When in the throes of a breakup, everything sucks. Some take it harder than others, some grin and bare it, some go off the radar either holed up indoors or in Tibet, trekking to find themselves.
There are many ways to get through it. But for a many the first port of call is escapism. From the world, the ex, but also from the pervasive little voice that whispers to us. The whisper we all yearn to ignore or kill off, but always seems to come back.
It’s that one that emanates shame and embarrassment for failing.
The one that tells you that everyone is judging your inability to hold together a solid relationship. For not being enough, for not being able to withstand the pressures. It will tell you that everyone else is out there managing it. Effectively communicating their feelings and getting this relationship stuff down.
I’m here to tell you that this is simply not true.
Let’s just state it plain. Relationships are HARD WORK. Granted there are some people out there who have been in love with the same person since forever. Who got married at 18 and are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this year.
But these people are also not the rule. They are the exception.
Sorry to borrow from the movie ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’, but there it is. Come to think of it, this is a great movie for a breakup! Give it a watch. It can be brutal, and heavily Hollywoodized (it is a word, see!), but it does have some kernels of truth in there.
That being said — if they are the exception — it stands to reason that we are the rule. The ones who try and fail and try again. So, let me just state this, writ large:
ALMOST EVERY RELATIONSHIP IN THE WORLD IS, STATISTICALLY, GOING TO FAIL
Again with the brutality. But listen, think about it:
If the average person has between 2 and 5 failed relationships before meeting their ‘lifer’, you would look at the data and deem dating a total disaster. What we need to be doing is looking at dating like a scientific hypothesis, rather that a mathematical imperative.
We date, try a person on for size, its not a good fit, we move on. Sadly, angrily or amicably. We do this a few times, building up a picture of what we want. Or, in consideration, what actually works.
Yes, sometimes what we want and what we can handle are two separate things. In these cases, we need to work through our thoughts and emotions, asking some honest questions to get to the root of our relationship desires. But that is another avenue of thought for another time. It is also worth reading Jessica Wildfires recent article ‘7 Signs Someone’s Ready to Date’.
When we date, we find out what we can and cannot tolerate. Sometimes we find a person we think is perfect for us, and they wind up not feeling the same. It is tough, but it is NOT a reflection on you as a person. Statistically, this is going to happen to a vast number of people. Statistically, it already has.
Now, I am not about the throw a bunch of numbers at you, it just isn’t necessary. We all know, in our core. It’s the reason you are still reading this.
It’s a minor point to make, but one that is so often forgotten. And I understand why. When you are deep into a breakup it feels like you are the only one this has ever happened to.
Personally, I find this with every breakup I’ve ever had. Because it isn’t just the fact that something has ended, the way it ‘looks’ to others, or how your ex feels about you. It is the sense that perhaps you are having to walk away again from something initially you thought could be ‘it’. It is tiring.
But in all of these moments, the times when I have felt this was my last chance, I have taken heart from the fact that I am just like everyone else. Destined to wonder the earth randomly bestowing hope, affection and love on another at the behest of bodily chemicals such as dopamine and pheromones. That and the fact that even those ‘perfect’ forever couples have had struggles and compromise. They’ve most likely harbored desires to break away. They’ve fought, for better or worse.
So to anyone out there who has been or is going through a breakup — or those who fear it happening to them — take heart from this. When it comes to relationships, you are just like everyone else. You will experience endings, heartbreak. You will also break hearts. But you will pick up the pieces, you will survive, and not one single person can judge you for not making it work.
Because statistically, relationships are more likely to fail than succeed.
And if you find this bleak, I will direct you to the two ways you can look at the following sentence:
“No one cares”
Its not nihilism, it is acceptance of the status quo. It gives us room to understand that we are living, breathing, erring humans who are figuring our shit out. Of course we will fail at relationships, just like we might fail at everything else we try at first. But we will learn, and eventually succeed.