I've just started reading your column on a daily basis. Never did I think that I would actually be writing in with a question!
I am sitting here, right now, bawlin' like a big 'ole baby, because I just had the misfortune of discovering that my boyfriend of three years, who I'd been fighting with for the past few weeks/months, decided to take down his relationship status (“In a relationship”) from his Facebook page. Now, I knew that this was coming. We had been arguing for quite some time now, over stupid stuff. It was becoming quite obvious to both of us that this relationship was not going to last forever. He is uneducated, irresponsible with money, immature, possessive, domineering, and obnoxious. I know that sounds like a lot of things that should have made me run the day I met him, but when you dig down into his background and upbringing, you can almost justify some of the way he is and acts. At least, I did. Stupid me, fell in love.
I am not looking for advice on how to save this broken partnership. I know it is useless to even try anymore. There is no more respect on either side because of things that were said. What I would like to know is how the heck does someone get over these things quickly and, somewhat, painlessly? I know it's not the right relationship for me. I get that. But why does it still hurt so much and how do you get over it? I feel like a lost little puppy. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
– Feelin' sorry for myself at 42, Worcester
There is no break-up pill, FSFMA42. This stuff is like the common cold -- you just have to wait it out.
There are some ways to help expedite the process. Consider how much emotional energy it took to keep this not-so-great relationship alive. A lot of energy. More than you even know. Now you’re stuck with all of this excess time and energy and you don’t know what to do with it, which is why you feel so overwhelmed. All of that energy is being used to obsess about what went wrong and why. That analysis isn't going to get you anywhere at this point.
My advice is to take that energy and put it somewhere else. Use 20 percent of it to spread the word to family and friends that you're going to start looking for a partner who’s right for you. That 20 percent includes spending more time with those friends. Use another 30 percent for a creative project -- perhaps an apartment renovation? Playing music? Something that involves self-expression. Use another 30 percent for self-improvement. Maybe a class or the gym. Allow yourself 15 percent for feeling bummed out. Because you can't avoid it. Break-ups take some mourning. You're supposed to consider the loss and what you've learned.
You should notice that there's a 5 percent hole on my pie chart. That last 5 percent is the effort it will take to not get back together with this person. I fear the Facebook status was an attention-seeking bluff. Maybe I'm wrong, but just in case, save 5 percent for reminding yourself what you have to look forward to -- an easier life, possibly with someone new.
Readers? Would you rearrange my pie chart? Any thoughts for the letter writer? Is his past relevant? Do you think he's going to come back? And -- if anyone wants to draw me their own break-up pie chart and e-mail it to me, I will post it. I love art projects. Now discuss.