In the wake of a break up, your first year back in the singles’ lounge can feel like you have been pushed out onto the high seas without any navigational tools. It’s just you, in a rickety old ship without a compass or map. Dead-reckoning.
This initial departure, whether you cut ties or they did, feels like pulling away from a dock and saying goodbye to dry land. Initial panic sets in as you realize that you are going on your first solo journey in quite a while. What I’ve learned in the last year since breaking up with someone I truly loved is that gusto is the only way to hit the high seas (better known as being a single, gay man in America).
When I set sail, my first piece of advice was to find a way to ignore all things ex-related on social media. I know this sounds drastic, and maybe it is, but think about it: a long time ago, before all of these self-promoting social media platforms, when you broke up with someone, you rarely saw them again. The only way to move on is to not sit and watch their life play out in front of you like a movie.
Remember that no one is going to post the low moments of their life or a moment when they look anything less than perfect. It is all an illusion. An illusion you must first understand, then let go of. Obsessing and watching your ex’s every move will only drift you farther off course than you might already feel.
It may seem the only way you are going to feel “good” again is to find someone to take your ex’s place. This individual is best known as the “rebound.” Now, the rebound may work for some individuals in helping numb the pain of a break up. For the short term, this might feel like a problem solved. To me, the rebound can be a mirage.
Here you are, all alone in the ocean, and all you want is that sense of safety again and to feel like you aren’t so alone. So you paddle after something you feel is going to solve all your problems. What I have learned here is this: sometimes you simply have to feel the pain. You feel every emotion you have, which can lead to a bout of clarity.
There are going to be many opportunities for you to talk openly about your ex. People are going to ask and will genuinely be curious. Here is the best advice I can offer someone who has ended a long-term relationship: keep your lips sealed.
There are no benefits to trash-talking your ex, even if you feel like you have a really good reason to. Even if you ended your relationship on good terms, there are still going to be plenty of things that make you upset about that person or the situation. Lashing out and trying to make your ex look like the bad guy only makes one person look bad, and that’s you. After all, the water is choppy enough out there. There’s no reason to create bigger waves that are bound to boomerang back to you.
My final piece of advice is this: when you get upset thinking about this person, remember: it isn’t coming from a place of hate, but a place of hurt.
When hurt disguises itself as hate, remember that there was a time when you loved this person, or maybe you still do. The waters will calm, and you will be able to jump in again and enjoy splashing around on your swan or flamingo raft, whichever you prefer. It’s hard to believe that you’ll find land again when you’re in a vast ocean feeling pretty alone. You won’t be alone forever; you will find your island, and there will be many more lessons for you to learn once you get there.