What's An Aftershock Breakup?


Olivia Lucero

An aftershock breakup is like a post-breakup breakup, or a re-breakup if you will. It’s what might happen if you or your partner reach out to discuss the breakup months later. It usually means someone is still emotionally attached and might be trying to get back together, find non-existent closure, or just see where they stand if you’ve kept contact and boundaries are vague. Whatever the reason, you find yourself essentially going through the breakup again, and it’s difficult for both people.

If you’re the person that’s thinking about initiating a discussion about the breakup:

Sometimes you really don’t know where you stand, or you really can’t get over them, or you really don’t get why and you wonder about it so often it becomes debilitating. You might feel like you need to have this conversation and I’m glad you’re listening to yourself. If you really think this is going to help with your mending process, I’m not going to tell you not to do it. But think carefully. What’s your goal here? Are you holding out hope of getting back together, or do you want a better understanding of why the breakup needed to happen?

You probably still have feelings for your ex, and you hope they do too. But let’s break this down. Either they do have feelings for you or they don’t. If they don’t, it will be hard to hear and you will have to deal with the aftershock, wondering why they don’t, or how they could have possibly gotten over you so quickly while you’re still hanging on. It’ll be hard, and you’ll basically have to start your mending process all over again.

If they do, and yet they haven’t already contacted you about a reunion, they will probably stand by whatever reason they gave for breaking up with you in the first place. It’s possible to have feelings for someone and still know that it won’t work. So, even in this scenario, you are basically going to redo your breakup and it’s going to be painful.

If you go into the conversation wanting closure rather than a reunion, it’s going to hurt. “Closure” really just means you are not ready to let go, and that’s something that happens within yourself, not something that an ex can provide for you. Sure, you might get your questions answered and finally make sense of all the little details, but it’s doubtful your ex will actually give you any new information that you weren’t already suspecting. Closure shouldn’t mean getting them to say what you already know but in words that you want to hear. If the breakup was because they said they were feeling emotionally unavailable or distant, do you really need them to reword that to “I just lost feelings for you”? That would not make you feel better. It’s going to hurt, and there’s really no point because closure happens from within. Instead, analyze what you’re missing that you used to get from them.

If you’re the person that’s summoned into this conversation:

Whether or not you’ve moved on, having this conversation will force you to revisit old feelings. It might feel like you have to break up with them again, which will suck if you’ve already mended through the breakup and have finally felt better. If your ex tries to have this conversation with you and you haven’t fully processed your emotions, it might make you curious about the idea of a reunion. If you genuinely want to, go for it, but don’t let them pressure you into it after you’ve worked so hard to finally be okay without them.

Having this conversation is definitely going to complicate things, and you can refuse to talk about it if you choose. You do not owe your partner an explanation, as doing so can set you both back. It also might pressure you into doing or saying things you don’t want to do or say, or don’t really mean. It might pressure you to console your ex, but you are under no obligation to. You have to look out for you and your future, while also keeping in mind how certain words or actions might give them hope. But hope of getting back together is the last thing they need right now if you know it’s not what you want. Be honest and blunt about your feelings and expectations right now, and don’t give them hope for a future when the “time is right”, because that is unfair to both of you.

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