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blue valentine
A still from Blue Valentine (2010) starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, a couple who fall out of love with each other slowly and sadly

How to deal with someone falling out of love with you

You’ve probably been dumped before (most people have) and while it may seem like the most earth-shatteringly traumatic event at the time, here are ways to move on with life

There are a lot of different types of break-up. There’s the explosive betrayal based break-up, where one person does an unforgivable thing and blows the whole thing to Hell. There’s also the truly mutual break-up, where two people weren’t ever really right for each other and one day they’re both like “well see you later” and they move on. And then there are those slow-motion, heart-in-a-vice break-ups where one person gradually stops loving the other. As a scientist of science I can confirm that these are the most worst ones of all. They’re the most worst because they take so long to assume their real shape – the shape of one person loving the other less and less everyday. At first you won’t believe it’s that shape. You’ll squint and pretend it’s another shape, something else, anything else. Like a dinosaur shape or the shape of a man and a trout locked in a vicious legal battle. It’s only later, when they’re changing their Netflix password and unfollowing you on Instagram that you’ll be able to see it for what it really is and has been the whole time; The End.

“Try to keep destructive and impulsive behaviours to a minimum and just work on moving forward in a slow, cautious but deliberately deliberate way. Like a turtle who’s just done some shoplifting”

You’ll have known something was up, of course. The minute they stopped treating you in a loving way you knew it. When they cared less and less about how your day had been. When they stopped having your back. But you lived with it. Because they had some great excuses for what was going on, for why they were pulling back, treating you with disinterest, for why your shared future was suddenly all murky and dark like the eyes of an evil wizard and no longer clear and sparkly like the eyes of a kind wizard. They were all like “I’m just soooo busy at work” or “There’s serious stuff going on with my family”, “An old Russian woman put a spell on me and now I can only talk in riddles.” They’ll feed you these lines and then ask you to be patient whilst they pull back, neglect you, put your heart to one side like a taco that they ordered when they were shitfaced but now don’t really feel like but hey maybe later they’ll want it and it will be their favourite taco in all the world and also the Universe. Right? You know what I’m talking about. And it’s devastating. So what to do? Well...


You don’t have to be okay right away. It’s allowed to all feel upside down and crooked and bad and confusing. Getting dumped by someone who you love who used to love you too feels like you fucked up and failed. You didn’t. It just goes like that sometimes. Be gentle with yourself in the wake of the break-up, try to keep destructive and impulsive behaviours to a minimum and just work on moving forward in a slow, cautious but deliberately deliberate way. Like a turtle who’s just done some shoplifting.


I used to think the word was peddle-stool. Like a stool with a wheel. A unicycle type dealie. And so I thought the phrase “don’t put them on a peddle-stool” meant like, don’t put someone up on one of them because they might just peddle away from you towards a better life and then you’ll be alone. Turns out it does not mean this. The real meaning isn’t as good as this one but it still makes some sense. It means stop putting people up on a little shelf like they aren’t the same as you. Like they aren’t a human being with teeth and shoes and fears. When someone leaves you can’t think “Well there goes a flawless irreplaceable angel”, because that’s not what happened. They’re just a person with exactly the same amount of worth as you. And you’ll be okay without them. 


There’s no joy to be had trawling over your ex’s movements now that you aren’t together. NONE AT ALL. It will just give you that twisty ouchy pain in your heart and stomach kind of like you ate a bad hotdog and also there were knives in the hotdog? Don’t do it. Even though it’s so tempting and so easy. Resist. Remind yourself that it’s BAD AND YOU MUSTN’T DO IT. I find the trick is to behave like a bird would behave if it had also got dumped. Would a bird keep checking the other birds Facebook to see if it had been hanging out with any new birds? It would not. Would a bird drunk dial its ex every Friday night for months? Noooope. Would a bird lurk its ex’s Instagram? Not a chance would a bird do that. So be like a bird. Take flight. Leave the past behind. Soar ahead. Eat garbage. Shit wherever. Sing.


Love is nonsense. I personally don’t know much about it because I’ve never read a book and I can’t read and also I’m just a cantaloupe with a face drawn on it. But what I’ve gathered from watching Katherine Heigl movies is it’s pretty much just an inexplicable and wonderful thing that’s also the worst and ruins everybody’s life. Love is a visitor that arrives uninvited, stays as long as it wants, and then leaves at the will of something that nobody can touch or explain.

It’s not a choice, though, is what we can all agree on. Attraction, chemistry, whatever other major components of romantic love, these aren’t choices. If they bugger off then you can’t just pop into Argos and get yourself some new ones. When someone tells you that they don’t love you anymore you just have to believe it. Resisting it will get you nowhere. It’s done. It’s their choice. So make your choice – to accept the decision with grace and dignity. But also don’t let it mean more than it means. It means that it wasn’t right this time. Something didn’t connect. Their dreams didn’t match yours. Whatever. That’s all. It doesn’t mean you’re broken and rotten and unlovable inside. It never meant that. Not for one minute. Not even when you were being really annoying that time at the zoo. Not even then. 


Life can be so cool. I know it doesn’t feel like it when you just got your heart broken but it’s really actually pretty great. Once you’ve let the feelings settle (LIKE HOW I SAID ABOUT JUST NOW OKAY WOW PLEASE PAY ATTENTION) you’ll be ready to turn your attention to your own journey. Live for yourself, build a life that functions just as well if you meet your soulmate now or way later. Get on with it. Give yourself full permission to enjoy your life. Work hard at what you love, ditch people and situations that make you feel less of a person, and get out and live. Climb on your peddle-stool and set off towards to a beautiful new life.