Have you ever tried sleeping with a broken heart? Alicia Keys has, and so have I. The intense mourning period after a bad breakup or a humiliating rejection knows no specific time limit; although many of us have to maintain functionality while being dead inside. Of course to the outside world — and the cyber world of social media — I will try to put on a brave front, bragging about all of my positive qualities while hiding the fact that if [name redacted] called me, the walls would crumble and there would be me with open arms, ready to be disappointed all over again. So what reasons do so many hold on to relationships that are done? Here are some reasons why I stayed in love limbo:
Fear of moving on. Yes, it is true. I was actually afraid to move on from the guy I was last with, but luckily I found that I was not entirely crazy to do this. Luckily there are forums dedicated to such questions that led me to understand that not everyone is afraid of letting go for the same reasons, but more often than not it boils down to simply being afraid to admit that the well has run dry. Starting over is scary. You are older, your stock has gone down and rules of engagement evolve as fast technology. You got a new notebook tablet? Great… you’ll need to use that to see how different the dating game is, especially with online dating taking off and apps taking a lot of the in-person interaction away. This is new and if you’re trying to venture into the dating pool, it can all be too much for us old souls to try and “chillax” in the unfamiliar dating scene.
Angry and staying that way. In other words, he/left you bitter, torn and waiting for the official breakup you feel you deserve. There is nothing worse than being in love with someone and then to have them end things suddenly, with no explanation or even a post-it note on the fridge. Imagine the frustration, the confusion, the sorrow and the unanswered questions that are left for you while [insert name here] is off living his/her life without a care in the world. Compound that with your friends refusing to let you wallow in sadness, you just want to either cry or scream… or both. It’s like, “You know what? Tomorrow, I’ll move on and this will make me a stronger person. But right now, I just want to hate love, knock things over, scream at the TV, take kickboxing classes, and imagine he’s off somewhere in complete misery.” Sometimes, anger is good. Anger is healthy. Anger helps you realize that you are human and that — hey — I have feelings and I’m hurt.
Maybe we’ll get back together. Admit it. When you find the one, those feelings are damn near impossible to turn off, no matter how much time has passed since last you saw each other. Even when the relationship ends on bad terms, the feelings are still there, leaving many of us in this sad state of purgatory where we’re stuck in that in-between point of “Can we make it work?” and “It’s over. Deal with it.” Even to this day, I find myself wondering if I moved on at the right time. Could we have a chance now, considering that our lives are at the point we wanted them to be? But, then I remember what I wrote previously about getting over one-sided relationships and perspective comes back into play. Fact is, if it was going to work, it would have worked. You can wrap yourself in what-ifs for the rest of your life, but if you’re trying to do something productive, this is about as not productive as you can get. I consider this the most torturous of the many things we use to keep ourselves pining for exes/favorite mistakes.
Denial. You probably know it’s over. A part of you is surprisingly at peace with the finality. But, there is that other part of you that refuses to accept that you have yet another failed relationship. Yet another reminder of how you cannot make it work. And let’s not factor in the friends and family members that warned you way back when that it wouldn’t amount to anything. No one wants to deal with a million I-told-you-sos, even if the intention is to offer consolation, on top of a reminder that everyone else knows what’s best for you. I didn’t want to admit there was nothing else there because it meant that all of the lovey-dovey stuff we uttered to each other was temporary sweet nothings that we didn’t mean. Last I checked, “forever” wasn’t a few months of relationships and a couple of years of “What are we, exactly?” Denial isn’t a river in Egypt; it’s what we do to hold on to our sanity.
Relationships are hard to come by and hard to maintain. We often strive to do our best to keep the fire burning and our love strong. So it stands to reason that we will try to keep the fire going, even if we’re down to few embers. Breakups are bad enough without having to deal with the fallout, but eventually we have to deal with it. These are few of the reasons why I chose to hang on to the hurt much longer than I should have. However, the sole reason I chose to drop all of that baggage and move on: ultimately, I am stuck with me forever. And me needs to be happy, so that heartache can take a hike.