How do I recover from a heartbreak?
January 31, 2009 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Yet another breakup, heartbroken related question.

I usually laugh at those sappy romantic plot lines regarding love and break-ups.

However, approximately two months ago I broke up with my girlfriend of five years who I am STILL deeply in love with, but the relationship wasn't functional. The separation was mutual and I thought that I would be okay.

I was wrong. When she told me that she dated somebody, HOLY BUMFUCK it hurts, I've been crying non-stop for two days. Entering third day and still shedding tears; I would stop thinking it's over, then all of those memories come flooding back and I'll start up again like a broken faucet.

So my question: What is the best way to deal with this? We still live in the same city, share the same circle of friends and interests. My concern is that I will flip out (emotionally) if I see her with other guy. Also I do hope to be friends with her, the thing is I don't know if I can handle it.

I know that this tale has been covered countless of times, but I'm curious what MeFi have to offer in terms of advice.

on a side note: It's funny how there is a 'human relations' in the category drop-down. As opposed to what? Inanimate object relations?
posted by pakoothefakoo to Human Relations (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You need to cut her off. Its the only way. That also means not hanging out with the friends, unless they are yours.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:08 AM on January 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

Give yourself some time to be upset and really feel as bad as you feel. Eventually it'll get boring and then you'll move on to figuring out what to do next. But don't keep in contact with her for awhile, at least not until you're over her.
posted by orange swan at 10:11 AM on January 31, 2009

You spent five years together. That's not going to heal in two months.

You say you share friends and interests, but maybe you can agree to take a break from each other somehow for six months? I know that sounds even more devastating to you right now, but there's a bit of a method to that madness.

Don't just drop off contact out of the blue. Actually say something like 'Hey, look, I really want to be friends. But I kind of just need some time to gather my bearings'.

You're understandably raw right now, and she might be too (sometimes people jump back in to dating quickly after a long relationship for various reasons).

Time does heal wounds, even the most devastating punches to the gut imaginable. There was a guy I went through a hard breakup with ten years ago, and despite having mutual friends and spending time in the same group at the same time, we didn't speak for more than a year. One of our friends nudged us into it and we're friends now.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:14 AM on January 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

Never tried it. But someone used to advise a kind of aversion therapy.

Don't avoid the painful memories - wallow in them. Make a mixtape of all the songs you used to listen to together and stay inside all day listening to it as you look through the photos of yourselves in happier times. Don't allow anything to distract you from exploring every facet of your bereavement - such as getting dressed, eating tasty food, or enjoying your hobbies. If you find yourself becoming numb to it all, have a talk with yourself about you'll certainly never find anyone else. Go so far as to write stories about how happy she is with New Guy.

The theory goes that at some point, and sooner rather than later, you'll grow bored being miserable. And the next time you see someone driving the color and model of car she used to drive, you'll shudder rather than sob.

I repeat: Never tried it. Might be a lot easier on paper than in practice. But it seems to me like it might work.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:15 AM on January 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

What you're going through is totally normal. I'm sorry that everything is so heinous right now, but it will get better.

I was dumped by my partner of almost six years some years back. Painful? Oh yeah. We continued to sort of see each other - we had mutual friends etc. - for a few months after the breakup, and it was brutal. Fortunately, she did something completely out-of-bounds that gave me the strength break off contact, and keep it broken, until I was on steadier ground, emotionally speaking.

What I did to deal was to keep really busy. I also had another huge emotional thing happening (my mom was dying of cancer) that put the breakup in perspective. I can't recommend that particular course, but do stay as busy as you can - immerse yourself in some big project. And if your friends are being adult about this, and not taking sides or passing along gossip, let them know that you want them - need them - to call you up and haul you out of the house periodically for a hike or dinner or whatever, as long as the ex isn't going to be present.
posted by rtha at 10:27 AM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

What is the best way to deal with this? We still live in the same city, share the same circle of friends and interests.

Move, get new friends, and get new interests.

You left her which means that you thought it valid to end the relationship. You dumping someone does not mean that your world will be a perfect rainbow afterwards. It means that you need to continue separating yourself from the other person until you stop seeing her as someone that you're still in love with and more as someone you didn't have a functioning relationship with. Focus on that which means you need to stop seeing her, stop running into her, and keep yourself distant from her. Give yourself the space or else you're going to drive yourself batty.

It'll get better, eventually. Just stop expecting your life to become so great right now that you'll poop cookie dough.
posted by Stynxno at 11:05 AM on January 31, 2009

Best answer: Sometimes the hardest part about breaking up isn't losing the relationship, but seeing the other person move on. It's not really jealousy, more of an existential panic that they're going to forget you, and forget the best parts of dating you. You make horrid imaginative leaps to a scene where they wake up one day and think "God, why did I ever date that person?" Ugh, eek, ack.

You have to let go of the part of yourself that still wants her to think you're the best person she's ever met. That's the root of your anxiety and pain. You guys just broke up, and her opinion of you isn't your top priority. You guys dated for five years, which is longer than lots of marriages last, so your brain is now wired to expect certain emotional loyalties from her, and those expectations don't evaporate as soon as you guys decide to end the relationship. Respect the fact that you may not be ready to feel totally over the moon that your ex is dating someone new, but also accept the fact that she has a right to be happy.

Seriously, just be patient. Grieve, cry, be sad, but understand that it gets easier every day. And you have to circumvent all chances of running into her until you've come to terms with the reality that she is going to find a relationship that works for her, just as you are going to find a relationship that works for you, and part of that reality requires that you two will no longer be each other's first priority.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:33 AM on January 31, 2009 [47 favorites]

Response by poster: Existential panic sums it up perfectly. Thanks for all the advice.
posted by pakoothefakoo at 12:07 PM on January 31, 2009

I'll add to zoomorphic by saying to be really patient. I was with a girl for 5ish years. Two years later, I ran into her at a bar. I didn't say a word to her, but I still ended up breaking down that night. Two years!

Listen, it will take a lot of time. One day, you'll wake up, and you'll realize that you didn't think about her yesterday. After day after day after day of her being the first thing on your mind when you wake up and the last thought before you fall asleep, the attachment will slip away. You won't notice it right away, but it will happen. And it won't even really be over then, but at least you'll know that you can be free from it. I still have a fond spot for that girl, but I'm completely moved on.

It'll be hard to envision a time when what I say is true, but trust me when I say it will come.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 1:08 PM on January 31, 2009 [4 favorites]

The only thing I have to add is that if you excise her from your life the way you ought to, there's a good chance she'll be hurt too. She may very well try to re-establish contact at some future point. Don't fall for it.

Just because she's dating someone doesn't mean she's moved on.
posted by milinar at 5:08 PM on January 31, 2009

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