“I don’t want to look like a bad person or have them thinking that I’m immature. Won’t it look like I’m punishing them?” Said by many a person who has wound up in even more pain.
Every breakup needs some space so that each person can come to terms with what’s happened and essentially grieve the loss of the hopes and expectations for the relationship. Sure we could keep swinging out of one another, sleeping together, speaking every day, dipping in and out, negotiating, rehashing, poking around in each other’s lives and yada, yada, yada but…. we won’t get very far. We can keep trying to keep up a front for our exes or for anybody who knows us, or in fact for society at large but then it begs the question of what all of this image management is in aid of? Each time we pretend that what’s happened hasn’t happened or we deny our feelings and thoughts, we’re ignoring the very valuable and worthwhile people we are just so that we can preserve the egos of others and hold ourselves up to some sort of gold standard breakup.
There’s such a thing as boundaries, that vital personal electric fence that let’s us know our limits as well as what does and doesn’t work for us. They fit into our self-esteem which when we treat ourselves with love, care, trust, and respect, we then have an internal compass that puts a clear line between us and others as well it pointing us in the direction of our own boundaries and values. We learn what to walk towards and walk away from.
If we base the way that we treat ourselves and our choices primarily on another person, or a group of people, or even the world at large, that compass stops working and points us away from ourselves. And then we feel miserable.
When we worry about being a ‘bad person’ or that we’re ‘immature’ or punishing an ex by accepting that the breakup is over and trying to get ourselves together and move on with our lives, we’re intimating that recognising ourselves in a healthy manner is wrong. We should just sit around and take what’s chucked our way. We should just suffer in silence or suffer with complaint but suffer we must continue. We should in fact devote our life to moving on with the ex in our lives and trying to figure out how to deal with them instead of, erm, moving on and putting our energy into living our lives healthily and authentically. What the what now?
Let’s just be clear: To feel bad about wanting your breakup to be finalised or for needing some space to process what’s happened, is to suggest that you’re guilty of a wrongdoing. What’s even more outrageous about this, is that often the primary reasons for needing the space is because you’re clearly not emotionally able to continue on with the status quo and because you may be dealing with somebody who through their actions and expectations of you, is demonstrating that you can’t continue down this particular course of action and have your self-esteem in tow.
Everybody handles things differently and the fact that another person may not be as affected as us by the break or they believe that people should ‘man up’ or ‘woman up’ and keep an ex in their life if they’re a ‘good person’, does not mean that we’re under obligation to follow suit. When we run around trying to appease people while overriding our own feelings and boundaries, we forget that we are not one and the same person and that what’s informing their perspective is not informing ours. Equally, they don’t know what’s informing our perspective or what we’ve been through and even if they do know, they may struggle to empathise and may misguidedly feel entitled to expect us to let them drive our choices, as if who we are and what we do needs sign off… even though we’re broken up.
It’s not a punishment to take space or to go No Contact (NC). It would be a punishment if you were doing it as a passive aggressive or aggressive move to force the other person to do what you originally wanted from them. It also doesn’t make you a bad person because that’s to suggest that people who say no / opt out are ‘bad’ or that you don’t have a right to say no. It’s also not immature to recognise your own feelings, thoughts, boundaries, and values – it’s quite the opposite. It may suit your ex to ignore theirs so that they don’t have to be honest with themselves but that’s something that doesn’t need to be done on your time.
If you think you can slide out of a relationship with no pain and looking ‘perfect’, think again. Trying to slide out with pain and perfection may actually be why your ex is against you taking space. I’m yet to meet one person who has said “Oh such and such is so lovely. They give really good breakup.” Breakups hurt, even when they’re done nicely.
If you keep trying to out-nice your ex or keep silencing your inner voice with ‘shoulds’, you will be at their mercy (or the mercy of people in general) because you will worry more about how you look, instead of concerning yourself with how you treat you or are being treated by others. Don’t judge you for making a healthy decision that’s based on judging the situation and knowing your own line. Believe me when I say that if a friendship with your ex is on the cards, it won’t be because it’s coerced or guilted out of you and it can wait until you feel emotionally ready. Somebody who generally has your best interests at heart will not have an agenda that benefits from you overriding yourself.Add to favorites