I broke up with someone I love, and it was harder than I thought

Breaking up sucks. I never thought it would hurt as much as it did, because when you break up with someone, it’s because you’re not in love anymore, right? Not always.

I was dating the perfect guy (let’s call him Joe). He wasn’t perfect—but pretty damn close. He was kind, sweet, funny, a real charmer—essentially, everything that I could have wanted in a guy, right down to a pair of amazing cheekbones. (Ladies, don’t underestimate the power of defined cheekbones.)

And here’s the thing: we meshed so well. For the first couple years, we were constantly laughing, cuddling, playing video games, and tangling up the sheets. We had a total blast. At first. By the time we graduated from college in May, we had been dating for over two and a half years. Until that moment, his faults seemed like perfect imperfections that I found endearing.

I had been planning our future together, both in my head and out in the open. We would move to Philadelphia together, our fingers entwined, looking at apartments together, and talking about how lovely it would be to have one of them to ourselves. It sounds ridiculous, but it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time. I guess that’s love, right?

But outside of college, I saw our relationship in an entirely different light. I found myself having to try harder and harder to connect with him, to be on the same wavelength. I started to become weary and cynical. I kept thinking that it was a phase, or a hiccup, or a post-graduation relationship rut.

Until one day, it hit me: It wasn’t just a hiccup. We were different. We had always been different. Suddenly, I couldn’t see us ever truly connecting in the real world. There was a distance between us, a chasm that was widening so rapidly that I was afraid I’d be swallowed up forever. I was exhausted from reaching over it, hoping he’d be able to grab my hand to make sure I didn’t fall off the edge.

But there was no point. I wasn’t growing. He wasn’t growing. There was no bridging the gap. I didn’t want to be in the relationship anymore, I thought.

That realization made my heart sink into the depths of my stomach. I had never been in this scenario before. My first relationship totally crashed and burned. There was no chasm—just an explosion. Though it was a miserable affair, it was very obvious what needed to happen. He was a jerk, he treated me badly, we broke up, I moved on, and that was that. But this was different. I still loved Joe. I cared about him, and he was one of my best friends. But I knew that romantically, we couldn’t be together anymore.

There’s a vast misconception in this world, thanks to the good ol’ romantic comedy industry, that those who do the dumping are cold, heartless, and ready to run around and make out with anything that moves as soon as they kick their SO to the curb. Maybe that’s the case for some. But often—at least, for me—nothing could be farther from the truth.

I had a lot of feelings and thoughts that didn’t seem to make any sense to me whatsoever.

That’s because the hardest part about breaking up with someone you love is convincing yourself that you need to do it in the first place. Sure, you know this decision is for the best, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a cinch. In fact, you feel so many different levels of pain that you won’t know which ones to process first.

You feel like a criminal, because it feels like you’re stabbing your best friend and partner in the back after so many years of promises. You feel intense loneliness, because you’re losing one of your closest companions, the to whom who you texted “good morning” and “good night” every single day. You feel distraught, because you keep being reminded of it all by a song on the radio, or a bench you ate lunch on together, or a little trinket they gave you that you found behind your bed.

And in the midst of all this, you keep getting the intense urge to text them about it, because they were always the one who would wipe away your tears. It’s like reliving the break-up over and over again.

All of this is gut-wrenching, to the point where you feel crippling doubt on top of it all, because how could the right decision possibly make you feel like you want to lay in bed all day with your head under the covers?

It took everything in me to finally realize that it’s totally normal. Sometimes, the right decision is the most difficult. I couldn’t “fix” my feelings. I already fixed what I could simply by ending a broken relationship. It was the best for both of us, even if it didn’t feel like it then. All I could do was let my emotions wash over me and let the healing process start.

And it did. Day by day, I felt better. Thanks to a whole ton of New Girl on Netflix (like, 15 episodes in one night) as well as my friends and my writing, I started to feel like me again.

Listen. I know everyone says not to take drastic hair measures after a break-up, but I totally disagree. I dyed my hair purple afterward, and I felt empowered by it. I started doing totally new things for myself—and only for myself. It reminded me that breaking away from the familiar can be scary, but delving into the unfamiliar can be nothing short of exhilarating.

After a few weeks of pure torture, I did end my relationship with Joe. And though it was the most heart-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do, I knew it was the right decision.

Breaking up with someone you love is terrible. It’s scary as hell. But it’s necessary in order to move on to a happier stage of life. You are fabulous, and you will be even more fabulous when you come out on top of this even stronger than before.

Remember: when you’re heartbroken, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one who’s ever gone through it, but you are certainly not alone. Comment below—we’re here for you, girl.

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