Q&A: How to Get Over a Devastating Break-Up?

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Priya and I were friends. I loved her a lot. But she wanted a relationship. Gradually I fell in love too. I allowed myself, ‘cause she came across as an honest person who’d respect my feelings. But after only 4 months she broke up with me abruptly. Devastated, I begged for explanations but received none. Needless to say I have no words to describe my feelings in the months that followed, till I came to know that she had gotten engaged to someone else. I felt may be it was the lack of a formally spelt out commitment of marriage from my side which had broken her trust. To make up for this I confessed everything to my family and got my father to talk to her over the phone. I even invited her to my home to meet my parents (indebted forever to my parents for their understanding and support). She said she was embarrassed and of course, never came.

More than a year has passed since the break-up. At 25 I’m now an unemployed graduate. Sometimes I feel lonely – like I absolutely need someone in my life. I’ve tried getting close to other girls in recent times but whenever I start getting involved the past experience clouds my consciousness and keeps me from proceeding any further. I don’t know if it’s my bias or my bad luck – but whoever I meet comes across as less honest and commitment-worthy than I’d like. It seems having a boyfriend/girlfriend has suddenly become a pretty badge to be worn and flashed around – purely a show-off factor.

“Be positive”, and “one day you’ll meet the love of your life” are nothing but tiring platitudes to me now. I’m unable to find my strength and mental peace. Please help me.

Dev

How to overcome breakupPhoto by Heaven`s Gate (John)

First of all ,Dev, I think you’re approaching this the wrong way.

Stop “trying to find” love

You’re 25. Your “marriageable age band” hasn’t even started, going by Indian standards. Secondly you shouldn’t even let societal norms dictate your life at the cost of your happiness.

Why do you need to worry about finding someone now?? Always remember the time-tested cliché:

You can’t find love, love finds you.

Stop “looking for it” and “trying to find someone” altogether. Now is the time to concentrate on yourself. Take this time to enjoy your singlehood instead. Love will happen when it’s supposed to happen.

Now. Does that mean it always happens naturally like a bolt from the blue for everyone? If you look around yourself you’ll realize the answer is an emphatic No. But the time to worry about it is at least 5 years away, not now. And five years is a very long time, Dev. Today you have no idea about what your thoughts, feelings, beliefs would be five years hence. For instance if I meet the me of five years ago now, I wouldn’t even recognize her. ;)

The protective shell of emotional unavailability

Having said that, the reason you haven’t been successful in forming other relationships ever after your break up is because you have never been emotionally available ever since.

After we’ve suffered a heartbreak/any sort of emotional trauma, our heart goes into a protective hard shell. We withdraw ourselves emotionally; we come to a state where it seems we’re not able to feel emotions at all. I’ve myself been there so I know. Just as the body develops a scab on a wound to protect the raw skin underneath, the human mind, as its natural immune response, develops a hard, cold protective layer of conscious around its core emotions, ’cause those emotions are still too raw, too delicate after a devastative emotional bloodbath, so to speak.

But the good news is, just as a scab falls off on its own when the wound is fully healed, the mind heals itself and sheds this protective layer around its emotions in due course of time. You don’t need to put in any special efforts for it. But unfortunately emotional wounds take a lot more time than physical wounds to heal. In your case, even after 1.5 years they’re still not fully healed. And you need to wait it out till it happens. Like they say, there’s no cure other than time for your emotional bruises.

Breaking up and what it means

Coming to the emotional pain of your break up, it’s excruciating. I know that.

A break-up is a one of the types of a wide and deep range of disappointments one can experience in course of a romantic relationship. And tell you what – disappointment is an inevitable part of any relationship. We’ve all had our hearts broken in some way or the other in course of our love-lives.

Yes, it happens to everyone. And it’s an unavoidable part of growing up.

Think of people who fall madly in love, get married soon, only to discover that up close their spouse is an entirely different person than what they thought.

You would’ve heard of the phrase “Before marriage men are slaves, after marriage they become slave-masters”? Think of those women who’re intensely wooed by a hopeful admirer, who then becomes her starry-eyed boyfriend upon her reluctant and almost pitiful acceptance, but after marriage undergoes a chameleon-like change to become a demanding boss, so to speak!

Think of those who after twenty years of marriage discover that their spouse had been having sex with their cousin for the last five years?

Now do you realize how easy it should be for your to get over your ex?

How to overcome breakupPhoto by meechellllle

Why your relationship was NOT what you think

You’ve only known her for 4 months. Sure, that doesn’t mean your pain is any less. In fact breaking up at such an early stage is what hurt you so much – because you were still in the initial heady phase of your relationship (called “limerence“). (Guess what – it has happened to me too! I know what the pain is like. Here’s my story: How I coped with being dumped and why that’s NOT going to help you.) But I urge you to appreciate the fact that in the long-term scheme of your life as a whole, you haven’t suffered any real loss.

You’ve not been in a relationship with her for long, so you don’t know if she was “The One” for you or not. (No. “Getting the feeling” that someone is “The One” basis a relationship of 4 months is not the real thing. Ask your married cousins and they’ll tell you – you get to know nothing about a person in that short a period of time, irrespective of what you might feel. There’s only one way to know if someone is The One for you and that’s through being in a relationship with them over years.) So there’s nothing to regret. Someone could have been “the one for you”, have not been and there will be hundreds of other options in the future. I know it’s difficult to dissociate your emotions from your thought process at this point, but when you grow up (no, you haven’t yet, at least not at an emotional level :)), one day you’ll realize this episode doesn’t really matter. It was too short, too insignificant to matter.

Focus on happiness

Always remember the following:

Life is too short to focus on anything but happiness. If it isn’t coming from one source, focus on others.

In this case other sources might include your friends, family, your hobbies, books you read, your everyday learnings from your job search etc. But focus on happiness, not one particular girl who you knew so briefly, who could have been a source of happiness for you, has not been and is hence not so important.

All the best and do write back whenever you want to share any pains/worries/concerns… anything at all. :)

17 thoughts on “Q&A: How to Get Over a Devastating Break-Up?”

  1. What a lovely post and very true. Thanks for this such a great article, Lot of people are in similar situation, This post can really help for them.

  2. Deja-vu… its all so well written…wish i had read it on 11th may 2011… “u can’t find love…love finds u… do not go out searching for love” … wowww !!! I think this article needs 2 b published…

  3. This post makes me cry badly why love always have to sacrifice. I really like this post and I remember how love has change my life perception.
    Love has lost charisma now

    1. It really touches my heart Jitendra.
      But love is not about charisma in the first place – a myth most young people so unfortunately believe in.
      True love is about compromises and sacrifices. It’s not only breaking up, but also living together which require immense amounts of both.
      That’s life. I’m sorry that you had to realize it the hard way, but if you’ve taken your lessons then I can assure you it was worth it.

      1. I know that love is about compromise but today love is all about how much money you had in your bank balance. I know it is bitter but truth.
        I had decided that I want to live isolated in my peaceful place. If somebody comes & knock my heart impatiently then I will think about love. Otherwise nobody in my family can force me to marry. I wanna live my peaceful I pray everyday to god make my life comfortable with full of luxuries. If no one is there for me no problem but fetch me with good bank balance atleast I can enjoy my own whole life instead of exhausted relationships or marriages.

        1. Jitendra I’m sorry you had to go through experiences which made you feel that way. But let me assure you – that may be true for most peeople, but it’s not true for ALL of them. You’re doing exactly the right thing by concentrating on yourself for a while now. You’r right – no need to rush things. You can get into a relationship only when you’re ready.
          All the best dear. :)

  4. heya i deadly deadly need to tok to u , plz lemme noe how can i get in touch with you … goin through hell, nd i donno y , bt i feel u r the one whu cud help me out .. may be ur posts were realistic .. i m a gal, whu jus stepped into her 20’s .. been to psychologists, tried find a way out from various websites, bt the case seems to be so wide and diffrent , dat i find no apropriate solution.. hoping , to listen from u as soon as possible..

  5. I came by this blog today itself and its the first story by chance that I read. It is so much like me.. Feels like I had left a part of me with the guy within that short period of time. I kept on and on persuading myself “Yes! He Loves me.” But propositions for me were different. I was dumped badly, with false blames which left my entire academic year at a stake. I am feeling I needed this website and suggestions then. Now I have lesser trust on love, but I’ll follow the advice on keeping faith on the healer called “Time”. Thank you for the blog. Keep well :)

  6. Plz plz Help me.I’m persuing my graduation.
    I’m in love with a girl for about only 2 month.
    I gave her many academic notes nd books fr reading, jst for that she may feel how i care for her.I was exited and always i’m happy i showed her.
    Unfortunately withing some days she returned my notes saying that she already had it.
    I was totally upsat.
    Although earlier i usually talked with her a bit when she stay away from her friend. She jst want to concentrate on study other than love matter, However now she doesn’t talk wid me nd eventually doesn’t give the chance to talk with her.
    I still don’t knw, whether she has interests on me or not, Bt sometimes she feels shy seeing me.
    I have a doubt whether she has any b.f or not. I like her behave, always wanna keep smile on her lips.
    What shud i do right now, as she doesn’t intaract with me as was earlier about 15 days ago..

  7. plz HELP.
    I’m in love with a girl for about only 2 month.
    I gave her many academic notes nd books fr reading, jst for that she may feel how i care for her.I was exited and always i’m happy i showed her.
    Unfortunately withing some days she returned my notes saying that she already had it.
    I was totally upsat.
    Although earlier i usually talked with her a bit when she stay away from her friend. She jst want to concentrate on study other than love matter, However now she doesn’t talk wid me nd eventually doesn’t give the chance to talk with her.
    I still don’t knw, whether she has interests on me or not, Bt sometimes she feels shy seeing me.
    I have a doubt whether she has any b.f or not. I like her behave, always wanna keep smile on her lips.
    What shud i do right now, as she doesn’t intaract with me as was earlier about 15 days ago..

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