Friday, July 22, 2005

The Break up Grieving Period

I have a friend, whom we will simply call Jane...

Jane has been in a relationship for the past two months. And they broke up two days ago. And she is a wreck.

She can't sleep. She can't eat. She cries all the time.

My other friend, Stacy, is Jane's roommate. Stacy is worried about Jane. She called me last night to ask for help.

I didn't have much advice to give. From my past experiences, I don't think that there's too much that a friend can do for someone going through a break up other than just be there to listen to them.

Let them cry, let them vent... Try to feed them... But I don't think that there's any one thing that you can tell someone going through a break up that will make them feel better. (Unless, of course, you happen to know that their recent ex wants to get back together - and even that sometimes is not the right answer.)

Honestly, I think that people who are upset over break ups have to come to terms on their own. There's not some switch to flip that makes them get over a relationship. It's all internal. You're upset, then you're angry, then you're sad... and then one day you realize that you're ok. And those stages last different lengths of time for different people.

So, Stacy and I debated this for a while. And then she made a comment about not understanding why Jane was so upset because they only dated for two months. I started to agree, but then I thought differently. Because, thinking back, I've never been through a break up that I haven't been really upset by.

For me, it hasn't been the pain of being rejected - in probably the past 7 years or so, I've been the one to end all of my relationships, except one... (Well, and then there was another one whom I played the break up and get back together game with so many times, we just took turns ending it...) It's more the sadness that something that could have been great did not work out. I'm a sore loser, I freely admit it - and I HATE giving up.

Once I pass the dating game with someone and settle into a real relationship (which doesn't happen too often), I really give myself. I certainly don't rush feelings, but I don't hold them back either. And I don't play the silly little control games. While dating, I play games... although they're half-way unintentional most of the time - and I truly believe that anyone who says that they don't is a liar. But when you care enough about someone to seriously be with them, there's (in a perfect world) no point to game playing.

Basically, I (and so do many others) go into each relationship with the high hopes and expectations that it's going to be a great relationship because we care enough about each other to be together exclusively... I date a lot, but I don't get serious with guys easily, unless I really see something in them, so obviously there's a strong connection when I do. And this is why I disagreed with Stacy when she made that comment (about not understanding why Jane was so upset because they only dated for two months). I think no matter how long or short of a time that you're in a committed relationship with someone, it always hurts when you break up.

However, I also think that the length of the relationship sometimes dictates how long you'll be upset about it ending. It took me almost a year to get past breaking up with my college boyfriend... but we dated all of our junior & senior years plus some... Jane's devastated now, but given the length of time she was with her boyfriend, (and, knowing Jane the way I do) I bet she'll be fine in a week.


At 11:56 AM, Anonymous no no said...

so you think it's ok to play games when you're dating someone?

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Robin said...

I feel bad for Jane. I don't think the length of time you dated someone reflects the pain that you feel when it is over, but I do think it dictates how long it takes you to recover.
Some of my examples include:
1 yr relationship (1st love)= 9 months.
4 yr relationship = 18 months to recover 100%.
3 yrs off and on = F*cker still bothers me.
2 months = 2 weeks
3 months = 3 days
I guess it all depends on what your expectations are of that relationship as well. If you are dating someone and then one day you realize that he could be The One, it hurts more when it's over than if he was just some guy you were trying out (at least that is my $0.02 anyway!)

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Sara said...

no no - i'm not saying i think it's ok or not... i'm just saying that it happens. when you're just dating someone, you're careful about when/how much you call... everyone does stuff like that. it's natural. nobody wants to seem overeager. i'm saying that when you're in an actual relationship, stuff like that fades away.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Asian Mistress said...

I hat a friend that used to say you get a week for each year you were together...

However, I agree - different for each situation/relationship.

I think the best thing to get over is the "out of sight, out of mind" thing...if you break up and you're talking to the person - to "stay friends", then that won't work.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Asian Mistress said...


At 1:21 PM, Blogger I-66 said...

Before commenting I was thinking it probably had a bit to do with Jane's expectations of how the relationship would go but Robin hit the nail on the head. Granted it was 2 months which, compared with some dating sagas, isn't that long -- but everyone's perception is different.

You're right, though. One day you just get over it on your own. Either the overall effect of what happens just wears off, or you meet someone new, or something else happens that puts things into "hey that wasn't that bad" perspective for you, or whatever -- and you're just over it. No amount of "it'll be ok" and "he/she wasn't good for you anyways" or "there are other fish in the sea" will do it.. you just get over it.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Crazy Girl City said...

AM- a week for every year? Damn your friend must get over things quickly.

I was in an 8 month relationship, and sadly, it took me almost 2 years to get over him. I dated......but I wasn't really into it. It never went past a second date.

At 3:15 PM, Blogger Asian Mistress said...

I know, I was in a 5 year relationship and it took me about 2 years to truly get over it. It happens.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Complacent Chase said...

Hey Sara...Great post!
Break ups are tough. It doesn't matter if you dated the guy for 2 months or 2 years. Sometimes it's not even the guy that you are sad to see's the idea of the relationship and what might have been.
A guy broke up with me once before I could break up with him...and I was devasted! I thought he liked me more than I liked him and turns out he didn't. That sucked!
Your friend will be fine. I think most women come out of relationships with a better understanding of themselves (or at least they should). It's not about's about appreciation. Once she can appreciate the relationship and accept it for what it was...she will then be able to move forward.

Just make sure she has a lot of Ben & Jerry's and her girls to cheer her up when she needs it!

At 4:28 PM, Blogger Complacent Chase said...

Yes, I know I spelled regret wrong.
My bad!

At 5:02 PM, Blogger V said...

It depends on the person a lot, but friends can certainly help. I find lots of trash talk and "fuck em!" helps. Also wine. There is always that rush to get your friend "back out there" but I think that's a mistake. Let them feel awful for a while and you try to distract them from their pain as much as possible.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger cupcakegrrl said...

re: what to say to the devastated dumpee--here are the best words i was ever offered by a sympathetic friend:

"someday, you'll look back on this and realize that you are a stronger, wiser, better person for the pain you're going through now. you'll see that this was the right thing to happen, and that the admirable qualities of this man did not outshine the questionable ones. in the meantime, however, go ahead and be miserable because there's nothing else you can do about it anyway."

i believe she then added the clincher: "and here's a pint of cherry garcia and a spoon. go to town."

At 1:00 PM, Blogger A Unique Alias said...

I can't really understand what would be sad about the end of a two-month relationship. Especially bawling into the wee hours and such . . .


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