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First breakups hurt more

Jesse Martin

December 29, 2020

People that go through a breakup for the first time, or whose first deep and meaningful relationship comes to an end, often describe their situation in existential terms. They say things such as "She's the only one who understands me", "I cannot live without her" and "I will never find someone that will love me like her".

Here's an example from a 20-year old male talking about his ex-girlfriend that just dumped him.

I’m truly scared that she may not ever want to be with me again. And I’m scared because she is the only person who has ever completely understood who I am, what I’ve been through, and she’s the only person in years to actually make me feel like I was cared for and loved.

Someone going through a breakup for the first time may not have felt a similar loss before and may not realize that (1) things get better, (2) this is a wave of pain which they'll survive and (3) they'll likely feel the same way about someone else again, accompanied with more perspective.

Having past experiences allows one to put current experiences into perspective. When a woman tells me she loves me, my past experiences allow me to reference back to situations where other women told me the same. It allows me to compare those contexts with the current context. If a woman tells me she loves me after two dates, I can compare that with the 6 months it took my last girlfriend, and conclude that that's a bit suspicious! The comparison is what allows me to place the current "I love you" into perspective.

Similarly when I feel a woman understands me, I can go back to other times I felt that feeling and I can compare how deep both of those instances felt. If they feel similar, then I know what I'm feeling probably isn't an extremely rare thing to experience. If nothing compares, then that's a better indication this is pretty special.

If you have no comparison, it will always feel like the best, deepest, most profound thing you've ever experienced. Which is also true — for now — but it's not a reliable indication that it's a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience.

Feelings aren't facts. Just because you feel someone is your soulmate doesn't make that a fact. Just because you feel you need to pursue someone doesn't mean that's what you should do, or that that's what's good for you. It's just a feeling, which contains information, some of it may be useful, or not.

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