Thursday, September 29, 2011

is heartbreak necessary?

I used to think that getting your heartbroken builds character. Yes, it sucks, but it's a rite of passage we all have to go through, right? And then I saw Toby's responses to our BLOW OFF questionnaire yesterday and I have to admit...I was a little jealous the girl never had her heart shattered into a million little pieces. And since we happen to be members of the same book club, I can personally attest to the fact that she has a lot of character. She's smart and funny and has great decorating taste. Plus, she's super nice. I was also a little embarrassed, because when I first reached out to friends and readers to answer the questionnaire, I included my own example answers.

I've had my heart broken SEVEN times.

And that's just relationship heartbreak. The career heartbreak has happened too many times to count. I swear I'm not one of those girls that had my heartbroken a lot, because I constantly jumped from relationship to relationship. I've had a lot of dry spells. So, perhaps I need to be more picky about what counts as "heartbreak." When I was doing the math, I counted the guys that I wallowed over. You know, the guys that made me cry myself to sleep or left me with a big fat pit in my stomach that felt like it had its own heartbeat. The ones that made me breathe like an asthmatic. Back in 1997, heartbreak #1 had me listening to I Wish I Felt Nothing by the Wallflowers so much that my parents nearly staged an intervention.

I've worn all these crappy rejections like a badge, but I'm beginning to wonder if I'd be a lot better off today if they never happened. I'm sure I would be far less cynical and far more trusting. I certainly wouldn't have started this blog, but maybe instead I would have come up with something a little more upbeat and optimistic. It's possible I wouldn't be as emotionally resilient, but I cry on a regular basis, so I'm not sure how emotionally resilient that makes me to begin with. Maybe the whole "builds character" thing is just the BS we feed ourselves, because it makes dealing with disappointment a little bit easier.

What do you think, readers? Any heartbreaks you would have rather not gone through to begin with? Be honest. It's easy to say they all made you who you are today, but what if without them, you'd be an even better version of yourself?

Oh, and here's that Wallflowers song...set to the TV show Supernatural. Sorry, it's the only version I could find online. And yes, I wore Doc Martens and went through a somber phase in my teens. But I also listened to The Wallflowers, so it couldn't have been that bad.


  1. Hell, no, I don't think heartbreak builds character. It's wretched and it makes us act like freaks! By the way, the first heartbreak I ever had was actually a friend dump. For real. A female friend broke my heart big time when she dumped my ass. I was mooning over that one for a while, let me tell you, and I even wrote the requisite weepy letters to her ("You mean so much to me," etc.). It might be interesting to explore the friend dump more on this blog as well. It sucks, too, in ways that are very different from the romantic version of the blowoff.

    Your friend is quite lucky, and she can't even understand how lucky she is. If she ever does experience a "character building" breakup, then she will realize how lucky she was before.

  2. I don't think heartbreak builds character or breaks it down. It hurts like shit when it happens. Yes. It may even hurt years down the line. Totally possible. Yet as a recent bride, I think you can agree that heartbreak doesn't last forever. Maybe it's not until you meet that new person that'll give you hope in love again. Maybe its not until you get that big career break, or until you move to that dreamy city where life can finally start anew. Fact is, it'll get better at some point. It has to. And when it does, you'll still be that funny, smart, sarcastic, whatever the fuck you were person before the break up. Your heart'll be in a cage for a bit, no doubt. But your character? It doesn't change at all.

  3. Well, it can *briefly* change your character by turning you into a needy, stalking, crying mess of a person whom you are ultimately ashamed of!

  4. "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." -Friedrich Nietzsche

    That's right, I'm pulling out the man himself. Call me idealistic, but the romantic in me has got to believe that every broken heart or breakup is shaping me into the kind of partner that one day somebody isn't going to want to blow off.

    Yes, without heartache I probably wouldn't be as cynical or skeptical a person. But I also would be less prepared for that big ole committed-for-life relationship that I would like to have one day. I know that I've loved, because I felt that loss, and with love comes an immeasurable amount of knowledge and experience that I wouldn't trade for anything, including an unbruised heart.

    Sure, you can learn from people you didn't necessarily intensely care about, but in my experience, those interactions have only brought more clarity and understanding to the one relationship that I did put my entire heart into. And it's that kind of relationship that I want to spend the rest of my life in.

    Sure, it might be nice to not be able to so easily identify with Saaara's description of an emotionally wrought stomach, but I do, and have even lived to tell about it. Ultimately that pulsating stomach made me a stronger, valuable and more experienced partner. And maybe one day, some dude is going to be grateful for that.

    P.S. I applaud Saaara for putting her heart out there as often as she did. (Takes balls, girl). And now she's married. Case and point.

  5. Such great thought provoking comments! Thank you sassy pants for not making me feel like a total fool for getting rejected so many times :) I agree that every failed relationship brings us closer to the right one. i don't really feel like i have anything as poignant or funny to add to this comment thread, because you guys said it all.

  6. I've been rejected before. Does that count?? -toby

  7. Toby, I heart you! You spurred a great debate and personally, I think getting rejected does count. xoxo

  8. Maybe the secret is learning to take the rejection without the heartbreak, as it seems Toby has done. Immediately being able to say, "You don't want me? Your loss! Next!" and move on.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.