Lesson #18: How to Be Wrong About a Guy and Be OK

by Rachel on August 30, 2010

Last week, I got an e-mail asking for some guy advice. Long story short, our girl was feeling the dating optimism when she met this guy and thought he was the big love Five…and, turns out, he’s not. She wrote, “In all your experience, any advice on how to have a healthy break/break-up (so I don’t feel the need to go on a three day tequila bender this weekend)? I want to gain the optimism but I’m feeling so damn hurt and angry right now. Any thoughts you have would be much appreciated.”

This question hit close to home because I was feeling the same way about four months ago. I’m not sure if I’ve ever posted here about how upset I was when things didn’t work out with the guy I was seeing before Eric swept me off my feet. I had just read Meeting Your Half Orange and when it didn’t work out, I was beyond pissed. Like, a lot of WHAT THE HELL, UNIVERSE? entries in my journal. I was so READY and he was so GREAT. WHY COULDN’T IT BE HIM!??!

After several weeks of trying to make it work and then a few more weeks of denial, I had to do the thing I hate most: admit that I was wrong about him, get over him, and be OK, without getting tequila involved. I’ve had to get over a guy more times in my life than I care to think about, but the past few times, I’m proud to say I’ve actually done it right.

Here are some things to remember.

  1. Own that you aren’t over it. Even if your friends are telling you he was an asshole, even if you know you “should” be over it…own that you aren’t. Until it stops hurting, until you stop caring, you are not over it and that’s OK.
  2. Do the things that make you feel best. Whenever life isn’t going my way, I go back to this: do something you’re passionate about and do it until you feel better. For me it’s writing, but if things are particularly shitty, I might need to take it up a notch. (Why do you think I got back into stand-up last spring?) Anything that lights you up…do that. When you’re passionate about yourself and your life, you can’t be as hung up on guys who’ve done you wrong.
  3. Don’t do things you think you “have” to do. This could probably be its own rule — I cannot tell you how much of my junior year of college I spent drinking because “I’m not going to sit at home feeling bad for myself!” I think it’s tempting to gloss over your feelings of hurt with a fake sense of, “I’m OK!” “I’m just going to go WORK OUT!” “I’m going to go out EVERY NIGHT and have a GREAT TIME BEING SINGLE!” I mean, honestly, sometimes, you should just sit at home feeling bad for yourself. Getting drunk, doing brutal workouts, and generally forcing myself to do things I was told I “should” do in an effort to move on always left me feeling more depressed (and often led to me sending texts that I later regretted). You want a little distraction, not total denial. You have to be honest with yourself and think about what will truly make you feel better. If some days, you don’t feel like trying a cliche way to get over a guy, fine. (If every day you feel like skipping the gym to watch Lifetime, too bad.)
  4. Remember that every guy gets you closer to the right guy. This is a big part of Meeting Your Half Orange, and I can’t echo that sentiment enough! I could seriously make a flowchart of all the craptastic (and good!) guy experiences I had in the 18 months that led up to me meeting Eric. Even when things didn’t work out with the guy this spring, I still knew on some level that I was getting closer. Because I knew…
  5. Things with the right guy are going to be EVEN BETTER. Even if you’re starting to see that this guy might not be your Five, I’m assuming he had a lot of qualities that you really liked. Well, trust me when I say that the right guy is going to have all those qualities…and THEN SOME. Think of love like chocolate. If all you’ve ever had is Tootsie Rolls, then that’s the best you think chocolate can be. And then you have, I don’t know, a bacon chocolate bar and you’re like, Holy shit, this is UNREAL, this is what chocolate is supposed to taste like! And then you go to Paris and have chocolate in the world’s best chocolaterie, and you’re just thinking, AHHH I DIDN’T KNOW IT COULD BE LIKE THIS!!!! So do you still want that Tootsie Roll? I doubt it. So while the last guy was probably awesome and had a lot of great qualities, there is someone even more wonderful out there, and you can’t get so caught up on something that’s over that you can’t accept what’s waiting for you. Full disclosure: I blew Eric off for about six weeks because I refused to admit that there could be anything better than a bacon chocolate bar. Once I let go of that notion, I was in Texas three weeks later. And look how delicious my life is now.
  6. Accept it. Just accept it. You don’t have to like it and you don’t have to get over it this very minute, but you do have to at least accept it and look in the direction of being OK. Don’t over-analyze. Don’t try to fix it. It didn’t work, for a reason. You don’t know that reason yet. Somewhere out there, there’s a guy who doesn’t know why he hasn’t met the girl of his dreams yet. But when it happens, well, then you’ll both know, and you’ll both think, “Wow, this never would have been possible if I had stayed with that other person!” Trust me on this. That guy is the reason and you are his.

If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s how to get over a guy. All this optimism means I’ve thrown myself into a lot of things and been wrong quite a few times. And I could be wrong about Eric too…which is not as scary as it sounds. Once I stopped denying my feelings of heartbreak and started owning them and handling them with the grace of an adult, I realized that I could date and fall in love fearlessly — even if things don’t go my way, I know I’ll still be OK.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Caitlin August 30, 2010 at 8:02 am

I pretty much needed this about eight months ago..and right up through about two weeks ago when I finally started going through these steps and being OK with my last breakup. This is so, so great and another push for me to get this book you’re always talking about! I especially love the comparison to the chocolate and this line: Remember that every guy gets you closer to the right guy. HOW TRUE!! Sometimes I like to use the line (with myself and others): “He’s a great guy, he’s just not MY great guy.” It’s really helped to soften the blow when I’m sitting there cursing myself with the “WHY?!”

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2 ashleigh August 30, 2010 at 8:51 am

I love you! :) I needed this post so much today. I ended things w/ someone this weekend who I have been seeing for close to two years. I know he’s not right for me, but sometimes it’s SOOOOO hard! I am pretty sure I am going to read this post every day for the next month, but it always helps to know you aren’t alone, and that when it’s right with someone it’s going to be so much better. Thanks for this!!

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3 Kaytee August 30, 2010 at 9:55 am

Another post to bookmark for when my friends start being ridiculous (which is often) and I don’t have the energy to tell them what’s up.

And oh man, the chocolate metaphor is dead on. I relate meeting my boyfriend to getting Lasik surgery. Glasses were okay, and contacts were better, and they definitely served their purpose… but when I got Lasik my life was totally different in ways I never expected. Yeah, it was a huge risk (and it required huge amounts of Valium to get me to take the plunge), but it has been totally worth it.

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4 Rachel August 30, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I LOVE the Lasik metaphor!!

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5 Alison August 30, 2010 at 9:59 am

Girl, get out of my head. You always write posts that I NEED to read. I just dated someone all summer and thought he was “The One.” Well he broke up with me for no reason a few weeks ago and I never saw it coming. It sucks, but you just have to deal with it and move on in whatever time frame works best for you. Hopefully reading this “orange book” will help me move on even further away from this situation and to an even more positive situation with a guy who deserves my time.

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6 Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter August 30, 2010 at 10:42 am

Yes! Seriously this is what I needed. I finally just cut ties with a super messy relationship. I love your advice about the chocolate and the tootsie rolls. So true!

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7 Suzanne August 30, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I needed this so bad. I am on my way out of a long term relationship with the guy I thought was IT. It sucks, but I am trying really hard to remain optimistic … thanks for the words, Rachel!

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8 Kate August 30, 2010 at 2:24 pm

So awesome this post is helping people going thru the same thing! …thanks again Rachel your the best :)

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9 Trinidad Pena August 30, 2010 at 2:39 pm

You want a little distraction, not total denial!

So true and yet often we go full steam ahead into BAD!

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10 Rebekka August 30, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I cannot even say HOW MUCH I want to thank you for that post.
THANK YOU **SO** MUCH!!

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11 Amanda September 4, 2010 at 12:24 am

Thanks so much for this post. About 2 weeks ago I broke up with the guy I honestly thought I would marry. It felt so right and so wrong at the same time. I’m still feeling a bit confused, and I even doubt my decision some days. But I know in my mind that my decision was the right one; I’m just waiting for my heart to realize it too. Thanks again for the motivation to get back to the things I love.

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12 Kavi September 9, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and finally had to comment — b/c I LOVE this post! Thanks Rachel!

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13 Pantea October 25, 2010 at 12:15 am

I wish I had read this during the two and a half years I was dating my ex-boyfriend. He was a wonderful guy but he wasn’t right for me and I knew it. Despite knowing it, though, I just couldn’t let go and continued to date him because I thought that things with him were as good as a relationship could get. I was wrong. I met my current boyfriend back in March, right as things with my ex were finally reaching the breaking point. My current boyfriend was the catalyst that pushed things over the edge and caused the definitive end of my previous relationship (my ex and I broke up before I started dating my current). I certainly loved my bacon chocolate bar but you’re right– the French Chocolaterie is the best I’ve ever had.

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14 Melissa February 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I know you wrote this post months ago, but it is so relevant for me today. Thanks, Rachel! You are wonderful! I want to be you when I grow up (even though I’m already waaaay older than you ;) )!!!

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15 Lisa February 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm

And as trite as it sounds: age helps. When I had “The Worst Breakup Ever” back when I was 21 I thought it was the end of the world. I was absolutely devastated for a number of reasons. We’d planned on getting married, we lived together, etc etc. It took a lot of clarity, growing up, independence and finding myself to realize I was an idiot. Super duper idiot. What was I thinking??

Sure there were more break ups, some hurt more than others. But I always knew they weren’t REALLY the one….

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16 Brandy @ Let's Grab a Coffee August 25, 2011 at 10:41 pm

I’d love to see this as a Top Post! I send it to all my friends.

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17 Mel July 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Reason#234234234 I love this blog: THIS. Your archives. Some things are just always relevant.

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