What I’ve Realized About Breaking Up

There are many things I didn’t know about relationships before I got into my first and only serious one, thus far. But the main thing that surprised/continues to surprise me about the whole relationship thing is this: If you have a fairly amicable breakupbreakup, even when you move on you’ll always be worried about that person. You’ll always wonder how they’re doing and want to make sure that they’re okay. They’ll always inhabit space in your brain, even if it’s tucked away somewhere deep.

Before I had been through real love and a real breakup, I assumed that after a split, you go your separate ways and the other person fades to black. I thought they became a distant memory. And while this is true to some extent, I never realized that once you love someone, they stick with you forever in some small way, even if your relationship has changed and that connection you once had isn’t there anymore.

I spend a solid chunk of every day worrying about my family and my friends. I worry about their health, their general happiness level, and their safety as they drive around completing their daily activities. But no one told me that I would continue to worry about my ex when he was no longer my boyfriend.

Yesterday I couldn’t find something and was wondering if maybe it was still kicking around the apartment my ex and I used to share. I texted him and he didn’t answer. I called him and he didn’t answer. I texted him again hours later and he still didn’t answer. Then I got nervous. Where was he? Was he okay? Had something happened to a family member or at work? What was going on? I was so relieved when he called and explained that he was dealing with a phone issue and hadn’t gotten my texts.

I always find it interesting when you meet someone and the topic of past relationships comes up and they say that they simply don’t talk to their ex anymore. That they haven’t spoken to them in months or even years. To me, this seems impossible. No, I don’t think it’s healthy to be in touch with your ex every day, you both need space to heal and move on. But the thought of never speaking to a person who played such a big role in my life ever again seems so foreign to me. I want to know that he’s happy and doing well. I want to know that his family’s okay too. I guess I’m lucky in the sense that we had a positive (as positive as that kind of thing can be) breakup, and that we still have good feelings toward each other. But still. Even when things get messy, when you spend years of your life with someone, it seems unfathomable to me that you could be content going the rest of the way never speaking to them again, you know?

How do you feel about staying in touch with exes? Dangerous or healthy? 

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  1. I love that you shared this. After my first, long-term relationship ended I too wondered how on earth I was supposed to just up and forget someone who had been a part of my life every day for the past three years. Yet, after some time, I realized I could not move forward if I was constantly looking backwards; I was bound to stumble. I suppose considering this question from an opposite viewpoint has value too. For instance, how would you feel if you were dating someone who kept in touch with their ex?

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