This is a story about a broken heart, but that’s okay. It’s also a story about learning, growing, forgiving, and winding up exactly where you want to be (even if you had no idea when you started your journey). My name is Christine, and I’m originally from California. My life path has taken me from my hometown and my first love to the Chicago Public Research University to an exciting career in brand development to my current destination as a stay at home mother. Every year, I look forward to going home to Milan to see my parents, siblings, cousins, and friends. It’s my favorite part of each year.
One summer I spent my vacation in Italy. There I have met my first love, Paolo. We broke up when I left Italy to go back in America. He broke my heart, but it is also fair to say that I broke his as well. The breakup was ugly on both our parts and for years we didn’t speak. I avoided his hangouts when I went home. Last year, was the first time that I saw him at a neighborhood event, we exchanged pleasantries, but didn’t really talk. However, that brief interaction made me realize that my anger is gone, that I do have fond memories of our time together, and that I really did learn some important things from that relationship.
That You Have to Maintain Your Own Identity
One thing that makes me happy that I went through such an intense breakup and relationship at such a young age is that I’ve learned how important it is to maintain an identity of my own that exists outside of my relationships. Yes, I am a mother and a wife. I am also a daughter, friend, sister, and cousin. More than anything else, though, I am Christine.
Emotional Honesty is a Must
I have to give my ex-credit for many things. One of these is that he was much better at emotional honesty than I was. If he was sad, angry, upset, happy, scared, etc., he expressed that. On the other hand, I tended to put on a happy face in hopes that my emotions would eventually become reality. Of course, that isn’t sustainable. When I could no longer pretend to be happy, it released a floodgate of anger and other negative emotions that left Paolo blindsided and devastated. Then, of course, he sought to hurt me as well and the breakup wound up being ugly and dramatic. If I had been emotionally honest with myself and Paolo, a lot of ugliness could have been avoided.
You Have to Communicate
Another lesson I learned that goes hand in hand with emotional honesty is the importance of communication. It isn’t just the big conversations, it’s the small ones that are important as well. In fact, I think that’s where Paolo and I would have fallen apart even if I hadn’t moved to America. There too many arguments, frustrations, misunderstandings that were born out of lack of communication. It’s why my husband and I don’t assume that we know what the other is thinking or feeling. We ask. We also spend 20 minutes each day touching base and coordinating our plans and schedules.
Being in Love is Only Part of The Formula For a Lasting Relationship
I’m going to be really honest here. If love was the only thing required to make a relationship healthy and long lasting, I believe that I would still be with Paolo. However, the reality is that love is not enough. There simply has to be other points of compatibility and a similar view of the future. We didn’t have that, so things were doomed to end eventually. If I had known that love isn’t enough years ago, I would have saved myself a lot of wasted guilt.
Learning to End Things Maturely And Kindly is Extremely Important
Because of immaturity on both of our parts, our breakup was ugly. We involved friends, sent one another nasty emails, and just generally treated each other with a lack of kindness. Of course, at first, I felt oh so justified in my behavior and him in his. Now, I look back and don’t understand what either of us thought we were trying to win or accomplish. Had we handled things by being kind to one another and acting maturely, we could have ended as friends, and avoided dragging loved ones into our drama.
Shorter The Honeymoon Phase The Better
The honeymoon phase of a romantic relationship feels great. Unfortunately, if it lasts longer than a month, there are bound to be problems. I learned that a long honeymoon phase is often the indication that at least one part of the couple isn’t being honest with themselves, and that the couple is avoiding some important conversations. Getting past the honeymoon phase isn’t fun, but it does take the relationship to a healthier, more honest, and more sustainable place.
It’s Okay to be The One Who Ends Things
For some reason, people think that if they are the one who actually initiate the breakup that they are somehow responsible for the end of the relationship. So, instead of doing the difficult but right thing, they hold on. In fact, I know of two couples who want to break up right now but are still together for this very reason. Hopefully, in both cases, somebody will step up and be the one to break things off.
Author`s bio: Christine Fernand is a professor of American literature at the University of California and a writer for EssaysDeluxe. Literature is her love, writing is her passion.