It’s like the stages of grieving, except with thirst traps.
By Mattie Winowitch, Waynesburg University
My relationship, which lasted for three years, has sadly come to an end.
It’s been about a month, and it’s still kind of weird for me to think about. For us, it was just our busy schedules and our thoughts on life that have changed throughout the years. But after that month, which was a bit harder than I anticipated, I am slowly starting to get used to the feeling of being alone—and back on the market.
For the past five years of my life, I have been a serial monogamist. That’s pretty much just a badass way of saying that I have gone from long relationship to long relationship to long relationship. I honestly never would’ve pictured this sort of lifestyle for myself. But here I am, a few boyfriends and broken hearts later, feeling like a weird alien on planet Single.
The hardest part about this whole “break up” thing is that we ended on good terms. Neither of us cheated or ended up hating each other. That’s part of the reason why we chose to split in the first place: we wanted to keep our friendship. Of course, after three years, you can get pretty close.
If I’m being honest, I sort of wish it did end on bad terms, because I feel like, for my personality type, it would be way easier for me to just wipe my slate clean and start over. Sadly no, we decided to stay friends. Sigh.
But if you’re anything like me, and you’re about to get out of a long-term relationship, here’s a list of five things that will (inevitably) happen.
1. Utter Confusion
If you decide to end things on friendly terms, it’s going to be confusing as hell. Because you’re still “friends,” it might be tempting to keep talking to them. But, I promise you, this will only make it worse. All of your friends and family are going to probably yell at you for talking to them so much. You will defend your messages and secrets, because, whether you want to admit it or not, talking to your ex is your comfort zone. It’s your safe space—the place where you’ve hidden for as long as your relationship lasted. And sometimes, it’s hard to stand alone after that.
In the end, you’ll realize your friends and family were right all along. Honestly, the best solution, if you end up in this scenario, is to fly solo for a while. It’s going to be hard, but separation is the only option, unless you just want to fall back into the relationship all over again. By giving yourself some separation, you will sort out some of the confusion your brain is trying to process. It will give you a chance to decide for yourself whether or not a breakup is even necessary.
For me, it took less than 24 hours of not talking to the person I’ve talked to every day for three years to feel some sadness. And to be clear, I am NOT a generally emotional person. It’s going to hurt. Think of it as if your best friend dying, except they didn’t die, but you still can’t talk to them even if you wanted to. It’s pretty tortuous if you ask me.
These will be the days of tears, caloric binges and depressive behavior. Just to be safe, you might want to let a close friend know what you’re going through during this step so they’ll check in on you and make sure you get out of bed at least once. But the most important part is making sure that you DON’T cave in (like I did about 5,000 times). If you do cave in, make it brief.
Maybe you’ve lasted a week without talking to your ex. Maybe it’s been a day. Maybe it’s been an hour (tiny victories, amirite?). But, since you’ve opted for the friendlier version of a breakup, eventually you will start talking again. It’s going to be strange, and the weirdest part will be trying to seem fine. Then, once you do start talking again, one person is bound to seem more okay or put together than the other. It’s just bound to happen.
This is where irritability comes in.
For me, it felt like I was still on planet What The Fuck, trying to cope with my emotions and all of these weird feelings. And when I talked to him, he seemed unfazed, totally cool with whatever was going on.
4. IDGAF Mode
If your first few encounters will be anything like mine, you’ll eventually get so annoyed with how coolly your ex is handling things that you will just stop caring. You’ll take down the relationship status, start posting thirst traps on Insta and completely rebrand yourself as the new and improved single version.
Some might insert wild nights of clubbing or Tinder at this stage, but for me, I mainly just stuck to listening to angry songs on Spotify.
But be warned: This stage can be harmful if abused. Be smart, protect yourself (in whatever way necessary) and don’t do anything dumb, like get a tattoo of an anchor or try hard drugs for the first time. None of that will help with the healing process.
Eventually, your IDGAF mode will wear off, and you’ll look at yourself in the mirror and wonder what happened. Somehow, you’ll end up looking at old pictures of your relationship and wonder if it had all been a mistake. But how can you know for sure?
Here’s the hard part: Listen to what your heart is trying to say. I know it might be confusing, but really try to think about what you have endured. Don’t just think back on the good times, but also think back on the bad times. Once you start weighing things out, start leaning back into conversation with your ex. It’s going to be weird. But once you get over the awkward hump and realize you are strong enough all on your own, everything will be okay. I promise.