Instead of talking about us, she talked about the new person she was dating.
We had been together for 10 years. We were married for 7. We had tried our hardest to make this relationship work for the last couple years of it. We had attended counseling together. We had been doing the work the counselor suggested. We had taken a trip to Europe to try to save our marriage.
When we were at the tail end of the relationship, she suggested that we move out of our shared space and try living separately. We were going to check back in within a few months.
During the few months apart, I did much soul-searching and thinking about the relationship and what had gone wrong. I had started counseling and doing the inner work. I was not in the mindset of a permanent separation but wanted to get back with her as soon as we met.
Yet, the meeting didn’t go as planned. She was more sure than ever that it was time for us to separate. Instead of talking about us, she was talking about a person she was dating. She felt this was a good relationship and she inquired about divorce paperwork.
Not only did we talk about the actual logistics of getting a divorce, but she was asking about it because she was considering getting remarried to the new person she was dating.
The world around me came crashing down on the drive back to my own place. I couldn’t make sense of the world anymore.
I had gone to meet her with the expectation we were getting back together. She had cooked a meal that I thought would be the beginning of a new life together. Only later did I realize that it would be our last meal together.
I began to wonder what our relationship even meant and how could she move on so quickly? Does this mean that our relationship meant nothing?
I had not even started the grieving process yet and she was talking about another marriage? Of course, the new guy was a writer as well and had done blah blah blah. He sounded similar to me in so many ways. I don’t know why she thought sharing so many details about him would make this easier for me to digest.
Ironically, the car radio was playing Adele’s song, Someone Like You, where Adele’s ex had gotten married and move on with his life.
“I heard that you’re settled down. That you found a girl and are married now. I heard that your dreams came true…”
Adele’s song was suddenly becoming my life story.
Lessons to last a lifetime
For the longest time, I didn’t have answers and was consumed with anger and sorrow. I felt that this was about the worst thing that anyone could have done to someone else. It felt like stabbing someone in the heart.
Now, in retrospect, I can see that her moving on quickly was not the worst thing she could have done. I have a much healthier perspective on someone who moves on quickly after a relationship is over.
Here are 5 mature lessons I learned from this experience:
1. Everyone is on their own journey.
Not everyone will move on, heal or grieve on the same timeline as you. Some people move on faster than others.
For some people, a relationship may have ended a long time ago and they may be ready for a new one soon after the relationship is over. No need to judge, compare or compete with your former partner.
You can focus on your path and your next steps. Each person moves along on their own timeframe.
2. It’s nothing personal.
After a long-term relationship, you may feel like your ex is out to get you and hurt you by finding someone else. It’s even worse when they find someone like you. Or find someone fast.
You have to remember that your ex could just be living their life and entertain the idea that they may not be thinking about you at all.
They are doing what feels right for them. They are doing what they think is in their best interest for their future.
If they are getting into another relationship to hurt you and out of spite, it’s on them. They will have to live with the consequences of their actions if they pick another partner just to spite you.
3. No one owes you a lifetime of loyalty.
This was and is a hard lesson to learn.
While some of us believe in soulmates and life-long relationships, happily-ever-afters are not guaranteed for anyone. No relationship is guaranteed to last forever.
While the movies and our favorite fiction books talk about life-long bonds, relationships in real life are different.
People get to make choices that are best for them and have different beliefs. Each person is doing what is best for them at the time.
Many people will move on and move towards what makes them happy instead of holding onto a relationship for the sake of loyalty.
4. All things in life end, including relationships.
Seasons begin and end. Life begins and ends. Relationships too begin and end.
Just because you don’t want a relationship to end, doesn’t mean it won’t.
The world, nature, and humans are dynamic and regularly change. All good and bad things in life are passing and temporary. The only constant in the world is change.
Relationships ending are just as much a part of life as new relationships emerging. Like nature, there’s not a whole lot you can do to prevent something from happening.
5. You leave with insights and wisdom about future partners.
It’s not like you’re leaving with nothing when the relationship ends.
You likely have lessons from this past relationship that are going to last a lifetime. You likely learned more about yourself than you’ve ever wanted to know. Most importantly, you’ve learned more about romantic partners and who is compatible with you.
You get to move forward with all of this knowledge about your preferences, your compatibility with others, and who is a good fit for you.
Maybe your ex was your soulmate or may they’re not. Maybe they were just there to bridge you to your soulmate. Knowing who the wrong partners are for you will help you narrow down who the right partner is for you.
Reflect on what didn’t work with your ex and what qualities did not mesh with you. Move forward with your dating life with this priceless knowledge.
Many of these lessons have come many years later after our relationship ended. The relationship my ex wanted to pursue never materialized and she didn’t end up marrying the person who she had wanted to get the divorce for.
Maybe the best thing we can do is adopt Adele’s other lyrics from her hit song.
“Never mind,” Adele sings towards the end of the song. “I’ll find someone like you. I wish nothing but the best for you, too.”
You may not have to find someone like your ex but you can move on with your life, meet new people, and find new love. You can wish your ex well and be done with them for good.
You can stay bitter and angry with your past or move forward and embrace the future that is waiting for you.
This post originally appeared on Medium.