This Extremely Honest Account Of What It Feels Like When Your Ex Becomes A Stranger Will Hit You Hard


It starts out like any other day. You wake up, drink some coffee, scroll through your feed. You’re feeling good. You smile and wiggle your toes and can’t wait to see what the day has to offer. You put on your sunglasses and head out into the world with a carefree feeling you haven’t felt in months.

Ever since it ended, it’s been hard to feel good. It doesn’t matter who left who, or who said what because the cold, hard, lonely truth is that it’s never easy to walk away from someone. Someone you cared about. Someone who became a part of you. But you did it. Somehow. After the tears, and the pain, and stalking his pictures, and hating him, and missing him, and loving him, you did it.

You’re over him.

And most days you don’t even think about him anymore. Okay, that might not be true. You still think about him. But you think about him the way you think about a place you used to love to go to. The way you think about an event you had long ago. The way you think about a childhood friend. You loved it, and sometimes you get pangs of nostalgia, but still, you know it’s over. And that’s okay. That memory of love is beautiful.

If only it could stay a memory.

The hard part is dealing with the fact that life moves on. The whole time you were working on putting the pieces of your life together, so was he. And now? Now he’s over you too. Now he’s doing his own thing. Now he’s changed, and grown, and evolved, just like you have. But in that time, he’s become someone that you don’t know. He’s become a stranger. And at first you don’t realize it. You think he’s this preserved thing that will always be there. He’ll always have his hair cut the same way, use the same aftershave, and deep down, he’ll always love you.

But then you see him.

It happens so suddenly, you almost miss it. You’re having your carefree day, and all of a sudden you have this feeling. Like someone is watching you, or part of you has been found. Your body is electrocuted and a force is pulling you. So you look up, and you see him. He’s walking out of class or heading up to the bar. He’s wearing that shirt that you always kind of hated and his hair looks different. Has he been working out? Has he been working out for someone? Does he have someone else? Does it matter?

In that moment, you realize a cold, hard truth: you don’t know this person.

Sure, you know his favorite pizza toppings. You know that he has a birthmark on his ribs, and that he uses dandruff shampoo. But you don’t know who he’s talking to, and you don’t know how he did last semester. You’re not sure if he still uses the cooler you made him, or if he’s seen that funny movie that just came out. Even though you shared your hopes, dreams, and hearts with each other, you don’t even know if he still takes his coffee with half-and-half.

It’s a strange moment, when you realize this. When you realize that he’s not the person he used to be. That time didn’t stand still. That he’s changed just as much as you have.

Then he looks up. Your eyes meet and a million unspoken words pass between the two of you. The memories, the kisses, the laughter, the tears. The time you accidentally set his kitchen on fire, and the time he picked you up from work with flowers and a large Diet Coke. But you don’t say any of that. You turn to each other and say a whole bunch of nothing, or you turn away from each other, and leave it all unsaid. Either way, you walk away knowing that you don’t know this person anymore. This person doesn’t know you. And that person that you love, or loved, no longer exists. They’re someone else now. And it hurts. It stings and it makes you feel weird – like the world is slightly off balanced. You feel dizzy and unsettled and you don’t know what’s up or down, right or wrong. You don’t know if you made the right choice.

Just as you’re about to call him back to you, it washes over you. The relief. Maybe it’s thanks to a text from the guy you’re talking to now. It could be an iPhone reminder about work tomorrow, doing the job that you always wanted. Or maybe, you took a look a yourself and realized how much you’ve grown since then. Since him.

So you smile, remember, and move on. Because life is too short to live in the past and you’re too fabulous to spend your time dreaming of what could have been, instead of what is, right now. And right now? Things are better than ever. You’re better than ever.

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Rachel Varina

(yeahokaywhat) Aspiring to be the next Tina Fey, Rachel spends her free time doing nothing to reach that goal. While judging people based on how they use "they're" vs. "there" on social media, she likes eating buffalo chicken dip, watching other people's Netflix, and wearing sweatpants way more than is socially acceptable.

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