It’s been almost a month since my breakup, and I’ve been experiencing a fairly mixed bag of emotions. The first 2 weeks I was doing pretty well. I kept myself busy with my Everest Base Camp prep, and excitedly bought my hiking boots, my hiking pack and researched how to get in shape (side note, I have a long way to go). I threw myself into exercising and went for hikes, picked up a couple of books to read, and caught up on my Netflix. It was actually quite lovely.
But I experienced a distinct turning point when I attended a wedding 2 weeks after the breakup. A combination of alcohol and the general wedding setting brought back lots of memories, and I couldn’t help but think about how much me and the ex would have enjoyed the event. How much we would have marvelled at the gorgeous decor, the beautiful outdoor setting, how he would have enjoyed the old fashioneds they were offering, and how we’d have torn up the dance floor with his awkward, dorky white boy dancing.
During dinner at the wedding, the conversation somehow turned to the ups and downs that various couples had endured, including the bride and groom. We all chatted about the various relationship problems that my friends had gone through, and how with a little bit (or in some cases, a lot) of work, they had gotten their relationships back on track.
Hearing all this really triggered something within me. It made me sad and angry to know that other couples (who quite frankly, were incredibly incompatible with each other) managed to persevere. I heard of terrible fighting matches, couples treating each other horribly, nasty things said to one other in the heat of the moment. And yet, these couples stayed together. Whereas me and him couldn’t handle tiny little bumps in the road caused by a weakening spark. It angered me to know that despite all the problems that abounded in other relationships, and the comparatively minor nature of our issues, we were somehow the only couple who split up.
It then dawned on me that the difference between us and those couples wasn’t the severity of the problems at all. What leads to a breakup often isn’t how incompatible you are or how many fights you have.
Rather, the survival of a relationship truly comes down to how much you want to fight for each other.
And with that, something clicked. I’ve alluded to my general inexperience with relationships before, and I truly am learning as I go. A key takeaway lesson I have now gained from my first love is that I need to be with someone who will fight for me. The fun moments and laughs are wonderful, and of course the baseline criteria is to be with someone you click with.
But I’ve learned that you also need something more than that. You need someone who will fight for you, who won’t give up so easily until every possible avenue is exhausted. Whether that means trying a new activity together, seeing each other more/less often, taking a trip, or going to counselling, they have to be willing to put in a fight before walking away.
Without that fight, the rest of the relationship becomes meaningless – as I’ve learned the hard way.
Recently I had a friend approach me with a relationship issue with her boyfriend. Without getting into details, she called him out on some bullshit behaviour he exhibited, and during that conversation, he couldn’t stop crying. He was so overcome with emotion and regret that he had to go throw up at one point. He emphatically said that he would work on things, and that he refused to let her go over this. In fact, I think he said something along the lines of “a breakup isn’t an option right now” (in another context that may sound creepy, but it was sweet given what was happening).
She came to me because she wasn’t sure if she should give it another shot or not. While I have some personal reservations about this guy, I admire the commitment he’s made to making it work with my friend. And that’s exactly what I told her; I stressed that unfortunately, it’s not easy to find a guy who will fight for you and try to salvage things when the going gets tough. The fact that he’s so in love with her and is saying he’ll make a serious effort is a big deal, and before ending things, she needs to be 100% sure that it’s the right move (However, this was all said with the caveat that if there were OTHER issues she had, that’d be a different story. But there don’t seem to be).
Of course, some problems don’t warrant a second chance, no matter how much the other person wants to fight to keep things going — the obvious examples being cheating, abuse, drug use. But failing that, as we get older (…yay), relationships get tough and problems more complex. If we are to walk away everytime the spark shifts and things aren’t as rosy anymore, it’s likely we’ll be doomed to an eternity of single-dom.
So with this realization, I’ve now added to my ever-growing list of qualities I need in my life partner — the willingness to fight for me. While that can certainly be hard to assess based on just a first date, I can try to be mindful of this and look out for signs to indicate whether a guy has more of a fight or flight instinct.
My emotions are still going up and down. The dust is now settling, and the excitement of base camp and working out are starting to fade. As I go about my life, little things remind me of him.
I was on my terrace the other day and was reminded of our barbecues last summer, and all the amazing meals he’d whip up. I went to a pub yesterday, the same pub that we used to always go to on Friday nights because of their cheap sangria pitchers and board games. We used to play Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit and try to out-knowledge each other. The other day when I got an itch on my nose, I reflexively wiggled it and remembered this horribly cheesy thing we did where we’d wiggle our noses at each other (the story behind this is so gross and lovey-dovey that I can’t even bring myself to type it out). And of course, every other song on my ipod is tied to something we did together last year, whether it was an at-home dance party or our road trip (mental note: delete every 2016 song).
I had my first post-breakup hookup the other night with a former fling. While it was fun, I couldn’t help but compare the 2 guys, and think that the ex would do certain things better.
I’m doing my best to truly absorb my thoughts and emotions so that I can somehow release them and move on, rather than repress everything. I’m sure it will be a process but I’m doing my best. When I feel myself longing for him, I remind myself that he didn’t have a crucial quality I need in a healthy relationship.
I need someone who will fight for me.