Most of us have been there. Things didn’t work out and two people went their separate ways. And as if the roller coaster of feelings that comes with a breakup wasn’t enough, the race to win the breakup kicks off. Who’s the first to go on a deluxe holiday? Who’s the first to grab brunch with mutual friends? Who’s the first to get a promotion? Who’s the first to start dating again?
But focusing on winning, or more truthfully, appearing to be winning the breakup is, in the end, a waste of emotional energy and time. Because if you’re simply checking off a list of one-ups on your ex, you’re not winning. You’re not even moving on. So forget about the game, even if you end up loosing. Especially if you end up loosing. It might be the best thing that ever happened to you.
You don’t get stuck
If you’re focused on showing your ex or your friends that you’ve already totally moved on, you risk living your life not according to your own terms and needs, but by comparison to what he’s doing and what your relationship would have looked like had you not broken up.
As a result, everything you do will originate from the what ifs of something from the past and you end up living in reaction to the past. But if you let go of what and how your ex is doing, and start living according to what you need, you’ll discover new passions and roads. You might even find that you’re a different person that you were with them or before them.
You discover the new you
Everyone we meet brings something new into our lives. Some of it is good and some of it is bad, but it all teaches us something — if we let it. And every time we learn something new, we change a little, often without even realizing it. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to take time for self-discovery after a breakup: to see all the little ways you changed.
Maybe before, you were really focused on your career, but now you realized you want more. Sure, you’re still committed to getting that promotion, but you want more from life than a cool career. You also want to travel or maybe you feel you’re ready for kids. Maybe that last fight before the breakup showed you how hurtful you can be or it taught you that you cannot forgive a breach of trust, even if it was a small one.
Whatever it is you learned, however it is you changed, you need to acknowledge it if you’re to successfully transitioning from one life phase — your former relationship — to another.
You take time to heal
Whether you were the one to end it or the one whose mistakes broke things, it’s important to take time for self-discovery and healing. Maybe your ex cheated or lied, maybe their self-confidence issues made them project that onto you. Or maybe you always prioritized work before your relationship or refused to apologize when did wrong. Maybe it was a mix of it all for both of you.
Being honest about how your past relationship really was and how you really acted and reacted is at the core of healing and truly moving on. Owning up to the mistakes you made and hurt you caused is as important as working through the pain or disappointment you are feeling. For example, your ex may have been unsupportive of your career, but that doesn’t mean you refusing to spend time with their family wasn’t hurtful either.
You don’t rush into something new
Who’s the first to start dating again is considered the Olympic Gold of winning a breakup. But rushing dating new people solely to one-up your ex is not only extremely selfish and dishonest towards your new partners, but an extremely bad idea for your own happiness, especially long-term.
On the one hand, you’re probably not dating these new people because you’re actually interested in them, but because this shows you moved on. So if you wouldn’t date them if you hadn’t just broken up, doesn’t that mean you’re actually using them? And nobody wants to feel like a means to an end.
On the other hand, if you rush into something new before you processed your breakup, you’re not avoiding your pain, you’re only postponing it. Because it will catch up with you. And the longer you ignore it, the harder it hits you. And if you don’t admit to your own mistakes, you’re only going to repeat them.
Rediscovering who you are, what you have to offer now and what you expect in return will allow you to find the person who is right for you when you truly are ready. And not because there’s a deadline. If that means your ex starts dating before you or you take longer to move on than any of your friends ever did, that’s alright. If you’re living the life you want and need, you’ve won. But not against your ex, but in your own life and self-growth.