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On Moving On After The Break-Up [Dear DBN]


Reveling in the past is like smoking: it’s therapeutic, romantic, and a really shitty thing to spend too much time doing.  Relationships end, and it’s painful.  But the sooner you pull the knife out of the wound, the sooner you can heal.  This week, we look at when to move on and how to finally do it.

So I had a relationship ended on me in March. I was a mess and I reacted horribly and I was so mad at him. The only social networking site I still have him on is tumblr. I like reading his things because I still love him…I haven’t cried in a month about him but today I had the thought of unfollowing him and blocking him on tumblr and I started bawling. I feel like if I do that I lose him all the way and that is heartbreaking but our connection is killing me. What do I do?

Let your heart break.  Let it shatter and clatter and bang onto the floor.  You are hanging on the edge by your fingertips and there is no pulling yourself back up into his arms.  All there is to do is let go.  Reading his blog isn’t a connection, neither is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…these are all just windows, and you are standing in the cold looking into a life that is not yours.  You have already lost him all the way – what you’re afraid of losing is yourself, but renting him that space in your mind doesn’t ground you, it simply allows him to grow like a fungus, creeping into otherwise happy moments.  Hallow yourself out to let the good in.

There’s a reason people say out of sight, out of mind. The problem now is that they’re always within view. They are a click away, and it takes an enormous amount of self-control to resist the digital vortex of exes and their exes and the exes of those ex’s exes.  But it’s a choice. It’s a choice to prevent yourself from moving on. It’s a choice to wallow in the pretty pictures of someone’s Instagrammed life.  No one sees the photos of people crying themselves to sleep. We chastise the open books posting their feelings with disregard.  And we forget the burdens hiding behind our own filtered smiles.  Reading someone’s blog is not a connection.  A connection is when you can sit in the quiet and be filled with their presence, when the mention of their name seizes your chest, when hearing a song you belted out together in the car makes you laugh, when remembering the relationship is over brings you to your knees.  That is a connection.  And no social network can confirm it or replace it and define it.  Social networks are seasoning on the meal and you are salting an empty plate.

It’s going to hurt, but it’s going to be real in the way reading someone’s blog never is.  Unfollow, block, and grieve.  You lost something.  Stop looking through windows and start looking at the path ahead.

I’m worried I’m making decisions based on what will win my ex back.  How do I know I making the right decision for me?

If you are worried, then you must also think that trying to win your ex back is not a good idea.  Is he like a drug?  Is she like a black hole?  Is it the kind of love that’s better left dead?  Look, there are two “ways” that people attempt to get their exes back: blatantly and surreptitiously.  You can say, “I am moving to Los Angeles because he is there, and I want to try to make it work.”  Or, you can say, “I’m moving to New York because I want to and if I should so happen to run into her because she’s there every week for work, then that’s just the universe.”  No, it isn’t.  That’s you being dishonest with yourself.  Pretend, however you can, that this person doesn’t exist.  Your relationship never happened.  What would you kill to do?  What sounds incredible?  What sounds like the most fun way to spend your weekend?  Put on all your favorite songs and just remove yourself from his/her existence for thirty minutes and write down a list of the things you really want to do.

There are a lot of adjectives for decisions: impulsive, selfish, careless, thoughtful, calculated, inspiring, challenging, deceitful, generous, courageous… but one word you might want to steer away from is “right.”  Decisions are not that black and white because there’s no way to compare them post-facto.  And the “right” decision might simultaneously be the best thing for you and something that speaks to your ex.  You will never know if you are making the right decision.  You will only go with your gut and make the most of it.  Regret is for people with too much time on their hands and very little initiative.  Make decisions that fill you with light and joy, no matter what you’re trying to win.

CollegeCandy is excited to announce that we’ve partnered up with one of our favorite Tumblrs, DateByNumbers, to bring you some of her very best advice. Each week she’ll tackle your questions. Life, love, sex, the real world…nothing will be off limits. To submit a question of your own, visit her “Ask” page and keep an eye on CollegeCandy every Thursday afternoon!

I've written for Teen Vogue, Thought Catalog, Leveled Magazine, College Candy, How About We, and have been featured on several HuffPost Live segments. Creator and leader of Bold Moves October featured on xoJane and Neil Gaiman's blog. Both Neil and Jane appreciate boldness. I specialize in pep talks, very long bike rides, and matching my lipstick to my heels.