Comeback queen: on recovering from a break-up
Sofia Giles ruminates on her experience with getting over a relationship ending
We’re post Valentine’s Day now. Let’s talk break-ups. Believe it or not, the most common time for a break-up to happen is in February. Now whether that’s because your bae didn’t quite live up to those romantic expectations, or you were just holding it out until after you got a free dinner and a box of chocolates, let’s get real on how to get over this. Break-ups are shit. Being dumped is one of the most intense pangs of rejection and pain imaginable. The guilt, sadness and responsibility of breaking up with someone else, can (and will) go around inside of you if you let it. Both of these experiences take their good, sweet time to heal and ‘get over’.
People often talk about making a ‘comeback’ after a break-up. To me, that has always sounded quite negative; like you died a social death and became a lesser version of yourself during your relationship. Call me wrong, but for some people, they could have quite possibly had the best times with that partner. Break-ups are not about making a comeback superficially; for me, the real “comeback” is about being comfortable entirely with just you and yourself, and being totally happy about that.
I’m not going to claim that I know loads about break-ups. I’d only ever seen a couple of school friends go through it once they hit university, and the idea of it terrified me. But a year ago now I had the most serious of my break-ups to date. Although for me there were break-ups before that and have been since that, there’ll always be one that you remember as being the most excruciatingly painful. I had little to no closure, was thousands of miles away from that person and a planned future in close proximity of each other that I couldn’t change. To tell you the truth, I was terrified, and I genuinely didn’t think that the feeling of heartbreak would disappear until we got back together or some kind of miracle happened. Neither of those things happened. What I did instead, was learned to love myself, and in doing so, all the bitterness towards that person melted away.
I remember some girls telling me to lose a shit-tonne of weight and I’ll be sure to make him jealous. Others told me to do something drastic like the cliché dye your hair blonde and get a nipple piercing. And probably the most common thing people would say, is that ‘the best way to get over someone, is to get under somebody else’. Admittedly yes, I did this. And I think you’d be lying to say a large number of people don’t do this post break up. Not only is it a sudden pang of curiosity about sleeping with other people, but also a need to feel attractive and wanted after such intense rejection.
Making a healthy comeback is about reconnecting with yourself and finding yourself enough. It’s about making choices for you and your own happiness and only then are you able to move on
Here’s when I had my first revelation: being fancied is easy and happens to anyone but being loved is a far greater thing. Jumping into bed with anyone you pick up from a night out doesn’t necessarily fix the problem of feeling rejected and unwanted long-term – going at it like that will undoubtedly make the issue worse. But casual sex is not a bad thing. In fact, Andrew Scott recently spoke about how much he hates the phrase because of the shame it tends to instil in people, when actually it’s quite a brilliant thing. It’s just important to remember that it isn’t a long-term remedy for a breakup. Essentially, doing things to get at an ex will not work long term, and if anything, will make you a more bitter person.
Clearing your head and seeing things from a fresh perspective is one of the trickiest but most essential things you can do post-break up. In doing so, not only do you face the hardest questions (which may force you to take some responsibility), you’re able to reconnect with parts of your wonderful self that might have gone on the backfoot during your relationship.
For the rest of the academic year post break-up, I tried doing all the things I had missed out on. Largely consisting of wine nights on a Sunday, three-day benders and flirting with bartenders; I really thought I was actually making myself happy and actually, this break up was a great thing to happen because I didn’t have to answer to anyone. Yet, I remained in a self-depreciating state, lulling over a million made-up reasons as to why I was dumped and those wine nights on a Sunday had the ability to quickly result in a couple of drunk, needy texts. This is the wrong kind of fresh perspective. Making a healthy comeback is about reconnecting with yourself and finding yourself enough. It’s about making choices for you and your own happiness and only then are you able to move on.
Finally, nobody can tell you how long it takes to get over someone. Some people say that it takes you half as long as your relationship was to get over them. But there is no temporal marker on it. Break-ups hurt just as much in ‘almost relationships’ or when you’re ‘seeing someone’ too. Though you might not have been together, it can still take just as much time and is solely down to you and the circumstance. You will undeniably get back on Tinder. But everything takes time and be it two weeks or two years, do not put yourself under any pressure to heal quickly.
Let’s debunk some myths about living life post break-up:
- Trying to make an ex jealous does not work. It only makes you feel more sad, less authentic and concentrates your energy on the complete wrong thing. Your Instagram might seem that you’re sleeping with that hunk your ex was worried about, but that will not help you grow.
- Casual sex can be great, but providing you both know your boundaries, emotionally and physically. In the words of good old Dolly Alderton, if you’re using casual sex like an over-the-counter prescription to make yourself feel better, it will be a horrifically unfulfilled and demotivating experience.
- Relying on someone else for your personal happiness is not okay.
- You’ll get ghosted one day by someone you were “seeing” and it stings like a papercut. Though it was someone minor and fleeting in your life, it will sting for weeks. It is a reflection on them, not your worth.
- It is okay to feel sad and for it to take ages to feel better again. There are no rules or guidelines in how long it takes to get over someone.
- Playing games in a breakup is an entirely unproductive use of your time. Nobody cares if it took you twice as long to get in a new relationship as it did them. You do you.
- Some friends will, after giving you the sympathetic bars of chocolate in abundance, get bored of hearing about your breakup. True friends will stick by you, no matter how long it takes. Keep hold of those ones.
- You may probably get back on Tinder. You’ll love it for a week, hate it for two weeks, and would have deleted your account by the end of the month. If it helps with short term validation then fine, but it is inevitable.
- All your friends will have boyfriends. It’s a Sunday night and every one of your housemates are either at their s/o’s or are getting ‘busy’ in the room next door to you. Don’t worry. Your time will come.
Breakups, though feel like the end of the world at the time, are important. They help you grow, they help you learn to forgive, and they help you get that one step closer to finding the right one. Making a comeback isn’t about the superficiality of it all – it’s about learning to love yourself on your own and being totally okay with your singleness on a Sunday night when the rest of your housemates are loved up.