“I think we should break up.” Of all of the responses to the dreaded break-up speech, “Thank you” assuredly ranks among the most rare. And while that may not be your initial response when the time with your significant other comes to a close, there’s no reason why it cannot be your lasting conclusion.
Let’s face it, ladies, when that fateful day arrives, there are really only two ways in coping with it: you can choose to be hateful; leaving a path of shattered picture frames and half-eaten pints of Ben & Jerry’s in your midst, or you can elect a more civilized route—reflect on the lessons learned throughout the relationship as a whole and arrive at a place of gratitude, instead. For no matter the length or nature of the relationship, that guy was placed in your life for a reason and his presence sought to teach you something as a result. Whether he schooled you about love and its nuances, or more importantly, served to grow you as a woman overall, he deserves a thank you for the part he played in making you a more self-aware version of you.
So while you may not be jumping at the opportunity to pen a thank you letter to the ghosts of boyfriends past, it might be therapeutic to toss a little gratitude their way. And in case the concept seems easier said than done, here is a list of ways to take that relationship-fueled frown and turn it upside down (chocolate helps, too). A list of ways to appreciate the last relationship for the lessons gleaned, all the while keeping a healthy perspective on how to prepare for the next one as well.
1) Post break-up, take a day to experience every emotion. Cry. Scream. Listen to Adele. Eat ice cream (yes, the whole pint if necessary, desperate times call for desperate measures). Just allow yourself to mourn. You have to confront your feelings head on otherwise they’ll rear their ugly head later (they’re stubborn like that).
2) Let yourself dream of someone else. Now Ryan Gosling probably isn’t realistic, but at least you’re dreaming. (Smile).
3) Once you’ve collected yourself, make a list of all of the positive things about the lost relationship. Did he treat you to some fancy and/or delicious dinners? Encourage you to try surfing? Teach you how to parallel park? Chances are the relationship offered a few memorable experiences.
4) Now write a list of things you might have changed in the relationship. It’s important to recognize the aspects that were less than stellar in order to avoid them in the future. Don’t bag on the guy, but rather honestly assess why things didn’t work out. Were there qualities about him you overlooked? Love tends to be blind, so jotting down a few items to keep in mind the next go around may assist you in avoiding heartbreak in the future.
5) Negotiables versus non-negotiables. While a check-list of specific items you expect in a future mate may be a bit extreme, it’s essential to make clear in your mind the qualities you will and will not budge on with regards to members of the opposite sex. If you absolutely will not date a guy who doesn’t want children someday or only desire a gent who upholds the same belief system as you, be sure to hold steady on these ideals. While a specific eye color or height preference can be negotiated, the big stuff should hold a bit more weight. No man is worth negotiating your principles for. Not a single one.
6) Call on your “people,” your community, your closest friends and family. Allow them to remind you why you’re so great (because let’s be honest, you’re awesome). As humans, our tendency is to immediately turn inward as to the cause of the break-up. And while you may not be completely guiltless, you’re certainly not solely to blame. Besides, sometimes it really is just a “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. And in those cases, you have to remind yourself, and have those around you remind you, too, that there has to be someone so much better waiting in the wings. Because there is. You simply haven’t met him yet.
7) Get back to awesome. In other words, take a little “you” time to focus on the things that make you happy. Try out a new workout class. Take a trip to visit a friend in another city. Get a pedicure. Make your favorite recipe and throw an impromptu dinner party. Thrive in the life you have now; the one that is abundantly rich in gifts and blessings. Remember that life existed before what’s his name and it will certainly exist after, too.
8) Write yourself a letter of recommendation for the next guy. Tell him all about yourself; your likes, your dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. This exercise will make you realize how much you bring to the table. Chances are, it’s a lot.
9) Think about this statement: Somewhere out there in the great big sea is a guy who is wondering what you’ll be like, too. We tend to think it’s just us gals that get all sentimental when dreaming about our future prince. But ladies, fact is, men do it, too. Whether they’ll readily admit it or not, they are just as curious as to which gal they’ll be blessed enough to share their last name with someday, too. Somehow when you consider it in these terms, the waiting doesn’t seem so arduous a task.
10) Finally, go out and buy a new pair of shoes. New shoes always make things better. Plus, you’ll need them to go with the outfit you’ll wear when the next lucky guy comes along to sweep you off your feet.
Don’t let this particular heartbreak allow you to become hardened to the possibility of love in the future. Sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs before you happen upon that prince. Release the hurt and anger you’ve been harboring for your ex(es), yes, even if they don’t deserve it, because let’s be honest, hating someone or something really is quite exhausting (plus it totally leads to frown lines). So to save your sanity, choose to see the glass as half-full in the aftermath instead. Be grateful for the lessons he taught you and thank him for letting you go, too. Because after all, his loss is someone else’s major gain.
Image via Fancy.