The most important relationship when your relationship ends
About a month and a half ago, I was dumped by my long-term, long-distance boyfriend of nearly four years. It happened on a Wednesday, over Skype. He was my first love and who I thought I was going to be with forever. Heartbroken and shattered, I did exactly what I had been taught to do from movies: I reached out. I reached out to friends, family, and store clerks who specialized in providing me chocolate. Having never gone through a break-up before, I was drowning in a sea of emotions. I needed to find someone who could lead me through this uncharted territory. I needed a best friend who knew what was up.
What I quickly learned is that when you go through a break-up, not all advice is good advice and not everything you listen to is what you need to hear to feel better. This is why finding the right person to help you is extra important. I’m talking about a breakup buddy, of course—the kind of friend who totally gets what you’re going through, and totally makes it all OK. Here’s how to find that special someone who you REALLY deserve.
Find someone who will listen
This one may seem obvious, but really it is the most important. As soon as I started telling people that I was no longer part of an “us,” the advice starting pouring in. While I certainly felt overwhelmingly lucky that so many people wanted to help. I wasn’t ready for advice yet. I was just in shock. I needed someone to listen as I described exactly how I felt. I needed someone to ask thoughtful questions that allowed me to grow upwards. The best break-up friends were those that listened first and then gave me advice. Because they took to time to understand where I was coming from, their advice was relevant and important. Their incredibly thoughtful words still help me now as I grow and experience new emotions.
Find someone who understands and respects what stage you are in
I was told that breaking up with someone is a grieving process. This means everyone goes through stages of how they are feeling and how they are processing things. When looking for a friend to help you through it, find someone who isn’t trying to push you to do something you aren’t ready for. A little more than twenty-four hours after the event happened, I ran into a good friend who immediately asked what was wrong. Having gone through a recent break-up herself, she said, “Oh! We’re going out tonight. Let’s go dancing.” She got really excited (which was very sweet) but it was just too much. Though for some people it might totally help, I just wasn’t there yet. I was really proud of myself for keeping it together enough to go to class, going out to a bar seemed so far from what I was capable of. I politely declined and instead hung out with my friend who played Carole King while I cried in her lap. Even though this probably wasn’t her idea of a fun Friday night, she met me where I was. I am forever thankful for her patience and kindness.
Find someone who reminds you to think about more than yourself
When you experience heartbreak you are constantly thinking about it. You get absorbed with past memories and future what-ifs. But in order to remember that there are good things in your life, find someone who reminds you to think about more than just yourself and your break-up. I was really lucky, and had people ask me about so much more than my former relationship status. They wanted to hear about how I was doing at work and at school. They reminded me that I was successful and confident in other areas of my life and did not just dwell on my love life.
It is also important to remember that your friends have lives too! Consistently ask them how they are doing and what is going on in their life. It will not only be distracting for you, but it will show the friends in your life that you care. While you may not be able to give advice if they ask, you can certainly listen.
Don’t be afraid to be your own break-up friend
Part of the healing process is learning how to stand on your own. And while sometimes being alone is the worst feeling in the world, sometimes it is important to remind yourself that you are enough.
I’m still very much processing what has happened to me this past month. I’m learning so much from other ladies, from other men, from moms, and from grandmas. I know eventually I’ll be okay, even though I’m not 100% now. In time, I’ll learn to stop looking at his social media and to get some new hobbies that don’t include worrying about if I will run into him at social functions. But for now, I choose to listen to sage advice from the many friends in my life and believe that time will heal all wounds.