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“How do you talk to your person after a break up? (it was a 1+ year relationship and we lived together over the summer). I’ve known it was over since I moved back to school but she feels it came out of the blue. She feels like I’m cold and heartless because we don’t Skype and I don’t tell her “I love you” or goodnight or we don’t talk 24/7. I feel terrible so when she says awful things to me I just try to care to make her not upset but I don’t feel like we should be connected 24/7. What to do?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Kristin Says:

You have to put your foot down. And keep it there.

She is making you feel terrible because she feels terrible and because she wants it to be the way that it was before. It cannot be and will not be, because it is over.

As much as it hurts, and as much as we often don’t want to face the reality of a break-up, a break-up means that that you are broken up, and that the relationship full of Skypes and “I love yous” is over. Does it have the potential to become something else down the line? Absolutely! Perhaps you will have a beautiful friendship and you will laugh together and build forts and eat cheese sticks… but that isn’t where you are now. The way you “talk to your person after a break-up” is to firmly explain that you need to stop talking. At least for now.

Imagine you had a two year old. Your two year old is going to be like, “Yo, check it out mom, I can totally go down these stairs by myself, no hands!” You love your two year old, though, and you know that as much as they want to do this thing… they can’t do this thing and they need your help. And, when you don’t let them throw themselves down that flight of stairs they will be SO MAD AT YOU. They will kick and scream and cry and glare at you because OMG WHY DID YOU NOT LET ME DO THAT THING?! They will never understand that they would have fallen and hurt themselves, but you know that, and you know how much you love them.

Right now, your ex is that two year old. The biggest act of love is to firmly say, “we need to heal and the only way to do that is to stop talking. I care about you and I hope you understand that, but because I care about you and myself I need to take a step away.” That’s it. She will kick and scream and cry and glare at you because OMG WHY ARE YOU NOT TALKING TO ME AND WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?! And, hopefully, after several weeks or months she will begin to understand that you do love her, and that is why you stepped away.

Also, this might help.

<3

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"We broke up and now it feels like my heart is falling out of my butt. we were together for a while and learned how to be "adults" together. How do I learn to be an adult on my own?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Kristin Says:

Slowly. Carefully. Painfully. Triumphantly.

Recently, we released our latest ‘zine collaboration with Autostraddle, called I Broke Up Like This. Here’s a tiny excerpt from an essay I wrote for the ‘zine, where I talk about moving out of the apartment I shared with my girlfriend of five years:

…we made a life together. A real, living, breathing life that tangled together our families, our friends, our clothing, and, the humdinger of all humdingers, my cat, Trey. For both of us, moving in together was a monumental first. It was the first time we’d had a significant other at family functions, the first time we’d shared grocery lists and gym memberships, the first time we negotiated the purchase of new sheets or Christmas trees with someone else. After our respective workdays were over we’d scurry home to our apartment and cook like the adults we believed we were: Shake ‘N Bake Chicken! Chicken Cordon Bleu! Pasta with Chicken! We. Were. Domesticated. (And as you might have gathered, eating way too much chicken.) We went on vacations together. We went to emergency rooms together. We went to Laundromats together. She was my everything, and I hers. 

Like you and your ex, Anonymous, we learned to be an adults together. After we split I cried on subway trains, I buried myself in my blankets, I glared at anyone who was pointed out to me as someone I might ‘someday have interest in dating,’ I painted my nails black, I rearranged the furniture in my new apartment, I scratched our old anniversary into the wood of my dining room table, and I felt completely and totally lost. I felt like half of a person.

I know it might sound too simple or too cliched, but the only way you can learn how to be a person in the wake of heartbreak is to focus every bit of your energy on putting one foot in front of the other. Don’t think about next week or next month, just think about today. Maybe it will be a great day and maybe it will be a day where you drop the spaghetti sauce on the floor and you sob for four hours without cleaning it up. If it’s a great day, let it be. Take a walk, go to a museum, buy sunflowers for the kitchen. If it’s a bad day, let it be. Take a walk, go to a museum, buy sunflowers for the kitchen.

When the first layer heals, start allowing yourself to plan a bit more. Think about taking a class in something you’ve always wanted to do. Enroll with a friend so you have someone to help motivate you on those spaghetti-sauce days. Listen to music. Plan a road trip.

It takes time, so you have to give it time.
We have all been there and we all get to the other side.

xoxo


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"All of your advice scenarios for when you have feelings for a friend seem to have sunny outcomes. Even if she doesn’t return the feelings, nobody gets their heart broken and the friendship continues unharmed. But what if it doesn’t work out that way? Aren’t there times when you really do lose a good friendship because of your romantic feelings? What do you do if trying to stay friends is screwing with your heart but the friend is too important to you to lose?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

UGH. This is tough. And it’s so hard to predict the future for all of the humans in the whole world. I’m sure there are so many scenarios where no one comes out unscathed. I’m certain there are times when the friend feels so uncomfortable that they can’t act like things are fine, and as time moves on the two people just slowly drift apart. I’m sure there are times when the friend doesn’t return feelings and the human who has the feelings is wayyyy too heartbroken to pretend things are cool. All of these things make perfect sense, BUT I think they can all end up okay.

I think if you end up on the crap side of the scale, remember that nothing is permanent. LITERALLY, nothing in the world is forever. So, even if things don’t go well and your friendship is strained and things are weird and you start to drift apart. That’s okay and it could change.

I had a BFF and we fell in luv and it wasn’t meant to be and it ended pretty bad and we WERE NOT FRIENDS for a while. A long while, like, three years while. BUT nothing is permanent and we figured it TF out. We’re literally best friends now and that’s how it was always supposed to be, we both know that now. It was rough to have such a crap shoot of a time because of love. Hearts can ruin shit, you know? But hearts can also fix shit, with time and patience. I’m sorry if you fell in love with your bff and the feelings aren’t returned, but the situation being terrible right now does not mean it will be terrible forever. You absolutely can get that friendship back. Be patient, don’t give up, and remember why you loved each other in the first place.

Kristin Says:

As you might be able to tell, it is typically hard for us to wrap our brains around something that doesn’t, eventually, work out enough where both parties can feel good again in some capacity. I do think that in the majority of situations, time and healing and a combination of space and dialogue can (again, eventually) get close friends back to the place where they want and need to be. Does it mean that you might not be able to see that friend for awhile? Maybe. Does it mean you might need to fall in love with someone else before you can mend your heart enough to bridge that gap? Possibly. Only you and time can tell.

However, let me just consider what you are suggesting right now, and consider the possibility that your heart can never heal enough to reconnect or that you will drift too far apart to ever reconnect again, even if your heart does heal.

That is the absolute worst, and losing a close friend for any reason is a heartbreak that hurts deeply… and even moreso when it feels like you are losing a best friend and a potential significant other all at once. The thing about relationships, whether they be friendship, romantic, or a combination therein, is that they shift and grow and change over time. Sometimes those changes mean that you grow apart. You growing apart does not hinge ONLY on your feelings for your friend. Growing apart happens for many, many reasons that collect and converge over time. You feel differently, you want different things, you can’t find common ground, and so – as much as it hurts – you walk away.

I have lost a best friend. Not because I fell in love with him, but because we grew apart in other ways that just weren’t fixable. It hurt like hell, and occasionally I still think on that relationship fondly and miss the times we shared… but at the same time I know that it was what was then, and now it is no longer that thing. You have to take care of your heart first. Right now you need space Take it. If you find that in several months you want to reconnect and try again, do it… and if it cannot work, then cherish the wonderful things and step forward to new landscapes.

It’s not easy, we know.
But you can do it, and so can your friend, and… what will be, will be.

<3

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