One of my best friends, R is having a hard time getting over her ex-boyfriend. For the sake of this blog, we’ll call him Mr. Bail.
I was a big fan of Mr. Bail when R and him started dating. He was so incredibly in love with her, always supportive, and he broke her out of this protective shell she kept herself in. Generally speaking, even though he’s younger than me, he’s an attractive guy and most importantly, R was very happy and as long as she’s smiling that lovely grin of hers, I’m satisfied.
However, when R and Mr. Bail started running into complications and some terribly dramatic situations – he did what his name suggests: he bailed. It seemed like when the fantastic turned to the detrimental or difficult, instead of stepping up to the plate to face his (or their) problems, he tucked his tail and ran away. While it is never a stand-up choice to make, at the specific time he chose to be a coward, R was going through a time in her life that no woman should ever have to experience, especially at 19-years-old.
Though R has handled all of the many surprises and transitions with beautiful grace, because of the rollercoaster that’s defined her life for the past year-or-so, she’s had a tough time cutting the final chord from her relationship with Mr. Bail. She doesn’t want to be with the kid (and I use the word “kid” because of his lack of maturity) anymore and her romantic inclinations have declined, but she wants this settling peace of closure. And possibly, a friendship. Because we often rely on each other to handle our freak-outs (they get a little messy), she sent me a text yesterday that asked: “Will it take dating someone else to fully get over everything I went through with Mr. Bail?”
And without even thinking, I replied with: “Yes,” and gave her an example. Of course, because she’s just as inquisitive as I am (and I love her for it) – she said, “Why does it always take someone else? I want to be able to do it on my own.”
To release the most recent boyfriend who lingers in our minds and our hearts, no matter how hard we try, do we have to meet a new man to erase the after-taste of an ex?
My dad hasn’t really given me a lot of relationship advice other than “You’re so beautiful, so wonderful, so amazing, so incredible and there will be a perfect man who will be everything you ever needed. And he’ll have to ask my permission to marry you!” If you can’t tell, I’m the apple-of-his-eye, and he would say anything to bring a smile to my face. Since I started this blog (which he reads every single day) – I’ve had to correct and him and say, “Now, Dad, it isn’t about finding love from a man, but finding love for myself as a single woman!” He usually mumbles something that has the word “grandchildren” and “true love” and we move on to another topic.
However, one thing he has always said other than threatening to call the “mafia” on my ex-boyfriends, is: “To stop crying about one, you should find another.” To heal your heart, according to my pops, you just move onto another guy. When R texted me, I got to thinking about how I’ve honestly moved on from guy-to-guy in my dating history, and it occurred to me that I’ve been following my father’s advice…without even knowing.
When Mr. Curls and I broke up, it took until meeting Mr. Faithful to let go of him completely. When Mr. Faithful and I broke up it took Mr. Rebound for me to fully release his 3-year-old hold on me. And then when Mr. Rebound became well, just a rebound – it wasn’t until Mr. Fire that I stopped beating myself up for allowing Mr. Rebound to trick me. And then when the embers burnt out with Mr. Fire, Mr. Buddy went back to my friend, and Mr. Fling stopped flinging me up against walls – I met Mr. Idea. And I fell in love with him. If I’m honest, I still have feelings for him, and in some strange sort of way Mr. Unavailable is helping me to let of Mr. Idea, even though Mr. Unavailable is romantically unattainable.
While it seems like they were right after another, my dating history is nearly 10 years long and even though I had so many wonderful travels, uncountable adventures, massive accomplishments, a few moves, and excelling health – at every point in my life, I have always been getting over or starting to fall for a guy. Of course, I’ve consumed ungodly amounts of Chardonay, danced with strangers at bars, downed Ben & Jerry’s, and obsessively cried and talked to my best friends to release the strings of love-gone-astray – but I never fully let go until I had a man to let me lean on him. Does moving to another dude help because all of those loving, initmiate moments that you once shared with another, are now replaced with someone new? Or because then you feel validated by capturing the interest and intrigue of a new man?
R proposed a very reasonable question that I never considered: How do we do it on our own? How do we get over someone without depending on another hand to hold, lips to touch, or body to graze? Without a rebound or the next-relationship?
Well, I don’t know. I admittedly haven’t done it.
I think though, it starts with taking a step back from emotions, from the heartache, from the projections of what I thought the love would be, and start looking at the relationship (and its demise) at face-value. Instead of turning moving on into a competition like I usually do (who meets someone new first? Who is smiley and unaffected first?) or spending time dwelling in the coulda-woulda, and looking for a new flame – why not focus on ourselves? Spend time alone. Do things solo. Take a trip without anyone else in tow. Stop looking for a man to feel the gap that another one left, and fill it up with admiration for yourself and your many beauties and gifts.
And practically speaking, think before leaping. Sure, as I’ve experienced, being tempted by the fruit of another can be a great tool to escape from pain - but it never really heals those wounds fully. The minute we are actually single in between the last guy and the guy who will be next – we’re left thinking of every boyfriend, lover, or jerk there ever was.
If we took that time to really figure ourselves out, and dare I say – love ourselves without thinking of the past or future companions, maybe we’d actually own that leading leading lady role in our own lives. Without all the drama and love triangles that come up. And we surely wouldn’t be that annoying supporting actress who jumps from heart to heart, bed to bed, never recovering from the one who was there before.
No, we’d just look at ourselves for all the scars and bruises we have, and realize that it is really just self-love and a precious thing called time, that helps us to mend…instead of the guy we’re going out with on Friday.