the thing with time; you need to wait for it to pass to see which it is.