THE SECOND WIND

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Whenever someone asks me whether they should get back with their ex, I, and most likely you will too, dish out the same, woeful, clichéd advice: exes are exes for a reason; if things didn’t work out the first time, then they definitely won’t this time; don’t look back, you’re not going that way, or, my personal favourite: there’s plenty more fish in the sea.

But what about when the person contemplating getting back with their ex is you? What happens when you’re the one nervously muttering to your friends that you’ve been seeing him again and that it might be worth a shot? You once said that you would never talk to him again and now you’re holding his hand. Everyone shifts awkwardly in their seats and you order another round.

It’s at this point that you need to follow your heart and not the eye rolls from those around you. Mainly because they aren’t there and despite the fact that you’re convinced that the world and his wife are judging you and your other half, they aren’t. Unless you’re on Made In Chelsea, in which case yes, they are in fact watching and judging you every Monday at 9.

But it’s fair to say that those around us rarely know what to say in these situations. They’ve dragged us from the depths of break up hell – from nights in with all the food to nights out with all the gin – to being okay again. They want to protect you and are fearful of giving the wrong advice. So they end up not giving you any.

And understandably so.

However, as I perch nervously upon the very first few weeks into a second attempt at a relationship, I can tell you that all I want is advice. Advice on how to navigate a new old relationship. How to act, behave and cope. How to know when enough is enough and how to know if you’ve made the right decision. Each relationship is a personal journey and I most certainly do not have all the answers. But I can talk to you about what I’ve learnt so far.

So here goes.

Firstly, tread carefully. You have both been through a bad break up (more importantly, the same break up) and although you would like to tell yourselves that you are completely over the trials of yesteryear, it is only natural to have clung onto some of the nasties that lurked at the end of your time together.

But turn this into a positive.

Talk, listen and figure out whatever it was that led to your demise. Returning to the scene of the crime means that forgiveness becomes a part of your language and you begin to learn from your mistakes. You will gain a lot from letting things go and even more from working (hard) through others. Do not ignore the issues from before; deal with them head on and then – more importantly – move on.

Secondly, you do not need to know if they have touched another human since you broke up. Unless they’ve bumped uglies with your bestie, you are both here now and that is all that matters.

Thirdly, you can’t un-know each other. If you’re looking for butterflies and awkward kisses, then quit now. You know he picks his nose when your back is turned and he knows you secretly love Zoella. If you’re not okay with certain aspects of each other’s personality, you never will be. Behaving like someone other than yourself might fix things in the short term, but if things are going better now that you’re not being yourself, then it might be time to actually just… find someone else.

And finally, because break ups are so shit, you will inevitably have seen each other at your absolute worst. There are some splits  – I’m sure we have all experienced them – that can make even the coldest of humans feel as though their heart might fall out of their arse holes. And what is likely to happen when we feel like there’s a high chance that one of our vital organs might vacate our rectums? We act crazy. At times a little frenzied. Always a little out of character.

So pull right back.

The throes of a break up can normalise screaming, shouting and name calling. They can endorse bad behaviour, shocking decisions and a great deal of tears and snot, but you need to remember that this is not how humans should behave. Particularly not two humans who are supposed to be in love. So touch base with what you were like before the end and go back to a time when you were respectful, honest and kind to each other. Things might have got bad towards the end, but they were once really good, right? Hark back to the good times and shake off the bad. You’re back together for a reason, so set boundaries for how loud you’re allowed to shout, put coping mechanisms in place for when times are tough and be really honest about what bothers you. Then just sit back and enjoy the ride.

I don’t know the stats on how many couples have been successful at a second wind, but what I do know is that if you feel as though something is worth a shot, then it probably is. Even if it’s just to hammer home that you are actually better suited to someone else.

Who cares if it takes you a couple of goes to get it just right? After all, practise really does make perfect.

Good luck.

THE DUMPING GROUND

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Being loved by someone is the greatest feeling in the world.

Until they stop loving you.

And then you turn into a fire-breathing, flesh-eating monster with zero comprehension of what is acceptable behaviour under the given circumstances and what is not.

You’ll text him even when you’ve told your friends you won’t. You’ll call him even when every bone in your body is telling you not to. You’ll stalk his Facebook/Instagram/Insert Social Media Platform Of Choice Here, even when you know you’ll feel awful afterwards. You’ll make out like you have a ton of dates lined up on your Twitter when all you have is the prospect of a Sunday night Tinder session and some leftover pizza. You’ll screen shot quotes from Instagram. A lot. And if you’re feeling really fruity, you’ll send them to him. You’ll befriend his friends in a bid to make him realise what he’s missing out on, only for it to backfire when you catch wind of a conversation about his new flame. And last, but by no means least, you’ll have sub-standard sex with him in secret and shrug it off as nothing less than liberating, staking claim to being in control when really all it did was make you want to eat a double cheese burger and die.

The truth is, the months that follow a break up are more turbulent than a Ryan Air flight to Amsterdam, so why do we only talk freely about our most amicable breakups and bypass those that make us feel like our hearts are going to fall out of our vaginas? We always focus on the standard splits that lead you to rebound with Tony from work in the bathroom of a house party in Finchley when really we should be discussing the break ups that turn you into a complete head case and make you cry so hard that you look as though you’ve gone ten rounds against George Groves.

But we don’t. Instead, when our friends seek us out for advice after being dumped, we behave like the stuff that the pages of Cosmo are made of. 

You know the drill. You quickly fall into autopilot, rallying the troops and heading round to her place, armed with sweet treats, your brother’s Netflix password and a whole load of not particularly useful advice. We regurgitate clichés about time being a healer and how going cold turkey is the best thing for it, completely forgetting what it’s actually like to be in her position. Instead of doing this, we should be preparing her for the hell that is to come, because you know that no matter how many M&Ms you feed her, or however many episodes of OITNB she watches, she is, no doubt, headed down the brutal – and pretty unavoidable – path of getting over someone. And that path ain’t lined with roses, let me tell you. It’s paved with hobgoblins and sharp objects.

Basically, she’s about to behave like a dick and listen to not one jot of your advice. She’s going to do shameful things she’ll never want to talk about ever again and she will tell you she’s okay when actually she spends every night crying on the phone to her mum and looking at zodiac love matches online. But far from persuading her to do otherwise, just try to assure her that we’ve all been there. Because we have, even though we rarely admit to it. And it’s the only exit route to freedom, I’m afraid.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are currently in the throes of a break up and all the books and magazines are telling you that you should ‘Slap on a new lipstick!’ ‘Mingle!’ and ‘Go get ’em tiger!’ when all you want to do is call him fifty times and scream into a pillow for ten days, I’m telling you to do just that. Basically, you’re about to get weird. But instead of shying away from it, feed the madness because, dear friend, you are not ready for the world until you’ve got this exhausting phase (that people rarely talk about) out of your system. I think that by constantly pretending that breaks ups can be cured with sugar and a quick shag, we really underestimate how bad they can be, when in fact, it’s not going to be easy, nor is it going to be brief. 

By acting like a complete lunatic in the weeks that follow a split, I guarantee you will find the path back to normality. Eventually. And although it might not feel like it right now, there will come a time where you will hold your hands up to your, quite frankly, off the chart behaviour, clink glasses and laugh at the bad times with friends. But until then, be miserable, be sad, be weird and make mistakes. It’s called grief.

Break ups suck, basically. But they’re supposed to, especially when the love is real. You’ll be just fine.

Give it time.

THE PERFECT DATE

large (23)You know the one I’m talking about.

That guy your mum fell in love with before you did. The one who fits every bill known to womankind. The perfect date. The gentleman. The textbook boyfriend, if you will.

With them, doors will be opened, flowers will be delivered and your anniversary will never be forgotten. He’s quite simply, perfect.

For someone else, that is.

Despite all of his positive perks, he no longer makes you want to drop your pants, he doesn’t force your brain to function on higher planes and he doesn’t make you feel alive anymore. Fairy tales are telling you yes, but your gut is telling you no.

So what do you do?

Naturally, you carry on the stale relationship for a while longer because, well, half of your stuff is at his and it would be a huge effort to lug it back again. He knows that you take it with milk, no sugar and he doesn’t need to ask what you need when you’re hungover: happy meal complete with toy please, ta very much.

He’s like the job you’ve had for years, the dish you always order in Nando’s and that jumper you’ve had since 2006. He’s tried, he’s tested, he’s trustworthy. But is that enough?

I’m not saying that the only attractive men are those who don’t hold doors open, give you flowers and make you want to break into a rendition of God Only Knows. Far from it; these are prerequisites for any boyfriend I take on. I’m simply saying that if you’re with someone who does all of these things and you’re still not weak at the knees, then something’s up and it might be time to move on.

You have to ask yourself whether or not it would matter if their looks faded to that of our beloved Bruce Forsyth, whether his conversation would remain as interesting to you fifty long-haul flights later and whether you would be happy to hold his hand in a room full of hotties. Now, it’s highly likely that you will answer, “yes” to all of these questions, and that’s okay, you’ve been together for what feels like forever. But don’t be fooled. Here’s the real test…

Picture the perfect woman for him.

Match his likes and dislikes, think about how she’d look, smell and even sound. Would she enjoy sailing as much as him? Find his eating habits endearing as opposed to enraging? Would she be anything like… you?

If the person you’re picturing doesn’t have your name on them, then do him a favour and let him go and find her. You’re the only thing standing between him and his dream girl. And you and your dream fella.

It will be an ugly break up. You’ll be confused and will feel mostly guilty. It will be one of the hardest splits of your life and you’ll question yourself daily because – bizarrely – you’re tearing yourself away from something that is, on the surface, perfect. But stay strong dear friend; you’re doing the right thing.

I can promise you that once the tears have dried and you’re both finally free, you’ll feel like the luckiest girl in the world. You’ll see him with his new girlfriend and feel nothing but happiness and, most importantly, you’ll have the highest of standards because of what he’s taught you.

And for that, regardless of who you end up with, he will always be The Perfect Date.