Breakups suck. It feels like undergoing open-heart surgery with an ax. Breakups feel like you are mourning someone's death. And really, it is a death. This little utopian bubble the two of you created, this intangible space of "coupledom," has been extinguished. It's rough.
To the newly single: Take a moment to get your head around this new independent future. Sure, you both are meant to be sad for awhile, but someone always wins the breakup. Make sure it's you. One of my exes once told me that the best revenge is to live a really good life -- and after I dumped him I found out that he was right. Darn him and his awesomeness!
When you break up, it's almost like you are having a power struggle with yourself: Single Powerful You vs. Person-In-A-Not-Going-Anywhere-Relationship You. We all do crazy stuff to fight this battle. During one breakup, I adopted a giant bunny rabbit. I mean, all of this affection needs to be channeled somewhere!
You practically move into the gym, because you want him to see you and kick himself for ever letting such a babe go. That healthy self-confidence, however, is canceled out by mass consumption of vodka. Whatever you do, just don't be the crazy ex. Don't stalk your ex's apartment. Don't slash his tires. Hide his updates on Facebook. Unfollow him on Twitter. And leave him alone until you figure out who you are without him.
There will be someone else, but here's the key: A breakup means you don't have to put up with the things that bothered you about your ex. I firmly believe that you can't find "that person" until you have become the most complete version of yourself.
Breakups are terrifying but bizarrely exhilarating. It took me a long time to begin to feel even slightly like myself after my last breakup.
Then I realized that I never would, because I wasn't the same person I was last time I was single. The relationship had changed me, and that wasn't a bad thing.
In the end, there's this part of you that holds hope that the ex really wasn't just an enormous a-hole -- but really that's just so you can feel better about yourself and your choices. You hope he'll come around. That he'll realize he doesn't like what his life is without you.
You hope he'll do something to show you that. You'd smile so big that it would break your face. But he won't. If he were able to do that, you wouldn't have broken up in the first place. You'll probably get a booty text at 8 p.m. on a Sunday. Because that's who he is. But you'll have realized that's not who you are and that's not what you want anyway.
Did you know Valentine's Day is one of the biggest breakup days of the year? With this tension weighing on more than a few minds, take a moment to reflect on your breakups and the life-changing opportunities they present.
This post was originally published as a Page Four column for RedEye in July 2011.