Just Because I’m The One Who Ended The Relationship Doesn’t Mean I’m Not Heartbroken

I sat across from my ex, red-eyed and sobbing, and he stared at me and said, “I don’t understand how you can be crying right now—you’re the one who wanted this.” That was true—I was the one who ended things—but it didn’t mean that I didn’t have a right to be upset or that my heart wasn’t broken too. If you’ve ever found yourself in this position and felt guilty for being sad, here’s why you shouldn’t:

  1. A big part of your life is drastically changing. It doesn’t have to be an LTR for this to be true. You’re going from being in a relationship to being single. Both can be really awesome and very challenging at the same time. There’s a mourning period in the transition from either one to the other. Your routine changes. You might be moving. You’re losing the friendship of someone really close to you. You have to readjust, and that’s hard.
  2. You have to let go of a future you were planning on. Breakups are not just about letting go of past memories. When you end a relationship, you also have to reconcile with the idea that this future you pictured with this person (and were maybe even working really hard towards) is over now too. Maybe you were planning to buy a house together and/or have kids. Maybe you had plans to travel together or start a business. Maybe you just pictured the fun summer trips you would take this year. Whatever the future you envisioned, it will be different now. Those things won’t happen with that person, and that stings—even if you’re the one who decided it.
  3. You can miss someone without still wanting to be with them. We miss people because we cared about them, had fun with them, and they played an important role in our lives. Just because we realize they aren’t a match for us as a romantic partner or because something in the dynamic changed and we fell out of love doesn’t mean they were any less important to our story.
  4. Sometimes you’re not 100 percent sure that it’s the right call. Look, sometimes he turns out to be a total jerk—sometimes it’s so clear that there’s zero question in your mind about whether to call it—but every now and then, you’re really not positive that you wouldn’t be able to work things out with enough effort. You go with your gut and you hope it’s the right move—and it’s really scary to consider that you might be wrong. If you feel it in your gut, it’s right, but that doesn’t make it any easier to think about the ‘what if’s.’
  5. You’re empathetic and you know you’re hurting them. You’re not a monster, okay? You wouldn’t be dating this person if you didn’t care about them (hopefully). Breaking up with them is hard because you have to see them hurting and know you’re the one hurting them. It sucks. You don’t want to see them upset, and it’s entirely okay for you to feel bad and be emotional about making someone you love (or loved) feel sad.
  6. You’re also losing the good parts of your relationship. You liked this person at some point, right? I mean, there’s a reason you got together. There were likely still some good parts of the relationship, even at the end. You’re allowed to miss having a Netflix and Chill partner, a morning sex session with someone you’re super comfortable with (and who doesn’t care about your morning breath), a live-in friend who’s always down for brunch or a hike, or any number of other good feelings and memories you had from the relationship.
  7. You’ll probably lose some mutual friends and relationships with their family. If you’ve been together long enough, you have mutual friends. His friends are your friends and vice-versa. You might be close to his siblings or parents. It’s inevitable that some or many of those relationships will end, or become mere acquaintances. Some people may even take sides. It’s going to be tough and you know it. That blows, and it doesn’t make you selfish to be upset over those losses.
  8. It feels like a failure when a relationship doesn’t work out. Let’s get one thing straight—it’s not a failure but it can sometimes feel like one when you had really high hopes for a future with your S.O. Still, you’re smart. You know that no relationship is perfect and that there will always be problems to work out and conflicts to solve. You should put in the effort to work through these things to an extent, but sometimes you have to recognize that the problems are beyond fixing.
  9. You may have just learned some really humbling things about yourself. When you make the decision to end a relationship, you often go through a period of serious self-reflection. That may result in some tough realizations of the ways you contributed to the relationship ending as well. It’s a tough pill, but swallowing it and moving on will only make you a better version of yourself and a better partner in future relationships.
  10. It’s scary AF to start over even though you know you’re perfectly fine being alone. Of course you’ll be okay. You’ll be fine on your own and if you choose to, you’ll find another partner. The next time around, you’ll be armed with new experience and clarity. You’ll know exactly what you want and don’t want in a partner and how you should show up for each other. But, it’s still mildly terrifying to make such a big decision.