Immediately after a break up, there's a whole lot of pretend moving on that gets played out between one or both parties. There's the "I'm fine with out you" Instagrams. You know, the ones were you're out at a bar, dressed like the bad girl in a high school movie. You're fake laughing, your friend snapped the picture, you probably cried after the flash went off. And then there are the vague yogi tweets, usually featuring some nonsense about releasing negative energy, soaring higher, reaching your full potential and so on. Your ex probably doesn't read your tweets so this is more directed at your social circle, letting them know the relationship is over but you're in a better place (subtext: your ex is evil). There's the new profile picture that supposedly debuts the new you. You're probably smiling a little too wide, standing on a mountain, or on some form of pubic transportation to suggest you're moving away (subtext: ask me where I'm going).
Over the next few months the song lyrics which tend to harden, suggesting leftover beef. Then there's the residual Instagram feed featuring an ongoing parade of the new you, the you your ex doesn't know. There's the haircuts, the tattoos, the Wild trips, the wistful selfies, the group pics that you hope will make your ex wonder who you're with. And then there's the offline struggle, the obsessing, the crying, the calling, the begging, the apologizing, the antagonizing. Getting dumped is like having your ego ripped out and thrown into the ring of an illegal cock fight: Ouch! This is unjust!
It might take weeks, it might take months, it might take years. Our hearts and egos all have different recovery rates, no two are built the same. But at some point you're going to feel tired. A wave of logic will wash over you, and you'll realize that instead of putting your energy towards healing, you're wasting it on pretending to heal. And while you might forgive yourself for being dishonest with everyone around you, it's a lot harder to forgive yourself for being so dishonest with you. Once you cut that energy flow, once you stop fueling the break up, you'll have so much more fuel for yourself. Here are seven ways you'll know it's working:
You Can Acknowledge The Good And The Bad
Immediately after a break up, you go back and forth between despising your ex, and building them up. A la: I'll never meet anyone as amazing as they are / they're an over-coddled child with no personality. Once you get to a place where you can calmly acknowledge the things you liked about your partner and the things that didn't work for you, you'll know you've moved on.
You're Not Waiting For A Text
Every time your phone buzzes or bings or dings you won't be pouncing on it with your heart in your ears. You're not waiting to hear from them, you're not still praying that they'll change their mind as ask for you to come back. Because you don't want to go back.
You're Not Comparing Everyone You Date To Them
At first everyone you date will be held against the shadow of your ex. You'll see the ways in which they're different as faults. When you move on from your ex, you no longer hold anyone up to them. They didn't work out for you, so no reason to find someone else with the same stats.
There's No Urge To Drunk Dial
When we drink, the things we've been surprising tend to rise to the surface. Hence, the drunk dial. But when you're over your ex, there's no urge brewing below the surface, waiting for enough vodka tonics to free it. If you pass the drunk dial test, you're definitely moving on.
You Can See Why It Wouldn't Work
After someone breaks up with you, your instinct is the fight like hell to change their mind. They've just taken something away from you, how dare they! But after some time, you'll realize it takes two to tango. Usually, if one person is unhappy the other person is too, just perhaps less willing to acknowledge it. If your ex was willing to let you go, there's no use in trying to change their mind. You want to be with someone who blocks the doorway when things get tough. After your ego has some time to heal, you'll see what your ex saw — it wasn't working.
You'd Rather Be Progressive With Your Time
One day you'll be on Instagram, reducing the shadows on your face and increasing the saturation to make your eyes pop, and be stuck on the caption. You'll rack your brains with the perfect quote to register as the perfect slap in the face for your ex. And then you'll stop yourself, delete the picture, and go live your life. Your time is for you, not your ex.
You Wish Them The Best
OK, so this isn't subtle, but it's the end of the journey. When you've moved on enough to heal, you'll wish your ex the best. You loved them once, and even if they broke your heart, if your love was ever pure, somewhere deep down in a healthy place, it still is. You can appreciate your relationship for what it was and look back on it without scorn ... this might take decades.
Images: Giphy, Courtesy of Kaitlyn Wylde