Guest post by Samer.
It feels like you got shot in the gut, you’re confused, and you don’t know what to do. I know there’s a ton of expert material out there on this, but this is different for one reason: I just got dumped too, and yeah, it fucking hurts. I’m writing this for myself as much as I am for you. I’m no guru, no natural; I’m only a hurt guy next to you. And we’re gonna pull each other out of this mess. What we do right now, bloodied and battered, is what defines us as men. We can choose to be weak, lay on the cold ground and await the artillery of emotion, or we can choose to become the stuff of legends.
So tie a rag around that fresh wound, know it’s going to give you hell, and let’s get the fuck out of this miserable place. We’re charging ahead, limp and all. Feel the pain like a bodybuilder feels the burn of that last rep. Feel it! Accept its presence. Yes, it exists. Yes, it’s intense. But it exists to be conquered, and you’re the only guy that can do it. Don’t back down, don’t back off. You’re built to overcome this. Yeah, it’s damn tough, but so what? It’s the difficult things that develop us.
Take responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings, pull up your Big Boy Pants, and never forget this is for the best. I promise. Your mission is to prosper without her; to be independent. The way you handle this emotional scar will determine if it’s a bad-ass battle wound or a permanent emotional deformity.
Antoine de Saint-Exúpery said in Wind, Sand, and Stars: “What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it.” So let’s take the next few steps together:
- Accept It. It’s over, man. She’s gone. This is the hardest part for me. Even if she comes back, do you really want a girl who rejected you? You should never accept a girl who doubts your potential as a boyfriend. If Eva Longoria doesn’t see my potential, she doesn’t deserve me. If she dumped you for shit you need to clean out of your life, then you need to fix them independent of anybody else.
Every time I catch myself thinking about her, I repeat out loud: “Neediness leaving the body.” Don’t wallow over your loss. Be thankful for the good times you shared, and use it as motivation to find the next girl! Your worth has nothing to do with her approval of you. If you think about it, we don’t really miss her, we miss the idea of her. We miss a lost wax casting of her; we don’t miss her as much as we miss her effect on us. We miss being with someone who is attractive, smart, funny, and likes us. But guess what? That’s not her anymore. The irony is, if we ever end up with her again, it can only be because we prospered without her.
- Do Not Blame Yourself. It’s so tempting to jump down the rabbit hole and obsess over “what if I did X or didn’t do Y? Would things be different?” Frankly, it doesn’t matter. It’s part of the past, and the past is dead. We are who we choose to be today, and that is the only thing we can control.
Guilt over the past and worry over the future are both useless emotions that retard our ability to live today in relaxed confidence. I yell out loud “Stop! Stop! Stop!” every time I begin to entertain thoughts of self-pity. Don’t let anything interfere with your ability to enjoy today.
On your deathbed, this is a non-event.
- Act Attractive. She may still want to be your friend. She may hate your guts. She may send mixed signals. She may call and text all the time. She may never contact you again. She may act aloof, and still call you to wish you a happy birthday (this happened to me at the time of writing). She may be PMSing and doing all the above. None of it should affect you. Public Enemy #1 is to overreact. Most guys will behave out of anger or anxiety; both are forms of unearned worship. Take her off the pedestal and don’t read into her actions. Don’t try to figure out why she would do this or that. There are too many variables to know the motivations behind that particular action at that particular time. Over-analyzing never added a second to anyone’s life. You’re an independent, socially adept guy and you’re going to be fine with or without her. If you have to alter your identity to win her, she’s a waste of your time.
Be cool and focus on what’s in your control, not what she’s doing. Don’t go out of your way to talk to her, and don’t go out of your way to avoid her. Both are reactive. Allow yourself a narrow range of laid back reactions to her, because it’s not about her anymore. She’s not that big of a deal. She doesn’t hold the power to piss you off, confuse you, or give you butterflies. A good rule of thumb here is to scale back your interaction according to the severity of your pain — the more you hurt, the less you should talk. If she keeps calling you, calmly tell her, “Hey, I appreciate it, but I don’t see the point in us talking any more. I don’t see you as only a friend, so please respect that.”
Success here is defined by the degree to which you show she doesn’t affect your emotional state. Don’t interact with her until you can be relaxed and confident about it.
- Do Not Chase Her. Not only does this drive her away, but it reveals a need to change her. That’s not what relationships are about. Psychologist Wayne Dyer sums it up perfectly in Your Erroneous Zones:
“A relationship based on love… is one in which each partner allows the other to be what he chooses, with no expectations and no demands. It is a simple association of two people who love each other so much that each would never expect the other to be something that he wouldn’t choose for himself. It is a union of independence, rather than dependence.”
She is who she is, and you shouldn’t try to change her. Respect her choice, and don’t be deluded into acting like she’s the only girl for you. She may have had chemistry with you for that period of time, but she’s not the last cup of water in the Sahara; you don’t need her. You may feel like you do, but you don’t. You need food. You need air and water. You need an unconditional faith in yourself. You don’t need women.
Besides, believing she is better than everyone else is an insult to the literally millions of other girls that you would find attractive and intelligent. I remember when my girl walked away, it felt like that entire demographic of girls walked away with her.
“I’ll never find someone like her.” Don’t believe that shit! Whatever her characteristics (black, white, athletic, Christian, Muslim, intelligent, funny, caring, driven, laid back, etc.), THERE ARE MORE LIKE HER.
Fuck that, there are more better than her.
Your lack of discovery in no way makes her special.
Disclaimer: I highly recommend taking some time off to get over her before jumping back in the dating scene. The timing is different for everyone, but generally you should wait until you can avoid comparing the new girl to your ex; the new girl deserves a blank slate. And rather than boosting your lay count, focus on finding a girl of similar or higher quality than your ex.
- Get Rid of Any Reminders of Her (within reason). Every day on my commute, I pass three road signs for an exit adorning her first name, followed by another exit with her nationality. These factors are out of my control, and I give them a Jay-Z brush off my shoulder every time. Everything that’s in your control? Get rid of it. You need to get your mind off this girl. Life is too short to sacrifice even one second of your sanity, so change the station immediately when Gavin Degraw’s “Not Over You” –- or any other shitty breakup song –- comes to haunt your ears.
The past is dead. Leave it in the grave instead of reliving it.
- Do Not Be Jealous. Don’t compare yourself to the people she talks to and dates. Her choices reflect only on her, not you. Your self-worth is high regardless (whether you perceive it that way or not). Jealousy is a result of allowing something out of your control to dictate your emotions.
Never show signs of jealousy. Let her go. That’s attractive.
- Hang Out With Friends Every Day. Self explanatory. Exhaust your contacts list until you’ve hung out with everyone who lives in town and talked on the phone with everyone who doesn’t. Friends are a wonderful resource to keep your spirits up.
- Do Not Check Her Facebook. If you can resist looking at her profile, then unsubscribe from her Facebook updates so it doesn’t appear in your News Feed. If you can’t resist, quietly defriend her. Don’t make a big deal out of it, and don’t tell anyone. If anyone brings it up to you, admit you defriended her and you did it because you felt like it.
You don’t owe anyone further explanation or justification; it’s your choice and you live by your own standards.
- Throw Yourself into Hobbies/Work. Take something on your bucket list and do something today to take a step toward it. You have no excuse! Every large undertaking ever accomplished was broken down into steps small enough to be done in a single day. If you want to be a pilot, find a program and research classes. If you want to go sky diving, call and commit to a day. If you want a six pack, focus on eating clean and working out today. Take a step each and every day toward your goal, and how can you not reach it? Don’t let money constrain you. Create a savings account and deposit a set amount each month (before you even spend anything on food!) until you have enough. I’d rather die hungry than have dreams unfulfilled.
The intensity of your goals should at least match the degree of your emotional investment in the girl. If you’re still obsessed about her, you’re not busy and focused enough.
- Refocus Daily. Dr. Dyer sums it up perfectly:
“You have become habituated in mental patterns that identify the causes of your feelings as outside yourself. You have put in thousands of hours of reinforcement for such thinking, and you’ll need to balance the scale with thousands of hours for new thinking.”
Pull the lesson from it and move on, but never search for the lesson at the expense of moving on.
Remember, it is never the calm seas that reveal the strength of a vessel. The way you weather the storm shows what material you’re made of. You’ll make it.
(Cover image by Sean McGrath)