Dating is one of the best and worst things to preoccupy a college student’s mind. It creates so much joy and giddiness but also has the potential to shatter you into a million unrecognizable pieces. Everyone says the best relationships are when you are each other’s best friends, as well as boyfriend/girlfriend. This doesn’t mean ditching all your other friends, but it demonstrates a deeper bond in the couple. However, even the best couples can have sad endings. The end of a relationship can be a new chapter in your book, but the healing process can be long and exasperating. It can break not only your heart, but your willpower. If you really loved that person, it can take your whole persona and leave you empty. So here is how to handle losing a boyfriend who was also your best friend.
1. Give Yourself Time To Be Sad
A part of you is now missing. Waking up the in the morning(s) after a breakup can have the intensity of three water buffalo sitting on your stomach and lungs. You feel nauseous. The realization of what has truly happened slaps you in the face every morning. But the thing is, that is so normal. If you don’t feel this way, you probably didn’t care too much for the person. Regardless of what terms you ended on, this new void in your life is going to be killer. So, cry. You’re not weak or dramatic, or on the “losing end” of the relationship. You have been crushed and your feelings, whatever they may be, are justified.
Bottling feelings up is a sure way to find yourself pulled over on the side of the road, screaming sad songs sobbing in the car a few days later. (True story.) Feelings are important and need to be felt! You will never recover if you don’t first admit your sadness to yourself. Be kind to yourself.
2. Throw It Out
“It” can refer to many things. It can be those cute polaroids you took of each other; the shirt of theirs that you slept in; or even the typical stuffed bear you got for Valentine’s day. In the least harsh way possible, toss it. Maybe you don’t literally burn it all, leaving no trace of the relationship, but you need to get it out of your sight. If you are a nostalgic person (like me,) you could put them in a box somewhere in the back of your closet.
I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t this common sense? For some middle school relationships, it is. But this person you lost was your best friend. Love them or hate them, those are memories of a person incredibly important to you. When relationships end we have a tendency to cling to the past, and this awful habit is only amplified by the constant physical reminders around you. So be strong and put them away. If it hurts too bad to go through the physical process of removing items, ask a friend to do it for you.
3. Spend Time With People
I know how tempting it is to lock yourself in your room with Nutella and some Netflix, but socializing can really help. Your mind is grieving, so your thoughts have a tendency to revolve solely around that person, what you had been through together, and how things could’ve worked out. Talking to people, getting out and about, and keeping your mind preoccupied is a great way put some pep back in your step.
I know it can be difficult because the only person you want to hang out with is no longer at your availability, but your friends have different contributions to your healing that can do wonders. Yes, you lost a best friend, but there will always be other people and other friends there for you who are just as equipped to make you smile. Everyone you know has more than likely gone through a breakup that hurt them. They understand and want nothing but the best for you.
I see physical exercise as a universal solvent to many of life’s problems. This view is because endorphins from working out are great stress relievers. Despite the intensity or length of the workout, your body and mind feel renewed after a good sweat sesh. Exercise has been proven to help clear minds and lift moods. This is exactly what you need after losing such a chunk of your life.
Actions like running or swimming take a lot of energy and focus, in turn taking your mind off of things. I know for a fact that your self-confidence will also be taking a hit as you recover from this loss, but what better way to get revenge than to get a revenge body? Be the best you can be, for no one but yourself. Working out goes hand in hand with loving yourself and that’s exactly what you need to do right now. Love your pain, love your strength, and love your body.
It’s very easy for you to see this time as depressing or to even consider the whole relationship painful and a waste of time. You think hating them can make things easier and maybe you’d express fewer feelings of longing if you despised them. However, feelings of regret or negativity towards the person only prolong the healing time. Despite anything that might have happened, this person must have brought some light into your life at one time or another.
Pushing out any happy memory or good quality about the person can help to a degree. The long run that ends in contentment and happiness, however, requires forgiveness and appreciation for the time spent together. Without understanding the positives that came out of the friendship, you will drown in memories of what went wrong. Our energy should never focus on the negative, so the times you laughed, sang together in the car, ate burritos, or watched Netflix together need to be valued for what they were; good times.
6. Be Kind
If you live on the same campus, or in the same small town as your ex, odds are you’re going to run into them. Be it bad luck, shitty timing, or just fate, you will probably see them more than you did when you were actually dating. The automatic response when encountering this awkward situation is to pretend it’s not happening. Ignore them. Look the other way. Laugh louder with your friends. Roll your eyes if, with some awful luck, you must make eye contact. This way is only going to lead to resentment from both parties. Trust me, you will feel even more awful than you already do after an encounter like that.
You both were best friends and that’s a huge thing to consider. Be kind to your friend. Forgive them internally and be the big enough person to make the initiative to smile, wave, talk to, or just merely acknowledge them when seen in public. Gauge your response on how strong you are feeling that day. Also, if they are to reach out to you, put your pride aside and be there for them. Odds are this is just as hard for them as it is for you and best friends are there for each other despite the circumstances. You will never regret being kind, and believe it or not you will feel more at peace with the situation.
7. Find Yourself
You are made up of so many aspects, good and bad. You are also shaped by so many things, good and bad. The new void in your life picture can leave you wondering just how you survived before this person. What did you do for fun? Who did you talk to? Those questions are heavy at the beginning of the breakup because your best friend is now unavailable to you every day. You’ve spent the last however-many-months of your life molded around this person and now you have to remold. A trick that has helped me is to make a list of any and all passions, hobbies, or interests you’ve had in your life before this person came along. Once you’ve made the list, experiment with getting back in the game of those activities. Appreciate and put your energy into these ideas.
Besides physical activities, make a list of feelings and circumstances you like. Express your love for the color of the sky at sunset or your favorite shampoo that makes your hair smell like vanilla. Anything and everything that even slightly eases your mind is a step in the right direction. These things are all tiny puzzle pieces of yourself that will still fit together even now that you’ve lost this person. Find what makes you happy now and you will find yourself again.
In reality, everyone comes out of different relationships, with different kinds of people that have different ways of coping. There is no set time line to how long it will take for the pain to stop stinging in your chest. There is nothing anyone can say or do to help this incurable feeling cease. However, the initiative you take to better yourself and appreciate everything you have endured can greatly influence how you come out of this experience. Losing any sturdy factor in your life can be devastating, but as humans, we are able to pick back up and keep on going. You are still you regardless of what anyone else is doing. Working from the inside out, with these tips, can help your body, soul, and mind recuperate in a worthwhile way.