Picture this: you’re a young woman, working a 9-to-5 and have been consistently achieving your goals for something like six months now. You’re happy, you’re satisfied, and you’re at a place where you're content. And then, one day, suddenly, you realize you’re not really in love with the guy you thought you were in love with. There are things that shouldn't annoy you as much as they do, like his teeth grinding against each other when he sleeps at night. And then there are things that are actually troublesome —he is immature, bordering on downright foolish. Somewhere along the way, the ‘I love yous’ become ‘I think I love you?’ and one fine day, in the middle of nowhere, with your lovely coffee, you come to the realization that ‘I do not love you.’
While the breakup is mutual, it’s still hard, it’s complicated, it’s many things: sobs and weeps and a whole lot of ‘whys’ and ‘hows,’ but at the end of the day, it is a breakup that needed to happen. You say your goodbyes, you text him again, you say you’re sorry, and you finally bid farewell. Sometimes, there are additional "sorrys" and additional "whys' and "hows", but it is okay.
But sometimes it doesn't feel okay. There’s guilt, so much guilt! You feel guilty that you broke someone’s heart. You feel guilty that you led him on. You feel guilty that you wasted someone’s sweet time. And then begins the anxiety. Thoughts like: What if he never loves again? What if he is way too cautious now? What if he spends his life alone? Tick, tick, tick. Time wasted thinking about ‘what if’, ‘what if’, ‘what if’, when finally, it explodes and with it emerges the self-loathing. You feel like you're just a terrible human being, that you're incapable of falling in love.
How vain of you to find his teeth grinding annoying. You could have just taken him to the doctor, or put in earplugs, or slept in a different room. So what if he is immature? Lots of people are immature. You could have made him a better man. You could have compromised just a tad bit more, and everything would be okay.
It's hard. It is hard to come to terms with the fact that the breakup was necessary. You spend days thinking about it over and over and over again. The thing about decisions is that when we make them, they seem necessary, important, absolute, eternal, etc. But after we make those decisions, they become impulsive, disturbing, ridiculous, imposing, and everything in between. You hate your decision, you despise yourself for a little bit, and then comes the reassurance.
You come to terms with the fact that it was necessary. Life feels better. There’s light again. The burden is off your shoulders. You’re relieved. You’re okay. Life is okay. It is now time to move on.
But have you really moved on? Have you sat down with yourself a little bit and thought of the pros and cons of the past relationship, and worked out what your expectations versus their outcomes are? Have you given yourself the time you deserve to really think things through properly in the midst of the guilt, and the anxiety, and the misery? Have you unclenched your jaw, released the tension from your shoulders, and had a long drawn bath where it was just you and the still water and maybe a lovely cat?
When you break up, you might go through this cycle. It could be once, it could be twice, it could be every four years from now. Humans love to blame themselves. It is okay. If you’re reading this and you’re about to break up and it feels like the reason doesn’t make sense, the light is flickering weird, the music seems overwhelming, take a short break and give yourself time. Figure out what you want with the relationship and see if you can answer if this is what you want for your foreseeable future.
If you’re reading this and are going through a breakup, and the world seems to spin around you as you sit at your desk, your chest seems heavy, your eyes feel droopy, and people seem to be passing judging glares, take a break. Sit down. Believe in your decision. Impulsive or not. Ridiculous or not. You chose this decision because it brought you relief, and that is okay. Be kind to yourself and remember that the reality of moving on is often anxiety-inducing and worrying and life-altering, but at the end of the day, you are going to be okay.