Much like the old song goes, breaking up is hard to do, but, as an inspiring book by a household name tells us, it doesn’t have to mean the end of romance and love, or hope.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is known for his feature film roles like the disillusioned Tom in 500 Days of Summer or John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises, but his latest gig has been that of an author. His new book, The Art of Breaking Up, which he worked on with his collaborative community HITRECORD, is a relatable story for anyone who has ever loved and lost, but then tried to love again. In it, he discusses his worst breakup ever.
Life and love weren’t always easy for him
Joseph reveals that before meeting his wife, love was not an easy thing for him.
Life can be painful, especially a love life. I know this from personal experience. Luckily, I’m very happy in my marriage right now, but I certainly remember a time when love and romance was a very emotionally turbulent part of my life.
Joseph Gordon-Leviit to People
His go-to remedy for any romantic illness involved creating. “Really, a big way that I would cope was write a story, or sing something, or shoot a video,” Joseph said. “Creativity is such a healing thing, especially when you’re not being creative alone.”
Joseph wrote his book not just as a selfish form of catharsis but also because hoped to inspire others to get beyond feelings of loss and heartbreak.
Even though the book is fun, and a lot of it is humorous, it’s very sincere in its respect for the pain of what it means to break up.
Instead, Joseph offers his own methods to get over heartache, by helping the reader delve into a creative form of healing.
“There are actual creative prompts in the book itself. It’ll say, ‘Okay, here’s your chance to write’ or ‘Here’s your chance to draw,’” Joseph continued. “But even go beyond that, and get creative yourself. Write something. Write a longer story, or draw something. This is what HITRECORD is all about.”
His worst breakup inspired him
Joseph remembered his worst heartbreak, and that helped him with the writing of his book. “My mind went back to being 18 years old because the worst heartbreak I ever felt was the first heartbreak I ever felt,” he told People.
When Joseph was a teenager, he, like many teens, believed he was “smarter than everybody,” and that included walking through the airport judging other people. But after Joseph’s girlfriend broke up with him, he no longer felt that feeling of superiority. At the airport, or anywhere else.
On that morning, walking through the airport, I hated myself. I did not hate her. I missed her. I was mad at her. I was madly in love with her. And she was madly in love with me too. No, she wasn’t anymore. She had been though.
Joseph Godon-Levitt in The Art of Breaking Up
The effects of the breakup were more than emotional. “I was in physical pain every day,” he continues. “My body hurt. I’d wake up and wish I hadn’t woken up. I wanted to be unconscious. I wanted to break stuff. Or I wanted to break myself.”
The breakup made him realize his flaws
Joseph admits that moment in time, when his heart was broken, helped him to get over himself and stop putting himself on that superior pedestal.
“I distinctly remember this feeling of, she doesn’t love me anymore, so maybe I’m not so great. Maybe I’m not so smart. Maybe I’m not that much better or smarter than all these other people that I’m used to judging,” Joseph told People, regarding his realization in his short story.
The funny paradox is that if I hadn’t been such a judgmental little prick, maybe she wouldn’t have left me. But if she hadn’t left me, then maybe I wouldn’t have learned to stop being such a judgmental little prick.
Joseph is happily married now with Tasha McCauley, the ceo and co-founder of a robotics company called Fellow Robots who speaks three different languages. The two met through mutual friends and hold a very, very private relationship. They got married in December 2014, in a highly private ceremony.
The couple has two children. What’s most interesting, is that a year before meeting his wife, Joseph had mentioned his hesitations with commitment.
“I like to not be too committed to any one future that’s really far away, necessarily, unless there’s a reason, which is why I’m saying if you’re gonna raise a family . . . I can make that commitment,” he told Howard Stern.
Evidently, meeting the right person has changed his mind. But before he got to this stage in his life, Joseph learned the importance of breaking up. And that’s his one, powerful advice.
My advice usually is to break up,” he says. “When I’m talking to my friends who are in [relationships] and having problems, I’m like, ‘You don’t have to stay together.’
Stop worrying about what the world thinks
Perhaps, what’s even more striking about Joseph’s advice, it’s how it reveals an important aspect of our motivations for getting into relationships or remaining in them.
“I feel like there’s so much pressure in this world… There’s a status symbol that comes along with having a boyfriend, or having a girlfriend, or having this significant other, however you decide to identify. I mean, I get it. There is something lovely about being in a couple. I’m married. I love being married, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with not being in a [relationship].”
Don’t worry about what it looks because of the outside. What will people think if I’m single? What will people think if I break up with my girlfriend or my boyfriend or whatever? That shouldn’t matter.
The ego takes a blow, but it can recover
After his famous role in 500 Days of Summer, where his character Tom falls in love with a woman, only to have his heart broken when she tells him that he is not the one for her, Tom’s message carries more weight. While the movie was not about him, it resonates with his own realizations and what he took out of it.
When we live through heartbreak, a lot of it can be hard on the ego. Emotions in the immediate moment can prevent us from thinking objectively. We may blame ourselves and irrationally feel like we weren’t good enough. Our self-esteem can take a major blow.
On the other hand, we can also hold resentment and unnecessary anger towards the person who left. That is not healthy either and can also impede our future interactions with potential partners. It’s important to realize
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