Love Talks: Breaking Up When You’re Still in Love

Welcome to the second installment of Coulture Magazine’s newest digital series, “Love Talks.” This series is collaboratively written by Coulture staff members and touches on various aspects of love and relationships. For our second column, we turn to the topic of breakups, specifically what happens when two people break up when they are still in love.

When I told my family and friends that my boyfriend of two-plus years and I had broken up, I was greeted with a lot of shock and surprise. We weren’t having issues, and for those two years, we had a very stable and healthy relationship. There weren’t any direct problems we were having or any fighting going on in secret, so there wasn’t anything really wrong with our relationship.

In mid-April, we sat down and discussed some of the small fears and doubts we were individually having over the past few months regarding our long-term compatibility and the future of our relationship. He was about to graduate and as a current college junior, I still had another year of school. Even as future-oriented as I am, he was still in a much different phase of life than I was. 

After a lot of tears and moments of are we really going to do this?, my boyfriend and I decided it was best to break up. Long-term, we wouldn’t survive, and we both felt that it was better to break up now before our relationship had time to sour and go bad, forever discoloring our perception of each other. Think of it as a preemptive breakup.

You don’t hear about this happening very often. Normally, when two people decide to end a relationship, it’s because something is going wrong or not working anymore. We were perfectly fine at this moment in time, but eventually, our incompatibilities would start causing issues. 

One of the problems with breaking up when you still hold an incredible amount of love in your heart for your ex is that you can’t hate them. It’s physically impossible. Being able to hate your ex helps you during your breakup because if you’re angry at them it’s easier to push aside how much you miss them. In the long run, however, having a healthy and non-toxic breakup will benefit my mental health, my view of my ex and my relationships in the future.

I said this to him the last time I saw him and I’m saying it to all of you now: I truly wish him the best and I want him to be happy. I respect him so much as a person and he deserves all the success and love in the world. 

Soon, I’ll be able to look back and think about the first relationship I was ever in. I could not have asked for a better first boyfriend or a better first person to fall in love with. This relationship and breakup were both incredibly healthy and mature and I’m thankful for the time I spent with him and how much I loved dating him for over two years. 

However, all of this does not negate the fact that breakups are awful and hurt so goddamn much. Those first few days after we broke up, I felt like I was simultaneously being set on fire and that someone was cutting me in half. I felt like I was missing a limb, a necessary part of my overall wellbeing and happiness. I was convinced that I would never find someone who would understand me as well as he did and then choose to date me and fall in love with me.

I was overwhelmed with the idea of dating again and having to go through all of this 2-3 more times. How on earth was I 1.) supposed to fall out of love with my ex and 2.) fall in love with someone else, when at one point I was certain that this was the person I would be spending the rest of my life with?

Clearly, after the breakup, I felt ridiculously fragile. Here I am, 20 years old and about to finish my junior year and I haven’t been single and on my own since I was 18 and a freshman in college. What would I be left with now that my relationship was over and my ex, the person who was my best friend for over two years, was out of my life? No matter how healthy of a breakup you have, losing someone you love is going to make you feel shitty about yourself for at least a little bit. Your insecurities have more power when you’re in such a vulnerable state. 

What I have learned in the weeks since our breakup is that I am definitely not alone. Not that I needed a breakup to be reminded of how many wonderful people I have in my life, but I was truly overwhelmed, in the best way possible, by how many friends reached out and checked on me. My roommates and close friends planned events and gatherings to keep me distracted and upbeat and I had so many people texting me, offering their support and their shoulders to cry on, if I needed it. 

I think when you go through a breakup you eventually find yourself, and it will seem like such a contrast to how lost and broken you first feel right after the relationship ends. It’s been almost two months since we ended things and I am honestly doing so much better. I rediscovered my sense of self and I constantly remind myself of my worth and how deserving I am of good things. 

Another bright side of this breakup is that I can now wholeheartedly relate to Olivia Rodrigo’s new album (I’ve been listening to “Happier” on repeat while writing this––highly recommend giving it and the entire album a listen.) Boys are temporary, but best friends and music are forever. 

Readers, I want to leave you with one last word of advice. I don’t have all the answers, as someone new to the breakup club, but I do know this: there is no one right way to handle a breakup. There is no one plan you can follow because everyone is different and processes things in a unique manner. As one of my roommates told me, you can’t schedule into your planner the date that you will be over a breakup (Yes, I am a Virgo). You don’t owe anyone an apology for how you choose to move on and heal your broken heart. And sometimes, it’s not always a choice–we don’t always have control over the circumstances and people that fall into our lives. 

The point of life is to love and be loved, and the worst thing would be for this breakup to make me jaded and bitter. I am grateful that I got to love my ex for the two years we were together, and he was absolutely the right person for me in that period of my life. That chapter is closed now but someday I will be able to look back and think about him and the relationship fondly. 

 

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