Posted by fxckfeelings on January 6, 2014Share This Post
We’ve said many times that high school isn’t just a place, but a feeling you never outgrow. That’s because you will get the same old helpless feelings into adulthood, either from being belittled by authority (then gym teacher, now boss), ditched by your best friend (then because you dated a jerk, now because she married one), or worse. That’s why, whether you’re a teen feeling lonely and isolated or a confident and in-control adult, breaking up hurts and can eat at your confidence. No matter your circumstances, however, you don’t have to let heartache undermine your belief in your ability to find lasting love and friendship. Remember, every broken relationship, like high school, has something to teach you, even if it’s just that life is hard and sometimes you’re unlucky and your gym teacher’s an asshole.
I’m in high school. I’m not very popular—most people would say I’m weird. A year ago I met the most amazing guy, I could actually be myself around him and I never thought I’d find that in a small town. I have a couple of other friends but they don’t get me like he does. For some reason a few months ago he started ignoring me, stopped taking my calls reading my messages. I don’t know how to fix it. I just want a friend I can talk to. Please help.
The toughest thing about growing up lonely and weird isn’t being lonely and weird or even having no friends, but the terrible feeling of losing your first close friend after you finally find one.
Your bleak world lights up just to go black, and it hurts much more to feel a connection and lose it than to only know being alone. The fact that this series of events is the subject of so many books, movies, and songs (dozens by Morrissey alone) should be of some comfort.
First, you should infer that you’re not alone in feeling alone, and second, that it’s a devastating experience that tests your strength and faith in the future. It has the potential to make you feel hopeless and hateful (think Carrie), but also, empowered and confident (also, in a way, Carrie).
It sounds like you’ve done all the right things to get your relationship back on track; you didn’t respond to rejection by getting huffy, laying on a guilt trip, or getting vengeful and hysterical. You just let him know your relationship mattered. What you’re up against, unfortunately, is the normal instability of high school relationships, and the teenaged male’s feeble communication skills.
Kids are thrown much more closely together in high school than is probably good for anyone, but the economic necessities of education make any other system too costly. In addition, everyone is at an age of change, growing, and yearnings of all kind. That’s why it’s hard to keep a close relationship intact, particularly when a lot depends on it. Writers have no trouble figuring out ten different, overwrought ways to break up the most perfect high school friendship, when all it really takes is having different lunch periods or a bad haircut.
Putting aside your heartache, you’ve proven to yourself that you can find a good friend in life, regardless of your weirdness or small town isolation, and it’s just a small step from finding a good friendship that doesn’t last to finding a slightly better one that does. All you need is persistence and an ability to survive high school and small town life, and to keep looking for a place you belong.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist, if your town or school has one that you think you could talk to. Sometimes that’s what therapy is for; to give you a relationship with someone who likes weirdoes until you can find your own people who aren’t paid professionals.
Meanwhile, though, your main goal isn’t to be less weird or even to get your friend back, but to remember that you’re moving in the right direction and have good reason to hope that the future has more friendships in store, including ones that last.
You might feel even lonelier and weirder than you did before, but you’re closer to human connection than you think, and even better, you’re that much closer to your high school years being over.
“I feel that the one person I trusted to understand me is now treating me the same way everyone else does, and my loneliness hurts worse than it ever did before. I am proud, however, that I risked this pain, because it taught me I can find friendship, and I know, after I recover, that I’ll use what I’ve learned to find more friends and reach out more selectively.”
I don’t know why I’m having trouble getting over my last breakup. I know when I met her that she was going to be leaving for the west coast in six months because she had a dream job lined up after graduation and was more interested in starting her career than a serious partnership. We agreed not to get too involved, but I guess my heart and mind went in different directions. I know she really cared about me and there was nothing devious about her priorities. After a sad but warm farewell, I don’t know why I can’t get over her or what I should do about it. I knew the end was inevitable, but the pain shouldn’t be.
When a breakup hurts, it’s normal for your thoughts to get negatively self-critical; even if the relationship was pretty good and the ending wasn’t out of the blue, you wonder how you fooled yourself into thinking you could keep things from getting serious, where you went wrong in letting yourself care too much, and whether you’re basically too dependent to get over her. The more you hurt, the more you question your common sense, control, and independence, which prolongs your pain, and so on.
Instead of asking yourself what you did wrong, review the basic risks of love. You know that heartbreak doesn’t just happen to needy people who make bad choices, but also to good people who make thoughtful choices that don’t quite work out. That’s why close relationships, even ones with agreed upon rules and time limits, are like surgical procedures; never entirely safe, even under the best conditions.
Maybe if you had it to do over again, knowing how much you’re hurting now, you’d back off once she told you it couldn’t last. On the other hand, maybe you didn’t know then how much you could care about someone, and this relationship taught you something new. If so, your heartache may well be cost-effective tuition for Relationship U.
Meanwhile, before deciding whether to rekindle your romance, review what you know about her commitment to her career and life as a single woman. If she made a big effort to spend time with you when you were together, then she’s more likely to want to balance a serious relationship with her other ambitions and letting her know how you feel might lead her to re-consider commitment. On the other hand, if she always tended to keep a lid on your time together, then she may just not be ready for anything more, and reaching out will lead to disappointment. Next time you meet someone who doesn’t quite have the time for you, even though the chemistry is very positive, you now understand the dangers.
You learned you had the courage to fall in love and enjoy a serious relationship, but you also learned how to identify the kind of commitment you require for a serious relationship to work out. Instead of believing the negative thoughts your heartache places in your brain, take pride in what you’ve accomplished, take care of yourself, and bide your time until you’re ready to try again, this time with someone who plans to stay put.
“I feel like I can’t let go of my last relationship and can’t trust my own feelings, but I know the relationship had value and that I will recover. I will use what I learned to find a relationship that will last.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname