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Why Am I So Ok After Breaking Up with Someone I Loved?
January 31, 2014 5:14 AM   Subscribe

On Tuesday, I broke up with my long-term boyfriend. I was devastated Tuesday and Wednesday, now I feel pretty ok. What gives?

This is my first break-up, and I feel bad about how I feel. I'd love to hear if anyone else has gone through something similar.

We were together for 4.5 years. We loved each other, and had plans to move in together. However, I had my doubts about our long-term viability for a while, but it was just too painful to think of living without him. Eventually, though, after some serious conversations with him, it became clear that I was never going to get the emotional support I needed from him.

I decided about a week and a half ago that I wanted to end it (I wanted to wait until a goodbye party for a good mutual friend had passed before I did it), and definitely had some crying jags for that week and a half. I felt heartbroken Tuesday and Wednesday, like someone died. Then, Thursday, I felt ok. Not happy, but not all that sad. Now I feel bad for not feeling worse. I actually wish I felt bad again, like I'm some sort of monster for not being really sad right now.

Has anyone else experienced this? I'm afraid to talk to my friends about it, because I feel like a heartless bastard.
posted by Tall Telephone Pea to Human Relations (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You've unburdened yourself from a long-term load. This is natural. It'll be up and down for a while and the peaks and valleys generally do even out some. Let yourself experience all of them.
posted by Thistledown at 5:18 AM on January 31 [26 favorites]

This is completely normal. You might start to feel bad again later, you might have already processed things. Everyone deals with breakups at a different pace, and it sounds like you spent some time before the breakup working through a good chunk of it. You're not a monster and you're not heartless. Now, if you'd just dumped the guy with no notice, laughed and skipped away, then there'd be something remarkable.
posted by Mizu at 5:20 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]

You aren't a heartless bastard. Not every break-up is a big emotional disaster. Sometimes it is a bit of a relief. Sometimes there is a feeling of liberation. Sometimes there is a feeling of excitement over what your future holds. Those are all normal reactions.

You just know that it was the right relationship for you. I'm guessing this relationship has been "over" for a while for you, emotionally at least, so you were more emotionally prepared for it. That said you may have some sad days from time to time over this, regardless of how good you feel today, and that is normal too!
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:20 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]

Ya I agree with thistledown. Everyone feels and responds differently. Just go with how it feels and process what comes as it comes.

About 2 weeks ago I put one of my dogs down. I was destroyed for 2 days and then perfectly fine. I felt weird about feeling fine but left it at that. A week later out of nowhere I lost my shit again for 15 minutes at a red light.... There's really no predicting your sub conscious.

Good luck.
posted by chasles at 5:23 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]

If you feel bad about not feeling bad, you aren't really not feeling bad.
posted by Etrigan at 5:26 AM on January 31 [10 favorites]

Sometimes it's right for things to end. It's sad, and you might feel sorry for yourself, but if you did the right thing, ultimately you'll feel okay about it.

Don't be surprised if you feel sad again, you'll have your moments, but in the end, you know what you did was right and you don't have to be brokenhearted if you're not.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:31 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]

Generally speaking, she or he who does the breaking up usually feels a lot less bad than the other person. Plus you've already started the grieving process of losing him before you did the deed.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:39 AM on January 31 [14 favorites]

Generally speaking, she or he who does the breaking up usually feels a lot less bad than the other person. Plus you've already started the grieving process of losing him before you did the deed.

Precisely! Honestly, when I've broken up with people, I've felt a lot better pretty quickly, usually because I'd spent a long time getting to the point of the break-up. So I'd been sad for quite a while (or stressed or angry) and the break-up actually acted as a catharsis/stress-relief.

Particularly if you didn't have a lot of life stuff together (shared housing, pets, a child, retirement plans, etc) your life isn't nearly as upended as it might be.

I add that the people I broke up with were good people who had always treated me as well as they could (ie, the things that went wrong in our relationships were about incompatibility and/or life trauma that pre-dated the relationship, not about their failings). I feel regret even now that I had to make them feel bad when they were good people, and in one case I wish I'd done a better job about how to break up because I hurt someone more than had to happen. But I didn't spend many, many days afterward feeling actively horrible about the break-up itself.

I think if you break up with someone because they have really done you wrong, it is different because you have more anger, regret, shock, etc.
posted by Frowner at 5:46 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]

We were together for 4.5 years. We loved each other, and had plans to move in together. However, I had my doubts about our long-term viability for a while, but it was just too painful to think of living without him. Eventually, though, after some serious conversations with him, it became clear that I was never going to get the emotional support I needed from him.

Here's the thing - reading what you said, it sounds like you'd been feeling awful, for quite some time. You already did a lot of your mourning before the breakup technically happened, but after you feared, then knew, that it would. Just because the moment of "This isn't working, goodbye" came partway through your Feeling Shitty cycle instead of at the very start doesn't mean that cycle didn't run its course.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:13 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]

The end of a relationship is a grieving process, so it's complicated. It can come in waves and change over time. The fact that you're writing this, and asking these questions shows that you're actually still grieving and feeling the loss. That's healthy and great. When you're really 'over it' (as people say) then the relationship will just be information, and you won't be wondering how you should or shouldn't feel about it.

Let yourself feel everything you feel, as it comes, even if its feeling OK.
posted by jardinier at 6:20 AM on January 31

You made a good decision for both of you. Yes, you're probably going to feel some pangs further down the road, but relief makes sense for right now. You're no longer thinking about breaking up, which has to be a relief.
posted by xingcat at 6:21 AM on January 31

The 2nd and 3rd waves are coming.
Let yourself give as they hit.
posted by Kruger5 at 6:22 AM on January 31

You don't owe your ex your own sadness to match his -- he's on his own journey now and that's OK.
posted by telegraph at 6:34 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]

When my last long-term relationship ended, I felt as if my emotions had been untethered from a huge weight. I didn't even do the ending, and there were still days in the immediate aftermath when I was downright elated (although many more when I was just abjectly miserable).

You've lost something which has been a weight on you for a long time. I think it's natural to be anything from relieved to devastated at the loss; you might find both at once. Or if you're good at dealing with large change, you might just feel pretty ok most of the time. Me, I mostly felt untethered, and managed to pass through all of these feelings many times in the first month or so, until the roller coaster damped out. In retrospect though, I don't think I was back to long term normal for about a year; it's a little hard to say because my life went nuts in totally other ways a year later.

It's a loss, yes, but mostly it's a big change (especially since you seem to have known it was possible for a while). You'll handle like you handle most big change, which is a somewhat individual thing.

Lastly- feeling ok is ok. Be glad if that's where you're at, take it as long as it lasts, and don't be too surprised if it changes around a bit for a while.
posted by nat at 6:40 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]

I'm echoing Kruger5 - You will likely have good and bad moments for a while. I got dumped 9 weeks ago and sometimes feel great and an hour later want to cry in my cookies and milk. (I don't drink beer.) Good luck.
posted by meta x zen at 7:08 AM on January 31

Sometimes there's a certain quiet when you are in the eye of the storm. I broke up with my boyfriend of 10 years about two years ago. I remember the night it happened feeling like I was facing down some horrifying gauntlet, and a few days later at work feeling a bouncy sense of renewal and hopefulness. Then about two weeks later I felt like I was in a pit of despair again and it gradually got better. Grief is complicated.
posted by mermily at 7:44 AM on January 31

jenfullmoon: "Plus you've already started the grieving process of losing him before you did the deed."

Bears repeating.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:08 AM on January 31

Sometimes you just don't want to cry any more. You're all cried out, and all talked out. I find sometimes I just want to do something else other than be sad. Not because I don't feel anything, because after 2-3 days of feeling too much-- my body and mind are literally incapable of keeping up that high intensity of emotion. It's exhausting.

After that, I find I crash a little. And once you're mostly over the initial shock and dismay, etc, a weird acceptance settles, too.

You will probably have highs and lows-- and this is pretty normal, too. Just let the feelings come as they come and let yourself feel what you need. Even if it's indifference right now. Keep in mind that one second you might feel 'over it' and another second you're struggling to stay upright. Let yourself feel what you have to feel.

The main thing is that with time, it will all settle down.
posted by Dimes at 8:13 AM on January 31

When my grandfather died, I didn't cry right away. He'd been sick for a long time, and in many ways, I'd been mourning and grieving the loss of the man I knew for months beforehand, right from when I got the call from my dad telling me that Grandpa had a stroke. Honestly? At the time, I felt so relieved. I'm not sure I cried at all.

You've been grieving the end of this relationship for a while now. It's perfectly fine if you're not broken-up about it right now. You might be upset again later, down the road, but you might not be. Grief does weird things to a person, and you already spent almost a whole week morning the loss of what was. Actually breaking up with him is making you relieved -- you made it through the really tough part, the lead up to the break up, and then you actually broke up.

Now you can move forward. But it's okay, and you're not a horrible person for not feeling sad. And you're not a horrible person if you wake up tomorrow and feel miserable again. Just remember that your feelings are okay and 100% valid, no matter what they are.
posted by PearlRose at 8:28 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]

It will come. I ended a 6-year relationship and didn't feel as bad as I thought I should in the beginning...but then months later I would burst into tears in the car while driving home from work, or in yoga, or whatever. There were moments when I was just buried under grief. And then there were moments I didn't think about him for a few days.

You ended a relationship that wasn't working--and that's a good thing--but you also maybe lost a really close friend. That was what was most brutal for me, and it took a while for me to come to grips with it. Looking back, I spent too much time thinking I should or should not feel this way or that. If I have any advice, it's to feel what you feel and just accept it and let it be.
posted by namemeansgazelle at 10:54 AM on January 31

Either more sads will come, or they won't. Or they'll come and go. It's really too soon to tell. Either way, there's no crime in it.

I have had short-term relationship breakups that I cried, gnashed my teeth, and bemoaned why it had to be so... but when I broke up with my serious-gonna marry this dude-long term ex? I don't think I shed a tear after it was all over, probably because I had been mourning the loss for a long time coming. I felt relieved more than anything else.
posted by sm1tten at 12:25 PM on January 31

It happens. After I broke up with my last boyfriend of 2+ years, I felt a little sad, but mostly didn't. I guess since I was the breaker-upper, I had already dealt with the feelings of sadness and loss in coming to that decision.

I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did.
posted by rachaelfaith at 1:58 PM on January 31

This happened to me. I was madly in love with a man I knew I had to leave, and once I did it I felt relief. I cried for a single day and then I was fine. I think it's a good sign, not something to be concerned about. For me, it was a sign that I had made the right decision. It sounds to me like you made the right choice and are no longer sad because it's sitting well with your internal compass.
posted by OneHermit at 12:34 AM on February 1

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