As you may have gathered from my books, for a large chunk of my life, it felt as if I was permanently recovering from a nasty break-up. Let’s face it, break-ups are never fun. They can be debilitating, soul-destroying, and can rob you of your confidence and self-esteem. You’re forced into intense periods of uncomfortable introspection, you question everything, and often have to confront things you never wanted to confront. We’ve all been there, and it ain’t a fun place to be.
In many ways the process you go through after a relationship ends is comparable with the seven stages of grief. The last really bad one I had was in 2011, when I found out my live-in girlfriend of two years, a Chinese teacher, was having it away behind my back with a short order chef from Romania.
I’ve had quite a few lesser break-ups since then. One friend recently asked me why I keep hooking up with shitty women. I said that was unfair. couldn’t be sure if they were always shitty, or if being with me was making them that way. The jury’s still out on that one.
Saying goodbye is never easy, but I’ve learned to cope, and now I’m going to share what I’ve learned with you. It all boils down to the old maxim, “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.”
If it goes tits-up, which, statistics show us, all relationships eventually do one way or another, try not to lose your shit. Retain control, and some modicum of dignity. The aim should be to not do anything you might regret later, so refrain from losing your temper and punching walls (the walls always win), name-calling, and plastering those nudes you have of them all over the internet.
A good coping strategy I’ve found in the immediate aftermath is to focus on their bad points, because God knows none of us are perfect. So don’t think about how gorgeous they were, or how they made you laugh or brought meaning to your life. Instead, think about the morning breath, that annoying habit they had of picking their toenails, their incomprehensible appreciation of Made in Chelsea. In extreme cases, get that fugly picture you have on your phone of them yawning or having a shit and make it your screensaver. Yeah, bitch.
It might also help if you delete them from your social media. Cancel them. That way, you remove any lingering temptation to go begging for forgiveness even though you might not have done anything worth being forgiven for. Constantly remind yourself that they would hate to see you going about your business without them apparently not giving a fuck. It devalues them and the whole relationship. Even if you’re falling apart inside, keep that shit to yourself and put on a brave face. Nobody wants to see you wallowing in self-pity except them, so don’t give them the satisfaction.
By the way, the absolute best break-up song ever is Bowling For Soup’s Life After Lisa.
If the aforementioned methods don’t work and this person really was perfection personified, you can still find the bright side by reminding yourself how lucky you were to be with them, even if they ended up dropping you like a hot coal when they realized how bang average you were. At least you’re one of the few who got to see them naked. Unless, of course, you really did put those nudes you have of them on the internet in which case everyone has seen them naked and it’s your fault.
It might be difficult, but try not to play the blame game. We’d all like to imagine it’s the other person’s fault, but the truth is nobody is perfect. In all likelihood, you were probably at least partly responsible. Or maybe you just weren’t compatible, in which case it’s nobody’s fault. Not even yours. Think of a relationship as a journey, and all journeys come to an end. You both arrive at your destination ready for a new and exciting adventure. Getting there is half the fun, as they say.
Everything happens for a reason. We are all on this twisty, turny path and none of us is ever quite sure what’s going to happen next. If you love someone, try to treat every moment you have together as if it’s your last. That doesn’t mean going out paragliding every day and shit. Stay in and watch a movie if you want. Just enjoy doing it.
So, speaking as a guy who’s had more broken relationships than he’s had hangovers, my advice is to cherish the moments and make some memories while you can. In the end memories are all any of us will be left with, so they might as well be good ones.