Everyone handles bad breakups differently. There are those who go off the deep end, smashing everything in sight, throwing things out the window, and even burning their ex in effigy, because why the hell not? Then there are those who quietly whimper into their pillow, fearing they’ll never love again, but are at least quiet about it. However, it’s the former group, the ones who make a ruckus, that Jennifer Wright has compiled in her book, It Ended Badly: 13 of the Worst Breakups in History. And frankly, the behavior she chronicles in this book makes all those drunken texts to your ex, condemning them for breaking your heart, seem like child’s play.
Wright’s collection of real-life breakups (although somewhat unbelievable as you can’t help but mutter “WTF” through several of the scenarios), really lays out just how badly people have been taking breakups since the beginning of time. From the story of love gone awry with that of Nero and Poppaea, who started their love affair in 58 CE and saw it violently come to an end when Nero decided to jump on Poppaea’s pregnant belly until she was dead, but then afterward, in deciding he missed her, castrated a slave, who apparently looked like Poppaea, to pretend to be his dead wife, to Caroline Lamb (my personal favorite), who thought that the best way to win back her beloved Lord Byron was to send a chunk of bloodied pubic hair, but not before burning him in effigy, right up to the 1950s with the marriage of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher that was ruined by Elizabeth Taylor, Wright offers all of us a bit of a revelation.
That revelation? You can actually sleep at night knowing that no, you did not pull an Oskar Kokoschka, who in 1918, commissioned someone to make a sex doll in the likeness of his ex.
Jennifer Wright spoke to Bustle about her book, and her own personal methods of dealing with a breakup. Here are nine ways to handle a breakup, according to Wright:
1. Try To Leave Your Ex In The Past (You’re More Likely To Flourish If You Do)
The people who seemed to do the best were people who were able to put their love affairs, upsetting and horrible though their exes might have been, in the past. Edith Wharton wrote hundreds of letters to her former lover Morton Fullerton ― which he largely declined to reply to. However, ultimately, she was able to come to some sort of peace with his poor treatment of her, and she went on to live in the French Rivera, producing some of the best books ever written.
2. Exacting Revenge Is Rarely A Good Idea
I have heard from so many people that they love, love, love Caroline Lamb, who is only about 'getting revenge on an ex' all the time. I understand those impulses. But at least in my own life, trashing my ex to friends, or writing about how they sucked has never made me feel better in the long run. At least in my experience, the more you do that, the more you want to do it. And it never feels good ― it feels kind of like eating a whole box of chocolate: good in the moment, but sickening immediately afterwards.
3. You Actually Have Better Things To Do Than Get Revenge Anyway
You can’t really avenge your broken heart, and there are better things to do with your limited time on this planet. The best you can do is to piece your heart back together with support from your friends and family, and then care enough about yourself to give it to someone who treats it better the next time.
4. Know That Acting Dramatic Is Normal (Just Try To Get A Handle On It)
God knows I have been guilty of some drunk dials post breakup. I think one of the main points of the book is that it’s very natural to feel crazy after a breakup. In MRIs, the brain of a person in the throes of heartbreak looks like the brain of someone withdrawing from cocaine. But again, remember, this is your life. If you’re immortal, sure, act crazy and just scream and throw things for a hundred years. But if you are going to die one day, again, I don’t think that’s the best use of your time.
5. Try To Take That Pain And Turn It Into Something Positive (Look At Adele!)
Sitting around stewing about someone who treated you badly just feels like giving that person more power over your time than they deserve. If your angry/erratic feelings are consuming you, then hopefully you can find a way to turn them into something productive that isn’t about hurting them. (Create a better breakup ice cream! Write a post on “how to stop yourself from drunk texting your ex!” A ... funny book on famous breakups in history. There are ways to go with it.)
6. Staying Friends With An Ex Isn’t Always A Bad Idea
There are some exes I’ll probably always feel some kind of dislike towards, and I just try to avoid thinking about those relationships. I am friends with a lot of my exes, though! One introduced me to my agent, so indirectly he’s the reason this book ever got published. That’s not the only reason to stay friends with an ex, obviously. But in general, you chose to date these people because they had a lot of good qualities, so hopefully you can keep them in your life. I like to think that as I’ve gotten older, especially in the past few years, I’ve gotten a little better at knowing when relationships should end, which helps me with the whole "remaining friends" thing.
7. Remember That You Were Brave For Falling In Love In The First Place
When I hear that someone has been heartbroken what I really hear is that they were brave. They went out and they loved someone fully, despite the risks to their own heart, and doing that is always a risky thing to do. It’s always an act of bravery. And now that person knows a little bit more about what it is to be human. People are always saying "at least you learned something!" if a relationship doesn’t work out and they mean, like, "Now you know not to date musicians!"
8. Realize Heartbreak Makes You Wiser (Even If You Can’t See It Immediately)
I think heartbreak does make us wiser. It makes us more aware of the pleasures and perils of love. Hopefully it also makes us more compassionate towards other people going through the same disappointments. On a happier note, I think having experienced heartbreak makes us more appreciative when we find someone who does love us back. So, basically, I think they should go forth and channel their energies into things that makes themselves feel better and make the world better. And then they should try to love again, bravely.
9. If You’re Not Castrating Anyone You’re Doing A-OK
Everyone handles [breakups] badly always. It’s human nature. People have different concerns and mediums at their disposal ― they have to write scathing tell-alls that take years to publish rather than just venting their anger immediately on Twitter ― but the feelings remain the same... Hang in there, buddy. It will all be OK in the end. You’re not as bad as Nero, buddy!
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