Ending a long-term relationship is just like being born. It's painful, loud, and once it's over you're invariably left covered in weird mucus and screaming at a world you don't understand.
There's a lot of stuff on the internet about how to get over your ex—95 percent of it is patronizing bullshit, and the other 5 percent seems to be covert porn advertising. (I know, I've looked.) Both have their uses, but I've found zilch that speaks to the true horror of having half of your personality cleaved away from you.
As such, helpful breakup advice would be the kind of product that could make a person seriously rich. Unfortunately, I don't have any. I don't think anyone really has any, to be honest. And that is because it basically all boils down to sulking for a bit before getting bored of jerking off and going out to find your next future ex.
That said, guillotining a long-term relationship at a time in your life when you can glimpse full-blown adulthood while still standing in the gathering ashes of your youth does teach you a few things. So here are some arbitrary lessons I've learned since becoming newly single in my 20s. Please come on in and share my pain.
NO ONE GIVES A FUCK WHAT AN UTTER MESS YOU'VE BECOME
Are you both still alive? Not making any plans for that to change any time soon? Then, honestly, nobody cares. Sure, your friends will drown you in platitudinal emojis and your parents will start calling you more, but fundamentally, hearing about your romantic shithousery is as compelling to the average happy person as opening a gas bill. Someone else's gas bill.
And this is because by the time you're in your mid 20s, literally everyone—supermodels, dogs, eunuchs—has experienced heartbreak before. Nobody is going to want to spend a whole weekday night listening as you warble drunkenly about how your relationship was different from all the other relationships ever recorded in poetry and song. And if someone does, it's probably because they're toying with the idea of fucking your ex.
THERE HASN'T BEEN A GOOD PHOTO OF YOU TAKEN IN HALF A DECADE
This is something you'll realize pretty quickly while setting up a Tinder account one hungover Sunday morning: A camera hasn't been pointed at your face and made you look in any way decent in so, so long. I personally am beginning to fear that it isn't even the camera's fault. I probably look nothing like what I think I do. Actually, I don't even know what I look like. What the fuck do I look like?
There is a reason for this photographic neglect. During my relationship I basically morphed from a fun-loving, urbane Mercutio type into a middle-aged white dude who talks about gardening and shit. My wardrobe is composed solely of slippers and turtlenecks. Sometimes I judge people on trains by the papers they're reading. I use the word "problematic" in casual conversation. I am so dull and so very, very alone.
THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE DON'T REALLY WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH YOU
A myth spread by those notorious CIA-funded lizard people in Hollywood is that, if it weren't for their pesky bloody better halves, men would be sleeping with a different dream woman every night. Bachelors in movies are always, always cooler and hipper and more sexed-up than the ball-and-chained.
But guess what: That's a suicide bomber's idea of paradise. If you still think women are basically just walking glory-holes after half a decade of being with one, you're probably a complete shithead who never deserved happiness in the first place.
YOU DON'T WANNA HAVE ANY FUCKING SEX ANYWAY
It's not that no one wants to have sex with you when you're just out of a long-term relationship. I mean, you do tend to look and act like you've just returned from the front lines of a really horrible war—but it's also that you might not want to have sex with anyone anyway. In your idle moments (and there are a fair number of those), you may wind up comparing yourself to a really naughty dog that's been kicked in the groin a few too many times and now just wants to forget it owns reproductive organs.
This will go on until that fateful day when you realize that the only people who text you now are your drug dealer and the robot at GrubHub, and neither of them care about you. That's the day it's time to fix yourself up and get back at it, champ. You can't sit around hand-fucking your regrets all your life.
I am so dull and so very, very alone.
THE COURTSHIP RITUALS HAVE ALL CHANGED
When I first met my ex, I vomited onto the top of her head from the floor above during a dorm party (just like a teen movie!). So, if you're thinking that she wasn't the best girl in the world, please reconsider. When you're young, these things are normal behavior. Puking on each other was to the 2000s what "taking a turn around the green" was in the 17th century. Classic, entry-level courtship. Those heady days are over. You're out of the loop. If I vomited on someone now I doubt I'd end up going for brunch with them the next morning. I'd probably be arrested.
WHAT IN GOD'S NAME IS "FLIRTING"?
Seriously. What the hell is it? As far as I can tell it's like talking, but… sexier, somehow? Jesus Christ, I'm fucked, aren't I?
YOU END UP CALLING CLUBBING "DANCING"
Did I mention how many turtlenecks I own?
YOU'LL GO OUT "DANCING" BUT NOT DANCE WITH ANYONE
I go out. I get "out." But then when I'm there I don't talk to anyone. Instead, I am the person standing in the corner of the club with a Campari and soda staring into the lights and then looking at my cellphone, hoping that somebody finds that irresistible.
KIDS HAVING FUN LOOK LIKE ALIENS
Once upon a time a 20-year-old who was drinking at a bar thanks to a fake ID or good looks would have been someone cool whom I wanted to meet. Now I look at them and think, My God, you are a CHILD. A tipsy, sort of sexy child who probably thinks YouTube vloggers are celebrities and communicates mostly through Snapchat and emojis. These people are not in my universe, and I'll never get into their pants.
FRIENDS ARE FOREVER, REALLY
A couple of my friends are still best buds despite one them spewing hot, acidic bile into the other one's mouth one time while they were dancing. Seriously. Get some buddies. They're fucking great. They'll haul you out of the abyss just by farting into your voicemail.
YOU NEED TO ACCEPT THAT YOU'RE FATTER, SMELLIER, AND LESS EXCITING THAN YOU WERE BEFORE
You're in your mid 20s. You're single. Showers are now optional. Your ideal date is Super Smash Bros alone on your sofa. Your sweaters are too tight. Your jeans are too wide. People say that getting older sucks, but really there's a lot of inherent novelty to it.
Being in a good relationship is the perfect place for these weird, comfortable traits to develop—the perfect place in which to get older, basically—and when that relationship breaks down, you're going to miss that. Instead, you'll find yourself in a world that cares less about you with each passing day. If you're a boring 21-year-old asshole, there's at least still the potential that you'll be an interesting non-asshole one day. If you're a boring 26-year-old asshole people are just going to assume that that's your final adult form.
Relationships are great, but they also destroy the parts of you that are necessary to function in the single world. The most important piece of advice I can give you is this: Rebuild these parts if you want any hope of reaffirming your status as one of life's non-assholes.
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