Martha and Colby Grow Up

A podcast where 20 somethings navigate life apart, together.

What Breakups Are Actually Like

Why is breaking up so hard to do?

There’s a certain feeling that is hard to name, but we’ve felt it at one point or another. It’s best described as a slow burn of doubt - it starts as a small seed and you try to ignore it. Later, you feel it bloom and grow until it is literally impossible to ignore even if you focus all of your attention on something else.

This is the feeling of a relationship crashing and burning. It’s what happens when you’re with someone that you know you probably shouldn’t be with but for SOME reason you don’t want to acknowledge this and continue to ignore and keep on living your life.

You write it down in your journal, something like:

I’m having doubts about him. I can’t put my finger on it, but I don’t know if it’s me or something I’m doing wrong. I don’t know if there’s something I can fix about this, or it just needs to resolve itself.

You put the journal away. You continue in the relationship. You work on your communication skills, but it’s still there. It’s still nagging at you. It drives you to examine what you want in a relationship, it might even cause you to ask literally everyone you know (even someone you just met!) what you’re supposed to do.

But really girl, you know. You know what to do and you just aren’t going to do it until there is really nothing that will fix this feeling except for the one thing you never wanted to do in the first place.

You need to break up with him.

It’s not fun, but ya gotta. I’ve had this conversation with myself two times in the last two years. There is nothing inherently wrong with the person I’m dating, they just aren’t for me. And when they are fine people who didn’t do anything wrong, it’s so hard to just pull the plug.

You don’t want to hurt anyone because that’s just an awful feeling in general. But at the same time you can’t keep going on the way you are because that hurts you, too. It takes up a lot of brain space that you could use for other amazing things in your life!

So, how do you do it?

Come to the conclusion that breaking up IS what you need.

  • Are you coming to this conclusion from a place of careful thought, rather than rational decision? If you’re making this decision because some bad things were said and you didn’t talk about what happened, maybe breaking up is not your step yet. (That being said, break up if you are in an unsafe situation!)

Check in with yourself during the process.

  • How are you feeling about all of this? If you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling a lot of anxiety about this situation. You’re making a hard decision, and you don’t really know what it’s going to be like on the other side.

Get clear on a timeline.

  • Maybe you’ve decided you want to break up but you don’t know when. Conventional advice tells you to avoid birthdays, holidays, whatever. Pick a day and stick to it. Did you say you’d be giving them 2 weeks to figure out a last ditch attempt to save the relationship? Stick to that two weeks.
  • In Hamilton, we say “Have your seconds meet face to face, negotiate a peace or negotiate a time and place.

Figure out what to say.

  • For me, this is one of the hardest parts of breaking up. What are you supposed to say to them??? “Hey this isn’t working out… so bye?” Apparently that’s not good enough. I’ve sourced the Internet and I think this is my favorite script that I’ve found from Captain Awkward: “I care about you a lot, but the romantic relationship is not working for me, and I need to end it. I know this is not good news, but I also know it’s what I need to do.” (linking here)

Where is it going to happen?

  • Locations I think are probably best for breaking up with someone: their house so you can leave, your house (so you can go cry right after), or a park bench near their house. Locations that are probably not the best: a restaurant.

Turn into someone made of steel and don’t allow any emotions.

  • Nah, don’t do that. But prepared that this is going to hurt. You might think you’ll be fine and it won’t hurt, but it probably will. Allow yourself to take any and all reactions in stride.

Do it. And stand strong in your resolve.

  • Shia LaBeouf motivational video, or something

Know that it’ll be okay.

  • Because my parents didn’t get divorced and found new relationships for me to think it won’t be.

Unlike baseball, winding up (thinking about it) and pitching (actually doing the thing) can take longer than a few seconds. It can take weeks or months from thinking about it to actually putting your thoughts into words and actions.

But once you do it, you’ll move on and wake up tomorrow and you’ll wonder *WHY YOU TOOK SO GODDAMN LONG TO DO IT.

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