Francis Rubio

Facing the Grief of Lost Relationships

Things I am currently learning as I go through my first breakup.

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8 minute read

Tuesday last week, my partner of two years broke up with me. It was a mutual decision by the end of our conversation, and we decided to remain friends by setting reasonable boundaries. We decided that it’s best to end now than to try harder as time went on because my ex-partner is saying that they cannot see me in their future, and as hard as I try to improve in every way I can, there comes a point when I try to change myself so much for them that I am no longer myself. The breakup felt like I was hit by a truck, but only with minor injuries. But as the days went on and the gravity of that breakup started to sink into my mind, I started feeling more and more pain and hurt.

I am no stranger to grief. I was around when my grandparents died years apart, and my mother died when I was 11. But this one for some reason hit me more than I’ve ever felt. Granted, I was never really too close with my mother, and I was too young to understand when my grandparents died. This is probably my first encounter with grief that I fully understand the extent of the loss I’ll go through.

I want to say I am okay, but unfortunately, I’m far from it. I am grasping at straws for anything I can use to reliably cope, and so far, nothing has worked consistently. Of course, I am also acknowledging that I am still reeling from everything, and it just happened last week. I lost my best friend, my lover, and the only person who truly understood and saw me for who I am. I went through the five stages of grief multiple times at this point, and when the breakup was happening, I went through all five of them at the same time.


Going back to my friends was probably the hardest part of this entire ordeal. Apart from trying to fight the feeling that I might be seen like a needy bitch, I seem to have drifted away from people closest to me. During the relationship, I thought that this drifting away happened because I was in love. But what I realize now is that I did this to myself years before I even met my ex-partner.

Fortunately, my ex taught me that the value of friendships you get is only ever equal to the value you’re giving back into your friendships. Before we met, my ex had groups of friends, whereas I just had sparse numbers of people here and there that I can barely even call friends. I blame this on my low self-esteem at the time, and the avoidant and self-sabotaging practices I used to do. This is also on top of me being as introverted as any person can be, and it was a disaster for my friendships.

Seeing my ex spend time with their friend groups, sometimes all of them at separate times throughout the same day, I started to long for the bond of friendships. But as they said to me, it takes work, and my ex obviously did the work. At this point, even in the relationship, or maybe even because I was in a relationship, I felt that it would be difficult to be reeling back and working on my friendships because it’s been far too long that I drifted away. At the time, I thought that it was too late, and that what I needed was to start from scratch and find new friends.

But alas, the breakup happened. And predictably, I ran to my friends for help. I needed a distraction, and I turned to them for it. At first, I thought that they might have been harboring ill feelings against me for not being present during the years I was in love and only turning to them now that I was in need. And as someone who has been in need before, it messes up with your brain and fills you with the guilt of being needy and fear that you might be draining everyone of their energies.

However, as I soon found out, my friends were the best people to be friends with. They welcomed me with open arms and listened to me telling them the hurt I feel. One of them even invited me to a coffee meet, and I haven’t been exactly spending a lot of time with this friend of mine. The amount of care and support I received is astounding. I just feel cared for and loved during this entire ordeal. I feel like a patient in a hospital room with all of my friends surrounding me.

This is why despite all the grief I am going through right now, I could not help but love my ex even more. This is a gift I received from them, and this gift keeps on giving. They taught me what type of friendship I deserve, and frankly told me that this needs work, and that made me realize that I haven’t been putting in the work to nurture my friendships. I opened this topic to one of my friend groups I consider to be the closest to me, and they told me that they noticed the difference, and that they also feel closer to me, and that they feel like I’ve improved and that now I’m more of a safe space than I’ve ever been.

Honestly, writing this part of this post just warms my heart. I feel the love of my friends and how supportive they have been to me, and how wide their arms were in accepting me back. It’s not like I cut them off, but it’s also not like I’m always with them either. Moving forward, I have the resolve to just work on being a friend and precisely become the friend I want to be. There can only be more benefits to this, not just to me, but everyone I hold so dear to my heart.

Taking care of myself.

Almost as soon as we ended things, I started getting my shit together. To be entirely honest, I’ve never been more proud of myself than I was at this moment. I did not need to grab a drink to forget. In fact, I wanted to get through this as sober as I could be.

I reinstated my skin care routine. I went back to the gym, more determined than ever to get in shape. I even sought out mental health counseling. I started drinking water more, and less coffee. I started joining fashion Subreddits and just improving my sense of style in general. I’ve also been more active in a Discord server I was in. It was refreshing, to say the least. It feels like I’m nursing myself back to health.

Of course, I recognize some unhealthy coping mechanisms I have. I won’t get into too much detail at the risk of oversharing on the public web, but suffice it to say that I installed dating apps almost as soon as the breakup happened. I’m not actually matching with anyone, but I needed a visual to prove to myself that I will be fine in the long run, and that there are still a lot of fish in the sea. There are some shenanigans in here that only my friends will hear directly from me, so you as a reader would have to read between the lines. But this thing that I’m doing is unhealthy. And I am working on it.

Grieving the failed relationship.

There are a lot of things I grieve about this breakup. I grieve the loss of my best friend, and although we agreed to stay platonic, you know it would never be the same. I grieve the change in my routines, and right now it feels like my life is crumbling apart. I grieve that version of myself who was happy in those two years. I grieve the fact that, even though I know that I will meet someone possibly even better than my ex-partner and be happy with that person, I will never be happy in the same way as I was when I was with them. I grieve the fact that my ex-partner will meet someone who they will choose to spend the rest of their life with, and that person is not me. I grieve the fact that someday, they will meet someone they would want to marry despite the fact that we have talked multiple times about how they didn’t want to marry. I grieve the fact that they will find their purpose in life and that I will not have the first row seats to see it. I grieve not just the fact that I will not be there to celebrate their future successes, but even more so the fact that someone else will. And in the same sentiment as Olivia Rodrigo wrote about, I grieve the fact that they will be happier than they ever were with me.

I felt all sorts of things during the past week. I felt sad. I felt physical chest pain because of how broken I felt. I got angry thinking about why my ex-partner couldn’t be happy with me. I felt rage about why I didn’t at all try to stop the breakup from happening, or why I didn’t just ask for yet another chance. I know I said it was a mutual decision, but I sure as heck did not want it. And I know that I did not stop it from happening because they made it clear that it is what they need, and what they need is not something I could give.

I feel ashamed that I keep having to bother my mutuals on Mastodon with my post-breakup rants, and that I have returned to Twitter just to make it my own personal diary. I still frequent the Discord server my ex-partner set up just for the two of us, and in the channel only the bots send their logs to, I write my messages, the things I wanted to say to my ex-partner the moment I feel them. And I do this instead of sending it to the main channel because I want to respect them and the boundaries we set. But at the same time, I want them to see it, preferably by pure chance, and see how hurt and in pain I am. I am hoping that when they see it , they’d at least reach out to me and tell me at least that they’ve seen it, and in some sort of weird way, I’d feel that we’re still in this together, and I somehow still have them by my side.

Less than a week is surely not enough for me to grieve and move on. And I’m constantly wondering how this will affect my future relationships. I keep saying that this is not the worst thing that’s happened to me, but honestly, it feels very much like it is. But I also know that this, too, shall pass. Right now, despite the struggle to just be at peace, I am thankful to have met my love and learning to love the way I did. It was a blessing to have met them, and as much as it pains me to see them happy without me, that is exactly what I wish for them. It may hurt like a bitch, but I know love is still a beautiful thing.

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