It’s Valentine’s Day! Time to muse about relationships while reading and eating the candy hearts-
Oh. There aren’t any this year.
Well, that’s a let down.
You know what else is a let down? Breakups.
To varying degrees anyway. But they always suck, even when the breakup is really in the best interest of both or all involved (which might well be the case for almost all of them, come to think of it). There’s the disappointment, the loss, the uncertainty. There’s wondering what went wrong, what should have been done differently, what you’re going to do now.
That much is obvious. That really all you can do at this point is move on, whatever that means.
What’s less obvious is that, in the process of this enigmatic moving on, you’ve got to put a lot of energy into not doing anything stupid!
Even the most amicable breakups involve hurt, anger, and resentment, which must be processed and navigated in the following period of time. During this, these feelings can lead to some irrational impulses, looking for what can be done to make the emotional agony stop. And you’ve got to mentally work hard to determine what action truly is reasonable or is just something you’re deeming reasonable because the brain can’t stand all the hurt, anger, and resentment fluttering around like mosquitoes and just wants to try anything to make them go away.
You can do it! I say “whatever that means” about moving on since there’s no point where you’ve explicitly moved on, and depending on the nature of the recently ended relationship some parts may stick with you long term. And that’s okay. But eventually you’ll latch onto something else (not necessarily another love interest, just anything that captivates you), which probably won’t pull you out of this funk totally but at least it’s something else to think about.
But until you get to that point, don’t do anything stupid!
Stupid can be something like getting drunk and sending a sappy text to your ex begging to get back together. Ugh. Don’t do that. It could also be sending them an angry message ripping them to pieces. Ugh. Don’t do that either. All you do is humiliate yourself, create bad (or worse) blood, and feel like shit about that along with all the other feelings that have not improved in this.
Or for some it can get more severe than that, such as threats, self-harm, vandalism, or violence. Obviously don’t do that. Seek help if you feel even the urge to do any of that (well, seeking help in general when going through this might be a good idea, for that matter). Certainly this sort of behavior helps and accomplishes nothing. What would give you the idea to do any of this in the first place?
Oh, right, all of popular media, where super toxic post-breakup behavior is portrayed as normal and expected.
Have I mentioned how much I hate Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”? Where she sings about destroying her cheating boyfriend’s beloved car? Not cool. I mean, the car didn’t do anything wrong. And you’re looking at getting sued for damages, which, aside from the hefty bill, involves more interaction with said cheating asshole, an interaction where you’re the loser who is forced to pay him. Yikes!
I mean, I get that the song is not actually meant to encourage anyone to go out and destroy their exes’ vehicles but to capture the anger and betrayal and desire for revenge. Anyone who has been at the receiving end of this can certainly relate. Though these feelings manifest differently in different people, and this vehicular vandalism fantasy is not necessarily what someone in this position wants to hear. In fact, when someone is actually in a position of being betrayed by a loved one and is this special kind of vulnerable, is this really the kind of behavior to be encouraging, even if just in theory?
Of course, then there’s the Lily Allen video, where she sneaks laxatives into her ex’s drink and pays a gang to beat him up and ransack his apartment. Oy.
Then there’s however many sitcoms where exes bitterly hurt and sabotage each other or characters recount an ex burning their clothes or something that is completely utterly beyond the pale but is treated as if an inherent part of ending a relationship.
Then again, maybe this is supposed to be encouraging. Like “yeah, I feel bad right now, but at least I’m not doing that shit!” But what a low bar to meet!
And you most likely have it together enough not to do that shit. But when exes are so often portrayed as untrustworthy or even dangerous, how is someone processing a breakup supposed to feel? On top of it all, they get to watch someone in their position being demonized? Like, they’re going through this and their ex is with someone else already, and all of a sudden it’s, congratulations, you’re now the villain in every romantic comedy!
The object is to come through this trying time with as much grace and dignity as can be reasonably preserved, a challenge even without messages coming from all over trying to paint you as unstable.
Yup, once again, popular media can exaggerate and mislead about things.
I mean, I totally saw candy conversation hearts at Target the other day. They’re made by more than one company, you know.