The longer response times. The snapchats left on delivered. As late night face times turn into one-word texts, you see the future laid out before your very eyes: they’re about to ghost you. And the worst part of it all is you can’t say anything. You aren’t even official! With no right to assert your needs, you simply let your person go, and accept the impending heartbreak.
It’s difficult to grapple with an ex-situationship, as you can’t truly call them your “ex.” Being able to call someone an “ex” validates your pain. However, in a situationship, you don’t even receive that luxury. When people ask why you are so sad or distressed, the words tangle in your mouth, as you attempt to explain the months of passion and pain that completely engulfed your life. The emotional toll of an ex-situationship often surpasses that of a breakup as a lack of closure magnifies your despair.
I wish it was easy to overcome heartbreak. I wish there was a clear cut solution to mend those wounds, other than time. In the process of grieving your loss, it is important to focus your energy on the contents of your identity. We often lose ourselves in other people, allowing all of our time and energy to be consumed into this endless vortex. When released from this cycle, you are left with a void. All those hours spent thinking about that one person now stand empty. What will you fill your mind with? How will you engage your energy?
The easiest - and most instinctive - answer is ruminating on the past. After a situationship, you may obsessively replay the memories while questioning your worth.
“Why couldn’t they commit to me?”
“Why wasn’t I enough?”
“Why did I let it go on for so long?”
While it’s important to learn and grow from your past mistakes, over-thinking your relationship will quickly drain your energy and happiness. You’ll be trapped in a hurricane of “what ifs,” as you tie yourself to the past. When you fall victim to these unproductive thoughts, it’s important to counteract them, and occupy yourself with other activities.
When confronting your negative thoughts, allow yourself to release feelings of guilt and shame. You are enough. You did nothing wrong. Human emotions are powerful, and romantic involvement can lead us to do crazy things, and lose ourselves along the way. Be kind to yourself, but also recognize where you can improve in the future. Note the signs of a partner who is potentially toxic, or won’t want to commit long-term. Set a finite standard for yourself, such as leaving a situationship after 3 months if your partner doesn’t settle. Assess your needs and goals, and make them a priority. As past experiences develop your present wisdom, your heartbreak transforms into healing.
Throughout the healing process, it is important to compose future goals, while simultaneously working on your present self. Relationship wisdom isn’t enough to heal that broken heart, because you are not defined by who you are in a relationship!
Before allowing another person into your life, it is essential to ground yourself, and prioritize your mental and physical wellness. Without this sturdy foundation, you may find yourself stuck in another toxic situationship, as you let someone else dictate your happiness. I recommend shopping and dining by yourself, discovering activities that genuinely excite your interest, and investing time in family and friends. By building up every aspect of your life, you develop a strong foundation for the next relationship. And if that relationship doesn’t work out, you know you will be okay. You will never truly be lost if you always have yourself to rely on.
If you're dealing with an ex-situationship at the moment, remember that your current pain won’t last forever. With time, you will heal, grow, and learn from this experience. Just because they weren’t formally your boyfriend or girlfriend, doesn’t devalue the time and energy you placed in your relationship. People are so much more complicated than titles, and anyone who comes into your life has the potential to deeply move you. Don’t place walls up for fear of heartache. With the unknown, comes chances for reflection and unprecedented growth. At the end of the day, you will always be there for yourself. And once you access that inner-strength, you are virtually unstoppable.
Written by: Brianna Rauchman