Those post-breakup side effects that nobody really talks about

Welcome to breakup season, that not-so-wonderful time of the year when breakups seem to spike. According to notorious data collected from Facebook, heartbreak begins to climb in November, along with the stress of considering taking partners home for the holidays, gift-giving and entering a new year in a relationship. Yeah, people are freaking out. Inevitably, somebody’s bound to get hurt. If you’re the innocent victim in this situation the first thing to know is that you’re not alone. We’ve all been there. But you also should probably know what to really expect—the weird side effects of breaking up that no one really talks about.

There’s a reason they say “breaking up is hard to do.” Because…. surprise! It is. You love(d) this person. You built a history and memories together. Then for one reason or another it didn’t work and now you have to go your separate ways. Even if you have the nicest, most Demi Moore-Bruce Willis split (retro reference alert!), breaking up is still awful, complex, and confusing. Here are some of the cold, hard truths you don’t realize about ending a relationship until you’re doing it:

You’re going to want to talk to that person, and maybe that’s okay and maybe it’s not a good idea.

It’s only natural to want to talk to your ex occasionally. But before you actually send that text or make that call, consider consulting your most unbiased friend about how to proceed. If your ex cheated on you, lied to you, or was generally crappy to you, don’t do it. If you split on relatively good terms and you think you can check in without getting hurt all over again, go for it. But be prepared in case they choose not to answer, which they’re allowed to do.

You’re going to miss their family.

How is their Aunt Shirley? She always made family gatherings bearable. Their sister is awesome too, is it awkward if you call her? Yeah, that’s awkward. Did their brother’s girlfriend get that new job? You may never know. Don’t worry about it.

There’s going to be a time when you get emotional and you tell them you love and miss them.

No matter how “stiff upper lip” and “independent new me!” you are, I’m telling you that there’s going to be a time when you’re feeling really emotional and will call your ex and tell them you miss and/or love them. You may be intoxicated, or it could just be after a really crappy day at work, but it will happen. For a fleeting moment you’ll probably also think you should get back together. Take a step back, breathe, and don’t do anything drastic. There was a reason you broke up, you know?

Random things will make you think of them.

You find a present they gave you many Christmases ago buried in your closet. No one’s there to deflect your uncle’s annoying line of questioning at the family reunion. It’s intense, but you’ll get through it.

The whole mutual friend situation is going to get weird, even if you pretend it won’t.

Inevitably you’re going to get custody of some friends in the “divorce” while they get custody of others. In some cases you’ll try for a shared custody arrangement, which you’ll pretend won’t be awkward. It actually will be, despite your best efforts.

You want them to be happy, but not TOO happy.

You want your ex to end up happy, of course. You care about them even though you’re not together anymore. But you also don’t want them dating again right away or becoming the star of the newest Netflix series that all of your friends are binge-watching. No need to go overboard now.

You’re going to have to talk about them when you get into a new relationship. 

When you start dating someone new, inevitably you’re going to talk about past relationships. Now your ex is going to be included in that conversation. They’re part of your history, which is okay because you learned something from being with them, even if it didn’t turn out as you had hoped.

Another thing: people are going to throw all kinds of clichés about breaking up at you to try to help you feel better in the aftermath of the split. “Time heals all wounds” and “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” and such. They’ll tell you some of the best music and art were created after a breakup, which is kind of true. But that doesn’t mean you have to put on a happy face instantly and move on. If you feel like you just got sucker punched in the heart, it’s because you did. For a little while, it’s perfectly acceptable to summon your boys Ben and Jerry, a bottle (or box, up to you) of wine, and a few girlfriends who will let you have a pity party. I promise you’ll make it through.

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