Why Breakups are Harder as We Get Older

<I wrote this 5 months ago. But, I think it is still a relatable piece for us all and think it’s worth sharing>

This breakup has been horrifically hard. And when it comes to breakups, my cleansing period typically involves impromptu crying, googling rehab retreats with limited exposure to the outside world – in the hope to hide away my craziness from any onlooker; deleting everyone from my friend’s list on any online profile with the idea that this will make my life simpler (? Spoiler: it just makes online super boring) and – for the first time ever – experiencing huge cravings for all things ice-cream related.

Yes, I am the definition of crazy ex-girlfriend, and this is how I naturally react to heartbreak.

I’ve experienced all the typical phases of a breakup; sadness, motivation for the future, the deepest loneliness, anger, appreciation for pets and parents, shame, anxiety and just general loss. It’s been pretty intense to say the least, and the inevitable mood swings (the ones that aren’t part of my usual bouts of mood) haven’t much improved over the past month.

And I think that’s because, unlike before, this was a grown up relationship. It’s not to say that previous attempts at relationships haven’t meant anything, it’s just that this relationship was mature; we lived together and created a life as a team. We were routine, rather than romance and it was comfortable rather than cautious. Which makes it all the more heart-breaking when the team can’t fight through the bad to get back to the good; forgive mistakes and move on; accept the past and plan the future.

As you get older, it’s no longer about just missing getting a good morning text or taking selfies captioned ‘Date Night’: It’s missing little stupid things like brushing your teeth together, bitching about the latest episode of your favourite mundane show and laughing in bed when you really should be sleeping.

Things just feel weird without them there; watching telly or – for me – silly things like going to Aldi or a B&M to find shit we don’t need… and there’s artists I just couldn’t listen to again.

As a grown-up relationship crumbles, your body clock seems to scream like you’ve plucked out the minute hand and erased another number off its face. There’s another cross on the life-long calendar to show another notch in the life story that didn’t work out. And there’s a miserable, over-critical voice telling you how you’ll be alone forever, you’ll never get married and ‘now we have to start all over again but we’re running out of time’.
It’s like you’ve had this plan, and when the plan seems to be going the right way, a snake on the board of life captures you on square 23 and pulls you all the way back down to number 16.

I never saw myself as a serial relationshipper, which is probably why my huge total of relationships amounts to a whole 2 – though I’ve experienced more than 2 breakups – and I’d always hoped to be one of those kids that lived out a fairytale: Their first love was their love forever; they got married, had kids and simply melted into each other’s lives like their partnership was carved into the fabrics of time before they were even born. Like the pairing of Rory and Amy in Doctor Who (by far, the best storyline, ever).

I always thought you only ever loved one person properly, and that the people who said that we have to experience all kinds of relationships to find the right one were stupid. Because how could you love someone and stop? How could you move on with life and find out that something you’d always known wasn’t real, and that something new was? How can someone move on from their life? And come out the other end okay? As you can see, an overthinker’s life can get pretty confusing; even when it comes to one of the most documented feelings in history.

And perhaps I get a little too invested into the attempt for everything to be perfect, and perhaps we all ignore the major and minor hiccups along the way in the hope that they’ll smooth out and we can keep working at our lifetime double act.

There were cracks in my relationship – like there is for everyone – but that doesn’t mean when things end it’s easy to let go of slithers of perfection and matter-of-factly think ‘it’s for the best’. If anything, the huge focus on the recent loss seals up the cracks and fogs up the glass that lets you reflect on the whole thing with rose tinted shades.

Suddenly the idea of any other male/female coming remotely close to you feels somewhat offensive and hurtful. Things don’t matter like they used to – especially material possessions that you’ve packed up and put into storage as you find yourself somewhere new to live. It’s just materials; and what’s materials without another person to enjoy them with?

Call me naive, but I’ve read and watched a lot of dream like sequences where boy meets girl and the rest is history. And with each little rip or crease in the fabric of a relationship, I become panicked and scared and unsure.

I watch these young lovers on Facebook screaming from the rooftops how they love their girlfriend of 3 days, as I cynically scoff another tea soaked digestive into my mouth thinking ‘it won’t last’. My skin curls at the site of PDA and cute relationship announcements just piss me off. Since my first heartbreak, I’ve always been a grumpy old hag at heart.

But love is still this magical power or feeling that I always thought was simple, yet it’s been twisted and contorted into this ball of confusion that actually takes a few more attempts to get right than I first anticipated.

I could never be the person my partner had always wanted me to be; and I guess you sort of forget that during day to day life and enjoy what you have. And truthfully, I would’ve given the world to be what he wanted and needed at all times, I guess that’s what a relationship is. Perhaps that’s why I burst into ‘auto self sabotage mode’ and couldn’t scramble back to the surface. I tried – I really tried – but the damage was already done.

And unlike most of the people I’ve ever had a particular love interest in, this one is a clean break; there’s no going back, there’s not even conversation or friendship to look forward to.

Somewhere down the line, I guess it gets to a point where it hurts less; maybe it ends up not hurting at all? And all that’s left to do is to appreciate the lessons learnt and the amazing experience you had with your temporary soulmate. And when all is over and done with, you get to a point where you only have the utmost respect for the other person, and hope them the best in their lives and the adventure that is finding true love.

That’s all we can hope for really when we turn over a new page, isn’t it? But it’s a very odd thing to strive for: Reaching a point where the person who meant the most to you is simply a lovely little memory, as you move forward and search to get your own character and self-worth back.

Like everyone says, relationships are fucking hard. And confusing. And definitely is not like the books or the films (or those marriages that started from a simple text into the Metro news paper between ‘girl with brown hair’ and ‘man with blue scarf on the Waterloo line’). They’re bittersweet, and they change you.

And whilst I’ll never be one of the great writers like Shakespeare or Taytay (every generation needs an inspiration okay?) who manage to put the feeling into a perfect line of words, I hope to one day figure out my own magic, and my own abilities to write down what exactly this feeling is, learn how to nuture it, and give others the same hope that I’ve always had in fairytales.

P.S Totally not into getting into personal situations, so I made it a bit poetic and thoughtful instead.

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