I used to answer a lot of relationship questions over at my other blog, the in-hibernation DEALBREAKER. Looking back, I find it really funny that anyone ever trusted me with love advice, because it’s not really a topic I’m that well versed in. I’ve dated successfully, messily, carelessly, carefully, and casually, and up to this point, they all end the same way: by ending. 

Someone just started following me, and I clicked on their name and saw they only had two pages of posts. It starts a few days ago, with an entry about being broken up with and not knowing what to do or how to feel, so I thought I’d offer up some unsolicited little nuggets. They might not even see this, but on the off chance they do, maybe it’ll let them know that they’re not alone in the war against the Sads.

Much like eating a peanut butter cup (*let’s be honest, this applies to all PB cups, not just Reeces. Can’t discount store brand, or the weird ones from the 99 Cent Store), there’s no wrong way to get over someone. BUT, there’s also no right way. I think the getting over someone process can be split into a few phases.

Phase One is what I like to call “No One’s Ever Felt This Pain Before,” where you walk around in a haze, unable to comprehend what had happened. You ponder the BIG questions: Is this real? WIll I ever feel better? And most importantly, why don’t my friends seem excited to talk to me about this again and again for hours at a time? You’ll mope, you’ll drink more, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll snap at one of your writing partners in the middle of a meeting, go into your room, and eat some of the mushrooms you’d bought weeks earlier with the intention of doing them with your ex. (NOTE: THIS IS NOT PART OF THE PROCESS!! SKIP THIS PART AT ALL COSTS! IT’S NOT FUN! THE COLORS WILL ALL LOOK SAD!).  This phase, while excruciating to all parties involved, is important. You will look back at this phase and laugh at yourself. The night where you got high and sat under your desk, leaving an ill advised, sad voicemail. The days spent debating whether to burn all those photos or leave them in a box. The afternoons spent driving around with a box and some matches, looking for an empty lot that isn’t close to any trees. This will all be fodder for Phase Two.

Phase Two is “The Void.” You will look back at your hilariously self destructive and downright annoying behavior in Phase One and long for those days, because all there is now is nothingness. Questions here include “did I really lay under my desk for an hour?” “Do I really like the first Death Cab album that much?” “When did I lose/gain 15 pounds?” Phase Two is like a stunned silence. It’s an eerily calm period where you contemplate actually getting something done that doesn’t involve wallowing. You will Facebook your ex and think, “wait, why was I scouring this page? They’re not a calculating, cold, emotional torture machine! They’re not controlling my happiness telepathically! They’re just posting pictures of Tapas, like everyone else!” This realization won’t make you feel better or worse, but it will wash over you slowly. Pretty soon you’ll regret burning those photos, or if you’re like me, wiping them from your hard drive(s). All of this is bolstering you for Phase Three.

EDITORS NOTE: This is usually where my favorite sub-phase comes in. It’s too tricky to count on its own, but Phase 2.5, “The Hail Mary,” deserves mentioning. This comes into play when you’re sure you’re over the person, but you’re not 100%, and the more you think of it, the less sure you are. The percentage drops rapidly to the point where you’re ready to load your D cell batteries into your boombox and “In Your Eyes” this bitch, Lloyd Dobler style (If you’re too young to know what this means, just pretend I referenced a One Direction lyric or something). Here you are, filled with purpose, hope, and reckless manic energy. You’re gonna win them back! You’ve got a gameplan, now put it into action! Did it work? GOOD JOB!!!! Oh wait, it didn’t? Well, nice try. I hope those tickets to Italy are refundable. Carry on, then. Onto Phase Three.

Phase Three is called “Oh Shit, I’m Supposed To Try And Talk To Other People?” This is the end of the road. There are a million sub-phases like the one mentioned above, but this is the one that matters. You’ve come out of self imposed hibernation, you shaved your breakup beard/armpits (I don’t know, maybe that’s a thing? Sorry ladies), and you’re considering rejoining the world. That’s GREAT. Your coworker is attractive and wants to discuss “work” (*boning you) over drinks. Your neighbor is attractive and wants to discuss “your community garden” (*boning you) over drinks. The confident Trader Joe’s clerk is attractive and wants to discuss “boning you” (*their new juicer) over drinks. GO FOR IT. Try your hardest not to let the debris of your last relationship wash ashore on the sandy beaches of this budding new situation. And try not to let that sloppy sentence conjure up images of sand in your bathing suit areas.

Clearly, this is a simplification. Just remember that your pain, while real, is not special and unique. You’re sharing this, however privately, with almost every one in the entire world. Don’t be afraid. If I could leave you with my own personal motto: Everyone is an idiot and no one knows anything. And if that doesn’t level the playing field post-breakup, I don’t know what will.

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