Minus the City – Breaking Up is Hard to Do. Letting Go is Worse.

Allie Geiger

What is the statute of limitations on mourning a relationship? It seems to me that a lot of college students manage to get really hung up on another person. Long after the breakup is over and life seems to return to normal, our age group holds on to the old relationships. In an appropriately Carrie Bradshaw-esque moment, I am going to think out loud about this. If you want to know how long to listen to one of your friends bitch, you’ve come to the wrong columnist. Personally, I try to distract people with shiny objects after the third whine session.

The famed sex columnist Dan Savage once said in his column that he never talks about himself, and when he does, it’s a lie. Despite the fact that you should ALWAYS follow the advice of Mr. Savage, I am going to break that rule. Perhaps, it would cross too many borders if I were to tell you about how every time I wake up to rain, I think of my ex and the rest of the day is completely wrecked, but there it is. Now, I’ve heard about certain songs or smells bringing you back to the moment, but never a weather condition. But I digress!

There are a lot of reasons why we hold on to old flames for so long. Sometimes, we are just continuing the act of waiting for a relationship to die. The mourning becomes a part of everyday life and we get stuck. These are the times when we need to take a handle on things and dive back into the world. However, I think there are a lot of more complicated reasons.

When some people go through a really devastating break up, the pain takes a while to go away. We get really close to one person and it feels like a match. The breakup that results when people realize that they were off by just a touch here and there is usually extremely destructive. Humans have the tendency to think that they are correct more often than not. Realizing that we are wrong about something as fundamental as a personality connection is a violent assault to our psyches. This psychological happening even has a clinical name — cognitive dissonance.

Further, society tells us that love happens, just with a glance, a moment, and almost no work. All of those match-dot-com commercials telling you they have exactly the right someone for you must mean that if you can’t find the person on your own, you need help. This makes us inclined to think we should be doing better on our own. Well, match-dot-com, you do not have a section for people who would never date someone on match-dot-com — so you do NOT have someone for me. Ha.

As young folk, we believe the commercials, the rom-coms, the Glamours and the Cosmos. We think we should get it all right, early on. Furthermore, we are fed abstinence-only education and told how special all these sexual/emotional connections are, and how we shouldn’t waste them (Not that I’m judging, but waiting to do it before marriage in today’s world seems somewhat difficult to wrangle. I’m not saying you should do it with everyone, but maybe just waiting for someone plain ole special rather than THE ONE). This one-two punch of really stringent expectations on both ends of the spectrum means we get tangled easily in someone. We know that it’s easy to find THE ONE, and you boinked the last one (so very many times!), and it follows that the next thing you have to do is convince yourself that what you had was real.

But we never consider what would happen if we decided that it was real in the moment, and that maybe that was enough. No, we have to prove to ourselves that it was real — we didn’t mess up and we didn’t waste all that loving on someone unworthy. We have to remind ourselves every rainy morning that it was so unrelentingly real. If we don’t torture ourselves afterwards, then the relationship was just a waste, really.

What is the statue of limitations on this though? Is three months of rainy mornings enough? When do we decide that enough is enough? Perhaps if we got rid of the illusion that everything needed to be perfect, we wouldn’t have this awful mourning period.

Personally, I’m starting to think that I can bank the experiences as real enough for the moment and use them to improve the future. Maybe, we can use these experiences for upping the ante of our next relationships. A moment to think that next time, ‘I really need to get swept off my feet.’ And until then, all of the people inclined to brood can be found at the Jug, all equipped with condoms!