Recently, a relationship of nearly 10 years — which both the guy and gal are my best friends — has ended. I am not going to write or comment much, I just want to compile some good advice (or so I thought; because “good” is relative) that I’ve read from books and the internet (mainly Reddit).
What I don’t like about giving verbal advice is that it will be easily forgotten. (“People may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel”)
So I decided to make a collection of posts that can be revisited later, or save a copy of.
Know why it hurts, ask yourself, and recognize the pain
“It hurts because you don’t just lost a person, you also no longer share the memories that happened alongside the relationship.”
You used to do A, B, and C together. But later when if you do B again by yourself, it reminds you of him/her, and how you are no longer with them anymore. But cherish the sadness, because it is what makes life meaningful.
Here’s a short strip from a South Park episode:
Aside from South Park’s dirty and racist jokes, I think this is a good one to remember.
Be honest to yourselves, don’t tell yourself lies. Ask, “Why am I feeling this?” or “Why am I sad?”. Give it some time for a honest answer to appear. Don’t ignore the emotions.
“If you hold back on the emotions–if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them–you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your heard even, you experience them fully and completely.”
“I give myself a good cry if I need it, but then I concentrate on all good things still in my life.”
― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie
Go all the way, go indulge yourselves in all the sadness, but promise that you will not tomorrow.
Life is fragile, relationships even so
“Death comes for all of us. For us, for our patients: it is our fate as living, breathing, metabolizing organisms. Most lives are lived with passivity toward death — it’s something that happens to you and those around you. … Even if you are perfect, the world isn’t.”
― Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air
Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon, married with his wife, Lucy. He died in March 2015 at the young age of 37, which caused by a stage IV metastatic lung cancer. Leaving his wife and his daughter, Elizabeth. They decided to have a daughter, knowing the fact that Paul already had a deadly cancer, and it is also one of the hardest decision they’ve made. The conversation of which they argue about having a children, went like this:
Lucy: “Will having a newborn distract from the time we have together? Don’t you think saying goodbye to your child will make your death more painful?”
Paul: “Wouldn’t it be great if it did?”
*Lucy and I both felt that life wasn’t about avoiding suffering*
That was a bold decision to make. Don’t fear the suffering.
Hard truth to accept
I remember a story from an AskReddit thread:
“What is the most depressing truth that you’ve had to accept?”
Here’s the one that hurts the most:
by KillaCallie – 30.9k points – 1 year ago
Just because you think someone is “the one”, doesn’t mean they think you are.
[deleted user] – 7.4k points – 1 year ago
Extra pain is that other person will tell you that you are the one because its the easy option
b-monster666 – 1.6k points – 1 year ago – edited 1 year ago
Been down that road. Married the love of my life, had two beautiful children with her. One day, she says to me, “Why did you marry me?” I said, “Because I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you…why did you marry me then?” Her response was, “Because I felt sorry for you.”
We separated shortly after that…granted, I haven’t felt better about myself from the moment she walked out the door.
Edit: Thanks for all the love and support, Internet best friends. 🙂 I’m a much better man now than when she left me, there were some rough days, but I’m all good now. I may harp on the past from time to time, but I really don’t dwell on it.
You don’t want your marriage to be like this, right?
But life goes on
“You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened… or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the fuck on.” – Tupac Shakur
(I got that quote from an AskReddit thread also)
Don’t forget to enjoy life. Eat your favorite food. Get yourself a glass of wine or two. Work harder. Just channel your excessive energy to something else other than being sad.
The Pale Blue Dot
Sometimes we are too busy thinking about our day-to-day problems, feel a heightened sense of self-importance, so entitled and demanding of better treatments by other people.
Not realizing how small we are in the grand scheme of things.
I recommend watching this video whenever you’re having a bad day:
Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles, 40.5 AU), as part of that day’s Family Portrait series of images of the Solar System.
In the photograph, Earth’s apparent size is less than a pixel; the planet appears as a tiny dot against the vastness of space, among bands of sunlight reflected by the camera.
Mindfulness meditation is just being in the present.
Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, and try to not think about anything.
But if you’re being distracted by any thoughts, that’s okay, just go back on your breathing.
Here’s a 5 minute guided mindfulness meditation:
By being mindful, you are aware of your feelings and emotions, accept them, but do so without judgement, just notice it and let it go.
It is a good thing to practice everyday.
Advice for recovering from a breakup
This is a lengthy comment post taken from an AskReddit thread:
“Hey Reddit, What are your tips to get over a break up?”
by ConvenienceStoreDiet – 321 points – 10 months ago
Know that it gets better over time. Longer relationships or more intense ones take longer to work through. It’s kind of like a mix of grieving a death (it is after all the loss of a relationship) and going through withdrawals from a chemical addiction you had with someone you loved. Not that it’s a bad thing. It’s just when they leave your life, there is that physical change your body has to experience that you have to just go through. There are a lot of complicated feelings you never really get over. Their impact just hurts a lot less over time. But you work through it and come out better on the other end. It’s near impossible to see that if you haven’t experienced it before, but it’s true. “It gets better” is going to feel like meaningless advice when the wounds are fresh, but it’ll make sense over time.
The first few weeks are gonna really suck. Work out like crazy, do yoga, learn a new hobby, take a class in something you’ve always wanted to, spend a lot of time around friends, watch lots of movies, treat yourself, travel someplace you’ve always wanted to visit, journal. Hand-write a fake letter to your ex with everything you want to say to that person then throw it in a paper shredder and NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES DELIVER IT (because it’s not about your ex, it’s about you coming to terms with your feelings). Spend as much time as you can with friends and family. Have a few that you can just diarrhea about the situation to and who will just listen. Know they’ll be there for you as long as you need. Know you have to get your shit together and can’t take advantage of them for more than a few months. They’re there to support you, not enable you. I’ve watched people get crippled for lifetimes about the one they let get away. You got work to do to be happy with yourself and living your life to the fullest so that you can put as much awesome distance between your excellent new experiences and your breakup.
You’re going to instinctively want to go back and look at what happened, why you or your ex broke it off. You’re going to have that harmful desire to ask friends about it and look through old emails and pictures. Just nope that. The more effort you spend trying to figure it out, the less time you’re actually spending doing cool shit with your life. It’s an addiction, don’t relapse into it. You might desire to dull the pain with booze, meaningless sex, drugs. Don’t. That stuff will keep you in place wallowing in the pain. All that only exaggerates your feelings, so stay focused and do things that better yourself.
Block your ex on social media. You’re going to grieve how you will by running a marathon or visiting that country you always wanted to or whatever you decide to do. Your ex will grieve how they do. And they’ll probably do a lot of shit that is out of character for them. And it will drive you bonkers. And you’ll get suspicious about who they’re with for no reason. You’ll play detective and it’ll keep you hooked back in that relationship. But that relationship is gone. Let it go. Each time you learn about something new they’ve been up to, it might drive you into a spiral. If they get in a relationship soon after the breakup and you’re single, it’ll drive you crazy. Keep that information away from yourself so you can stay focused on improving yourself. It’s over. Time for you to rock out and enjoy life on your terms!
After the first few weeks, you go from spiraling over it non-stop, losing sleep, and being a hot mess, to you going a day without thinking about your ex. Then a week. Then a month. Then they’re just a passing thought years down the line. Someone told me it takes about half the length of the relationship to heal from it. There may be truth to that, but it just takes time depending how close you two were. But for all the reasons it didn’t work, you’ll grow. And life will be so much better now that you’ll have grown and learned from it.
There is no miracle cure other than time, focusing on improving yourself, and enjoying life as much as you can without anyone else. So enjoy life! And when you’re ready to, give dating another go.
“focusing on improving yourself, and enjoying life as much as you can without anyone else”
This is, in my opinion, the most important part. You can’t get happiness from someone else. If you’re not happy by yourself alone, no one can make you happy.
Advice for choosing your next partner
This is a lengthy comment post taken from this thread:
“What’s the most common mistake people make when choosing their spouse?”
The top answer was this: (also very long answer)
by LaTuFu – 10.9k points – 2 years ago – 4 Gold
[I’m a] child of divorce, professional who dealt with divorcing couples for many years, Adult who went through a divorce, remarried and volunteer counseling/mentoring for couples today.
Here are the most common mistakes I’ve seen (my own as well as collectively) in the failed and struggling marriages I’ve seen:
1. One or both spouses have unresolved childhood baggage issues that will rear its head in their adult relationships. Examples of these include (but not limited to) physical or emotional abuse/neglect in the home; sexual abuse; one or both parents had substance abuse/addiction issues; one or both partners came from a divorced or single parent household. Among the many reasons why this is such a significant factor is if you grow up in a dysfunctional environment, you have no idea how dysfunctional and unhealthy it really is. To you, its normal, it is all you’ve ever known. So if Mom and Dad resolved conflict by getting drunk, yelling at each other and then not speaking for days, guess what you have a chance of modeling as an adult in your own relationships?
2. Understanding what “marriage as a priority” really means. When you get married, your marriage has to be the main priority in your life. Not your career, not your spouse (i.e. don’t put them on a pedestal), not your kids, not your hobbies or your personal fitness. The fact is, when you get married, you no longer get to call all of the shots. Gotten used to staying up all night playing XBOX with your boys on weekends? Not going to work in a marriage for an extended period of time. You’re going to have to accept the fact that if you want to have a healthy marriage, compromise is your new word of the day. In some cases you may have to give things up entirely, or learn to say “no for now.” While this often tends to be more of a struggle for men, women can also struggle with this issue. I’m not saying that getting married means giving up you completely, or kiss all of your favorite activities goodbye. What I am saying is, if you want your marriage to be healthy, you now have someone else in your life who gets an equal (not dominant–equal) say in how you spend your free time.
3. Poor communication skills. A shockingly high number of adults lack basic healthy communication skills and conflict resolution skills. Its heart breaking to have conversations with struggling couples who won’t speak to each other with a kind word for any reason. Both spouses should feel that their marriage is the one safe place in the world for each other. Unfortunately, in many instances, it is the last place a spouse can go for emotional safety. If you don’t feel your partner is your first friend, your best friend, your most trusted friend, then something is broken in your communications with each other.
4. Vastly different backgrounds. Don’t get me wrong. Anyone can be successfully married to someone else if both people are committed to it and willing to work on it. But most of the time, that’s just not the case. Societal/familial pressures are real, and it is important to assess them if you find yourself in a relationship that is impacted by them. Are you dating a trust fund baby/very wealthy child and you are the Jack Dawson? Tread carefully. It makes a great movie, but statistically, Rose winds up marrying Cal far more often than running off with Jack, because she doesn’t want to deal with the family pressure or get cut off financially. Sorry, that’s reality, not the movies.
5. Similar to different backgrounds, different motivations in life. Do you know what your partner wants out of life? Do they aspire to be an artist who welds clown sculptures out of mufflers? That’s great, but will it support the two of you, and if it won’t, will you be okay supporting them while they’re making Pennywise the Dual Exhaust Killer? Do they want to be a stay at home parent? Are you okay being the sole breadwinner? What if it is the reverse?
One. Union. Combined. Together. This notion is one that I see a lot of guys–especially high wage earners who are the sole income for the family–stumble over. Whether you are religious or not, the fact is when you get married you are no longer two individuals. You’re one. The law sees you that way, the tax code (at least in the US) sees you that way, and society sees you that way. There is no such thing as “mine and yours” in a marriage. There is only “ours.” The faster you get that concept nailed down, the better off you’ll be. I’ve seen many marriages collapse just over this issue alone.
6. Marriage is not an event, its a journey. So many couples stop trying to pursue each other after the wedding day. Guys and girls do this. Stereotypically/historically, men tend to focus on their careers/making money; women tend to focus on raising the children and/or managing the household. (I realize not in every situation) Both spouses stop taking time to compliment each other, appreciate each other, go out on dates, weekend getaways, or generally just spending time chasing after each other. They take each other for granted and begin to drift apart. “We just fell out of love” is one of the most common phrases I hear in couples struggling, and the sad thing is, its one of the easiest traps to avoid.
7. Friends and family around the marriage. This is especially hard for people who come from dysfunctional families. When you get married, your new spouse automatically gets moved to the front of the line. In front of your parents, siblings, lifelong besties, etc. They’re great to have in your life, but all of them have to take a distant back seat to your new spouse. If you’re a guy who has had a doting mother all your life and she’s told you what to do, who to marry, where to go to college, etc, you have a tough job ahead of you. The Monster-In-Law stereotype exists for a reason. If your new wife turns pale when your Mom’s number pops up on your cellphone, you need to talk to your wife and find out what boundaries she’d like to have installed. If you are Daddy’s little girl and nobody has ever been good enough in your Dad’s eyes, its time for you to tell Dad that you’re so grateful for his love and support, but Jim is more than good enough in your eyes, so you need him to be in his eyes, too. And sadly, if you have friends or family members who are toxic to you or your marriage, you may be forced to make a very difficult decision in your life. Anyone who sits around bitching about how much they hate their life, their spouse, their kids or how you’re going to eventually feel the same way about yours–put distance between you as fast as you possibly can. We tend to adopt the attitudes of the company we keep. So if you spend all your time with negative people…guess where you’re going to be mentally?
8. Date to establish trust. Time is actually your friend, not your enemy. Do not ignore ANY red flag you see in a relationship. Examine it for what it is, then determine if it is something you can work through with the other person, or is it something they refuse to acknowledge or deal with? If you’re dating someone who is selfish and they refuse to see it, they will not magically become unselfish because you were kind enough to marry them. Red Flags ignored in dating will become the rocks upon which your marriage boat smashes in the coming storms. If there are multiple red flags and they won’t talk to you about any of them, walk away. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already moved in, share the bank account, the dog, and a car. Get out now. If they’re not willing to work on things that impact the security of a relationship today, you can count on them not working on them after you get married.
Marriage is not easy. It requires a lot of work sometimes, even when you are both on the same page, have great communication, great sex (which will happen very easily if the rest of the relationship is healthy by the way) and great chemistry. People get sick, they get laid off, their family members die, children get sick, get hurt in accidents, friends have affairs, get divorced…life is challenging and it impacts our relationships, sometimes in ways we’re not expecting or prepared for. If you’re not willing to value your marriage above everything else in your life, its going to be really hard for it to survive the day in and day out challenges of living.
No 1 is good, fix your issues first, get professional counselor if needed.
Here’s to a better life for you all, I hope that this post will be helpful to anyone.