In early November, I broke up with my long distance partner of a year. If you’re shocked to hear that I was seeing someone, you have a complete right to be surprised as I haven’t heavily talked about him here. We had a unique and complicated relationship, as it was mainly long distance, with low communication and commitment. But no matter the confusion of defining what we had together, our partnership was the closest thing I’ve had to a real relationship (whatever that means.) Our breakup wasn’t something I necessarily wanted but had to be done due to varying needs and interest levels. It was a learning experience and made me realize a lot about my own self, and about being connected to another human. Here are nine things I learned during my breakup.
I already felt single. It felt like I was a single gal throughout the entire year of seeing him. Maybe I was single; our lack of communication and weird sense of “what are we” made it difficult to know we could be defined as in a relationship. I do think we were, as I did have feelings for him which I had thought were mutual. While our ambiguity was an aspect in the downfall of our partnership, the silver lining is that it made it easier to “move on” after breaking up. Dating new people and healing myself has been a bit of a breeze because I’m not going through the full extent of typical breakup feelings.
I carry some internalized femmephobia. I wanted to look as good as possible when we broke up with each other. Not only is make up a huge self-care practice for me but it was going our first time seeing each other in six months, so I wanted to look GOOD. However, my ex-partner lived a super rogue and vagabond lifestyle, and while I was getting ready I realized that my high femme aesthetic might not be his ideal look in a partner. Wanting him to be taken with me (who doesn’t want this when breaking up with someone), I actually considered toning down my look to please him more. As I looked at myself in the mirror, I realized that these feelings were internalized femmephobia, stemming from my assumptions and feelings about femmeness in traveller and minimalist lifestyles. I decided to combat those feelings by going all out, even putting sparkles on my lids.
I really missed him. We sat down for coffee to catch up before we talked about our relationship and breaking up. When we filled each other in on our recent lives, the memories and feelings of our happiness together came flooding back. Distance can make you forget small things about someone’s mannerisms and personality, which makes you remember why the heck you liked them in the first place. I left our breakup date missing him more than I had in months.
Breaking up with someone can be really hard but also the right decision. Even while still missing him post-breakup, I knew in my gut I had made the right decision. I had my self-doubts during the pain the whole situation caused me but ultimately it was a freeing decision that will allow me to create better and more fulfilling relationships in the future.
I ended up being in a type of relationship I didn’t want to be in. Before he left for travelling, we decided we weren’t going to commit. During this time I also told him that I didn’t want to be some girl he saw when he was back home and dropped while he was on the road. When he left I thought when we would be chatting on a regular basis but that wasn’t the case. I convinced myself for far too long that I was fine with that kind of communication, but looking back I ended up in the exact situation I wasn’t here for.
In the future, I need to date people who want to be with me 100 percent. The biggest realization of my breakup and something that actually pushed me to end it, is that I need to date people who want to actually be with me. I’m someone who will take no time leaving shitty friends behind, and what I say every time I decide to dump a friend is “I want people in my life who make it 100% or more, nothing less. If someone is damaging my state of being, they get cut.” I’ve been bad at applying this statement to my romantic relationships because Feelings get in the way, but saying this to myself made me message him to tell him we shouldn’t continue seeing each other. I even said it to him in person when we talked. I need people who are going to want to be around in my life and add to my wellbeing and success.
Emotional labour in relationships (and breakups) is often placed on womxn. The event that lead to me breaking up with my partner was that he came back from home without telling me and departed quickly to a different province without seeing me before he left. His actions deeply hurt me and made me confused so I confronted him about it weeks later via messenger to ask if he wanted to continue seeing me when he got back. Turns out he was already back in the province and that he had avoided me because he thought communication via long distance was hard for me to stay relevant and connected to him. I knew this wasn’t the real reason (in this era LDR’s can be easy if both people put in the work) and pressed him to find out that he was actually worried about potential expectations and commitment. From me having to ask him about his emotional distance to uncovering the truth about why he had avoided me, I had to put so much emotional labour into finding out a problem he was having. If he had just been honest and upfront about his worries, we could have talked it out. Women and non-binary folks who date men are frequently tasked (unknowingly) with carrying emotional maturity in relationships. This is extremely unfair to womxn who have to not only manage their own emotions and feelings but those of their partners. Especially during breakups. It’s a common practice that men stop trying in their relationships so that their SO will dump them as they’re too lazy to put in the emotional work. Having my ex-partner make me do the work of finding out his problem doubled down on how much it hurt me and is a prime example of labour imbalances in relationships between cis men and women & non-binary folks.
I still don’t know whether I prefer monogamy or non-monogamy. Fucking and seeing other people while still being connected to a person I really liked was an interesting time for me. I enjoyed our situation despite not thinking I would be into this type of arrangement. But, since our relationship had some communication issues of its own, I wasn’t able to fully explore open and communicative non-monogamy, as we didn’t really talk to each other about other people we were pursuing. I’m not sure if non-monog is for me, but I’m definitely open to possibilities with future partners.
I’m way too attracted to independent men. A blessing and a curse, independent men are my absolute weakness. I’m an independent woman myself, so it makes sense that I’m attracted to self-motivated people who have other exciting things happening in their lives. Although this attraction will never change, I need to start watching out for potential suitors who are too busy or emotionally unavailable to have a serious relationship with me.
What did you learn the last time you broke up with someone?