I had been with my (now) ex-girlfriend for two years, and this year has taken a toll on us. She lost a parent and then we broke up for two months and got back together, but it was rocky. We broke up again the day before Christmas. I love her, but I doubt we will get back together. I need some advice. Thank you.—Winter Is Shitty, Help
Stay broken up. Be firm this time, take a hard break (no texts, no talking, no nothing), and try like hell not to fall back on old habits when you get a tiny bit lonely, which you surely will because you’re alive.
Your relationship ended and that sucks, but there was a reason for it (probably many reasons considering you broke up more than once,) and it’s not just because she lost a parent—but I do empathize with you there. My ex and I stayed together another year longer than we probably would have because her parent died rather suddenly.
Grief makes us cling harder to what is familiar, to reach for what is right in front of us. Everything else feels exhausting.
So don’t get back together again. Let 2017 be a fresh start for you. Usually I don’t much care for arbitrary dates, but hey, a new year is just as good a time as any to reflect and hurl yourself into the unknown. You tried your damnedest to make this relationship work, and now it’s time to let it be and let it go.
While that’s happening, I want you to go and learn a new thing. Whatever has been most interesting you lately, even if it’s completely random and weird. Ice sculpting? Yes. Learning to play drums on a Hello Kitty drum kit? WHY NOT. Tango dancing, American Sign Language, cardio kickboxing, understanding Aristotle, powerlifting, starting a side business of organizing people’s garages, learning to brew beer—whatever.
Pick something and devote yourself to it. This will distract you from your fresh-again pain, but more importantly, it will help you realize that you’re not the same person you were a few days ago when your relationship ended.
You’re a new person entirely. Someone who is constantly growing and changing and moving on.
So keep your head down and fixate on the here and now. Allow yourself to be heartbroken, but also to keep heading in the direction of the life you want to live.
Don’t worry about finding someone new. The point is to be someone new.
You’re going to be just fine, WISH.
Anna Pulley is a RedEye contributor. Got a question of your own? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or let her send you overly personal emails here.