Breaking up with someone and ending a relationship while you’re still in love may seem crazy to some, and yet, that’s what I just did. I left my partner because I knew there was more fulfillment in loving myself than there was in my relationship.
The relationship didn’t end with ill-will, in fact, it concluded with love—love for him and love for myself. The breakup was a product of poor circumstances, the main ones being long distance and lack of resources to change that. Time and money broke us up, or rather, lack thereof.
There was only so long I was able to go while being in a relationship, but feeling single. Our days and nights were not filled with communication, but rather a silence that seemed to grow more unbearable as each new day passed.
So while my relationship ended, I don’t believe it failed. Instead, I know that there was love shared, even if it wasn’t meant to be. It’s probably harder breaking up and dealing with a broken heart than it is to stay in a broken relationship, hoping things will get better. Assumedly, that’s why so many people stay in broken relationships.
I couldn’t stay in this broken relationship anymore. But I definitely learned a lot, and I am certain that he changed me. He made me a better person, so it most certainly was not a failure, but it was a heartbreak.
The end of a relationship is not a failure
I think what hurts the most is putting so much time and effort into something to watch it end—I was very careful not to say “fail” because I don’t believe any relationship ends in failure. There’s always something to learn from a breakup. Each relationship we have, whether it be romantic, friendly, or familial, we gain something from it during and afterwards.
And yet, so many people talk about failed relationships, but what exactly does that mean? That just because a relationship ends it was a failure?
Too often society trains us to believe that everything is black and white, good or bad, success or failure. But once we learn that we get to define what success is, we have much more control of how we view our lives—and the view is generally better once we can get a perspective shift.
Does success mean marriage? Then yes, breaking up would be a failure at that attempt.
Or does success mean spending time with someone you love, learning from each other, maturing, and becoming a better you in the process? Then heartbreak and a breakup wouldn’t mean the relationship failed, it would just mean that specific relationship is over. But the memories and the person who evolved and blossomed throughout the process of being in a relationship remain.
Redefine what the ending of a relationship means to you and you’ll be able to find the blessings instead. Look at the growth you experienced over the time spent. Now you have a better understanding of what you want and need from a partner that you can carry forward into your next relationship. (That sounds pretty successful to me.)
Having gratitude for the time spent, rather than feeling like you failed at something, will help you to feel the love for your former partner, and most importantly, yourself. Because after you breakup you will experience an identity crisis, and self-love will ease the process.
The loss of identity after a breakup
After a relationship ends, there is a grieving period—no matter who did the leaving. There are several losses that occur that must be processed. Loss of an imagined future, loss of a companion, and loss of an identity.
We create an identity when we’re in relationship with another. With certain friends we might be more spontaneous and outgoing, whereas with another friend we’re more cerebral and reserved, and with family, we can live life without ever truly revealing ourselves.
Our identity with another depends on the dynamic of the relationship. When a relationship is over, there is a death of who we were with that person. And depending on how long a relationship lasts, it could be quite the ego death that ensues.
Breakups are not just painful because we lose someone we love(d), but also because we lose a part of who we were and must rediscover who we are now without the other person. We lose two people: our partner and ourself.
Just like with any loss, there are different stages of grieving. It’s important to allow each stage, whether it be anger or sadness, to fully be expressed. Stifling an emotion will keep it stuck inside of you, when the key to moving on means excavating and eradicating stuck energy and feelings.
Through the process of coping with your new losses, you will discover new parts about yourself and you will realize how strong you can be. It takes courage to heal a broken heart. Running away from your losses will only bring the lesson back to be learned again in a different package, aka a similar relationship.
Grieve your losses, allow yourself to feel fully, and in time, you will recover from your breakup.
Time heals broken hearts
It’s true, time is needed to recover from a broken heart. A lot of people will rush into a new relationship in order to try to forget the hurt and move on. However, the truth is, if you don’t deal with the wound of your heartbreak, you will only continue to reopen it through similar experiences in the future.
It’s best to allow time and self-love to do their magic before falsely moving on. You must first discover who you are alone after the relationship has dissolved so that you can attract someone in alignment with the “new” you.
An enormously helpful tool when getting over heartbreak is to journal. Not only does journaling reduce stress and help you become more self-aware, but you can always look back and see how you overcame past heartbreaks, allowing you to empirically understand that you will survive this one too.
Unfortunately, there’s no timeline. When you finally get over someone else and who you were when you were with them depends on each person and each relationship. But fortunately, if you continue to live your life and love yourself, the time will come when you’re healed and ready to move on. And like all things, it’ll be right on time.
Brittany Noelle Roa is an interdisciplinary artist with an MFA in Physical Theatre who uses her art and creativity to heal herself and others. She loves learning about health and wellness so she can optimize her human potential to live a full and happy life.