Breakups are hard. They’re painful, and leave wounds that scab and reopen without warning. They mar you.

One of the biggest reasons why breakups hurt so much is that they don’t erase the fact that at one time, you had a good, even great, relationship with a person you now can’t be in the same room with. Breakups don’t delete all of the pictures, love-letters, memories, and thoughtful things that person did for you. They don’t make you miss the person you first fell in love with any less, and they certainly don’t make you stop loving them.

We spend so much time in relationships breaking down walls, getting comfortable, sharing, and planning a life with someone. Relationships require time, energy, and trust. When we realize they’re not going to work out and “move on”, it’s easy to forget that people don’t come with a copy and paste function. You can’t copy the good parts of someone, delete the bad ones, and paste them into your new relationship. But just as you can’t “CTRL C, CTRL P” someone, you can’t do that to yourself, either.

On really bad nights, the ones where my friends were all super busy with their own lives, nothing good was on TV, I didn’t have a new book to read, and I didn’t feel like getting out of my sweat pants… it was easy for me to wallow in my breakup and place all of the blame on him. I’d convince myself that our relationship failed because of his mistakes, and conveniently forget my own. I’d fail to remember that I too had bad habits and qualities, and it was my fault as much as it was his (almost).

Perhaps the worst of all is that when you’re finally ready to move on, you may find yourself looking for the person you left behind in someone you just found. I’m guilty of this. SUPER GUILTY. Even though my last relationship ended in an epically bad way, I found myself looking at my new boyfriend for the things my ex said and did. I even found myself getting angry when I didn’t find them.

I forgot that I’d grown up while we together, even more after we weren’t, and I wasn’t the same person I used to be. I was different. I was new. And because I was new, even if I could somehow find the person my ex used to be in someone else, I’m not sure I’d want to be with that person. Because I was new and different, I deserved a relationship that was new and different as well. Dwelling on the past and sugarcoating things was only holding me back from finding something, someone, amazing.

Romanticizing is dangerous business. Romanticizing previous relationships is especially so. It’s okay, to miss what you used to have with someone. What isn’t okay is expecting to find the exact same thing minus the bad, with someone new. It’s unrealistic, and it’s unhealthy.

Yes, you spent a lot of time and energy making your previous relationship work, but you also participated in it not working. All of the time you spent getting comfortable and breaking down walls is the time you spent falling in love. Doing that with someone new can be hard and frustrating at times, but it’s important to remember that those are the moments that matter most. They’re the ones you’ll miss if they’re ever not there anymore.

Breakups don’t get easier. We carry our previous ones with us all of the time. If we’re lucky, they’ve scabbed over and scarred, and while they’re still there, they don’t hurt so much. Instead, they’re reminders of what used to be, and why it used to be – and isn’t anymore.