Why Are Breakups So Hard?

Matija Marohnić

We take breakups really hard, which is unusual considering how often we go through them. If you’re in an unhappy relationship, I encourage you to make that last step, because being with someone who you don’t want anymore can be the loneliest feeling in the world. 😞

It’s healthy to break up at least a few times in a lifetime, that way we find out that it’s not as terrible as it seems and that we can get over it. This epiphany can help us get out of longterm relationships which don’t make us happy anymore. Depending on the situation, staying in a bad relationship can end up much worse than it has to. If partners are particularly miserable, they can start resenting each other and it might even lead to abuse. Trying our best to fix a relationship which is not working anymore can often is not doing anybody favors.

People change. We change.

Why do we hesitate?

The One

Lots of people believe in The One, a single person who we’re destined to be with and who will be everything to us. This is why it’s sometimes hard to break up—we don’t want to accidentally break up with The One!

However, it’s difficult to find The One, you might be searching in Spain while that person lives in Sweden. What is more, there are 7,400,000,000 people in the world, so the odds of finding that person is about 1 : 3,000,000,000. 😰 This is why I believe that the world has many The Ones for us (i.e. that the concept of one true love is BS).

Guarantee

We hesitate to break up because a better relationship is not guaranteed for us, so we don’t feel like denying ourselves the current relationship just yet. But that kind of thinking gets us nowhere, we are unhappy now, that’s what’s important. Some people like jumping from one relationship into the next one, putting off the breakup until someone better comes along. However:

  • this means that we don’t know how to be alone, which will be a problem once somebody breaks up with us
  • who knows when the new person will come along, until then we’re stuck
  • if we don’t give ourselves time for recovery after a breakup, we’re bringing luggage into the new relationship, which makes things harder for everyone involved

It’s cleanest to break up regardless of whether or not we have someone else waiting in the line. It’s difficult to find a more fitting partner if we don’t break up with our current one, so by putting off a breakup we’re pretty much just wasting time.

Addiction

In longterm relationships it’s common to lose perspective and not even realize that we’re running away from the truth—this relationship doesn’t work for us anymore. We’ve known it for a while, but can’t face it because losing that person seems terrifying. This is because we don’t have anything to compare our relationship with and our lives have intertwined with our partner’s, so it’s hard for us to imagine being with anyone else.

Breakups hurt partly because we don’t have a safety net, which can be built by developing and maintaining friendships. When we enter a relationship with our favorite person in the world, we often start neglecting our friends and seldom make new ones. After the wedding it’s even worse.

Every couple can benefit from some time apart, each with their own friends. 💕

Failure

Successful relationships don’t exist. At least not in the objective sense, like a successful business. It is completely up to the partners involved to decide.

We hesitate to break up because it would make our relationship a failure, not to mention a divorce, which is considered even shameful. At the same time we have to find The One, but we should not break up. 😵 “Promiscuous” people, who have lots of partners, have to put up with being considered constant failures at love. This means that we have a limited amount of attempts at a happy relationship.

I will tell you a little secret: nobody has successful relationships. At least not according to the vow “till death do us part”. According to that only the last relationship can be the successful one, and only when one of the partners dies. 💀

Duration

Success of a relationship is often measured by its duration, especially in the eyes of older generations. We congratulate each other for our long-lasting relationships and encourage ourselves to make them last even longer, while we’re at it.

A newborn relationship can be very meaningful and deep, while a long-lasting one can be very miserable. Just because we were once great together doesn’t mean we have to stay together forever.

“The people in the relationship are more important than the relationship.” —Franklin Veaux

We are encouraged to try because “if we don’t water the plant, it will die”, but it doesn’t make sense to maintain a relationship which doesn’t satisfy us just because it made us happy once upon a time. How many friendships have you grown out of? Why are romantic relationships any different? People change—once you were great for each other, now you are not, and that’s fine.

The breakup process

Listen to your heart before breaking up. Afterwards listen to your brain because your heart is an idiot.

Let me explain. We’re miserable in our relationship and, before we break up, our heart is screaming:

Argh! I hate being in this relationship!

But as soon as we act on that and actually start breaking up, we realize that our heart can’t keep its story straight:

Don’t do it! I love this person, we will solve all our problems by magic! ✨ Love conquers everything! Rainbows & unicorns for everybody!

Sometimes we get seduced by this pile of horse manure because we’ve heard that hearts know their shit when it comes to love, but then usually the same thing happens again and again. This is because breaking up drastically changes the dynamics of our relationship, bringing a lot of excitement, which we often misinterpret.

When torn between our heart and our brain, it’s hard to stay rational, so it’s a good idea to prepare ourselves ahead of time. These rules work for me:

  1. You don’t have to be with anyone, you are a complete person by yourself. Relationships make our lives richer, but they shouldn’t be the only reason we live.

  2. Great relationships have rough patches. Make sure this is an irreparable problem which is a deal-breaker for you.

  3. Leaving a relationship doesn’t mean that you failed at it. It had purpose when you wanted it.

I repeat these to myself before breaking up.

Benefits of breaking up

  1. After each relationship we’re smarter and have a deeper understanding of what we want, so our next relationship will probably be even better.

  2. We’re taking control over our happiness, so we’re not victims and are actually doing something about our situation.

  3. We can take this time to do some self-improvement. This is way easier when we’re single.

Let’s support our friends who are going through a breakup and let’s try to stay positive and rational when we’re going through one as well. 🎉

“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” —Paulo Coelho

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