Nick Florest realizes that telling a middle-schooler to “get over it” when his heart is broken is not the soundest of advice.
Yesterday during a tutoring session, one of my students muttered to himself, “I can’t stop thinking about her”. He had done this a few times while we were going over his math homework, sheepishly looking up at me to make sure he had my attention until he finally stopped to ask me if we could talk after we were done. Once his homework was finished, we talked man to man-child. He spoke to me about him and his girlfriend recently breaking up… again! Keep in mind, he’s in 7th grade. He hasn’t come to the age where he realizes breaking up with your schoolhouse lover every other week is just part of the territory.
He confided in me how much he wants to take her out on a date (to Burger King… remember, he’s in 7th grade) and rekindle the romance, but was lost when the feeling wasn’t returned. The problem I had was when he asked me what he should do. As much as he asks me questions about life, I found myself stuck without an answer to help him move on. What do I honestly tell him?
The first reply that popped in my head was “get over it kid” but I had to be honest in that split second and think, “would an answer of ‘get over it’ help the 7th grade me when I had my heartbroken?” All it would’ve given me was the impression that the pain I was feeling, despite how trivial it would look years down the line, was nonexistent. It was real now.
All of us reading this can remember when we first hit our teenage years. It was a time of rebellion, excitement and change. Everything was new and we knew everything! Adolescence was when we have a Superman/Wonder Woman complex, whereas being either a younger “kid”, or being an adult or elder meant being flawed. We, on the other hand, are unstoppable, until we learn that love is kryptonite.
What started off with a folded up note with the words: “Do you like me? Circle an answer” ends with what feels like the whole school whispering about you when you’re walking to class. While we were in a relationship, we felt great. When it was over, so was life as we knew it. “Get over it,” wasn’t a good enough response because it is not that easy.
Any meaningful relationship that ends makes you feel grim no matter what age you are. Losing the bond with someone you cared about in that way is always a painful process. It’s just easier to dismiss when it’s from someone still learning their times tables.
Truthfully, the only difference between my student and someone who become divorced from their wife or husband after 10-plus years is the level of complexity. The divorce can happen over a plethora of things that are hard to understand and come to terms with like affairs, stress, career choices. The boyfriend-girlfriend break can happen over something as simple as “not liking you anymore.” However, the pain is still there through and through.
So what would help the 7th grade me move on from a break-up? What could I say to him to let him know it’s ok that she doesn’t want to split sodas and share fries with you anymore? The same advice that would help me out now: “take your time”. After all, it doesn’t matter if we’re 13, 33 or 93 when a relationship ends, that’s all we can do.