Wifey’s and Gentlemen,
I am so sorry that I did not post last week! I know that I made a vow to never abandon my post again, and believe me, I haven’t, I swear…but it’s tax season and since I currently am a slave to the financial industry, I just did not have the time to write!
I thought about making up for it this weekend, but in the spirit of true confession, I considered that, from time to time, we all have things that happen in our lives that prevent us from doing exactly what we want. Moreover, we all have things that put a damper on our motivation to do the stuff we need (or want) to do when we have made a commitment to do them.
It is life and it happens to us every single day! As a peace offering (and perhaps a new rule for when I am forced to skip a week) I give you an “extra-long post”. We’re likely talking 2500 words or so, ya’ll. So strap in, we’ve got a lot to cover!
In a weird, roundabout kind of way, this notion of life-stopping interruptions was the start of the inspiration for today’s blog: Breakups & how we deal with them.
Sigh. I know. I know.
If you have ever been in a relationship that meant something to you (2 days, 1 week, 6 months, or 20 years) and that relationship has ended, then you are probably all too familiar with your breakup personality! If you’re a Sex in the City fan, you might be familiar with an early episode where Carrie describes her “in between relationship” behavior; same boring routine, same greasy Chinese, and a sense that you are just kind of…drifting.
It is just so fascinating, the human experience, is it not?
The human mind, as I know I have said before, is an amazing and terrifying thing. In one way or another, it will always find a way to deal with and process the things that it isn’t quite ready to accept.
Who knew?! 😉
After spending some time mulling over my post-break up responses and observing other women and men in my life, I think I have successfully narrowed it down to 5 basic “breakup personalities” that most people would be able to relate to, though I’m sure there are exceptions. But, before we get into that, let’s talk about the gorilla in the room!
Wifeys, I know by now you are probably sick my disclaimers and rationales, but with each new post that I write, sometimes I truly believe that “who cares?” or “why is this relevant?” are both extremely fair questions. To briefly respond: my goal in highlighting some of the finer points of this somewhat silly breakup-behavior is to get you guys & gals to know yourselves and your patterns. For me, when I understand the way that I respond to certain stressors, (especially if that response is negative) I feel like I have some control. I can change or alter my bad patterns and habits and work on building a better version of myself. Even more than that, I can learn to accept the things I cannot change and learn how to grow from whatever mental and emotional place I am in.
So, while in this post I will try to make my wifeys laugh and smile at the idea of “over the top” breakup habits, I also want to make you think about… YOU! So, with all that being said, let’s go back to making fun of the horrible things we do to ourselves when we don’t want to deal with “the end” ;-).
When you think of the stereotypical “breakup” image, what comes to mind? For me, it’s a girl, sitting on her couch, watching The Notebook, and stuffing ice cream into her weepy face. We all know this girl (and I say girl, but all of these personalities can also apply to men, trust me, I’ve seen a few). She’s the one who can’t stop talking about all of the “good times” she had with her ex even if she knows the relationship wasn’t working. She’s the one who blames herself for the breakup (no matter who might be at fault) and constantly obsesses on what she could have done differently to make him/her stay. In her mind, she will never be truly happy without her former partner again and their struggle is truly sad and difficult for others to watch. They listen to sad songs, eat bad food, and can’t help but constantly cry to their friends (who somehow remain sane and supportive), sucking down uplifting speeches and motivational pep-talks that fall on (mostly) deaf ears. What’s more, this person, even after gaining some time and distance from the heartache, is an expert at being reminded of their ex in every possible situation.
See’s dirt on the floor, cries, reminisces about one time when [inset ex name here] had dirt on their shoes.
While the wallower might seem annoying to most, she is actually pretty normal. Don’t worry too much about her. Her heart is broken and she is dealing with it in the only way she knows how; feeling the sadness. We can learn a lot from this person; she knows how to understand and identify her feelings and she isn’t ashamed or embarrassed by talking about and working through her pain. As long as this doesn’t last for more than a healthy number of months (relative to the length of the relationship and the significance/terms of the breakup), and her attitude toward herself improves with time, friends/family & caring coworkers have nothing to fear. She’ll bounce back! Just please…for the love of God, don’t let her have sex with her ex!
Shockingly (or not?), this girl (or guy) is the polar opposite of the wallower. Once the break up happens, her friends and loved ones are left to wonder if a relationship ever actually existed. She has deleted all photo evidence from social media. Her Facebook status has gone from “taken” to “just ask” and her cute selfie-game is suddenly very strong. For all intents and purposes, she seems just fine. Still, there is a tinge of hostility to her general demeanor. Do not…I repeat…do not be the friend who makes the fatal mistake of mentioning her ex. While she might not outwardly flip out on you, she functions through denial! Bringing up her lost love will trigger her angry emotions & she’ll have to do something (probably destructive) to erase the memory once again; drinking a whole bottle of wine comes immediately to mind. The pretender, if you haven’t guessed, pretends like there was no relationship (and thus no breakup), turning her emotions into nothing but pure strength.
What she needs is time. Like anyone surviving a break up, time will eventually soften the blow and make the emotional part easier for her to manage. Unlike the wallower, the pretender does not want to feel her feelings or admit her defeat. In life, she probably views herself as having it “together” and refuses to show weakness or vulnerability to anyone, not even her friends. What you do not see is the way in which this girl handles herself alone. She might be a mess for all you know! What we can admire is her ability to compartmentalize her struggle and not let a bad relationship make her lose focus on what matters. When she’s ready, she will open up about her mindset. This response is also normal, but please remember, whether you are a pretender or know someone who is, to check in with your stress levels. People who bottle up their emotions are the 1st to explode and cause the greatest amount of damage to themselves. Keep an eye on this and be honest with yourself/your friend if you think something is seriously wrong or you think you are losing your grip.
We’ve been pretty cute with our “personalities” so far, but wifeys and gentlemen, there is nothing okay about being a “stalker” in the wake of your break up. This girl, from the moment the relationship ends, is obsessed with her former partner’s every move. She stalks on social media, goes to places where she knows her ex likes to hang out, and will constantly be asking her friends what they know about them/if they are willing to help her find information. If you are friends with this person, while you should NEVER belittle someone who is suffering, do not indulge this behavior! Don’t help her figure out if her ex is seeing someone new, don’t let her trick you into driving by their apartment building, don’t let her drunk dial or text them, and if you find yourself sitting directly behind the ex with her in a movie theater, leave!
While I am not an expert (yet), I think it is safe to say that this is one of the responses that isn’t “normal” or healthy. Don’t get me wrong, everyone does this to a certain degree. I have a few exes that I am still friends with on FB and SOMETIMES it feels good to check in on them and see how fat they’ve become and assume that their life is a total wreck without you. However, if this is all you are doing, you aren’t moving on. Have a real conversation with yourself about who you were in your former relationship compared to the person you are now. Is something missing? Is something not feeling quite right? If the answer is yes, it might be time to talk to someone who can help you manage your feelings and lack of acceptance. Here is a positive: if you are a stalker, it likely means that you are very caring, open, intense, and emotional. This is a great quality to bring with you into your next relationship, but not something to carry around with you for someone with whom it did not work out.
Please remember that we are not here to judge, so if annoyed or ambiguous when talking about the hopper, that is because it is the one break-up response that I find the most difficult to understand. This girl, while maybe displaying some signs of being a wallower, a pretender, or a stalker has, within the first 2 weeks of a fresh new break up, entered into another relationship. In fact, if you have a friend like her (or him) you’re probably used to seeing her in and out of relationships on a pretty consistent basis. Maybe the relationships last for weeks, maybe months, or maybe she is a classic serial monogamist, but whatever way you look at it, it is difficult to figure out her emotional state, because she does not let too much time pass before turning her breakup into her “next great love”.
For those of you out there who are still looking for love, or for those of you who have felt the stabbing pain of lingering heartache, the hopper will drive you crazy! If she’s you’re friend, you love her, but I’m sure you’ve talked about her behind her back a few times, and you don’t feel too bad about it. If this girl sounds like you, try not to beat yourself up. There are some good things here that you have going for you that many of us don’t! Primarily, the hopper has the ability to take risks and continues to put herself out there even when she’s had her heart broken. She is sensitive to her partner’s feelings and more likely to show empathy and compassion to those she loves. While I do not think there is anything inherently wrong with this girl, I would urge her to take as much time as possible between relationships to check in with herself. You know who you are, right? If you think you might be a hopper ask yourself if you are hopping from one person to the next because you are scared of what it means to face yourself alone? Ask yourself if you NEED to be with someone in order to feel whole, or if this is truly a choice. Imagine this: after your next break up, you learn that it will take you at least 1 year before you are able to date someone new. How do you feel? If the answer is panicked, stressed, depressed, or worse…get help! Or, help yourself. Actively choose to spend some time reflecting on you and what you need before wanting to give so much of yourself to someone else.
My most favorite of the breakup personalities is the survivor. This is the girl (or guy) I envy because she is by far the most well rounded. After a break up, of course she’ll delete cutesie pictures off of her phone, change her Facebook status to single, and cry over copious amounts of ice cream in front of the tv, but after a few days of wallowing, she’s still going to go to her favorite workout class at the gym and respond to phone calls and texts from her friends. She’s the girl who is going to go out on a Friday night because she feels like dancing her blues away, and while she isn’t quite ready to date again, she just really wants to flirt and feel good about herself. Did her and her former partner have a favorite coffee spot or downtown hangout? Probably. & she’s still going to go because she likes it, but if she runs into her ex, expect her to hide behind you or crawl under a table. She’s human, after all. Does she cry? Sure! Does she say things like “I hated her cat, anyway” or “he always had bad breath” just to make herself feel better? Sure! But she isn’t going to dwell on the small stuff and she isn’t going to let the end of a relationship be the end of…well…her.
What I love most about the survivor is that she is a thinker. She tries to learn from her past relationship (when she is ready) and takes care to take care of herself in the process. She does automatically feel like a worthless and unlovable piece of crap because her partner is gone. She’s angry when she needs to be, sad when she needs to be, and spends enough time (but not too much) thinking about what she can do to better herself for the next one that comes along. If this sounds like you, then please come down to SF and give me some lessons! Or start a blog of your own purely dedicated to the awesome ways you live your life! I’ll read it. In my ENTIRE life, I have only ever met one survivor, a man (who was gay but I’m not sure that matters?), who handled two of his most significant break ups with more grace and empowerment than I could ever hope to muster in a life time (one of those breakups being a cancelled engagement). I aspire to survive, because it focuses on self-care and the benefits of such are insurmountable.
(Personally, I think of myself a wallower/pretender hybrid with survivor potential).
Wifeys and gentlemen, no matter which personality you are, or if you overlap with a few, there is NOTHING wrong with reacting to a breakup in whatever way makes the most emotional sense at the time. As long as you are safe, surrounding yourself with good people, and remembering not to beat yourself up for too long, you have nothing to worry about. We all know breakups are never easy and there is a LOT of help out there if you feel like you are sinking. Just ask.
In the meantime, feel free to take the poll and tell me what your go to “break up personality” really is.
Remember, you are amazing, and anyone would be lucky to have you as their mate. Don’t forget it (& if you do, send me an email so I can remind you as much as you need).
Until next week,
Carry On Wifeys!