After spending a portion of my day listening to a friend detail a particularly painful break-up she’s currently going through, giving her the best advice I could while recognizing her little painful moments all too well, I started thinking about the process of breaking up itself.
Not the actual nuts and bolts of the deed, those always vary, but the way we react afterward.
No matter who we are, our pain tends to mirror each other during these times. We make the same decisions, fall into the same bad habits, give ourselves the same pep talks, and feel the general sh*ttiness so strongly that most of us, by our mid-twenties, have experienced some kind of life really can’t go on moment.
When a girlfriend goes through a break-up, we give advice, comfort her, but most of all, completely understand what she’s feeling. We completely understand, and never really want to go there again (although most of us will, according to the numbers. Damn you statistics! I knew I got a B- in your class for a reason!).
So certain that we all share the same brain when devastated, author Sandra Ann Miller has written a book, A Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Over Him, in which she lists “10 essential ground rules to prevent the recently jilted from making the most common breakup mistakes”. The rules are listed here.
Although I think she’s in the right ballpark with this little expose,Sandra’s regulations are a tad heavy.
“I will screen all of my calls” she wants us to promise. “I will get caller ID, if necessary, and put “private call block” on my phone. I will not answer the phone unless I know who it is and am sure it’s not him. All other calls will go to voicemail.” Sheesh, lady. Unless the dude you were dating is some kind of psycho stalker with a pension for hunting knives (and in that case, you have no boyfriend skills), I’m not sure you have to buy Caller ID just to make sure you never answer his calls.
If he’s half decent, he should be giving you some space and not calling much if at all. If for some reason he’s harassing you, the solution isn’t Caller ID, it’s a cell phone to his head followed by an order to leave you alone.
No matter how intense the other 9 rules are on this list, there’s one that I think we all need to hear—although the Just-Broken-Up-Me of three years ago would have refused to. “I will not believe this is temporary” the promise begins. “I will see this [break-up] permanent until proven otherwise.”
That’s the killer, isn’t it girls? When we’re going through something shitty, no matter how bad the other person hurts us, no matter how much we know it’s probably for the best, if we loved them, there’s always a part of our brain that’s going, This is just transitory. We’re gonna get back together soon.
I hate that part. I’ve tried to knock that part out of my head more than once, but have yet to be successful. The hard thing is, this rule is probably the most important. This is the rule that can keep the break-up blues from turning into full-blown break-up depression.
Talking ourselves into the fantasy that we’ll get back together soon does nothing but prolong the pain. We break-up for reasons. No one ends a relationship arbitrarily. Letting the pain and loneliness talk you into forgetting those reasons and reaching for the familiar is hazardous.
Easier said than done, right? Right. Of course it is. Everything is, but the best advice I can give is that if you feel yourself breaking this important rule, stop, breathe, and reevaluate the situation. Remind yourself why the relationship ended. Remind yourself of the negatives. If you need someone else to remind you, find them. If the relationship is worth salvaging, it will be salvaged.
If not, you’re allowed to be in pain. You’re allowed to cry. You’re allowed to eat four hot dogs like my recently jilted friend. But you’re not allowed to trick yourself. You’re not allowed to do more damage to your already fragile emotions by sabotaging an action that was made for a reason.
Those’em my rules. And I know all.
…Seriously. Got a plaque and everything.