Bruna Nessif is the founder of The Problem With Dating, a website that began as a personal space to talk about dating and grew into a platform where others can share their own stories and inspire self discovery. She is also the author of "Let That Shit Go."
If you think back to the first time you were heartbroken, what advice would you give to that younger version of yourself?
"I would tell her to stop pushing away the pain and pretending it’s not there. I’d tell her to put her pride aside and allow herself to process that sometimes things don’t work out the way you hoped they would, but that’s OK, because they always work out the way they should. And most importantly, I’d tell her that the bottomless pit in her stomach and heaviness in her heart isn’t going to last forever. She’ll love again."
What has heartbreak taught you about yourself?
"Heartbreak was and still is the perfect gateway to self-reflection. Being put in such a vulnerable and undesirable position brings out a lot of attributes about yourself that you may have ignored because they weren’t the most favorable. Who is this neurotic-kinda-crazy-obsessive girl? Why did I place so much value in someone who never even proved to be worthy of being put on such a pedestal? So, in that respect, heartbreak never seems like a loss, because I allow myself to grow from it."
"For me, personally, I was faced with the glaring sign that there was a pattern with the men I chose to love—they always made me feel inferior. I felt like I had to prove myself as a woman, prove that I was worth staying for, prove that I deserve to be loved, and even then, they’d still leave and I was left feeling like it was because I was never good enough. After years of going through that, I realized that there was a stench of desperation coming from me no matter how hard I tried to mask it, due to my lack of self-worth. I placed my value in other people’s hands, and they were reckless with it. Because I felt so broken inside, I attracted men who never had any intention of building something substantial with me because they were also broken themselves."
What are your rituals during a breakup? What things/practices/people helped you mend?
"Writing has always been my vessel to cope with any hurdle in my life. I always say, “I never know what I’m feeling until I read what I say.” Whether it was in my journal or on my website, I’d work through my emotions by expressing myself through my fingertips. Before, I used to just act like the guy was dead to me. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But it’s never that easy. You can erase their physical and digital presence from your life, but those memories always manage to sneak in. So instead, I just let myself go through the motions. I feel whatever I’m feeling without self-inflicting despair. I try to see the bigger picture. I try to have faith that whatever’s meant for me will always be for me, and remind myself that by forcing or manipulating someone into my life, I may be blocking a blessing who is waiting to find me. And, of course, listening to music, Netflix binges, greasy food, and great friends help, too."
Thinking back to breakups you’ve had, did you have any breakup vices (checking your ex’s Insta, etc) and how do you conquer them?
"I’m the worst when it comes to social media. First of all, I’m convinced women have some sort of detective trait in their DNA. Add the fact that I’m a journalist, and you’ve got one helluva lurker. Social media has made it that much more difficult to get over someone because their “life” is paraded in front of your face constantly, and if we’re going to keep it real, a lot of times we choose to look, just to feel some sort of connection to whatever they’re doing, even if what they’re doing no longer involves us. It’s so unhealthy, because it’s not real. We see the highlight reel, make assumptions about what’s going on in their life because that’s all we have, and end up depressed. I’ve gotten better at this, just for the sake of my sanity, but sometimes my fingers work faster than my brain."
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about love so far in your life?
"You’ve gotta love yourself first. I know that’s so cliché, and I used to hate it when people would say that, but that was because I was in denial about not loving myself at all. I faked it for a long time, doused the idea of loving myself in pride and masqueraded that as confidence, but insecurities are loud no matter how hard you try to silence them. I believe in energy, I believe in the Law of Attraction, and at some point, I just got exhausted, and I said, “Bruna, how many times are you going to date the same guy in different bodies before you realize there’s some internal work that needs to get done?” So, I started to dig. I held myself accountable. I stopped expecting other people to fill the void that was always meant for me to complete. I allowed myself to love myself, because for whatever reason I felt like I didn’t deserve it. And that’s an ongoing process. Some days are harder than others, but the woman I am today is a far cry from the woman who used to beg for love without even realizing it."
Do you think exes can be friends? Do you stay friends with your exes on social media?
"I think this is specific to each situation. I know people who can manage a friendship with their ex just fine, but I, personally, don’t think it’s healthy. Maybe after a few years when the dust has completely settled, it’s an idea that can be revisited, but when you truly love someone, does that ever really go away? You have to ask yourself—are you keeping this person in your life because they genuinely add something to it or is it out of security and comfort? If it’s the latter, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment because you’ll be tempted to fall back into the relationship dynamic, even though you know that’s not going to work. Sometimes it’s best to just cut things off and build a life without that person in it."
What keeps your heart open, despite the heartbreaks you’ve had in your life?
"Man, I think about this often. I think my blog pushes me to believe that all of these failed attempts at lasting love are for a reason. Maybe I was meant to sacrifice my heart so many times because it was strong enough to go through it, and maybe I was meant to take these painful experiences and transform them into beautiful triumphs so others could find some sort of healing or comfort in my words. I’m not sure, but I’d like to believe that it wasn’t for nothing. Regardless, every heartbreak helped mold me to the woman I am today, and she’s pretty great."
What is your favorite song about heartbreak?
"I love listening to so much music, but if I had to choose, I’d say Dear No One by Tori Kelly."
What is your favorite movie about heartbreak?
"Oh, that’s a hard one, I’m not sure I have just one. He’s Just Not That Into You is a good reminder when I start making excuses for guys’ shitty behavior."