Kit Warchol is the editorial director at Career Contessa, a platform that helps women navigate their careers. For fun, she takes road trips with her dog, Monk. We asked Kit a few questions about her experience with breakups and she shared the two biggest rules she has learned about love through heartbreak.
If you think back to the first time you were heartbroken, what advice would you give to that younger version of yourself?
“Jeez, so much. But my #1 is probably this: that desperate “Wait, WTF did I do? I’m all alone and what if I was totally wrong?!” feeling goes away so much faster than you’d think. You just have to get past those first few days, which is admittedly much harder than I’m making it sound. Oh, and #2 if you’ve had more than a glass of wine, do not text him (or her). Period. Honestly though? I’m still bad at following that advice.”
What has heartbreak taught you about yourself?
“Every heartbreak makes me more aware of what I want, what I need to work on personally, and the sort of person I need/want to be with. I joked to someone the other day that I totally get when you hear about someone who dates until they’re 40, then meets the just-right person and is married in three months. Do I think I’ll do something like that? Unlikely. But every time I’ve come out on the other side of heartbreak, I’ve better understood what to look for next time. It’s a Goldilocks effect.”
What are your rituals during a breakup? What things/practices/people helped you mend?
“I walk. A lot. The worse the breakup, the better shape I’m in. I also am an unapologetic consulter with a tight-knit group of friends. So during a breakup, I do a lot of “Hey, smarter, wiser, less emotionally devastated friends, what should I say to this text from him?” or “Should I send this?” texting with them. I’m biased, but I think they always have the right answers.”
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 mean, I still check IG accounts of exes from way back when. It’s fascinating. Two of them got married in the last month, actually, which I found out through mutual friends’ social posts. My answer is to unfriend. Even with the ex who I lived with—we’re still friendly—I was like “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I’m going to stop following you for awhile while I process.” And with the whole texting thing (which, in case you couldn’t tell is my biggest vice since I’ve mentioned it like three times already), I have this rule: anything I want to send after like 8pm has to wait until the next day. If I still want to send it then, I’m allowed. And seeing a therapist helps, too, if you have access to one. Huge into therapy.”
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about love so far in your life?
“1. It’s not enough. Love is not all you need. At least not in the sense that most of us mean. You need an excess of communication, to mutually commit to working on things, and you need to be able to let shit go. Also, you need a life outside of your S.O.—plans with friends, hobbies they don’t do with you, etc. Because if you don’t have that, all you’ll talk about is your own relationship. Narcissistic much?
Or 2. Once boredom sneaks into a relationship, it can and will destroy what you’ve built. Do everything in your power to engage with your person, expand your own contributions, and never, never get lazy. Love’s worth it.”
Do you think exes can be friends? Do you stay friends with your exes on social media?
“Not very often, and definitely 100%, no way, no how should anyone try to be friends with their ex starting immediately after a breakup. Even if the relationship ends in the most amicable way, disconnect.
I recently dated someone who could have been the next big thing for me—we checked almost all the boxes. But before we met, he’d decided to stay friends with his ex of 8 years. You can’t actually move on when you do stuff like that. You continue to follow the same routines, maybe share the same dog (ahem), prioritize your ex’s feelings over anyone new you meet. It makes sense in a way because there’s history there—why wouldn’t you value it over a stranger, right? But that means you’ll never give anyone new a fair chance, and you’re asking too much of them, too early on by saying “be patient” or “you just have to accept this.” It’s more fair for everyone—you, your ex, both your future partners—to take some real time away. OK, off my soap box now.”
What keeps your heart open, despite the heartbreaks you’ve had in your life?
“Chronic optimism…and the simple memories that I still cherish from every relationship I’ve ever had. Like I remember how perfect one morning felt when I was 20, lying in bed on Sunday doing the crossword with my college boyfriend. Knowing those moments exist give me confidence that I’ll find someone who makes me feel like that regularly, preferably daily, and indefinitely.”
What is your favorite song about heartbreak?
“‘Three Cigarettes in the Ashtray’ by Patsy Cline. Jesus. And it’s maybe not so much about heartbreak as it’s about a tortured relationship, but I listen to Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” at least ten times after every break-up.”
What is your favorite movie about heartbreak?
“The Apartment. I’ve never had a doomed affair with a married man, but the movie still makes me ache everywhere.”
On a personal level, I’ve committed to finishing writing this murder mystery novel—no joke, the paperback variety—that I started years ago. There are cults involved. And a 20-something protagonist living in LA. Go figure.”