The opinions of others influenced my decision making and behaviour throughout my breakup. Support of friends and family is crucial, I believe, in being able to cope with the process. But can the opinions of others become harmful? While I welcomed advice, I still made sure I understood their standpoint and what they had invested in our relationship. When I first told my parents that I was unhappy with my relationship their initial response was that I must try and fix it, full stop. This was similar to the response I got from our mutual friends. My own friends on the other hand were a bit different, their advice was ‘try to fix it, if that’s what you want but it’s ok to just not want to’. With the constant toing and froing that was going on in my own head, these other opinions often just added more into the mix, when all I wanted was for things to be simple. Ultimately most people understand that a breakup is a very personal decision, and that even though the result may have an impact on their lives, you may not take their advice. But the advice doesn’t stop following a breaking.
Three months into my separation there are still plenty of opinions coming my way, mainly about how I should be feeling and when I should be moving on. Everybody seems to have a different idea and with such a personal thing I have found it surprising how confident people are with their timescales. I have been told that I should get myself back out there and talk to guys on the same day as being told that I should give myself a year, to focus on me. I have been told that it will hurt me to see my ex with another girl and thanks to Facebook that has already happened, yesterday in fact. A photo of him and another girl that I’ve never heard of, I have no idea about the context – maybe they’re just friends, maybe not. But either way seeing the photo did not make me feel hurt, which was a surprise to me. Instead I felt like I could let go. I had been so worried that as the instigator of the breakup I had ruined his life and he would never find anyone again, although I recognise that this is irrational and unlikely, it’s still how I felt. Now I feel like he’s going to be ok, and I’m glad. I feel like I can think about my own life without feeling guilty about what I’ve done to his.
So what is the timescale for moving on? I feel like I would quite like to spend time with a man who likes me, to feel butterflies and nerves before a date. But instead of looking forward to that I focus on what others will say, my parents that it’s far too soon, that our mutual friends will wonder how I’ve moved on so quickly. So is it ok to shame people for how quickly they move on? Whether they move on quickly or take years, should people support you regardless of their own opinions? I appreciate that people care for me and worry, but to put pressure on me to move on only when they think an acceptable amount of time has passed is unfair. I am the only single person in my group of friends and I enjoy being in a relationship, I am not interested in playing the field and am comfortable with who I am and what I like. Perhaps there is a magic formula for being ready to move on. I want nothing but good things for my ex and nothing but good things for me, could this be a healthy measure of moving on, rather than weeks and months?