SUBMITTED: Hoping you have a great breakup


Rose Donnelly

Karl Laves

Look at any number of sources of dating and marriage data and you will see that most people are in three to five fairly intense relationships before finding their life partner. Many people will be cheated on at least once, and most people will cheat on someone at least once.

I would never encourage people to treat others like objects, possessions, or trophies. But do you get the idea that most breakups are probably necessary and useful? Maybe we really need practice to learn how to love and how to be loved. Maybe we aren’t supposed to get it right the first time.

And maybe we put too much pressure on ourselves to be in perfect relationships. Maybe it is insecurity and we need to learn we can be on our own while we are looking for someone. Maybe it is vanity and we need to wake up and realize that all the high drama and skanky living we see on “Bachelor” type shows is just that, skanky drama. Maybe we need to calm down and stop living life like it is a competition.

So as we approach another Valentine’s Day, which I also think is part of the problem in America, let’s all take a minute and remind ourselves that all that glitters isn’t gold. Why would it matter that you are, or are not, in a relationship on this one particular day.

February 10th you are single and everything is okay but on the 14th oh my god you are single and it’s horrible? Are you sad because the holiday reminds you that you are alone? Seriously, like you forgot? Maybe it is worse on the holiday because we see some people showing off, getting flowers, dressing up……and we wonder if others notice that we don’t have flowers.

One, most people are too busy getting through their own life to notice if you have flowers. Two, there are way more important things to have in life than some flowers from some person you started dating six weeks ago.

Sure, it is fun to get gifts but let’s keep our perspective. Pandemics, tornados, hate crimes, etc……. makes flowers seem not so important. America loves to celebrate and worship consumption and status.

And for crying out loud, let’s use the data mentioned in the first paragraph. Breakups are natural and necessary. They are what comes between a relationship ending and another one starting.

I broke up with a young woman once. It wasn’t pretty. Lots of awkward and hurt feelings. And, yes, I cheated on her. And I cheated on her with the woman who has been my wife for 37 years. My one and only wife for 37 years.

So let’s see if we can get through Valentine’s Day with less misery and self-loathing. Let’s all get past the boy crazy/girl crazy stereotypic thinking that is quite understandable for kids in junior high but just doesn’t serve young adults well.

You spend enough time with someone to know if you want to spend more time with them. If you decide you can’t be with them the rest of your life, then please break up. It doesn’t have to mean either one of you is broken or damaged.

Just go on and be ready for the next relationship which, if you don’t beat yourself up over the last relationship, will be a better relationship, a better match. Trust the process….the data supports it.

Karl Laves is the associate director of the WKU Counseling Center. He holds a doctorate from the University of Missouri-Columbia.