Illustration by Marlenne Jasso
Many of us will experience a breakup at some point in our life.
You meet someone you’re interested in, start hanging out, develop feelings, hook up, and if you’re lucky enough, you fall in love. This seems to be a common cycle for most relationships. But, the sole reality of relationships is that it either lasts, or it doesn’t. And when relationships don’t work out, well, you break up with your partner. In the digital age where meeting people is just one Tinder swipe or Instagram DM away, getting into romantic and sexual relationships has become increasingly easy. This convenience leads to many relationships, if they are even relationships, being undefined. And those breakups, are they really breakups if you were never officially dating the other person? Why, as a twenty-one year old in the 21st century, do I feel like every few months I am constantly going through another breakup? The most disturbing thing is, the breakup is always with a guy who was never officially my boyfriend. The problem definitely started with the hype of friends with benefits relationships, where it became socially acceptable to hook up with an individual without having any “strings attached.” When did our generation decide it was okay to lead someone on, and throw them away once they were done? The result? A large amount of young people feeling the pains of a normal breakup, but without any sense of closure. You were together with that other person, but without the “label.” You experienced everything anyone in a real relationship would experience, but when it comes to the breakup, you are left without a proper goodbye. Maybe the other person became distant and started ignoring you. Maybe you didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to the person you were spending all your time with, talking to, and falling in love with. You sit here in sadness, experiencing all the emotions of a break up, but feel stupid because you were never actually dating that person. Each time I have experienced one of these break-ups, I’ve wondered if it was reasonable for me to feel the way I was feeling. I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, you are allowed to feel hurt, upset, and confused after any type of relationship ends. These breakups might be even harder to overcome than the real ones. Constant questions circle your mind like, “Why would they ever actually date me?” and “Did they ever even like me?” Questions that will never be answered. The feeling of thinking you were so close to a real relationship, but the hurt of never actually getting to experience the bliss of publically, socially and exclusively being their partner. These thoughts make it so much more difficult to move on. Young people need to know that it is okay to feel brokenhearted after an unofficial relationship ends. You were with that person, making memories and developing feelings. Healing takes time, but in order to fully heal, you should be allowed to grieve the way you would any other relationship.