A Huge Breakup in Your 20s Is Actually Really Good for You
Raise your hand if you love getting broken up with. Anyone? No? Yeah. I didn't think so.
I wouldn't wish a broken heart on anyone. But that doesn't mean we don't all go through it, usually multiple times. Getting your heart broken is just one of those crappy milestones making you who you are: an intrinsic part of the human experience. And actually, going through this experience in your 20s, when you're coming of age and figuring out what you want out of life, can be a great thing.
Even though it feels like chewing on glass and hurts like hell, everyone should go through a terrible, dirty rotten, no-good breakup in their 20s. Allow me to explain.
Breakups help you figure out who the hell you are
Your 20s are the ultimate time for learning. You're out on your own, taking on a grown-up job for the first time, and (hopefully) paying your own bills. Shit has finally gotten real.
Every hard, crappy thing you go through will teach you something about yourself. It’s a part of becoming an adult. We are a culmination of our experiences and hardships.
“Most difficult experiences can be good for you, if you allow yourself to be educated by them," says relationship educator Kate McCombs. "Breakups can teach you what you really need out of interpersonal relationships. They can teach you how to advocate for your needs, wants, and desires. They're like grad school for feelings."
Breakups help you mature emotionally in a way that other experiences don't. Romantic love is one of the most powerful emotions out there; and when you get to that extreme high, followed by that disastrous low, you gain a better understanding of how to process your feelings. This is an important lesson when you're in your 20s.
Once you go through a few miserable breakups, you have a solid idea of the person you are. "It's a kind of rite of passage," Kate says.
You learn your strengths
Getting your feelings trampled on by someone you thought you loved is not a pleasant experience. There are likely moments during this anguish when you think you will die. But you don't die. You can't die of a broken heart, no matter what the TV dramas have told you.
"Each one of my friends did the most amount of growing when their entire world fell apart," says Zara Barrie, a senior writer for Elite Daily and relationships savant. "When your world falls apart, you get to pick up the broken pieces and rebuild your life, exactly the way you want it."
After the smoke has cleared, wounds have begun to heal, and you meet someone new to love, you realize that you're stronger for having gone through the pain. You may never be grateful for it, but you can see the value in having gone through something so tough.
You figure out what you DON'T want in a partner (and what you do)
I went through two ridiculously awful breakups in my 20s, and I can honestly say I'm happy they happened. If I hadn't dated two completely different (but equally terrible) people, I might never have realized that my current partner was the one for me.
It's through trial and error that we come to understand what we do and don't want out of life and love.
Zara, who went through four major breakups in her 20s, says she's grateful for all of them. "Every single relationship has been worth it, even if it was with an asshole, because each one raised my standards and taught me what I'm willing to put up with vs. what I absolutely will NOT put up with. Also, each heartbreak brings you closer and closer to your real self. Heartbreak forces you to take a fresh look at your life and reevaluate what you want and what truly makes you happy."
Zara has been in a new relationship for eight months and says she couldn't be happier. "I think I should write a 'thank you' letter to all of my exes because each of them brought me closer to the amazing person I'm with now,” she says.
If your heart's been broken and healed, you appreciate your battle scars
When you have a past littered with drama and broken relationships, you appreciate coming out on the other side that much more. You are a survivor.
And that lets you enter a new relationship with more self-awareness than in the past. All the BS you went through when you were younger has set you up to select a person who will be worth spending your life with.
"Get all the messy shit out of the way when you're in your 20s," says Jeremy Glass, a writer and recently engaged man. Jeremy's sure his crappy breakups of yesteryear are exactly what allowed him to have such a strong bond with his now-fiancée. "You will never in your life have as much freedom and emotional availability as you do in your 20s," he says. "Seriously, be messy and get dragged through the mud."
Kate, Zara, and Jeremy all agree that a breakup in your 20s is critical. And without it, you're missing a part of yourself. Life is not all candy hearts, unicorns, and rose petals, people! It gets gross, painful, and wickedly unpleasant. But without all that bad, you can never know the beauty of the good.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.