You’ve just been on the receiving end of a breakup — and even if you’ve been broken up with “the right way,” there’s going to be fallout. You find yourself with a lot of extra time on your hands, you’re going through a lot of tissues as you let those sad feelings flow, and even though you know you shouldn’t, you kind of just want your ex back. It’s all a serious bummer, but also perfectly natural. It takes time to truly process a breakup, and sometimes, the only way to get to the other side of it is to simply be patient.
As you take the time you so desperately need to recover, though, you’re probably going to find yourself in your own head, and while that’s to be expected, we want you to spend as little time as possible telling yourself false stories about what caused the breakup or what the future holds for you. These kinds of internal dialogues are a sad reality of the post-breakup phase, but if you know what dialogues to look for, it will be that much easier for you to stop them in their tracks and gain some much-needed perspective.
With the help of his substantial firsthand experience in coaching people after a split, relationship coach Adam Maynard broke down for us the seven most common lies we tell ourselves after a breakup, and offers an expert’s view on why those lies are straight-up incorrect. Keep scrolling for all the details (and don’t be afraid to grab yourself a pint of ice cream while you do it).
1. “My ex is a really bad person.” In the ice cream-and-sad-movie-fueled state that is the post-breakup, it’s easy to go here mentally — especially if the split was driven by your ex and/or some questionable behavior on their part. And while we fully support you feeling however it is you need to feel in order to survive this challenging time (especially if there’s been infidelity or abuse of any kind involved), it’s worth noting that chalking your ex up to be the worst human on Earth isn’t the best thing for you or your mental health in the long run.
“It’s easier to let them go if you can make them out to be the bad guy,” Maynard says. “You run the risk of denying yourself a deeper truth when you do this, though — that you actually care a great deal for this person, that they were good to you (at least for the most part!), and that you’re devastated they chose to walk away.”
Basically, it’s one thing to launch immediately into hatred mode after the breakup, but if you really want to work through your feelings effectively, you’re going to need to get honest with yourself about what kind of person your ex really is — and what kind of shortcomings your relationship may have actually had.
2. “I’ve lost my ex forever.” Establishing a comfortable friendship with an ex is far from simple, but if having this special person in your life in some capacity is important to you, it is doable. Maynard recommends some time apart, of course, before jumping into this new relationship dynamic. And if that new dynamic never comes to fruition? That’s okay too. By then, you’ll have gained “enough distance from the relationship that the idea of not having [your ex] in your life anymore won’t be so painful,” Maynard tells us.
3. “I’ll never find someone like them again.” The minute you start worrying about your inability to meet someone equally — or even more! — wonderful than your ex is the minute we really start to worry about you. Not even the nastiest of breakups should lead you to question your worth or the extent to which you deserve a happy ending all your own.
If you’re going down this route mentally, Maynard suggests leaning in to your imagination. How might you meet a new and amazing S.O.? How amazing could they be? How will it make you feel to have those butterflies again? Assuming your ex didn’t commit a major relationship faux pas, silently thank them for setting a high bar for your next relationship, start daydreaming, and move on. You really never know who you’re going to meet when you least expect it.
4. “I’m never going to feel like that again.” “One of the most painful parts of a breakup is the feeling that this connected, expansive, loving experience — the way you feel about your partner and how they made you feel about yourself — is inaccessible now,” Maynard says. “But your emotions live in you, not out there in the world somewhere. You can revisit them any time you want.”
As hard as it is to make a break with all the warm and fuzzy feelings you had with your former significant other, isn’t it good to know that those warm and fuzzy feelings are within reach? They’re simply waiting for the right person to make themselves known.
5. “Our shared dreams are donezo.” You and your ex had plans to backpack across Europe. You were going to get a dog (you even had the breed and name picked out). You dreamed of moving to a new city at the end of the year, and of starting a brand new adventure with only each other as a safety net.
We get it — now that the relationship is over, it feels like all of those exciting plans and aspirations went out the window too. But it doesn’t have to be like that! Maynard reminds us that those dreams might happen with a different person, on a different timeline, or simply in a very different way. You might even decide to make them a reality all on your own. “The spirit of what you want out of life is still very much alive if you’re determined to achieve your dreams no matter who’s standing by your side,” Maynard says.
6. “I’m totally broken now.” If we had a nickel for every time a contestant from The Bachelor franchise referred to themselves as “broken,” we’d be cruising on our yacht in the Caribbean right now — but that doesn’t mean you need to make this story part of your customary post-breakup mental state. Remember that there’s a big difference between feeling brokenhearted and actually being broken. In time, you will recover… even if it feels hard to see an end to the sadness in the moment.
7. “I’m unlovable.” This is the very worst — and also the most false — of all the false stories you could possibly tell yourself. You? Unlovable? Forget it!
“It’s easy to internalize your partner’s decision to break up with you as a statement about who you are as a person or as a partner,” Maynard tells us. “Your worth doesn’t depend on someone else’s ability to recognize it. If someone breaks up with you, it’s not so much a verdict on your lovability as it is a demonstration of their inability to love you in the way you deserve to be loved.”
If that isn’t the truest story we’ve ever heard.
What’s the most damaging thing you’ve told yourself after a bad breakup? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty)