Breaking down our worst break ups
By Janis McMath, Assistant Editor & Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief
Everyone experiences break ups differently. Each relationship needs a different break up depending on a number of factors. Some people need distance from the ex to get over the relationship and some people prefer and do better by staying friends with their exes. There is no one right answer for how to break up. However, there are some mistakes that we have made and witnessed in our relationships that need to be addressed. These are our worst break up stories—enjoy.
Going the distance
I lived with my ex for two months after our breakup.
My first serious relationship was a long-distance one. We met when he was travelling in Canada, and things were idyllic at first when we lived together. When he went back to his home country though, things deteriorated fast. Distance forced me to realize our incompatibility—but I mustered all my mental strength to suppress that fact… and flew across the country to visit him for the first time.
It was a disaster. The second I saw him at the airport I realized that he was a total stranger to me and that I had grown a lot in the half-year we had been apart. When he went in to hug me, I immediately tensed up. This was going to be a long two months.
Even if we hadn’t officially talked about it, it was clear that there were issues from the start. I remember when we first entered the apartment we would be sharing for two months, I immediately went to sit by the window to message my family and friends back home. He stared at me for a few moments before smiling and exclaiming: “I just can’t believe you’re really here!” Being a jerk, I replied “mhmm.” Poor bastard; he didn’t know I was screaming his exact sentiment in my head.
The next two months consisted of constant arguments and emotional yelling matches. “Why won’t you give me a chance?” He would ask. “What’s wrong with me?” He would pester. “I don’t understand why you don’t love me now; I love you!” There were literally no answers I could give him aside from “we’re just not good together as a couple” and “we’re just too different.” When we first started dating as two ignorant and incapable twenty-year olds, we always relied on each other for advice and guidance. Now that I was breaking up with him, this formula didn’t add up anymore. He was literally asking me how to get over me. Neither of us had much emotional support and because we were in such close quarters, so we figured there was no other alternative and continued to live at this level of dysfunction.
Near the end of the two months, we went travelling and met a bunch of people backpacking in his home country. When we were doing so, he started to talk to other people about our break up. Our friendship honestly improved for a short while after that, but when I had to start getting ready to go home, things started getting unrealistic and ugly again. He started talking about visiting each other, like this visit hadn’t already been enough of a prison sentence for both of us.
We sat at the airport talking about all the ways we would stay friends and, after having been in such an emotional state for a full two months, I wept with him and was delusional enough for a split-second to think that maintaining this relationship would be beneficial on any level for either of us. When I got back home, we had a single phone conversation about the fact that it was for the best that we never talked again and cut contact permanently. I wish him the best, but any relationship we would have would be the utter opposite. We all want to care about our exes, but sometimes the most caring thing we can do for them is to cut them out completely.
Friends with no benefits
I dated my first boyfriend for a little over two years. This was both of our first meaningful relationship ever. After we broke up, we didn’t really know what to do. We were both each others only friends at that point, so we kept hanging out, having sex, texting, pretty much everything you do in a relationship, sans the relationship. Since he was my first everything, it was hard to see myself without him. After two years, he became a part of my identity. We worked together at the same job as well, so being apart of the couples at my job also became my identity. I didn’t have a sense of self, I only had a sense of us. In hindsight, I should have been more independent. I should have ended our relationship right then and there instead of blurring the lines with sex and “friendship.”
My second relationship was short and sweet. We only dated for about 6 months and I thought I had this relationship thing down pat because I was more independent. Boy, was I wrong. It was tough breaking up with him. I liked him a lot and we had fun, but he just wasn’t the right guy for me. Specifically, I didn’t like hanging out with his friends whose idea of fun was to chain smoke cigarettes in a parking lot, and I knew that was a good indication that we weren’t right for each other. The breakup was a lot messier this time around. I remember him crying and begging me not to leave him. Yeah, that was rough.
After we talked it through, we agreed that we would stay friends. Big mistake. After our break up he told me he told his friends that the reason we broke up was because I hated them. Weeks later he asked to meet me somewhere to talk. He asked me “we’re friends, right? And as your friend you would want to know if something bad happened to me, right?” “Of course,” I said. He told me his brother had died and asked me to go to the funeral with him, you know, as his friend. “Of course,” I said, “as a friend.” When I went to the funeral, I was seated next to all of his friends. All of them knowing I had broken up with him because I didn’t like them. I also met his extended family, as his ex-girlfriend, at his brother’s funeral. Yikes.
After not seeing him for a few years, he reached out to me to hang out again. After giving him a big spiel about why I think that would be a bad idea and I wouldn’t be comfortable with it he responded angrily since he “thought we were friends.” I don’t regret going to the funeral with him for support, but I wish I created a bit more distance after we broke up. We relied on each other too much for friendship and support, when we were the exact people we needed support for, not from.
Break up through to the other side
Big problems in our break-ups that are common: Both of us experienced the issue of getting our personalities and sense of self intertwined with our partners. We relied on them too much for validation and support, and when the relationships were over, we both could not figure out another way to obtain that support as easily. So, instead of moving on, we decided to stick together. In an article for Independent, sex therapist Ammanda Major’s rules for getting over a break up lists reconnecting with yourself as an important point for progress. Major states, “In many relationships, the primary focus is on ‘we’ instead of ‘me’ or ‘I.’[…] Although it may sound cliché, the end of a relationship offers you the chance to reconnect with you.” If you are ending a relationship with someone and really feel the need to stay friends, ensure that you are both actively focusing on growing your own identities.
In both of our stories, we did not allow ourselves a healthy opportunity to experience loss. We were right in the faces of our exes as they cried about the woes of our relationships. How did we expect to handle our losses if we hadn’t even properly lost our relationships? “From seeing or talking to the one you love every day to having no contact, it can seem impossibly daunting to imagine your life without them,” says Major in the article previously mentioned. It was so daunting that neither of us could muster up the courage to do it for a long period, but as Major states, “[…]it is important to come to terms with this new reality and accept it before you can move on.” Each relationship is surely different, but we should all realize the ramifications of not being capable of independence and isolation during the end of a relationship.