If you’re anything like me, you were shocked to discover that dating in your twenties is nothing like dating in high school or college. For one thing, the stakes are higher — people start talking about the future and it’s not some distant, made-up thing. Some people are looking for things that you are not looking for, or vice versa.
It’s also a lot more ambiguous, particularly if you’re not on the same page but unaware of it. And even if it’s clear-cut from the beginning, spoiler alert: some relationships end.
The upside to breaking up when you’re still attending classes is if you get publicly upset, people give you a break. I was in high school only for the era of America Online profiles and away messages, but I can only imagine it’s gotten more explosive and emotional since then, what with Facebook, Twitter, and the fact that everyone has a blog. The point is, there is a certain part of your life where it’s completely normal to have a sobbing fit in the cafeteria after you’ve been dumped. But as you age, and break-ups actually hurt more because you’ve invested time and dreams into them, you’re supposed to be mature and calm.
But how do you do it? How do you keep your 9-to-5 when getting out of bed feels impossible? Your blog writer has been in the trenches so you’ll hopefully have a better path. Here are my (totally unprofessional) tips:
Let Yourself Feel
Okay, so you can’t necessarily flail and sob at work. (If you do, that’s what bathrooms, lunch breaks and office doors are for.) Everyone knows and resents the fact that time heals, but it does. And it’s really the only thing that works. So feel sad if you’re sad. Cry if you have to, though it’s best to try to put the sad feelings out of your mind until you are home from work or from being out with friends.
That isn’t to say that you should make yourself be sad. There are always those days right after a break-up where you really feel like maybe it’s not going to be so bad, after all. But don’t try to pretend it doesn’t hurt—you’re only postponing the inevitable. Like Lorelai Gilmore said the first time Rory broke up with Dean—you have to do some wallowing. And wallowing always includes junk food, so that’s a plus.
Make the Good Days Last
But more about those good days. If you feel like it’s time to be social, even if it’s in the middle of the week, go out! Call a friend, preferably one who knows what you’re going through. You have probably been calling this friend crying at two o’clock in the morning, terrified you’re never going to fall in love again. Make sure you’re also calling this friend when you’re feeling hot and like anyone would be lucky to date you.
A good time can do wonders for your heart. You don’t have to go and bag a rebound at the club, but being out at a restaurant or at a movie will help you remember you can still have fun without that loser who left you. Having a good time, can’t be forced, however, so allow yourself to say no to a girl’s (or guy’s) night if you know the only thing that will help is your sweatpants.
Check Your Vices
I’m not here to preach. You know the dangers of drugs and that alcoholism is a debilitating disease and that cigarettes make your hands smell. But you do what you do, and that’s fine.
However, if you notice your sadness is maybe lending itself to you upping your indulgences, it might be a good idea to slow down. Are you coming home to a bottle of wine only to find that when it’s gone you’re even sadder? Is your vice money dwindling faster and you’re not feeling any better? Are you only feeling good when you are high in some way? This is not really a path you want to go on. Of course, if things get really out of hand you should call a therapist—someone who can help you work out those feelings. If you don’t think you’re in the danger zone, but aren’t exactly making the healthiest of choices, reassess how you are living your life.
Social Networking: Block, block, block
Some relationships can survive Facebook. Sometimes you really can and want to stay friends. But sometimes, you can’t, at least not right away.
Some people are strong when it comes to Facebook — but if you’re like me and can spend hours in a Facebook K-hole, it may be time to institute the unfriend or block feature. For one thing, it’s not permanent—if you run into Ex somewhere and don’t feel that dagger in your heart anymore, and genuinely want to see how they’re doing—you can unblock with one click.
I’m sure some people will think it’s petty to block or unfriend somebody, but here’s the thing: This isn’t about what people think. It’s about what you feel. Ex doesn’t get a vote anymore, not since he or she left. If he or she thinks it’s lame that you won’t let them read your statuses anymore, who cares?
It’s always hard to admit when someone hurt you. But if they did, they did. The damage is done. If it makes you sad to read what they’re thinking every day and see their pictures, rip it off like a Band-Aid. You can’t control if you’ll run into Ex when buying groceries or getting a drink at the bar. Why not take just a little bit of control over this?
Keep Your Emotions in Check
Speaking about social networking, no one likes the gal or guy who constantly needs to remind everyone of his or her heartbreak (trust me). If you feel the need to write these things out, write them out, diary style or in a personal, well-hidden blog. Posting a sad Dashboard Confessional lyric status may get you some likes and sad faces, but it isn’t going to make you feel better. It trivializes what you’re going through.
If you see Ex out and about, keep moving if you’re not ready to speak. Yelling, crying, screaming—it may feel good at time (though probably not even then), but you’ll regret it. You’re entitled to be upset for as long as you like, but we are adults now. You can’t get your sorority sisters to gang up on Ex, as much fun as that used to be. You’re on your own, and if you learn how to keep your cool, you’ll learn how great that can be.
Keep On Keepin’ On
You will date again. You will find someone else. It won’t happen the way you want it to, or when you want it to. It’s okay. Just because someone didn’t love you, it doesn’t mean that someone won’t in the future. There are so many people in this world.
Remember the things that you knew weren’t perfect in your relationship. They were there. You might have to look for them, but you’ll be replaying those scenes in your head and one day you’ll see something you didn’t notice before. Give it all time. Getting upset and worrying you’re wasting your time being alone won’t mean you’ll meet somebody faster, but it will ruin the quality of this time period. Go on casual dates if you want to. Stay in and watch your go-to movie if you want to. Be true to yourself, and remember all those past relationships from your younger years. The relationships may be different but the ending is always the same—one day, it just doesn’t hurt anymore.