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How do you leave a hard relationship when you were invested in it for a long time?

-E

Dear E, 

This is such a hard situation. I want to begin by validating the difficulties that come with drifting away from someone whom you were close to, no matter the type of relationship. 

For friends: On average, if we all meet three people every year of our lives and we live to be 80 years old, we will meet 240 people in our lifetime. I am not sure about you, but I do not know many people who have 240 people they consider close to them. 

Leaving friendships can be so hard. Friendship breakups are often not fully recognized for the emotional rollercoaster they are, but they are also oftentimes necessary. Our time and energy are limited, and it is only realistic to continue investing in friendships that are worth that time and energy, which is frankly never going to be all 240 people. We must pick and choose. 

If you choose to leave a friendship, you must first understand how mature that decision is. You likely would never have decided to leave if you thought that the friendship was serving and benefiting you. I think the things to focus on when coping with a breakup are the reasons why you decided to leave the friendship and the moments when you were wasting time and energy on someone who was not reciprocating. Give yourself time to heal and practice self-care. It is normal to grieve a relationship that has passed, but I can promise that the time and energy you are preserving will eventually serve another friendship that benefits you in ways you craved from the last. 

Remind yourself of the type of friend you are and reflect upon that: Were you the one that was always a shoulder for them to lean on? The one that gave advice? Did you plan a surprise dinner when they landed the summer internship they wanted? Did you attend all of their club team’s games? Then ask: what did they do for you? Not that friendships should be transactional, but we should always be looking for appreciation and support in all of our relationships. What are things you prioritize in a friend? Do you possess those qualities in your friendships, and are they reciprocated? I am sending good friends and healing your way.

Romantic breakups are such a mental and emotional roller coaster. However, everything happens for a reason. Every breakup you go through will be a necessary stepping stone and lesson learned on the way to the relationship that won’t end. As far as coping strategies go, they’re the same as with friendship breakups: Focus on yourself, release endorphins, lean on people you count on, remind yourself of the importance of self-love, journal and treat yourself with grace. Sometimes breakups can cause grief, but reflect on why this happened and know that someone will eventually be an asset to your life without the addition of those negative qualities. When reminiscing on the positive memories, associate those with the exciting reminder that more of the same will be found elsewhere. Don’t shame yourself for “wasting time” in a previous relationship. Nothing is a waste of time: People change, and therefore relationships do too — all to serve the current person you are and not the one you once were. It may be hard, but no contact is best! You do not want to hinder your healing by hiding the truth that you are no longer together. You got this! Give it time!

How do I balance sorority rush and classes at the same time? It is so hard not to get overwhelmed with the process.

-M

Dear M, 

I am sure, with the busy semester starting, sorority rush underway and the new year beginning, many students feel this way. Naturally, there will be times throughout the semester (and your entire life!) when you feel like you have absolutely no free time, followed by less chaotic periods. All of this hard work you are doing, whether it is sorority rush, studying for a hard class or putting your time into an extensive extracurricular activity, will pay off. Being involved in fraternity and sorority life, spending time studying or working hard within your student organization will all eventually add exciting elements to your academic achievements, social network, life skills and mental health. Afterward you’ll get to relax and get the opportunity to appreciate all the time and effort you put into making it a reality, and perhaps have a few weeks off of working non-stop to focus on another aspect of your life.

Ultimately, try and make yourself a schedule at the beginning of each day. On your lighter days of classes and sorority rush, schedule more to do. Make sure your checklists are realistic and try to spend minimal time on your phone (put it in a different room if necessary). Most of all, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Get proper sleep, drink water and make sure you are eating sufficiently. It is so easy to get caught up in the rush process, but remember there is a reason that the National Panhellenic Conference still uses this system: It works for a reason. Don’t compare your situation to others, and be yourself. You want to end up somewhere you are comfortable being you! You can only end up in one sorority anyways, so try not to be overwhelmed by the numbers. Also, remember there are tons of other ways to get involved at the University of Michigan: If fraternity and sorority life is not for you, there are endless ways to meet people with common interests! Remember balance, and also that in a couple of years no one will care which houses asked you back for the “Philanthropy Round.” Keep grounding yourself: Fraternity and sorority life affiliation does not define you, and all of the hard work, time and energy you are putting into a single aspect of your life will bring success!

Submit your questions here!

Lindsey Zousmer is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at lzousmer@umich.edu.