Q: How to navigate through break ups. 

Age: 26.

Hello my friend. 

Thank you for taking the time to ask this question. If you’re finding it difficult to navigate through a breakup right now, I’m sending you a ton of love. It may feel like the heartbreak you feel right now is endless and consuming, but I assure you that you won’t feel like this forever. 

Newton’s Third Law is “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” and I like to think that pain and heartbreak work like that too. You don’t realize it until it’s already passed, and it’s rare to feel as present in your joy as you are in your pain, but usually, in due time you are guaranteed to experience a joy and love that will assuage your wounds and consume you just as much as the hurt did.

The only way forward is to recognize that feelings, good or bad, are temporary. No matter what, you can’t escape them. You have to confront how you feel right now so you can make room to feel something else.

Regardless of whether the split was mutual or not, uncoupling can be messy and complicated. You’re basically starting anew, which can also be extremely scary. 

The only way to address this is through renegotiating who you are without your partner, and getting to know yourself all over again. This might make you feel lost. You are getting to know yourself on your own terms, and without a person you may have previously leaned on to navigate tough times.

As scary as it is though, starting over is also an opportunity to improve that relationship to yourself on a deeper level, and to commit to yourself the way you previously did for someone else. 

When we are in a relationship, we often work hard to nurture and maintain that relationship. We are committed to showing up for our partner, for loving them, for being there for them, and working at improving the ways that we love them. 

It’s rare that we do this for ourselves.

This is something I had to actively work at. Waking up every day and committing to my own happiness. Taking myself on solo dates, buying myself flowers, ensuring that I have time to check in with myself and how I have or have not been showing up for myself. I learned to hold myself accountable and work alone time into my schedule each week. 

Learning to be alone can also be a chance to do things for yourself that you never did before.

At the same time, though, this doesn’t erase the pain you’re likely feeling. It’s okay to be sad. Even if the split was mutual or ended on good terms, you are grieving the life you once thought you wanted. 

Moving forward, however, requires you to take things day by day. Here are some things that I’ve learned myself:

Don’t worry about whether or not you’ll find a connection like that again, or when you’re going to fall in love again. 

Don’t worry about what your ex is doing. Have a clean break, and remove them from social media while you are still healing. Keeping up with what they’re up to especially immediately after the split will only cause you to spiral. Save yourself the impulse by removing it entirely.

Don’t distract yourself or try to numb the pain. Jumping immediately into another relationship or situationship won’t make you feel better. 

Sometimes we’re so quick to make a home out of others because we are so desperate to escape the one we find within ourselves. 

Unlearning this may require you to decenter romantic relationships from your life entirely, and recognize that having a partner is not the antidote to finding happiness. You are your first and most important love of your life, and you are worthy even if you haven’t yet found “the one,” who sees it.  

At the same time, however, don’t let the pain harden you. This was the toughest lesson I’ve had to learn and relearn a thousand times over in my life. 

Sometimes, we get hurt. Things fall apart and things come to an end. It can be painful.

The natural inclination is to think that we have to protect ourselves from ever being hurt again, by putting up walls and not letting people in. We think that by keeping people out we can save ourselves from having to experience pain again. 

What I’ve come to recognize now, is that those walls are hurting us, not helping us. You may think they’re keeping out the pain, but they're also pushing away people that want to be let in. 

Commit to staying soft, staying vulnerable, and staying open to letting life and love happen to you again. 

To love is to risk getting hurt. It's to risk knowing that this person you feel so deeply about may one day no longer feel the same. You might get hurt again. 

But I assure you that if you embrace this uncertainty, you’ll one day have the realization that it is possible to find love again, and with or without it, you are deserving of happiness, joy and fulfillment. 

So just remember that things often fall apart before they can come together, and what may feel like the most painful experience of your life is only clearing the way for what is meant for you. You have to believe this. 

Don’t ask me how I'm so sure, I promise you’ll know when you’ve found it.  

Submit future questions and submissions for "Sh*t you can't ask your parents," here.

About the author

Rumneek Johal

Rumneek is a journalist, host and speaker. She is currently the BC Reporter at Press Progress where she focuses on systemic inequality, workers and communities, as well as racism and far-right extremism. Her previous work centers on asking tough questions within her community, starting conversation and chipping away at the status quo. Other focus areas for her work include the South Asian community, arts and culture, pop culture, and more. She is a proud Punjabi woman from Surrey, BC.

More by Rumneek Johal
5X Press is a forum for opinions, conversations, & experiences, powered by South Asian youth. The views expressed here are not representative of those of 5X Festival.