Here is the full transcript of relationship expert Gary Lewandowski’s TEDx Talk: Break-Ups Don’t Have to Leave You Broken at TEDxNavesink Conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Break-Ups Don’t Have to Leave You Broken by Gary Lewandowski at TEDxNavesink
So we need to talk.
Hearing those four simple words from your relationship partner never feels good. Your heart sinks, palpitates, your stomach flutters, your palms get sweaty, because it’s never ‘we need to talk about what a great relationship we have, how we’re best friends, and how we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together’, it’s never that; it’s always ‘we need to talk about the beginning of the end.’
And whether your relationship is awful, good, or great, we don’t like endings, we don’t like to lose things. And especially, we don’t like to lose things that are important to us. And make no mistake, relationships are the single most important thing to you in your life. It’s the source of all of your best memories, it’s the source of all of your worst memories.
When you think back on your life when you’re 95 or 100 years old and you look back over the course of your lifetime, you’re not going to think: “‘I wish I owned a better phone’, ‘I wish I spent more time on the Internet’, I wish I spent more time at work or sleeping’”. It’s going to be any of those kinds of things. It’s going to be: ‘I wish I spent more time with the people I loved’, because our relationships they build us, they define us, they sustain us and they can break us too.
And we know relationship breakup can be tough, right? Research is pretty clear: Loneliness, depression increased crime, increased drug use. Some of my own research shows that breakup leads you to experience a loss of self. So when you lose a relationship, part of who you are as a person goes with it, because relationships are important. And it’s bad, don’t get me wrong, it can be bad. But it’s often not as bad as we think. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Northwestern asked people who were currently in happy relationships to look out into the future, to make a prediction, and said, ‘You know, if your relationship were to end, how bad would you feel about it?’ And then those researchers do it, researchers do is they waited and they waited for those people, those happy, happy relationships, they waited for those people to break up — because only then could we actually see or could they actually see how bad was it, right? And so they waited for them to break up, and said, ‘So how bad — how bad is it, now that you broke up?’
And they compared what the predictions were to their actual breakup experience. And what they found was people were wrong. They were wrong. Their breakup simply wasn’t as awful and devastating as they thought.
So I’m curious, by show of hands, how many people here have experienced a breakup or divorce? Show of hands. All right. Please keep your hands up if you survived that experience. Perfect, good. I’m glad you’re here. Now please keep your hand up still if you learned something about yourself, about having better relationships by going through a breakup or a divorce, right? Perfect.