Have I made a mistake?
April 26, 2016 9:57 AM   Subscribe

I broke up with my first real long term boyfriend about a month ago, but it was dragged out for a few weeks so only unofficially ended with no contact a few days ago.

We met when we were 17 and are 19 now, and I jumped straight into a relationship with him after a four month fling with someone else. But this guy was different. Funny, gorgeous, caring, understanding, the kind of guy every girl dreams for. And for a while I was happy. But soon I began to feel anxious a lot and unhappy, though I would convince myself I was okay and it was fine. But this feeling persisted for a while and although I ignored it and we had loads of happy times, I always felt a bit on edge.

I ended up breaking up with him and it hurt so much to know I hurt him. It was just too much to be in a relationship that was so full on, as I also suffer from depression. I do feel bad for the way the breakup was strung out (we tried to be friends straight away.. Yeah, that doesn't work) and I beat myself up every day about it.

I miss him so much, he was the first guy I really cared for and fell in love with, and I am wondering if I did the right thing, as we had so many happy memories and keep thinking could I have made it work? I feel I will never meet someone who treated me as good as he did :( I have removed him from all my social media and deleted his number as its too painful to see him everywhere. I have never broken up with someone before, only been broken up with, so I'm unsure if this is how I am supposed to feel. Any advice and tips would be awesome as its a really shitty process to go through.
posted by izz97 to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
Breakups always hurt. If you feel nothing but relief after a relationship is over, something went really badly during that relationship. Give yourself some time to grieve what was and get used to this new reality outside of this partnership. Find things to distract yourself and keep yourself busy. You'll get through it.
posted by xingcat at 10:15 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

All the feelings you are having are normal and common, but will only last about as long as the sting of the breakup and the general unsettledness that any change brings.

It's shitty. Embrace the shittiness, let yourself feel it, process the hell out of it in a journal and while going for long walks and occasionally crying at movies while eating ice cream, but don't let it make decisions for you. Let some time pass. Spend three months directing all your emotional investment into yourself - pursue more aggressive treatment for your anxiety and depression*, spend some time considering various life plans for yourself that are about YOUR best life, not built around a man. Date yourself for a while.

*19 is hard because you're in the last real stage of puberty, which will last another 3ish years. Neurochemically, this is probably one of the toughest mental health phases of your life except maybe post-partum. Given that almost anyone you date before about 25 is likely to be practice, this is a really good time to focus on #1: education, career, physical health, life skills, finances, and friendships more than romance. But in order to do those things, to give yourself the best possible start in your adult life, you must address your mental health issues. There is no bigger favor (except starting to save for retirement, do that too, and take care of your teeth) you can do Future You on every possible axis. This may also include getting off hormonal birth control and being celibate, or researching an IUD or other low-hormone contraception.

The faster you come to terms with the fact that sometimes in life there is discomfort, and you're not owed zero pain ever, and that it is utterly survivable and even good for you to be uncomfortable sometimes, the more successful you will be at everything. Including future relationships.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:18 AM on April 26, 2016 [6 favorites]

It sounds like nothing is ... wrong, if that helps. This is how a breakup goes, you're ticking off the emotional boxes for what happens when you do a thing that has you feel big, bad emotions. And you're anxious and you miss him and you kind of want him back (if, nothing else, to make the hurt stop) And it's been a month, which probably feels like an eternity, but time is going to keep going on and as it does you'll slowly start to feel less bad, think less about this and at some point it won't be a hideous throbbing pain in your chest like it is now, but maybe just a slight itch when something reminds you of him.

I have removed him from all my social media and deleted his number as its too painful to see him everywhere.

This is advice you would've received here had you not already done it. This was a good idea and if you do nothing else, try to keep yourself from checking up on him on social media. The hurt is always worse than the satisfaction of curiosity is satisfying.

Also, if you suffer from depression and are seeing a mental health professional, please check in with them. It may seem kind of weird that you would check in with a doctor or therapist because of a breakup and not a Crisis, but breakups are big, and, as you're starting to see, Crisis-y, and they can have big effects on people who have a history of depression (among other things.)
posted by griphus at 10:18 AM on April 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

This is totally how you are supposed to feel, yes. I'm so sorry. The first time you fall in love, you have no context for that experience. You are totally convinced that nobody has ever felt the way you two feel, that there has never been love like this ever before, and that this is some kind of cosmic destiny in play. Likewise, when first love ends, you have no context for those feelings either, and you are completely convinced you'll never love anybody like that again, nobody will ever love you like that again, and you would spend the rest of your life horribly alone except that this amount of pain is not survivable.

But it is survivable. And the next time, you know that and you know you've lived through this before and will do so again. And the first break-up like this does get better and easier. FWIW I am 43 now, and I remember the absolute despair of that first time so clearly and with so much compassion for my 19-year-old self. I have been in love and been heartbroken many times since, but I wish I could go back to 19-year-old me and say "Look, I know you don't think you can live through this but you will. Also, you get to fall in love again and that will be different and interesting and great, several times. And it's going to be OK. One hour at a time, just hold on until you get to OK."
posted by DarlingBri at 10:28 AM on April 26, 2016 [12 favorites]

breakups suck so bad. I'm sorry. You're doing "all the things" that seem pretty normal for a breakup.

So here's the thing: 19 is SO SO SO young. I promise. You have like, 9 more iterations of self to go through before you really get to know your self and find those immutable principles that define who you are. Every love between now and "the one" is practice. You are practicing the tools of love and getting better at it every time you go through it. This won't be your last heartbreak, and, it may not even be your worst. They are just so damn devastating and I wish that I could take this pain away from you but what you are gaining through this process will help you in the future in ways that are so impossible to see now.

In the meantime, there's crying, sad movies, getting exercise, occasional ice cream and laying in bed all day thinking that it's the end of the world. Eventually you will begin to recover and heal, I promise.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:39 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Totally normal. Don't dwell, of course you'll remember the happy times, it's easier that way. So you need to distract yourself.

Throw yourself into school, line up a job for the summer, volunteer, go out with friends, take a nice vacation. All the things that you enjoy doing aside and apart from being in a couple.

This is one reason why it's super important to be autonomous in a relationship, so that your whole world doesn't collapse if the relationship ends. You have friends, hobbies, interests and other things to go to.

It's okay to mourn the fact that your first love ended. They nearly always do. I promise, when you're a crone like me, you'll look back fondly on your relationship and feel pretty good about it.

This is your first real love and break up, of course you might make a mistake, you learned and now that you know better you'll do better.

And good on you for recognizing that good isn't always good enough and that although you still have affection for your Ex, that it's not enough for you. You want more and better.

At 19, get a fun job this summer (if you don't already have a regular gig.) Server in a fun restaurant, working at a water park, lifeguard at the beach.

I also promise, you will meet many great men to have relationships with. You will maintain your standards and expectations so they will ALL treat you well and cherish you. If they don't, they're not for you.

You have a LOT on the ball! Celebrate the fabulousness that is YOU!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:18 AM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Reading these comments made me smile a little ahah.. It was a very messy breakup, and I hope one day our paths will meet again and we are able to talk, it was just the wrong timing as I felt I'd never stood on my own two feet. And griphus I do see a counsellor and am on medication for stuff, so that's kinda been taken care of. I didn't expect so many lovely replies, thanks all
posted by izz97 at 3:15 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just want to echo what's already been said. Breakups always suck, especially your first big one, but you will get through this and you will heal.

I had a similar experience - we met at 18, broke up at 20, and I remember feeling completely devastated. Like, call-your-mom-in-tears-at-11pm devastated. The first month was agonizing; the next two hard; and after that it just got easier and easier. I'm 25 now and rarely think about that boyfriend, and never feel any emotional pain when I do.

Distractions are good. I worked in college and after that breakup I really through myself into work and was given more responsibility soon after. I also took up pilates and made that my Big Obsession of 2011. I was amazingly fit that year!

It's also okay to wallow a little. I ate a lot of ice cream, hung out and bitched with my friends, etc.

I also feel like I have to address this:

The faster you come to terms with the fact that sometimes in life there is discomfort, and you're not owed zero pain ever, and that it is utterly survivable and even good for you to be uncomfortable sometimes, the more successful you will be at everything. Including future relationships.

Nothing in your question suggests that you expect to go through life with zero discomfort, or that you think you are owed a life of zero pain. Nothing whatsoever. You're not wrong or immature or not grown-up for reflecting on pain you're experiencing, or for pausing and thinking Wow this really hurts! Is that normal? In fact, it's healthy to do those things. Please be kind to yourself.

posted by schroedingersgirl at 6:20 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

All your answers are so sweet, i am finding it very hard and he still loves me and wants us to get back together, so do i but i am afraid. its all so confusing and i just wish he was a horrible person so i could cut him off all together.
posted by izz97 at 3:04 PM on April 30, 2016

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