[PHOTO: Philip and I back in 2010, three years before our split. (Yes, I wore a relaxer and the Victoria’s Secret PINK collection back then).]If this article comes off a little too dark, edgy, free-spirited, or pessimistic..I don’t know what to tell you. It’s Winter? Fuck off? This article is for anyone who’s going through a breakup, considering a break-up, or choosing singlehood this Valentine’s day. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
Three years ago around this time, I was having the Most Congenial and Sentimental Break-up Convo in All Break-up History. Okay, I don’t know if that’s true, but me and my boyfriend really didn’t—but really did–want to break-up. We were coming up on our fifth Valentine’s Day together, and I distinctly remember feeling like I needed space to grow. I just wanted to be freeee. When I say ‘I wanted to be free’, I certainly don’t mean to insinuate that everyone in a relationship is trapped. In fact, even while in my pretty-serious relationship I actually felt quite independent and unhindered. We would do things without one another, had separate apartments, and tried to be the antithesis of co-dependent couples. There wasn’t anything necessarily wrong with our relationship. I wasn’t even certain that I wanted to break-up, but I knew I needed to discuss it with my best friend, my partner, my favorite person. I decided to ask how he was feeling; this was a decision I wanted to make together.
When I finally spilled the beans on what was on my mind, Philip agreed we had changed as a couple. But most importantly, we both felt we had growing to do as individuals, and that fact was weighing on us as a couple. We were both coming closer to 25, and we’d spent most of our adult lives cuffed to one another. Since neither of us was ruling out the possibility that we could end up together in the future, we also agreed we needed to give ourselves another shot at freedom and solitude before we decided to settle down. (We agreed on pretty much everything that night.) Somehow, breaking up with my best friend actually strengthened our relationship, and we’re still best friends today.
Look, I’m in support of whatever people want to do; if you are in a happy, healthy relationship, then all power to you. Enjoy it while it lasts. But the truth is that so many of us have stayed in harmful, toxic, or mediocre relationships in lieu of being alone. But alone doesn’t equal “lonely”. I’m here to tell you that there are lots of great reasons to break it off, and it doesn’t have to be a big dramatic ordeal.
So with no further adieu, allow me to use my own positive break-up experience as an example:
You’ll finally get to binge-eat an entire pizza, and several slices of cheesecake!
And it’s totally okay, because you’re going through a breakup. Feel free to shut yourself in a cave with a computer and binge-eat-watch-listen your way through the grief.
I believe this was my first social media post since our breakup. A “subtle” message to my friends that I was doing okay, because cheesecake. It was followed shortly by this one:
The most pronounced problem for me was: after nearly five years of dating through college and a couple years after, I started to feel like our relationship wasn’t moving forward. Even though he was my best friend and we were virtually very happy, I couldn’t shake the feeling and desire to be on my own and figure some things out apart from Us. If after five years together we weren’t feeling like taking our relationship to the next level, why were we even together?
You’re Sick of Making Sacrifices
Sometimes we–especially women–give up things we love to make a relationship easier. It might be because your partner asked you to, or it might be because you wanted to do it for them. Sometimes we’re so obsessed with our significant other that they’re all we want to do with our time. Love and passion can be very consuming. And now that I’m looking back at it, I’m realizing I didn’t see nearly as much live music during mine and Philip’s relationship, because he never wanted to spend money on the artists I wanted to see. The year before we got together I saw three of my favorite artists (Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, and Ben Harper) all in a short period of time. After Philip and I got together I stopped going to as many shows because I was prioritizing spending quality time with my boyfriend instead. Relationships take time, effort, and intention. It’s perfectly okay if you would rather be doing other things than breathing life into a longterm relationship.
Confinement is Uncomfortable
It may very well be that your partner isn’t dictating your life, but the simple state of having a partner can be confining in itself. Because you’re supposed to consider your partner’s thoughts and feelings when you make certain decisions. You might feel confined to your hairstyle since that’s the one you had when you got together. Or say you really want to move to another city or state; if your partner isn’t going to make the move with you then that makes the decision quite a bit more complicated. Don’t be afraid to detach from a relationship if it’s making you feel limited.
Build Your Life How You Like It
Whether it’s giving away your cat because your man’s allergic or giving up smoking weed (me) because your partner doesn’t like it……….
you should never have to sacrifice something you love to make your man/woman happy. The right person will be open to the things that make you happy. Throughout my adult years I’ve also watched and listened as my friends subscribed to their new lover’s preferences with the same quickness as I did. And I think it’s complete bullshit. Sometimes we give things up subconsciously simply because it’s not something the two of you can enjoy. Your partner should fit into your life and want to build on it with you. (And for the record, Philip came around on his 420 game after we went back to being just friends. It figures, but at least I got to facilitate it.)
Stop Seeking Validation, and Learn to Love Yourself
Having a partner can make a lot of us feel safe, loved, and desired. But what happens when you’re suddenly single and have always sought out the approval of others in order to feel good about yourself? I’ll tell you what: you’ll grow into a boy-crazy 25-year-old woman with distorted body image and low self esteem. Then you’ll have to find yourself all over again. Seeking validation from partners and romantic interests is a waste of time and energy.
Avoiding the “Happy and Fat” Relationship Trap
Once you find someone who adores you just as you are, it’s easy to get real comfortable and stop putting as much effort into your physical health and appearance. Leaning too much on another person can make you forget the importance of making time to love yourself. I know you’ve seen (and been) the couples that have been Netflix and chillin with take-out for quite a while; as the pounds pile on, their self esteem subsequently plummets. (Good thing they’ve got that built-in validation system). This brings me right into my next reason…
You’re Not Growing
If your partner doesn’t help you be a better version of yourself, and vice versa, you’re not meant to be together. Point blank. Love doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, nor does it fuel your ego. The right person for you will challenge you, and call you on your shit when necessary. A healthy relationship facilitates and supports individual growth, and if it’s no longer doing that then it might be time to move on.
Sex is Overrated…But Break-Up Sex Isn’t!
While I can’t guarantee that it’s better for your sex life to be out here and single, it’s much better than using someone you care about for sex. If one of the only reasons you are staying in the relationship is because you’ve become accustomed to regular (or semi-regular) romping, you should probably consider breaking up. Overall, getting it on isn’t the most important or exciting thing about being in or out of a relationship. I mean, unless the sex is REALLLLLLLLY good. That being said…if you’re planning on breaking up, make sure you carve out an afternoon so you can have an adequate amount of passionate, steamy break-up sex. It really is the best. And you owe it to yourself, and each other.
You Miss Autonomy
There are so many versions of monogamy that are unappealing to me! Ever have a friend who turns into a complete hermit whenever they get in a relationship? They basically stop participating in all social outings and doing things outside their pairing? They’re essentially becoming the relationship, and seem to lose all individual interests. If that’s what it means to be in a relationship, I don’t need to participate. I love being able to do what I want, when I want to, with whomever I want without having to consider someone else’s opinion.
Yes, sometimes I do wonder what things would have been like if I’d met my ex now instead of in college. Would our relationship be on a different level? Would we be on the track to marriage? The likely answer is: probably not. I think we needed each other for that time period in our lives, and now we’re better as just friends. Plus Philip and I have a shared desire to prolong our youthful years as long as possible. We’re the type of people who will probably only marry-off when it becomes necessary for survival. (Although, a part of me does think he’s going to find a Japanese girl and wife-her-up sometime in the next couple years.) The longer that we aren’t together, the more in disbelief I am that we were ever so serious. We seem to have done a full 180 into platonic territory and he’s officially back in the friend zone. But then when I think about it, we’ve always been the best at the friendship part.
Ending my 5-year relationship became the first step on the journey to loving myself. I’ve been single for three years now. I’ve dated around, I’ve had flings, I’ve traveled A LOT. I moved to Seattle and back, and have gone through several jobs and hairstyles. I am now in a place where I feel so natural, comfortable and happy on my own that I’ve actually grown bored with the prospect of male attention. I know what I deserve in a partner, because I’ve already had a great one. And since I also know I can’t control when I find the right person, I’m also not looking for one. But I hear it’s when you stop looking that you’re most vulnerable to Cupid’s arrow… I’ll just be sipping my cold brew and enjoying myself until the right person comes along.
Cheers to your damn self – you’re more than enough. At least for now. ♥