Breakups suck. There’s no other way to put it. When someone tells you they don’t want to be with you anymore, it hurts in a very real way – especially if you don’t see it coming. While it’s true there are usually warning signs, it’s really difficult to pay attention to those signs while you’re involved in the relationship. You want to believe everything is fine and that things will work out so you close your eyes to a lot of things. It can be hard to know how to deal with a breakup. The truth is that there is no one way that will work for everyone and there is no magic cure. Here are ten things that can help make dealing with the situation a bit easier though.
10: Your friends understand. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.
We all have friends who have gone through breakups and somehow gone from the cool, confident, fun to be around pal to the sniveling mess of a disaster we don’t want to answer the phone for. Of course we answer because we’ve all been that sniveling mess and we sympathize. You might get annoying and you might drive them up the wall, but they know it won’t last forever and they’ll be glad to help you through those dark times. Don’t be afraid of being annoying. You will be. It’s a nasty side-effect of a bad breakup and your friends will forgive you.
09: Don’t hold out hope for reconciliation.
Sometimes couples get back together and that’s wonderful but don’t count on it. There was a reason for the breakup and until that reason is addressed you won’t be able to build a happy relationship. If the problem was with you, work on fixing that problem to improve yourself as a person, not to win back someone who wasn’t willing to stick with you while you worked on it. In the end, you’ll be a better person for the experience and your next relationship will be stronger for it.
08: Use the breakup as a chance to improve yourself.
This stage requires an honest evaluation of who you are as a person on your own, who you are in a relationship and who your former partner was in that relationship. You need to really ask yourself what went wrong and accept that you may have been partially to blame. If that’s the case, then maybe there is something about you that you can improve. As human beings, we are always growing and evolving. Take this chance to decide who you want to be and figure out what you need to do to become that person. If you’re a jealous person and that caused problems in the relationship, address the root of the problem. Why are you jealous and how can you work on fixing that? On the other side of the coin, you may realize after much soul searching that the problem was his. He was too focused on his career. He wasn’t ready for a serious relationship. He was just a prick. If that’s the case, this stage will definitely help you move on. Remember though, even that is a chance for personal growth. How did you miss seeing him for what he is? Why did you fall for someone you weren’t compatible with? This is a mistake many women make. Learn from that mistake so you don’t make it again.
07: Take back what you love.
I know far, far too many women who have given up things they are passionate about – music, sports, hobbies etc – because it was something they shared with someone that has broken up with them. Don’t let the guy that broke up with you steal your passion. Take it back. Make it yours again. Focus on your love for whatever it is that you shared instead of focusing on the negative feelings it brings by association. With music, go on a mission to find great new music you’ve never heard. Take a trip to see your favorite musician live. If it’s sports, get out there and get involved in it again. Find new people to play with. Get that passion back. If it’s another type of hobby, take on an ambitious project and see it through right to the end. Don’t let yourself think about how much you would enjoy the activity if your former guy was with you. Instead, focus on the fact that he’s missing out on a great experience and you’re not.
06: Find a new hobby.
Take up crafts. Join an exercise class. Take a cooking class. Learn a new language. Take an art class, a writing class or a class on something else you’re interested in. Find something new to focus on. Think of something you’ve always wanted to learn or something you’ve always wanted to do and go for. Exercise classes are especially good because they allow you to relieve some of the aggression from the breakup in a healthy and positive way. Exercise classes also help you get in shape and feel better about yourself, enabling you to recapture some of the confidence you undoubtedly lost in the breakup. Taking a class will also help you meet new people that share the same interests as you.
05: Get rid of his stuff.
If you lived together, make sure he comes to get his belongings as quickly as possible. If he won’t come get it, box it up and take it somewhere for him – his parents’ house, his friends’ house… anywhere that isn’t your house. Let me tell you from experience, if will be weird to come home those first few nights and see all of his things gone like he was never there, but it will be worth it. You can’t move on with his ghost everywhere you look. If you’re the one who moved out, get rid of the stuff he gave you. I’m the sentimental type. I have a box full of letters, pictures and small items from ex boyfriends. That box is hidden away and never looked in. Someday I might want to look back over it and see all of those forgotten treasure, but the key is to make sure they’re just that – forgotten. There’s nothing wrong with a trip down memory lane as long as the wounds have heeled. If it’s too big for the box, it goes out the door.
04: Make new memories.
Go on a road trip. Hang out with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Do something you wouldn’t normally do. Seek adventure. You don’t have to go sky diving (although that is a great option if you’re feeling brave – hard to be worried about a guy when you’re plummeting from a plane), but just switch it up. Routine is your enemy post breakup. During one of my toughest break ups, I hoped on a plane and flew across the country to see my favorite band. When I came back, I had a whole new set of memories to focus on.
03: Find one thing you hate about him and focus on that one thing.
Now, I’m not telling you that you have to hate the guy or even really be angry at him. Anger and hate aren’t healthy and if you allow those emotions to take over, you’ll be doing yourself a serious disservice. With that said, none of us are perfect. Find the one thing about the guy that drove you nuts and imagine yourself having to put up with that thing for the rest of your life. Imagine yourself at ninety still dealing with that one pet peeve. While it might not actually be a big deal, focusing on that one thing you don’t like will remind you that things weren’t perfect with your guy and will help you deal with the breakup better.
02: Don’t jump into another relationship.
Rebound relationships might feel good temporarily, but they don’t last. Until you’re over your man for real, you won’t be able to let yourself really feel what you should feel for the person you’re in your next relationship with. Eventually it will end and you’ll have all those feeling from the initial breakup to deal with, but you’ll also have a whole pile of new emotions to deal with from the new breakup.
01: Let yourself feel what you need to feel.
Cry! Scream! Punch pillows! Wallow in misery! Let it happen. As women, we need to be strong to earn respect but that doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to have weak moments. Sadness, anger, and fear are normal breakup emotions and you need to let yourself feel them. Denying yourself the chance to express those feelings isn’t going to do you any favors. If you let yourself feel all of that, you let yourself get all of that out and you will be able to move on and recover more quickly.
Above all else, take care of yourself. You might not feel like eating, but force yourself to. Try to get as much sleep as you can. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, keep yourself busy. Work out. Find something that tires you out. Breakups are hard to deal with, but you will get through it.
A quick note: I’ve received several great questions for my forthcoming advice column which I’ll be compiling over the next few weeks. It’s not too late to submit your question though. Send your questions to me via e-mail or Twitter and I’ll see what I can do to help you out. Come back next week when I’ll be talking about long distance relationships. Thanks for reading.