I just broke up with my best friend, a man I've shared the last half-decade of my life with. And yet, I don't hate him. It's odd, not hating him. Not only do I not hate him, I still love him (albeit non-romantically.) I still want him in my life. Having formerly advocated a "scorch the Earth" policy when it came to breakups, this is a new and exciting development in my ever-evolving emotional maturity. Non-hatred of an ex being wholly uncharted territory, however, I have no idea what the fuck I'm doing. In the interest of full disclosure, dear reader, I must confess—I'm terrified. I know, however, what I should do. You should do it, too, if you want to move on from lost love without drowning in your own tears or choking to death on your Seamless delivery by yourself.
Don't Date Someone Shitty in the First Place
It goes without saying that you should never date anyone atrocious, but had I not done that in the past, I wouldn't have all this swell perspective! My ex is the only person I've ever courted who wasn't a total piece of shit. And boy, did I appreciate the hell out of it. Spending your life with a fundamentally good, rational human being ensures that you don't end up ending things by, let's say, getting beaten with your own umbrella on Hollywood Boulevard after a Superchunk concert (I say this theoretically, of course, having never experienced a break up that remarkably insane. Cough.)
Don't Ask Questions You Don't Want the Answers To
Asking the question, "Do you want to sleep with other people?" of your former mate may seem innocuous, logical even, but the profound, soul-crushing truths of the answer (which, naturally, is yes) can send you into an emotional tailspin. The next thing you know, the only thing you're capable of thinking about is which 20-something mutual acquaintance the former love of your life will soon be publicly balling, and the only thing you're capable of drinking is bourbon and the only place you're capable of sleeping is on the floor, after having consumed enough bourbon to make that seem like a perfectly reasonable idea. (I say this, again, theoretically. Cough.)
Acknowledge Your Faults
You know what the common denominator in all of your failed relationships is? You. Placing blame solely on the other party is tempting, but childish. Think of every time you passive aggressively told them you "weren't mad" when you really were. Every time you took some unrelated aggression out on them. Your hands aren't completely clean, Mother Teresa. Wash them off with some good old fashioned self reflection.
Don't Try to Fuck Your Way Out of It
Fucking, either with other people or with the person you're breaking up with, is not a good idea in your fragile emotional state. Y'know what is a good idea, though? Masturbating! Use your own tears as lube!
Photo by Jamie Lee Curtis Taete
Recognize the Fundamental Impermanence of Life and Love
Relationships, like life, are of a transient nature. Sure, looking at that elderly couple holding hands on the park bench may make you feel as though you've failed, but they're the exception to the rule. And anyhow, they can't fuck without pills, so you still win. Not that it's a competition or anything. But fuck them.
Your initial instinct is to not. Your initial instinct is wrong. Regardless of what that poorly photoshopped, pixelated meme your mother put on Facebook would imply, love is not necessary in order to sustain life. Sustenance, however, most certainly is. Eat a sandwich. You'll feel better.
Get out of bed, you miserable slag. Go on a walk. A jog. Anything. While advocates of a healthy lifestyle are wrong about a number of things (a "Runner's High," for example, isn't nearly as exciting as really being high), they are right about how exercise makes you feel better. And wouldn't you like to feel better? Wouldn't that be nice?
Don't Isolate Yourself
Sitting, alone, in the apartment you once shared, staring at the vacuous black night beyond your living room window, or laying prostrate and shallowly breathing in between dry heaves on the bed you once shared is a waste of goddamned time. Not only does it not make you feel any better, it actively makes you feel worse. Y'know what does make you feel better, though? Accepting the help and support of people you love, who love you. Sleep on their couches. Tolerate their hospitality. Allow yourself the opportunity to take a break from the nightmarish hellscape that is your mind, at least for a night (or two, or three, or four, depending on how benevolent the members of your support system are) by watching the 0.0 Bechdel Test scoring The Other Woman with them. (Again, theoretically. Cough. God, I can't stop coughing. I must be coming down with something.)
Photo by Jamie Lee Curtis Taete
Don't send shitty text messages. (I say, this, of course, after having sent multiple shitty text messages to my ex in the past few days. Allow me this opportunity to formally apologize for said shitty text messages. Sorry, Allen, for all the shitty text messages.) Don't be selfish. They want space? Give them space. Don't scream-sob to them about how you feel like they're avoiding you, and why the fuck are they avoiding you, what are you, a fucking monster? Is that what they think? Do they hate you? Oh my God, they hate you. No, you will not stop sobbing, they can't tell you what to do anymore, and so on and so on. Cut it out, Zelda Fitzgerald.
Vouch for Their Character
There's something you like, something you loved, about your ex in the first place—that's why you dated them. They have intrinsic value, both to you and others. Celebrate that value. Talk them up to mutual acquaintances. Unless, of course, they're completely irredeemable pieces of shit, but you don't date irredeemable pieces of shit, remember?
Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself
You're not in Gaza. You don't have a terminal illness. For the sake of everloving fuck, chill out. Listen, kiddo—you miss 100 percent of the failings you don't try. But at least you tried. Next time, you might succeed. There will be a next time.
Recognize Your Irrationality
You're not thinking clearly. Your mind is clouded with regret, bourbon, or both. You may not actually feel what you think you're feeling. Allow time to pass before you make any rash decisions, like cutting your hair (don't) or fucking your best friend (don't) or getting a tattoo of a Phoenix rising from the ashes to, like celebrate you rising from the ashes of your former relationship (dear God, please don't).
In general, you should always stay hydrated. Awful things happen when you don't. Terrible things. Worse than you could even imagine. Worse than the death of love.
Follow Megan Koester on Twitter