Tuesday, 21 September 2010

How to get over someone

If I had to rank the questions I’m most frequently emailed, ‘How do I get over someone?’ would be in the top 5. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Heartbreak is one of the unavoidable consequences of living. For the women who’ve managed to recover from heartbreak, the memories are enough to make us vow to never love anyone so recklessly again. That’s what we say until we meet someone who’s so intriguing, all those nights spent crying are swept away as we allow ourselves to be swept off our feet. All the while knowing the type of men with the power to break down our walls tend to bring one of two things, indescribable joy or unbearable pain. However it all seems worth the risk at the time.

That’s one of the reasons why trying to overcome heartbreak is such an ordeal. Half of the heartache is caused by the annoying fact it was self-inflicted and we were active participants in causing own pain.

It’s an unspoken rule that we must go through heartbreak silently and privately. Beyond a few friends and family members, no one knows we’re going through it. All this does is compound the misery. Everyone speaks to us like things are normal, we appear normal yet feel like we’ve lost a limb.

So whenever I receive an email with the subject ‘How do I get over someone?’ I immediately respect that woman for being brave enough to come out and discuss a topic many of us shy from sharing publicly. I also wish we lived in a world where women and men were allowed to cry publicly about their heartbreak, without everyone thinking they’re emotionally imbalanced, unhinged or weak. Unfortunately we live in a (western) world, where we may freely show our cleavage and bare our midriffs, but we must hide our emotions in order to make others feel comfortable.

Since pretending you’re fine when you feel like crap is torturous, it’s perfectly normal to seek a quick fix cure for heartbreak. Perhaps if we watch the right films, read the right literature and listen to enough ‘things will get better one day Mary J Bligesque’ ballads, somehow we can catalyse the healing process. Yet the reality is there are no quick fixes when it comes to heartbreak.

Of course there are temporary measures that give the illusion of healing and will momentarily (albeit ineffectively) fill the void. We can feign indifference, party so hard our stilettos need to be reheeled, have sex with someone else, get a new haircut, lose the extra weight or write subliminal yet oh so obvious Facebook updates which allude to us being ‘stronger’. However the accumulative impact of doing all these things will be negligible. It’s a bit like using dental floss to stitch a weave. People may believe it’s real for a while but eventually it’ll all fall apart.

Sidebar: I promise you that’s my last weave analogy of the year (ok maybe the month)

So ‘How’ do you get over someone? Well there is no ‘how’. There is no definitive method. There is no magic formula. There are no 5 easy steps. There is no secret mantra you can whisper to yourself that will alleviate the pain and anyone that attempts to sell you the book with the answer is a charlatan. All we can really do is get on with life. Whatever it is you do, keep doing it. Feign normality until you almost believe things are ‘normal’. Life goes on. One day you’ll stop caring and by the time you stop caring you won’t even care enough to notice you’ve stopped caring. We can’t fight heartbreak, we just live through it.

Sadly in our rush to ‘get over’ people and recover from our heartbreak some of us pour our energy into trying to forget the person that caused our pain. If someone shakes your world so much you need to forget them, surely that’s an experience worth remembering? The experience itself may have been imperfect, but the lessons we could learn are perfect. Perfectly shaped to fit into the fabric of our lives and help us in the future.

Furthermore why must we pretend just because a relationship has ended that person leaves us forever? They’re part of us, whether we like it or not. For good or for bad, they leave an indelible mark on our lives, reshape our characters, change our perspective and help form who we are from that moment on. I don’t think this is something we should reject, rather we should embrace it. They’re always a part of us and as long as they no longer have power over us that’s ok.

As you may have gathered this post was inspired by a young lady asking me how she could get over her first real love. After I sent her an abridged version of this blog her response was…

“Well if there’s no ‘how’, how long should it take to get over someone?”

To which I had to respond with ‘I don’t know’. 7 years? 7 weeks? 7 months? Any number people choose as the appropriate amount of time to spend heartbroken is arbitrary. To condescendingly say someone’s taking ‘too long’ or judgementally state another’s gotten over someone ‘too quickly’, would be projecting our own beliefs and preferences on others. The truth is just like there’s no magic formula for getting over someone, there’s no magic number of days that signify the journey is over. That’s my opinion and for now I’m sticking by it.

What’s your opinion? Have I got the wrong end of the stick? Is there a method for getting over heartbreak? If so, what is it? Or is it simply a question of getting on with life and things eventually getting better? Let me know!

Love & Light



  1. Hey Christiana!
    So i've jus finished reading the post with wet eyes as i'm currently going through this phase and you've made so many good points. Especially when you talked about the person leaving a mark on us, whether good or bad.
    I remember when i broke up with my first love nearly a year ago, I kept scolding myself because it was taking me an exceptionally long time to get over him. Even up till now, i can honestly say i'm still not over the situation and i felt and sometimes feel very embarrassed that the feelings are still there, especially when you know they've moved on w/ someone else and are happy..lord. But ANYHOO lmao enough of my issues, like you said, there is no 'quick fix' of getting over someone..i used to spend hours googling ways of doing this, but to no avail.
    I think it just depends on the type of person you are and how much you cared about that person/how you broke up. It's literally a process where you just have to take it one day at a time and, if it was a bad breakup, delete/throw away anything to do with them and go cold turkey. The length of time varies also, mine is 11 months and still going strong lol.

  2. I am also going through this phase at the moment and I must admit that it is heart wrenching especially when you did nothing but to love that special someone but they repayed you with coldness and evilness.

    I am still hurting at the moment but I must say that I am feeling a lot better than I thought I would.

    It is very true Christiana, the most important thing to do is to look ahead and build on further developing the skills or knowledge that you gained from that person.

    I personally gained so much and i was distraught at first but I then realised that it was better for the relationship to end now than later down the line when marriage could have been an option. Also, I am taking a positive outlook on things realising that this a fresh start for me. It is the time to focus on me, my friends and m career.

    Also although I still care deeply for my ex, I find solace in realising that the fact that we are no longer together is a blessing in disguise as we were not meant to be together forever.

    And for those who believe that they have lost 'the one' well if it's meant to be then it will be.

    there are things to learn from every experience in life and I think that it is necessary for us girls to first realise our worth so that we can never let any man take us for granted. We are precious and we should be treated as so.

  3. I think you are definitely right on the point that heartbreak is just something that you have to live through. But what I've learnt in life is that time heals. That's not to say that you will forget the person, or that it won't hurt when you see them, but the shocking, stabbing pain you felt at first lessens to a dull ache at the end of six months, and after a year, you hardly notice it. And someday, you might even laugh at it. That's life. You live and you learn.
    Great post. Do check out my blog when you can : http://chroniclesofamisnomer.blogspot.com/

  4. Ama you've done it again! i agree with everything you've written in this post because i can relate to it. and you're right. it can take however long. for me it's been 8months and still counting cos i know it'll be longer. for some reason i'm not forcing myself to get over it cos i know that'll backfire. i'm letting nature take its course...its painful course. and yes it has been painful, it still is and will probably remain painful. but i'm sucking it in and trying to get on with life.

    there's no rule out there on how to get over someone. i believe that what doesn't kill you can only make you stronger. therefore, i know the tears, pain, sleepless nights, self-beating moments can only make me a better stronger person.

    it's great knowing that many of us are in this situation. thanks Ama for once again bringing us all together to share a sensitive topic...great support!

  5. Hello!

    I really like this post because, unfortunately AND thankfully, I think everyone has been in this situation.

    With reference to 'how' do you get over someone, I find the more intense the bond and the higher the quality of the relationship, the longer/harder, it is to get over them.

    I think time (and God - whichever your disposition) definitely heals all, but you have to see the experience is invaluable. In my last breakup, I learnt more about myself than I have in the past five or so years...

    Post-breakup, it could be useful to evaluate what you've learnt about yourself and what you find important (and can't tolerate) in a partner, so that it's not just heartache for nothing!

    The reality is, if you had to break up then they really aren't the person for you... At the very least not right now.

    There is no 'time-frame' for getting over a breakup, but you have to be able to get to a maturely rational place, where you are secure, healthily aware of yourself, and are not jeopardising your whole life due to the breakup. E.g. missing exams, under or over-eating, isolating yourself for extended periods of time...

    My advice for people going through what Christiana's described is:

    1. Allow yourself to FEEL. Be it sad, vulnerable, used, angry, insecure, disappointed, etc.

    2. Allow yourself to LOVE YOURSELF, which means - get on with things!

    Nb. Sometimes for the sake of appearing rational, we agree to things we just aren't ready for - a major example being the 'Yeah, we can be friends'. LOVE YOURSELF. If you're not ready just yet to be his friend, be honest with him (and yourself) and give yourself space and time. At this fragile point - YOU come first.


    Samantha Chioma x

  6. I think we can all relate to this post, I've gone through 2 heart-breaks during my life...painful at the time - you find hope in the fact that it won't always be like...I know its no consolation for those that are going through it at the moment. Time heals all wounds and in time, when you reflect - you do remember the happy memories together and no longer the pain. The way it should be....

  7. SISTAH.
    My goodness, longest time. Don't think I haven't been reading your blogs trust me I have, but this one I had to absolutely share my 2 cents.
    This post was amazing and beautifully written, it had all the right things written on it, I wish I had known all these things when I was going through my own heartbreak. Heartbreak itself is one of the most gruelling things a person can go through, I literally felt like DEATH and all the times you think you're over it but then find a few days later you feel like life isn't worth living again... Goodness me.
    Now, I can thankfully say I'm at the "stop caring" point, unless I sit down and talk about the issue I don't really remember it or have any feelings towards it, it may be fleeting thoughts but that's it. Do you think it gets easier with each time ? The simple fact that I'm right now under the category of "I'll never love so wrecklessly in m'life again honest" but I feel if someone comes along who's just magnificent I'll forget all my lessons and soar like the wind... this possibility scares me. I feel that remembering the good times over the bad times makes it TORTURE, because if you remember the things about them that were good, you'll miss them, because it's so much easier to grasp than the bad stuff, and I think it just makes things take so much longer... it's painful times, how do you effectively doing this without allowing yourself to get sucked back in ???
    Again, great post hun and as always I will be forever reading.
    Love you lots xoxoxo

  8. This is so weird I just wrote a post very similiar to this one that I haven't had the time to post up yet...

    I love this part..."They’re part of us, whether we like it or not. For good or for bad, they leave an indelible mark on our lives, reshape our characters, change our perspective and help form who we are from that moment on. I don’t think this is something we should reject, rather we should embrace it. They’re always a part of us and as long as they no longer have power over us that’s ok."