Breakups often suck (also, the sky is blue, in case you didn’t know).
They tend to suck when someone’s broken up with you, and can suck when you’re the one doing the breaking up, too. They even often suck when a breakup is something people come to mutually, after shared effort, communication and care. Endings can be hard, change is hard; anything that is or feels like a rejection of some part of ourselves or someone else stinks. Losing a personal connection that was important to us is a big deal; so is having what hopes and dreams we had in a relationship squished. And when elective interpersonal relationships — friendships, romantic or sexual relationships — are newer to us, and our elevated feelings in them are also new, a breakup, even when a relationship was short, even when it wasn’t much of a relationship at all, can feel like a knife to the guts.
Our early relationships rarely survive a lifetime. Most relationships we have in our lives, at any age, won’t last a lifetime. But our early loves, and most of the relationships we have in our teens and early twenties, not only won’t tend to last forever, even though they may feel like they can or will, are often over a lot more quickly than we thought they’d be. Everyone is growing and changing so much between their pre-teens and their twenties that there can be a whole lot of interpersonal false starts, endings or fadeaways during those years. Sometimes moving into adulthood can feel like a marathon of loss in this way, one that just won’t cut you a break.
On top of all that, since everyone’s just starting to learn how to manage relationships, the way breakups happen during these years can also feel more painful and shocking than later on, when people do have more practice, more emotional maturity and life experience. Unfortunately, the way breakups most typically happen is that one person does the breaking up, often to the great surprise of the other person. That’s usually because what “breaks” first in a relationship is communication. In other words, by the time someone says, “I want to break up,” or “I’m breaking up with you,” communication has either broken down in the relationship, or mutually open, honest communication, especially about conflicts or other hard stuff, was never really there to begin with.
Another common dynamic in relationships when you’re younger — one that’s been really pervasive lately — is for people to make serious commitments, or “get serious,” before one or more of them actually have gotten to know each other, or have actually been sure they even want to enter into a more serious relationship. Rather than dating or hanging out more gradually first, and only deciding after a good deal of time, and talks together about what each are looking for and want, with this kind of rushing in, when people do actually get to know each other and find out they don’t really click, or discover a particular kind of relationship, or relationship with that person isn’t what they want, then it’s BOOM! breakup, rather than people figuring those things out before getting seriously involved. In other words, it’s something more likely to happen to people going through a before-getting-in-a-relationship process only after they’ve already gotten into one.
Even when the more-ideal has happened — people really took time to make commitments, including to agree to be boyfriends or girlfriends, and honestly communicated when things weren’t working for them as they weren’t, rather than only when they were out the door — breakups can still hurt. In fact, in that ideal kind of situation, where no one is shocked by a breakup, in some ways it might hurt worse, or for longer, because those are more typically longer-term relationships where everyone involved was a lot more close, and each putting a lot of effort and emotional investment into the relationship.
There are more ways breakups can and do happen, of course, but no matter how it happened, chances are that while the hurt or sadness, if you’re feeling those things, won’t always be the same, or happen the same way, a breakup probably hurts. And it might hurt an awful lot.
Read the rest at Scarleteen here.