Today I wanted to touch on something a bit different and personal. Specifically, 7 things to remember when you get dumped. Being dumped is awful. Most of us have been there, but it's the life-altering breakups that stick with you.
In 2017, I went through the worst breakup of my life. At the time, I was living with a man that I thought was the love of my life. There I was thinking we'd build a happy future together. What I didn't expect is that after nearly three years together, my boyfriend decided that he was bored in our relationship and dumped me.
I was in disbelief and couldn't believe the person I trusted the most could break my heart so easily. I had taken a leap of faith by moving to Texas but ended up feeling unchallenged in my university position. This realization took time and I feel that it wasn't until my life went up in smoke that I finally faced this reality.
After Korea, I moved to Houston to try a new city, but also because I believed in my relationship and wanted to make it work. Do I regret moving to Houston? No, of course not, because I gained valuable work experience in higher education and met incredible people.
Yet being newly single, I had to focus on what I wanted for my own future and happiness without considering my ex. I took my cat and moved out of our apartment in order to pick up the pieces of my life.
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1. Focus on Yourself
This is so important and it's something that I definitely struggle with. You need to reflect on yourself, what you did right and what you can improve. Personally, I was raised to be polite, unselfish, and always put others needs before my own. Yet when it comes to dating in 2018, you can't always put someone else's needs before your own. This was hard for me, but I've made great strides in this department.
After discussing my relationship with close friends, they helped me see that I was essentially dating a guy with narcissistic tendencies. You often can't see things clearly when you are blinded by your feelings. I loved him despite his flaws, but I often ignored how our values did not match and the way he treated me.
During my self-reflection, I took full responsibility for my role in the relationship as I forgot who I was as an individual. I realized I was lost in his lies and attempts to gaslight me into thinking I was just imagining things. You may love your partner, but if your intuition tells you something is off then you are normally right. Eventually, I started losing interest in activities outside of work and didn't feel up to making an effort to make friends or joining activities outside of the university.
In my frustration, I allowed myself to lose my spark. I should have stuck up for myself, but I had lost my power. To put it simply, I was unsatisfied in the relationship and my life in Houston. My needs were not being met and I was sacrificing too much by constantly worrying about making him happy. I needed to be asking, what about me? What about my needs?
How could I expect my ex to continue to love me when I didn't know who I even was anymore? I truly and faithfully loved him for those years, but I needed to love myself more.
2. Take All The Time You Need
There is no fast-forward button for healing a broken heart. While some jump into dating, I don't recommend getting into another relationship right away. You need time to heal and it's unfair to the other person if you are not emotionally available. A rebound relationship is like a band-aid while you seek validation and comfort to ease the pain.
Remember there is no rush to move on and you are not in a competition with your ex. The healing process is about you, not them. Whether you need a month or years, take all the time you need to heal. It's a personal choice, but I didn't start going on actual dates until a few months ago. I am in a good place so I choose to take my time before getting myself into a committed relationship. I want to make sure it's with the right person.
After what I jokingly refer to as the life implosion of 2017, I actually struggled with anxiety attacks for the first time in my life. Thankfully one year later I have none. Back then I felt so scared about my career and had no idea what I wanted to do after relocating to my hometown in rural Pennsylvania. I had to figure things out, heal, and spend time with my family. Give yourself time by trusting the healing process and you'll find your way.
3. It's Okay to Make Mistakes
Know that it's okay if you make mistakes along the way. I know I made plenty! A big one was staying romantically involved with my ex and planning trips to see each other. Yes, stupid I know. Please learn from my mistakes, (lol) I beg of you! I completely regret that choice. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I foolishly hoped that my ex and I would make things work.
He continued to say he loved me each day and said the right things, yet two weeks before a purchased and set trip, he texted me to say that he is in a relationship with someone. It's like the saying, "fool me once shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." I was more angry with myself than anything because I should have known better given his past actions. I admit I not so eloquently freaked out on him, but I think I had finally reached my pain threshold.
Accept that you'll make mistakes, but it doesn't mean you can't learn from them and they do not define you.
4. Reflect on What Wasn't Quite Right
When you love someone it can be difficult to see the red flags that are right in front of you. I know I often let things slide that should have had me walking out the door a long time ago. Don't hate yourself for failing to see things as they really are. Learn from it and move forward.
After things were finally over, I wrote down all the things I didn't like about my ex and it really helped. Journaling is a healthy and excellent way to get out of your own head to gain perspective.
5. Don't Expect an Apology
We all hear about closure, but I think it's a myth. If you are expecting a sincere apology from your ex then you'll likely be waiting forever. I know I'll never hear a genuine heartfelt apology from my ex. Sure it'd be nice, but I don't need anything from him.
After all the confusion, anxiety, and heartache I know I don't need his validation or approval. Remember that you do not have to feel like a prisoner of your past relationship. Know your own power and worth. No apology from an ex can give you that. Judge a person by their actions and not their words.
6. Wish Them Well
I really don't want this post to sound like a major diss post against my ex. I just don't want to hide what I went through the past year any longer. This post is a realistic look at how to refocus and move forward after weathering the storm. After all, I was in love with my ex once and in truth, I think a small part of me always will be. I enjoyed how we were so close, the way his eyes lit up when he laughed, and the sound of his voice when he greeted me by saying "hello baby" each day. The good memories are there, but our relationship back then just didn't fit.
“If you love someone, let them go" as the saying goes. I wish my ex well and I hope he will be happy. With breakups, it's impossible to go back in time and change what happened, but you can focus on what you can control. Personally, I choose not to hate. Not for his benefit, but for my own well-being. You can't make an ex respect or care for you, but you can wish them well and enjoy your new life. I'm a firm believer in karma. What you put out in the world tends to come back around eventually.
7. Focus on Your Future
After getting dumped, it may seem hard to focus on your future. I promise that things will get better. Get up each day and complete a set of tasks. The next day, repeat. Each day it will get a little bit easier. It won't be a cakewalk but I promise you will get through it. Don't stalk them on social media or call them every day. Just do your own thing and make room for new possibilities to appear.
For me, I traveled and decided to take a big risk by moving to Boston without a job lined up. Besides my past move to South Korea, this is the best thing I have ever done. I was so right about moving to Boston and ended up getting a staff job at Harvard University. If I hadn't of gone through that awful breakup I'd still be at the same old unchallenging job in Houston. New opportunities will come to light when you let go of the things that were holding you back. Just believe in yourself and you can make anything happen. No matter what anyone ever said to knock you down.
Please know that even in such a dark period you can emerge far stronger than you ever thought possible. Even if you can't believe in yourself, I believe in you because I've lived through it. While I may not be 100 percent over the hot mess that was last year, I have developed a fun sense of humor about it all. I've changed for the better and grown so much stronger. You will do the same when you're ready.