Relationships: When your investment doesn’t pay off

We all hope when we begin a relationship it will result in long-term happiness. We kiss, hold hands and do all those “little things” that make our mate feel loved and happy. But what happens when you’ve invested in a relationship and it comes to a sudden end?

Every day people are busy investing money in the stock market, investing in their careers, investing in their children and a myriad of other ventures hoping to expect a return on their investments.

I chose money, careers and children to start with because those three things are items most really hope to get a lifelong return on.

Money, and careers that bring in money are important to just about everyone. Children require an investment so they will be successful in their own lives and are the cornerstone of our species survival. Children are our future.

So, where do relationships fit into the equation? Well, that depends on each individual and their own priorities and beliefs about relationships, whether they are in a relationship, looking for a relationship or are just not interested in relationships.

It’s different for everyone.

Like every investment, the yield on your return will be dependent in what or how much you are willing to invest.  And, like any investment, you can expect ups and downs along the road.

I wrote a piece titled “Don’t let the winters of life destroy what you love the most,” on the subject concerning relationships through an analogy with plants.

But, sometimes no matter how much you water a plant, or feed a relationship, it just doesn’t thrive and dies out — sometimes quickly and sometimes over a period of time.

With plants you can diagnose the problem by looking at the soil, nutrients in the soil, climate and the amount of sunlight the plant gets. But, because relationships involve people the “fix” may not be so easy — there are just too many variables, many of which are not always apparent to the naked eye.

So, what do you do when no matter how much you invest, or feed, a relationship it just doesn’t work out? The only thing you can do — move forward.

But how do you move forward during such an emotional time when everything becomes confusing and our heartstrings are being plucked like an out of tune guitar?

I don’t believe there is really a simple answer because of the different situations and issues that may be involved.  But, after researching about 50 professional opinions, ranging from six must-do steps to recovery all the way to 23 must-do steps, I’ve condensed the list down to about seven steps all the professionals seem to agree on after a week of research.

While I won’t go into detail on each of the seven steps, I will paraphrase the consensus opinions and list the Top-9 do’s and don’ts to recovery.

Stop communicating. All the experts seem to be in agreement with the “no contact” route. Experts say following a break up time is needed to process the overload of the different emotions you are feeling. The period of time for not communicating with an ex is not something specific, but rather based on each individual’s ability to get to a comfort zone in their recovery.

Stay away from or curtail social media activity. Nothing hampers recovery more than seeing old photos and comments with the two of you together, or worse yet, your ex with someone new. Of the 50 experts I researched, almost all cited Facebook as a social media website specifically. About 50 percent recommended you unfriend your ex, and about 50 percent recommended taking time away from the website altogether. The reason given was it offered to many temptations to either contact the ex or visit their page, which in turn, could lead to too much information — meaning, status, photos, comments etc. if  — and thereby hindering recovery.

Avoid routinely traveled byways, and couples places that remind you of your ex. This is easier said than done in a small town, but in mid-size and larger towns, staying away from places you hung out as a couple or places you frequented will be well worth memory it might evoke. Also, avoid going places that pass the home of your ex. The reason is two-fold: You won’t be tempted to see who is at home, or not, and it’s a good way to get over the blues and memories of being there. Even if it means going out-of-the-way, the extra mileage isn’t going to kill you — you may actually see a little more interesting scenery. Oh, and for those who don’t heed the warning of going past the home of your ex — experts say one day or another, you will get caught eventually.

Get rid of “your” songs on every playlist you have. Although the experts agree, I speak from experience; get rid of all the songs that remind you of your ex. I don’t care how much you like the song, hit the fast-forward button and by all means don’t play it on purpose. You may not be able to do anything about the radio, other than hit the seek button when it comes on, but don’t, I repeat, don’t go looking for the damn song. In all seriousness, the only thing playing those songs will do is put you in a state of sadness or have you wallowing a little longer. Not good for recovery.

Get out the broom and sweep away everything that reminds you of your ex, including photos. When your floor gets dirty, you sweep it. Experts say the longer you keep all the mementos, yes including the t-shirts that say “I love my girlfriend (boyfriend)” the more harm it does than good, and that includes photos of him/her and the two of you together. Throw that stuff away, give it away … it really doesn’t matter where it goes as long as you don’t have to see it or run across it every time you’re looking for something. Sweep it out — you can’t have a shiny new floor to start off with unless you sweep and mop it.

Rally your friends around you. Rather that sit at home with your favorite dog or cat, if it’s been weeks since your friends have heard from you, send them a message and let them know your alive. Nothing like having a friend to help you though a tough time … just don’t give all the brutal details. It doesn’t help any to “vent” about your ex, all it will do is make you more miserable than you already are. Handle questions about your ex with class. Harboring anger and resentment will do nothing but hurt the healing process, and besides, if your ex was that bad, then what does that tell your friends about your judgement? While friends can help you deal with the emotions, it’s best to just let go of the anger so you can move forward.

You don’t need a meet-up to find closure. Experts say having a final meeting to find closure or figure out just what went wrong is just a waste of time and does more harm than good. Although it may seem like a good idea, thinking you’re going to convince your ex to stay because you made them see how much they missed you isn’t going to happen. And, you don’t really need another insincere apology … just move on and let it go. What you do need is a lot of space and time, so take it — you’ll find that space and time will help you move on faster.

Give yourself time to heal. Before you go out and jump back into the waters of a relationship, make sure you’re ready to swim and not sink. And, before you go about posting a gazillion photos of your new relationship just to make your ex jealous, think twice … it won’t work. Take your time, get rid of the hurt, disappointment and anger first.

Don’t seek revenge on your ex. In order for revenge to work, the ex that dumped you actually has to care, so don’t count on it. Take the high road. Making your ex miserable or unhappy isn’t going to bring them back to you, and taking aim at your ex isn’t going to destroy them, but it will take away from how you feel about yourself and you’ll never get anything from it. If you have a conscience, it will eat away at you, not your ex.

The ending of a relationship is painful and if you’re the one who’s let go, the hurt can seem hard to overcome. You’ll probably wonder what you did wrong, have self-doubt, develop trust and loyalty issues, and wonder what tomorrow will bring — but it will pass with time. The one thing you need to remember is … it’s over with and time to move on. It isn’t the end of the world.

Learn from the breakup, evaluate yourself, take time to recover, let go of whatever anger you have toward your ex, and when the time comes, if you continue to look you’ll find happiness in the right one for you.

And, somewhere during your recovery and your darkest moments, you’ll find a way to move on with someone new that will truly appreciate your investment — all while finding a way to shine.

 

 

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