Thursday, August 8, 2013

Real Talk With Rachel: Back in the Saddle

by Rachel Kurzius

Dear Rachel,

I have been single for about a year, since my girlfriend and I broke up. It has been the most traumatic thing that I’ve ever felt. I’m getting to be an older guy -- I’m almost 30 -- and I don’t want get serious and in love for two years before it all ending in heartbreak again.

This wasn’t my first girlfriend, I’ve had a lot of girlfriends for different amounts of time since high school. For some reason, this breakup just wrecked me. I’ve hooked up with lots of women since and I don’t feel a connection with any of them.

How do I get over this fear that connection will just leave me right back where I was?

Not Ready to Mingle

Dear Not Ready to Mingle,

I’m sorry for your loss. Breaking up with someone you love is like losing an outlet for yourself. There is a half-life for love, except its path is less linear. Sometimes, you can forget entirely. Other days an errant sense will take you right back there -- the lust, discovery, regret, longing, disgust.

But as the ur-advice columnist Dan Savage says, even your best-case scenario for a loving partnership is a bit bleak. Let’s say you meet the perfect person and both of you are lucky to live 100 years together. One of you is going to die first. That’s what I call ending in heartbreak.

I don’t mean to get you down here. As grisly as the outlook appears, the horizon brightens with connection. After all, if heartbreak is inevitable then you can’t keep fearing it or using it as an excuse to keep a shield up.

Trauma is a constant negotiation with yourself. Just like love, it doesn’t go away quietly. But you can control how much it affects you. You can tame it. Find an outlet. If you can, talk to someone like a counselor or therapist. Notice times when you feel good and try to figure out how to replicate them.

You’re never going to be back where you were, regardless of whether you date again. I can’t assure you that you won’t face heartbreak again. In fact, I can come much closer to promising you the opposite. But it won’t make you feel the same as you did before.

And know that serial monogamy isn’t the only way to find connection. My most fulfilling and rewarding relationships are those with my friends. They have their share of drama and trauma too, though generally less than the romance.

Will your next connection be two years of monogamy? A month? A lifetime? A furtive glance? A friendship? It will be none of these if you keep yourself so closed off. You deserve to feel something, even knowing that it might end. You’ll appreciate the strange moments, the laughter and the quirks even more
knowing that they aren’t forever.

All my best,



Rachel Kurzius revels in giving advice, and has provided counsel both as a columnist and a friend. She lives in Washington DC, where she works as a news producer. Real Talk with Rachel is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv,, on Wednesdays (and sometimes Thursdays). Need advice? You can write to Rachel via or advice @

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