Knowing when it’s time to breakup, and how to navigate the aftermath


I used to never write while I was emotional. I’d wait until after the emotion left me and then I would reflect and write about it intellectually. Clear headed. Writing emotionally scared me. Scared that people wouldn’t like my work. Scared that my writing would be too emotional — I tend to be sometimes. Scared that my friends wouldn’t accept this side of me: I’m a science/Engineering major so where is the data? Where are the facts?

But a couple of years ago a prominent blogger gave me some advice. Her name is Penelope Trunk. And what Penelope told me to do was write about what I am struggling with now. She said that I’d connect with people better. That all of the big bloggers write about their struggles now.

And what I’m struggling with right now is a breakup. I broke up with her last week. I didn’t want to, but I had to. We weren’t even truly together, not bound by any commitment, just our two souls touching — our minds, our hearts, our hands. We spoke to each other for hours everyday, always finding comfort in the other’s warmth and smiles and laughter and love. Our connection can only be described as: few in a lifetime. She was my best friend. And she was also a potential soulmate. And ultimately, that’s what split us apart.

I don’t usually write about love. That’s probably because I don’t know anything about it. I’m a sucker for an amazing love story, though. I guess it’s telling that my favorite movie is “The Adjustment Bureau“. I guess it’s also telling that one of my good friends always compares me to Ted Mosby. I’ve never watched “How I Met Your Mother”, but from what I gather, you probably don’t want to be compared to Ted. I don’t know how to change though. I’ve only ever known one way to love, and that’s really to love fully, with everything you have.

From the moment I laid eyes on her, I just knew. I cannot explain how, or why, because there was no rationality to it. We locked eyes for just a sliver of a moment, and I knew for me it was love. We almost didn’t meet. It was lucky that we did. She was there for a dancing class; I was there to pick something up from a friend. After I met with my friend, I left. I was halfway home when I suddenly got this feeling of regret. I knew I’d always regret it if I didn’t go to the dance class. So I ran back. And we danced together for the first time that day. We said our goodbyes and I left with this light feeling in my chest. Looking back, it was probably my heart smiling. We would exchange contact information at the next dance class which led to us going on many dates.

The picture above is actually of our Valentine’s day date. It was magical.

With all of this going on, I tried to contain the feelings I had for her in order to protect myself. I’ve been known to give my heart away. The last time I did that, it didn’t end so well. But it’s pretty hard when all I wanted to do was give it to her. Stay guarded, my friends told me. I tried. And I’ll never do so again, because you really have to be true to your feelings. They will always spill out eventually.

And they did. A couple of days after our Valentine’s date, she told me that maybe we should date other people and that maybe we should just be friends. I put on a smile to let her know it was okay, but the whole bike ride back home I had tears streaming down my face. I thought I had done enough to push away those emotions I felt. Clearly not.

I should’ve stopped seeing her then. Next time I will. Believe someone when they tell you that they think you should be dating other people. They’re not lying.

But I didn’t stop. We kept talking to each other, and kept getting closer. I shelved my feelings, as she made it clear that friendship was the only thing on the table. Even with physical and emotional intimacy. I thought I’d be okay with it. I was having fun, and enjoying myself, what could be the downside? 

What I didn’t realize, is that I was teaching myself that my love wasn’t worth returning.

I never considered that this kind of relationship would make me feel so terrible about myself. I lost my happy-go-lucky charm, my optimism about the world, and overall my inspiring nature. I lost my confidence and my sense of self worth. And when I finally realized the unhealthiness of it all, I knew that I really needed to leave.

I went on a couple of dates after the breakup last week. Just to see. And they went horribly. Understandably horribly. Because I’m not yet over it. Breakups are always hard, no matter how much they’re needed. If you cared for somebody, cutting them out of your life is always going to be tough to deal with.

I wasn’t open on those dates because I was unwilling to show my true self. I wasn’t ready to show my true self.

And that’s okay. Because what I need right now is self love. Real love. Love that gives back. I need to be so okay with myself that I don’t hide the parts of me that I think people won’t like. I need to love, and to love fully, and to never again hide the love I have for others. I need to take ownership of who I am as a person and not just try to fit into our societal defined categories of “cool” and “acceptable”. Accept that maybe I’m more emotional than others, more sensitive than others, a bit spiritual. Accept that I care. A lot. And in this world where it’s sometimes cool to not care, and not text back, and not be emotionally involved, that I will be that guy who always texts back. Who always seeks the truth. And who always wears his damn heart on his sleeve.

Because that’s just who I am, and who I need to be, and I’m never apologizing for that.


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Filed under Finding Yourself, Fulfillment, love

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