As I’ve mentioned before, The Break Up is a favourite film of mine. I love the fact that it doesn’t have a typical fairy tale ending. I’d recorded it on Sky+ and watched it again tonight. It’s the first time I’ve watched it since splitting with my ex and it brought back a lot of memories. Standing in an empty flat, without all the furniture, trinkets and memories that you’d built together for years around you is a hard thing to do. When I left, I didn’t realise how painful it would be.
When break ups happen, it’s almost universally expected that the dumpee comes off worse than the dumper, but I’m not convinced that’s true for all parts. For me, there was a period where I thought ‘fuck, what have I done? I’ve left the guy I’ve loved for 9.5 years, I’ve moved out of the flat we’d got together.’ Regret was an emotion I felt strongly for a good 2-3 months and regret is not a great feeling. It makes you feel unsure of yourself constantly. In fact, the scenario played out in The Break Up is very similar to my book, which when I read it back is almost as painful as it was to watch that film.
But, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Most break ups happen because something isn’t right in the relationship, and it’s usually a result of issues that have argued over and over, with no resolution. It might feel like the worlds ending, but it isn’t. There are plenty more chances to be happy and have the relationship you really want if you take the right lessons from it.
I’m a romantic. I’d love to truly believe there’s a soulmate for me out there, just one person who I was destined to be with. But I can be awfully pragmatic too, and with so many people in the world, there has to be more than one person you can find true happiness with. I’m not saying the relationship would be the same, or that you’d have to love that person with the same love as you did your ex. Love changes over time, I think. When you’re young (or it’s the first time you’ve fallen) its this exciting, wonderful thing. You believe you’d literally die without that person in your life, no matter what they might do to annoy you. Unconditional love.
But as you get older, and bruised by past relationships, that changes. If you’re smart enough to learn lessons from your past relationships, you start to realise what is and isn’t acceptable to you. With my ex, I loved him to bits. I’d put up with his long nights on coke and the consequent days after when he’d be feeling rough all weekend and we never did anything. I’d get out of bed at 4am to pick him up from his mates house when he was drunk and high, no question. I didn’t like it, but I did it because I loved him. I was even willing to overlook all that when I wanted him back. Because I loved him.
Now, that’s something I wouldn’t do, ever again. Not for anyone. The unconditional love I had for him will never be applied to anyone else because I know what I want out of a relationship and what I won’t tolerate.
So, my message is this. If you’re feeling regret, confused – whatever – because of a break up, think about why it happened. Think about why you left that person or why they left you and learn from it. And don’t be scared that you’ll never love someone the way you loved your ex or vice versa, because you won’t. Once you know that, there’s nothing to be afraid of because it means you’ll be giving and (hopefully) getting the love you actually want than settling for anything else.