The Breakup-Validation Cycle

Breakups leave us in a fragile state. Especially if you are are the receiving end of a breakup (me). Surprisingly, a slew of people around me have been going through breakups recently. There’s something about summer and new beginnings. Or as my roommate puts it: “Girls just wanna get in their bikinis cuz it’s summer so they can shmooze on the beach and not be tied down!” Gotta love that theory.

Anyway, the fragile thing. Breaking up hurts the ego, again, especially for the dumpee. Some of the thoughts that have run through my head (and they’re hard to admit) are:

I’ll show her that I can get a better girlfriend!

I want to go out and get attention from other women

I hope the next guy is terrible and she realizes what she missed out on

These were fleeting thoughts that I would usually dismiss, but I noticed something about them…they all spoke to my need for validation. To validate I’m still a good catch. To validate that I’m not going to be alone. And funny enough, I’m not alone in this.

Here are some of the examples I noticed from the relationships crashing around me, max-validation style:

  • Social media games, aka rushing to be the first to proclaim singlehood on Facebook.

  • Weekend after weekend of joyless barhopping, hangovers, and regretful late-night decisions

  • Dating almost immediately after the breakup

  • Anything to prove to the ex that they’ve moved on

It’s easy to judge these actions as immature. But you can see the hurt in them, and the fastest (but not easiest) way to get over someone is to get that needed attention from someone else.

I’m no relationship coach. But here’s something I think that everyone going through a breakup needs to hear:

It’s not you. And it’s not your ex either. It’s both of you, and the relationship didn’t work out because the pieces didn’t fit together, or there wasn’t enough effort to try and fit those pieces together. You don’t need to post on Facebook pictures of you with other women/men. You don’t need to prove to anyone that you’re worth being with. You do need to give yourself some goddamn space and time to reflect and work on yourself. You are already a great catch. The only validation you need is from yourself.

That’s why the hardest thing to do sometimes, is nothing at all. But wait. It takes strength to not do anything at all, resisting the urge of caving in to the emotional band-aid of the “getting over someone by getting under someone else” approach.

Recognizing that a lot of my thoughts were driven by a need for validation forced me to look at the relationship, and my ex, in a different light. The thoughts changed::

I hope she gives herself enough space and time to fully heal

I hope she takes the lessons from this relationship into the next

I hope she ends up finding the man who makes her happy

Breakups hurt because we obviously care a lot about the other person and the relationship we had with them. If we truly care about the ex, then we should wish them the best.

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