Right Now, Wrong Then: How a nasty break up made me a better person

Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is a challenge. And breaking up is painful; sometimes it’s the worst kind of pain, especially when you have been with that person for years in a committed relationship.

What if this is a mistake? What if I never find someone who loves me? The change can be frightening and you may begin to doubt yourself.

So how do you bounce back from a break up? How do you start over?

Different people resort to different means of bouncing back. Rebounds might be one way. Eating tubs of ice cream and blocks of chocolate while watching He’s Just Not That Into You or Bridget Jones’ Diary and swearing off dating for a period of time might be another. Maybe you might fall back on Cosmopolitan articles and watch Matthew Hussey’s videos (I still do, that guy’s a genius) to convince yourself that you’ll be okay.

Or you could use this time for some serious soul-searching and do the things you never got to do when you were in a relationship.

A change in perspective

I was in a long term relationship with a guy I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Things shifted after I moved more than 3,000 miles away to further my studies. I held on to the relationship and fought for it as long as I could. But in the end, I had to make a choice. And I chose me.

For the first time in a very long time, if not ever, I put myself first. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I always put others first. And since breaking up, I have had to discover and learn what mattered to me; breaking up taught me so much about priorities, positive thinking and the importance of putting my own happiness first.

Being alone used to scare me, as I’m sure it does for many people as well. That’s why I wasn’t able to walk out of that relationship right away even though I knew it was getting increasingly toxic. “The biggest cause of crappy relationships is fear of being single,” relationship guru Matthew Hussey once said. Upon reflection, his words made sense to me — I was desperate to save what was left, even though deep down I knew there was not much. I waited for a change that I knew was never going to come. I convinced myself that the relationship was worth saving even when it was destroying me.

Then I realised, what’s the point?

“No matter how hard you fight for something, how much you want it, if it’s not meant to be, you’re never going to get it.”

I didn’t want to be sad. So instead I decided to believe in fate. “If it’s meant to be, it will be.” as the old statement goes. And while it may sound cliche, these are words I live and swear by now.

Think about it. No matter how hard you fight for something, how much you want it, if it’s not meant to be, you’re never going to get it. And if it is, then maybe now is not the time yet for it. If you are meant to have it, sooner or later you will. So in the meantime, start focusing on other things in your life. Sooner or later, everything will begin to fall into place.

For me, breaking up meant I could begin to do things for myself . I finally joined a gym, began to commit myself even more to my studies and made plans for life after graduation; plans that didn’t involve my former partner. I wanted to improve myself, and my situation eventually got better. I was receiving new opportunities and experiences to work and prepare myself for the working world. I made new friends and spent more time with old friends. I’m enjoying my alone time and love not having to answer to anyone. Simply put, I’ve never been happier.

Me, myself and I

One of my good friends taught me that if you’re not happy by yourself, you’ll never be truly happy with a partner. I’m sure you’ve heard people saying “you don’t need a partner to be happy”. You nod your head and say “I know” just to shut them up but you don’t really want to be alone. Some people think having that significant other will complete them. Heck, I used to think that too. But maybe it’s because you haven’t allowed yourself to learn to be by yourself. Learn to prioritise yourself and you’ll see your true potential.

Sure it gets lonely sometimes especially when my friends are getting into relationships one by one, but honestly, I’m okay with how things are now. I don’t have plans to be in a serious relationship anytime soon but that’s just my choice. I’m open to it if it comes, but I have so much more to do and achieve.

“If you don’t define your standards for how you can be treated, the world will define them without your permission.”

It’s totally okay if you want to date, just as long as you are content and happy with yourself first. And make sure when you do get in a relationship, that it only makes you grow even more as a person and a lover.

Just remember that if you are stepping out of a relationship, don’t doubt yourself or your abilities. Bouncing back takes a lot of energy and strength but — and forgive me for quoting him again — as Matthew Hussey says: “If you don’t define your standards for how you can be treated, the world will define them without your permission.”

Supported by the City of Melbourne through a community grant, this story is part of a year-long PEER Project which aims to help international students build healthy community, explore and find peer-support on issues around identity and gender, discuss common struggles and stereotypes, and gain the confidence to navigate current and future relationships.

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