I’m recovering from a tough break up, and so have been writing random break up thoughts & random advice that comes to mind. Here is part one.
It also received a good response (thank you to all who responded), so I’ll definitely write a few more posts about thoughts on break ups.
Here are some more misc. thoughts on break ups!
Understanding The End
One thing that really sucks about break ups is you can’t really understand the “end” of the relationship, except in some situations.
When you really truly love someone, and you’ve spent a lot of time with them, and things were great at some point, it kind of fucks with your mind to compare those good times with the present heart break feelings… and loneliness of that person being gone.
I’ve tried to reflect back on my previous relationship, and let me tell you: it’s near impossible to figure out what exactly ended the relationship.
What doesn’t help is that almost no break up is a “clean” break up. There is a saying “it was over before it was over,” meaning that at some point the break up was inevitable but not yet initiated.
Also, you’re technically “supposed” to go no-contact after the break up to help recover, but that can be difficult when you really loved the person and struggle to make sense of why you must part ways.
In me & my ex’s case, our falling apart happened over some weeks, but was triggered over the course of months, and we were in occasional contact after the break up several times. We also even talked of maybe trying to fix things… sometimes she was contacting me, sometimes I was talking her, but we both struggled to find a middle ground.
This drags out the pain so much longer than what is normally experienced in a break up, and thus lengthens the recovery time. For me it’s been 5-6 months since the “official” break up yet I still hurt, and today even let go of some tears.
Ultimately, you can’t really understand the end, and thinking back to everything is a fucking rabbit hole.
I could think of my mistakes, but why did I make my mistakes? Perhaps because she did XYZ. Well why did she do XYZ? It’s because ABC happened.
It goes all the way back, and it’s a really fucking frustrating thing because in many cases of break ups there is no clear “right or wrong.” I can’t live in the past, yet it’s all too easy to, and it’s also all too easy to fantasize me ending up in her city by accident (random business event?) and then us bumping together on the street and….
The end can’t be fully understood, in most cases, because of just how complicated it is. I’ve also tried blaming her for her mistakes, or taking 100% of the blame myself. I went through a self-attack phase where I thought everything was my fault. I also tried to blame her and focus on her faults, which didn’t help either.
For whatever reason, it happened, and you can’t be ideal about the future unfortunately. For an idealist personality like me (ENFP, NF’s being the idealists, literally) this is immensely difficult because I’d love to imagine a situation where we didn’t fall apart, or that we do come back together.
With time, more clarity comes, and more peace, but breaking up with someone is truly like understanding death: you can’t.
I suppose in some cases, such as a partner cheating, hitting you, or breaking a clear boundary, you could say a break up “is clear,” but to the person experiencing the break up it still isn’t.
Some of my friends tell me I’ll be way better off, just like I’m sure some of her friends think she’ll be way better off.
Love itself blinds us to facts about relationships which perhaps we didn’t want to see, or it makes us self-attack. In the case of an abusive relationship, the abused will often still love their abuser and justify the abuse.
So even if a break up is clear to YOU, the OUTSIDER, just wait until you experience a break up (though I’d wish you wouldn’t), and you too will be left confused and lost.
If you don’t experience this, I would be most shocked, because almost everyone I’ve met and talked about my break up has a similar story.
What Makes Break Ups Happen?
It was all sunshine and joy at some point: so why did you break up?
In some cases, it could no doubt be the “honeymoon” period blocking out all of the incompatibilities between you two. In these cases, the relationship usually dies out fairly fast, in a few months.
What makes real relationships fall apart though? I know now certainly that I had true love for my ex, just because of HOW LONG it’s taking for these feelings to go away, and how maybe if she were to get hurt I’d still rush to her help in any way possible, no-strings-attached. Love is weird like that.
I think there’s two reasons: circumstances and personality, and they both feed into each other.
In the case of personality, maybe someone is bad at listening, and the other person doesn’t feel well-listened to. Maybe one (or both) parties struggle with fight resolution.
Natural chemistry can become tainted if both people aren’t willing to put in effort to improve and detoxify any resentment or negative feelings that build up as the natural result of being in a relationship with someone.
This is where communication comes in too: you have to be able to communicate your authentic self and understand each other. If someone has a need, they have to be able to communicate it and feel it is being heard.
In the case with my ex, I didn’t always feel safe to express negative feelings towards her (ie. being upset at her), and she struggled to listen to me and understand me when I was upset.
There is no doubt a reversal to this too- I struggled with that more-so in the beginning, but improved, and I think she could no doubt find faults in me that I am either blind to or fail to acknowledge in my writings.
The other thing which makes relationships fall apart is probably circumstances. I saw a lot of this in my past relationship, and I think it’s really what made us fall apart more than anything else.
In June of 2018 I had to leave Bulgaria unexpectedly, and we probably both weren’t at a point in our lives where we were mature enough or wise enough to handle a temporary long-distance relationship.
I became depressed, stopped taking care of myself, etc. and she had things happen also. We hurt each other. I traveled to Cyprus instead of Thailand, even though my heart wanted Thailand, so as we planned on moving to Germany together I had this gnawing feeling of wanting to explore Asia.
Now that I’ve been to Thailand (and even though I want to go back), I realize now that had I just traveled there FIRST when I had to leave Bulgaria, then things could’ve turned out A LOT differently because I wouldn’t have a mental fantasy to project happiness onto.
During a lot of the relationship & life struggles, Thailand / Asia became a mental fantasy of happiness because I had really wanted to go, but didn’t.
And I mean, just think about it: a 20 year old has to leave a whole country with 1 week’s notice, and his 19 year old girlfriend is devastated. That is no age to be handling such problems, so even though I was very much hurt by mistakes she made, I can also empathize with her.
During our first month apart, several of my boundaries were crossed, but can I really blame her? I could say it was a fault in her personality, which at first I did, but we must also acknowledge that the situation was so fucking intense and rare to relationships in general that she doesn’t deserve to be burdened with blame.
Because I didn’t feel listened to and understood later, I struggled with forgiving her over those things.
Our falling apart likely began when I had to leave Bulgaria. This is what makes it all-that-more painful, is knowing that maybe we could’ve worked if we just had a few more months together.
I think every relationship is a bit crazy for the first 6ish months, but after that point you begin to “stabilize” and find your new identity within the relationship.
I noticed that with me & my ex. Our first 5 months were all over the place, but in the last month we began to “balance out.” Rather than spending all the time together, we also had friend time. We were finding our places and enjoying a sort of homeostasis.
Leaving Bulgaria interrupted the “solidifying of homeostasis,” so it’s no doubt that the chaos burnt us both out and we struggled to come back together.
Now the wounds are so deep that I question if there would be any hope for us to recover, if we were to find each other in the same city, though the idealist in me would like to believe that anything is possible.
Ultimately, this is why I think relationships fall apart: circumstances or personality.
What Makes a Relationship Work?
Trust, respect, and communication, love, and luck are I believe the 5 elements that make a relationship work. Let’s break down each one.
Trust. You absolutely MUST trust each other. If you can’t trust each other, then there is no relationship. Period. Me & my ex had a ton of trust in each other, however near the end of the relationship I think we both lost a little trust in each other because of the way we were handling our problems, which was not effective.
Respect. All relationships require sacrifice, and what makes you sacrifice things? Respect. Think about it: would you take a bullet for a random homeless person, or would you take a bullet for your partner, or best friend?
Even though you feel compassion for the homeless man, you are more likely to take a bullet for your friend because you respect your friend whereas homeless people demand no respect.
If you respect your partner enough, you’re willing to make compromises to make the relationship work no matter what. For example, you may want to sleep with other people, but you respect the relationship more than that desire so you stay.
Also, sometimes issues come up that you simply can’t resolve. Have you ever dated someone and loved some of the cute, silly things they did, that were also slightly annoying? Respect & love fused together makes you enjoy the things which would normally annoy you about someone.
Me and my ex no doubt started to lose respect for each other as the problems tore us apart. I think she thought I was greater than I was, so when I turned out to be depressed & poor in Cyprus, she didn’t really respect me and my boundaries. I lost respect with her when I became hurt, and didn’t take as good care of her when we were back together, which further hurt her and created a downward spiral.
Communication. With first trust & respect, you need to be able to communicate with each other your own needs as well as listen to the needs of the other. You must be completely authentic, even if it offends the other person.
Everyone knows that communication is important so I won’t elaborate so much. All that I’ll say is that listening is so much more important than people realize. People need to feel heard. Give someone that feeling and they’ll stick around for life.
Love. Love doesn’t make a relationship work- it brings people together, and keeps propelling them together, but should any other ingredient lack then the love will be built on a house of cards; it will fall apart too easily.
Think of love as the glue that cements the other qualities together. Me and my ex loved each other more than anything (well, at least I loved her, only she can say now whether she truly loved me or if it was infatuation). Tons of people literally told us to get married because they saw how happy we were together, and how much effort we were putting in. Unfortunately, love doesn’t make a relationship work, though it does make it awesome, and without love there is no romantic relationship.
Luck. I knew when I wrote the first 4 that I was missing something, and the 5th is no doubt luck.
Circumstances make or break relationships. In our modern world, so many crazy things can happen which just isn’t fair to romantic love! Back in the hunter-gatherer tribes we were from, you were around someone all the time so you don’t have to deal with bullshit such as immigration problems.
In the case of me & my ex, we had absolutely terrible luck. I mean, we had some good to begin- my home was 55 seconds from her school, so we could see each other often.
But in the end we had more bad luck than good, like a cruel joke from the Universe. Like I keep saying, having to leave Bulgaria was the sudden event which began the end of the relationship, even if we didn’t realize it then.
Without that bad luck, our trust, communication, respect, and love would’ve kept growing so that maybe we could’ve handled the situation better in the future!
We should also add “circumstances” with luck. I chose to go to Cyprus instead of Thailand, which created poor circumstances in which I lost more money and I became unhappier, which obviously wouldn’t help the relationship at all!
When I reflect back on my past relationship, the hardest part about getting over it is that I realize that LUCK is what we lacked, whereas we initially HAD everything else!
We only fell apart because our luck & circumstances were so bad that we couldn’t handle the problems. You could argue that it just meant we weren’t mature enough for an adult relationship, but ask yourself if you know of any couple that had problems with immigration & travel & money like we did?
All other problems in the relationship would’ve been manageable, and we could’ve overcame them. There is a limit to what the human can experience!
I used to think I was so invincible, that I could handle anything, but I’ve learned in the past year that even I have limits and shortcomings. You can only grow so fast. You can only handle so many problems. Pile enough shit on someone and things start to snap.
Of course, you can always choose how you react to the problem, but sometimes you just aren’t prepared. We absolutely can’t be perfectionists, for that would block us off from forgiveness.
Without acknowledging the element of luck in the past relationship, I could very well become bitter at her mistakes, which I did at first. It also made me self-attack for my mistakes & short-comings. Now I realize that acknowledging the shitty aspect of life which is that luck IS involved helps you forgive and move on.
Again, not every situation. Some people have perfect luck, such as both wanting to live in the same city for the rest of their lives and not having immigration problems or legal problems or money problems, but due to respect or personality or trust issues they fall apart.
The Hardest Break Up vs. The Easiest
We broke up because we lost respect, trust, etc. but we only lost that because we failed to handle an extremely intense situation that I doubt most people could overcome.
Relationships that fall apart due to bad luck I think are the hardest to overcome. Also, sometimes the timing is just shit.
I’ve had other break ups due to respect & trust issues, such as a girl who cheated on me. Getting over that break up with a walk in the park for obvious reasons- she destroyed trust, she had no respect, and she didn’t even communicate her mistake.
The hardest break ups, in my opinions, are the ones in which you SLOWLY lose one of the 5 elements of a successful relationship, OR you have bad luck.
The easiest break ups are when early on or suddenly someone breaks more than 1 of the elements of a successful relationship.
Imagine if you didn’t have all 5: you couldn’t trust, respect, communicate, or love someone, and you couldn’t even be in the same city. Would you be with them? It’s an obvious no. In this way, by thinking of the opposite, we can indeed realize that these 5 elements are the crucial 5 elements that make a relationship work (or not).
Improving Future Relationships
As much as it still hurts to think of myself with someone else still, understanding these 5 elements of a successful relationship makes me feel just a bit better because I know how to improve future relationships and prevent problems before they get too bad.
For example, I’ll probably wait to seriously date until I immigrate fully back to Sofia, Bulgaria because otherwise in my life I will lack a severe element of “luck.” For example, if I fall in love stopping through Bali, the relationship will be born with difficult circumstances – either me immigrating to Bali or vice versa, or if she’s a foreign girl (ie. German girl) then it’ll create several problems too.
That doesn’t mean I won’t date at all, just that I’ll keep in mind that my element of luck is shit until I’m settled in one city!
I also realize now just how important then other 3 elements of a relationship are- trust, respect, and communication.
Me and my ex had such passionate love we thought that would carry us through thick and thin. While it did help a lot, love doesn’t make the relationship work – it simply glues together other things. If you have problems, then it glues together the problems, but if you have respect, trust, and communication, then those will be glued together and you’ll be pair bonded for life!
So this was Part II of Break Ups. If you have any other thoughts, feel free to leave them! I think I’ll write a part III or even IV, especially if this gets a positive response.
Thanks for reading (: