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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.