40 Things (Most) People Forget About A Break-Up
Everything we realise about the single life and post-break-up fallout
There it is. The moment. One second you're a couple, the next you're single again.
It's been a long time between single drinks, so to speak. Even if it has only been a few months, it feels like an eternity when the boom falls.
And as the realisation we're no longer in a couple anymore engulfs us, so does everything else about a break-up. The dizzying highs, the ground swallowing lows, everything comes bubbling to the surface.
From someone who has experienced their fair share of breakups, both liberating and traumatising, here is almost everything you can expect the next time you break up with a partner.
1. You're single again
Did this not occur to you? Your label in society went from one of the taken people, the unavailable, the don't touch because you're spoken for, to being completely unattached.
There is no other person in your life, for good or bad.
There is no one connected to your romantic life anymore.
2. You're ready to mingle again
And with your single status, it means you're back on the dating scene. If you want to find someone new, you return to the dating scene, make awkward small talk, and divulge your life to someone for their judgement and approval.
If it's not dating, casual sex re-enters your life. F**k buddies, one-night stands, holiday flings.
3. You're apparently ready to mingle again, even if you're not
After a traumatic break-up when you can't even think about dating ever again, there is always someone in your life who becomes fixated on the single side of you.
They assume because you're single, you must be ready to mingle. Some people can't reason that breaking up with someone doesn't always mean it was because you wanted to be single.
And the idea of mingling? That hasn't even made it to your radar.
4. You have to tell everyone you broke up
Thanks to social expectations, at some point after your break up, you have to let everyone know what happened. If you went on pretending nothing happened, you're the delusional freak denying the break-up.
Thank god for Facebook and Twitter, though. One public announcement and you avoid a lot of fuss.
Well, that's the hope, anyway.
5. You have to divide your joint assets
Splitting up usually means splitting everything you have accumulated together during the relationship. House, cars, custody arrangements for the dog, the pots and pans.
If you have joint ownership, expect the scrutiny experience, where you and your ex analyse who's new home it goes to.
6. You don't have to feel upset
Despite the social expectation that break-ups are a sad thing, most mature adults realise this isn't always the case.
You have the permission to feel over the moon excited your relationship has ended.
Shedding a tear isn't compulsory to moving on.
7. You don't have to be happy
And on the flip side, if you're miserable and heartbroken about the break-up, that is acceptable too.
Some people expect inevitable, drawn-out break-ups to be met with joy and relief. But it doesn't make the situation less tragic, or that you're not upset about what happened.
In many ways, those types of splits can feel worse as they end.
8. You might start looking at life differently
Your life has changed. Your situation is now vastly different.
It's unsurprising that you might re-evaluate parts of your life and want to change considerable aspects of it.
New job. Changed location. Overhauling of your friends. If this happens to you, it's only normal.
9. It's possible you might suck at work
Happy or sad, the change in your life means something is going to suffer. The most common aspect of your life is work.
Some thrive at work after a break-up, but from my experience, it's usually suffering. Way back when, I was fired for sleeping with someone at work, something I would NEVER do, after my break-up.
Sure, I was only nineteen. The job didn't really matter in the grand scheme of life. But that didn't mean I was immune to post-break-up chaos.
10. Loneliness feels a lot different to what you remember
You will feel some loneliness, good and bad, at some stage during your post-break-up malaise. But I doubt it will feel the same as you once remembered it.
It could feel worse than ever before, heightened by recent events.
It could likely feel unbearable in comparison to the loneliness you once experienced.
11. You won't always feel lonely
And the loneliness you expected might not strike you at all. Don't feel guilty about it, by the way. It probably means you made the right decision.
12. You love the feeling of being by yourself
When being single is the right thing, you will know it. Because there is no loneliness when you're on your own. All you have is a joy because you embrace not being with someone.
I know this can feel confronting too. Some people will make you feel guilty for enjoying being alone.
Don't let their insecurities about the concept of loneliness sabotage your joy.
13. Joint goals don't exist anymore
The dream of buying a house? Gone, now you don't have the joint income and your humble pay isn't enough to support a mortgage.
The dream of having kids? Gone, now you don't have the genetic materials to make a baby.
Some goals are joint goals and they will disappear. Not forever, though, but for the short-term most definitely.
14. You get good at telling yourself everything will be ok
When the break-up blues take over, when you see your ex in the supermarket for the first time, when one of your friends sets you up on an uninvited blind date, the mantra will strike.
Everything will be ok.
You will say it over and again, and despite how true it is, the repetition is something you will perfect.
15. You become proficient at explaining your break-up
The first time you tell someone about the break-up, you will recite a long-winded story.
But by the time you tell the tenth or twentieth person, the succinct storyteller in you will have it perfected and delivered in under two minutes.
16. Everyone will think something happened that didn't
Cue the rumours.
- Someone was cheating.
- Someone was being a lazy lover.
- Someone was being an abusive partner.
Even if you don't say it, someone in your life will assume there is more to the story. There has to be, especially in the case of unexpected splits. It's their way of reasoning what transpired.
17. Be prepared for wild rumours about your relationship
Prepare for the absurd and unexpected.
Those assumptions will come to the surface, and those unafraid of your feelings will make sure the rumours spread like fact. It's human nature to exaggerate knowledge.
We wouldn't have reality television if it didn't.
18. Be prepared to find out what your friends and family really think of your ex
Now you're broken up, it's truth time. Most people express how much they really disliked your ex-partner. That's normal. We don't expect everyone to love the same as us.
But ever so often, you will find someone who is more upset about the break-up than you are. It was love for them.
19. Be prepared for unsolicited dating advice
Apparently, you now need advice about your love life. You need some guidance.
You need dating intervention.
And without any invitation, those who believe this will tell you at every given moment. Unrelenting 'support', as they believe it to be. You're single, so you must need some help.
20. Be prepared for someone to call your recent split a relationship failure
I don't view break-ups as a failure, but I've been known to reference my ended unions as "failed relationships".
It's your right to do this, but others will also see it as their right to label your ex-relationship in this way.
Prepare for the sting. No one likes the failure label. Even if you're happy about your decision, someone will say it.
21. Don't expect every friend to feel sorry for you
There are too many reasons why a friend won't feel any sympathy or empathy for your new situation.
Some will think you deserve your heartache. Others will see it as a fact of life and your sadness isn't justified considering how common the situation is.
More than likely, the friend who does this to you often shocks you the most.
22. At some point, you doubt your decision to split
It creeps up on you during the most fickle times. Sometimes it's a feeling generated from a random, emotion-provoking event.
Other times, it occurs from the realisation of your single status. A pang of regret is normal.
And I'm happy to say, it doesn't last.
23. At some point, you experience seriously misguided nostalgia
If you want to avoid any sappy, unbearable nostalgia that is bound to occur after a break-up, avoid triggers.
- Don't watch that movie you saw on your first date together.
- Don't go to the bar where you first kissed.
- Don't look over loved-up text messages.
Though it's a normal post-break-up feeling, you can avoid it happening.
24. At some point, you consider getting back together
When regret and nostalgia simultaneously take over your logic, you will consider getting back together with your ex.
Or sleeping with them, if the timing of hormone spikes and opportunity align.
Resisting this feeling is up to you. Sometimes getting back together is best, sometimes a romp is the worst idea ever.
25. At some point, you won't agree with your split arrangement
I remember when my ex and I agreed to no communication after we broke up.
It was his idea, to block each other's numbers and exercise radio silence. I hit a moment in the break-up when this royally pissed me off.
I didn't need such an agreement to get over him, so why did I agree to it?!
26. At some point, you overhaul your identity to spite your ex (or you contemplate it)
New haircut. New wardrobe. New look means new you.
Another normal event in your break-up is the want or innate need to become someone new. The old you is linked to your ex. A makeover feels like the only way to feel to reclaim your identity.
Whether you act on this isn't a guarantee, but the desire is normal.
27. Your ex might want closure
Some splits aren't final, as you think or assume they are.
Your ex might come out of the blue and ask for additional clarity. They don't feel resolved about the split and need finality from you to move on.
Many feel shocked when this happens, but it is very typical. Whether you give it to them is up dependent on your emotions and the specific situation.
28. You might want closure you can't get
Roles reversed, and it might be you who wants the closure. And like every situation in life, it might not go your way.
If you want closure, don't expect your ex to give it to you.
They don't owe you anything. They aren't the means to help you move on either, and they know this.
29. Someone will tell you something about your relationship you didn't know
The day some random girl at my university told me a "funny" story about her two friends hooking up at a party taught me this.
I wasn't amused learning the guy in the story was my ex and we were dating at the time. Oh, the things you learn when your guard is on the floor.
30. Someone in your life will convince you that you've made a mistake
Like all our actions, you can't please everyone.
Even when leaving an abusive relationship, when the survival of your life depended on escaping, someone will find fault in it.
31. Someone in your life will remind you of everything bad about being single
Misery loves company, right?
And when you're single, and everyone assumes you're miserable, they will remind you of everything you're missing out on now you're not in a relationship.
Guaranteed sex. Someone to spend the lonely nights with. A person to work through problems with.
Yeah, doesn't single life suck sometimes?!
32. People feel a need to take sides
You aren't just breaking up with the person you were dating. You're breaking up with everyone. Well, apparently.
I've never felt the need to take sides in other people's relationships, but others do. They have their loyalties and pick their side. It's even more bizarre when the couple who breaks up doesn't demand anyone choose, either.
People will do it without provocation.
33. People will disappear from your life
It isn't just your ex disappearing. Friends, family, colleagues, and anyone with an invested interest in your former relationship often see the split as a way of leaving their relationship with you.
Does it always make sense? No.
But it's often a long time coming, something we don't always realise until after it happens.
34. People will pity you through dating analysis
Let's go over where you went wrong, ok?
It's strange how people assume you aren't going through intense self-reflection during this time.
You know what went wrong better than anyone else. You don't need them grading your former relationship as well.
35. People will pity you with blind dates
That single and ready-to-mingle concept goes too far. Now you're "brokenhearted" they can help you recover by setting you up with someone else. Get over someone by getting under someone. Their intentions seem innocent, but I doubt how accepting they would be if you reversed the roles.
36. You will probably desire causal sex and intimacy
Missing physical contact is perfectly normal. It's another post-break-up emotion most people try to deny themselves.
We're emotional beings who crave physical connections. When that gets ripped away, of course, we will hunt for a replacement.
37. You believe the next person has to be the one
Watch out for the next relationship curse.
Just because this person entered next in your life doesn't mean they will be the last.
38. You don't have to stay friends with your ex
Despite your circumstances, there are no rules about staying friends with an ex.
Even if people tell you to do so in order for you to co-parent effectively, for example, a friendship isn't a guaranteed solution to any future problems.
Co-existing with your ex can be enough if it works for you.
39. You don't have to say anything nice about the relationship
When telling our friends we broke up, my ex phrased our break up as a "mutual parting of ways." The asshole cheated on me. It was not mutual when he broke the trust between us.
I've never hesitated to clarify with the people in my life what he was really like. If people want to know, I will not lie.
40. There are no winners in a break-up