How to Fall Out of Love

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I was 16 when I first picked up a copy of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” to try and figure out why the guy that I liked wasn’t texting me back. I couldn’t understand that someone who chased me for months, said they really liked me, kissed me, and as soon as I confessed I liked him too, disappeared. It was later on that same year the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” came out and things started to click into place. He just wasn’t that into me.

When I was 20, it happened again. The exact same cycle I put myself in before. This time with bigger repercussions—a broken heart. Something that I never thought would happen to me. I was too protective of my heart, I thought. No one was going to break it. I wouldn’t allow it, until one day they did. I honestly don’t know how it happened. The warning signs were there from the beginning but I chose to ignore them because he was sweet, charming, attractive, and quite a good kisser. And I was young, naive, and wanting someone to like me. Then, kiss, bang, boom. A broken heart.

The thing about the self help books that I turned to is that none of them told you how to mend a broken heart. Yes, they explained the “10 Signs A Guy Isn’t Interested” or “5 Ways To Make Him Jealous and Wanting You Back,” but there was no listicle on the “10 Things To Do To Fall Out of Love With Someone” or “5 Ways To Stop Eating Ice Cream and Heal Your Broken Heart Quick.” They never tell you the one thing that is true in all heartbreak: how hard it is to get over someone. They tell you all these things you should be doing—working out to get that revenge bod, sleeping with someone else, finding a hobby, anything really to get your mind off them—but they don’t explain what to do when all you’d rather be doing is wearing joggers, eating pint after pint of Ben and Jerry’s, and watching Bridget Jones on repeat wondering if anyone would really love you like Mark Darcy.

I’ve tried a variety of ways of falling out of love—mainly drinking copious amounts of coffee, throwing myself into work, and avoiding any mention of the one that got away. Any mention at all. For me, it was a coping mechanism and probably not the best one, but after a month of his name not being uttered, it got a little bit easier. You almost forget about them. Until you see them in line at the grocery store while you have your hair in a not-cute messy bun, no makeup, and wondering why the universe does this to you. Then you have to rewind and redo all the progress you made before.

There’s no checklist of how to mend a broken heart. If there were and people could get over a break up in “5 Easy Steps,” would it be worth it? Was the relationship really that meaningful if there was such a quick fix? Would we cling to that list throughout the relationship and never really commit to that person because we know what could possibly happen?

I’ve always been the type of person looking for the exit. I know exactly how many rows behind me and in front of me there are to the exit doors. I can find the escape, the loophole, the way out of any given situation and how to not get myself hurt in the process. But, what’s the fun in that? When I finally allowed myself to be vulnerable and open up, it was exciting and scary and wonderful and horrifying and all those things rolled into one. It was everything I hated and longed for. And looking back on the end and the goodbye and the months that followed where I was wallowing in this strange pain, when there was an emptiness in my stomach, and I constantly felt like I was outside of myself, I wouldn’t trade those days. I wouldn’t want a checklist of items that I needed to fulfill before my I was well and truly moved on. I learned what I could take on. I learned about myself. I rediscovered my identity. That piece I’ve been missing for far too long.

The thing about falling out of love is that it takes time, it takes screaming your lungs out, crying so hard your body hurts, laughing until you can’t take it anymore, eating too much, drinking too much, sleeping with the wrong people, sleeping with the right people, swiping right on Tinder, deleting Tinder, breaking your phone, deleting social media, waking up at 3am and not being able to fall back asleep, calling them, texting them, regretting everything and regretting nothing. It takes whatever it takes. It takes you however long it takes. It takes you opening your eyes one day and thinking, “holy shit, I’m okay.”

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For the Non Lovers

Romantic

Is there a word for our non lovers? The almost? The could be, the should have been, the would have been if they were different? If we were different, if we had let ourselves give in to it? I was in his bed, clutching around for my clothes, my underwear, trying to figure out what I was doing. Why I kept going back to this same old routine. He was in the other room, getting a drink of water, while I put back on my jeans, and my bra, and my sweater, and slipped on my shoes deciding my words with each zip and button. It was at the door, while leaving, that I looked back at him. Half naked, half smirking, and me, half in love with him. And, I told him that. Told him and walked out the door while the look of surprise flashed on his face, and he was putting down his glass to walk towards me. Wait. Stop. Look back, but I didn’t. I wouldn’t. I walked away because I was scared, nervous, vulnerable, because I wasn’t ready for the next step, because I didn’t want to know his answer, because it wouldn’t work even if I wanted it to. Between us, the relationship wasn’t real, but the feelings were. At least on my part, but I didn’t have the words for them. I don’t think I ever will.

The Aftermath of Dirty Dancing

The Aftermath of Dirty Dancing

I’ve never seen Dirty Dancing. I know, I know gassssp! It’s always been one of those films that everyone talks about, and I’ll catch snippets of it here and there on television, but I’ve never sat down and watched it the whole way through. It’s like Footloose to me, or the Titanic (which I saw for the first time a few years ago!) Something that is very quotable (“Nobody puts Baby in the corner!), but I couldn’t have cared less to actually see the film.

Last week my friend Brooke asked me if I’d like to see the play Dirty Dancing at the Fox Theatre. I jumped at the chance because I hadn’t been to the Fox since I was a kid, and I forgot how beautiful the architecture of the playhouse is. And also, it was the Sunday before fall break was officially over and I felt due for a last hurrah. Thankfully, unlike the last time I went to see A Christmas Carol when I was eight and promptly fell asleep within the first thirty minutes of the play, I was attentive in the action of the play. It was corny in all the right ways. I laughed and applauded and got goosebumps listening to some of the players sing. My face hurt from smiling at all the gorgeous choreography and my ears rang slightly from the applause and “yeeeeeaahhhhhh“‘s after Johnny came back and pulled Baby away from the corner of the room with his iconic line.

And, it sorta made me…sad? Now, I’m all for over-the-top cheesiness, but something about the play made me wish for a companion. I can hear the dramatic gasp from my friends and family. Yes, you read that right, I was sad because Baby got Johnny and I have a cat to go home to. Dirty Dancing somewhat got through to my very cold heart.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely happy on my own. I’m comfortable in my skin. I’m happy with where I’m at and the fact that I don’t have to make plans around someone else’s schedule. However, at other times it would be nice to have a consistent relationship with someone who tells me I’m pretty and occasionally buys me ice cream. Someone besides my mom.

I guess after 22 years of not having anyone, it would be nice to have someone to share my life with. Or parts of my life. Yet, at the same time, the idea of that gives me anxiety thinking I’ll be tied down and won’t be able to ever do anything that I want. I’ve seen friends get sucked into the world’s of their significant others and never having time to do things outside of that bubble. That seems sad to me because I’d rather spend more time alone than with someone. But, that statement is probably sad to other people.

So, as cheesy and as overhyped as Dirty Dancing was, it still hit me in a way that I was least expecting. It is a beautiful play and if you live in the St. Louis area, I highly recommend that you go see it before it’s gone. Who knows, maybe you’ll leave wishing you had a partner too if you don’t already?

Damn you, Dirty Dancing, damn you.