How to get over a break-up

Over the past few months, I’ve had a few people write to me and ask for my advice about how to get over a break-up.  I should point out that I am by no means an expert on the subject.  Yes, I’ve got through a painful break-up this year.  No, I don’t think that I’m totally over it (or even close) yet.  But I’m definitely on the right track.  I’ve tried quite a few methods to help me to get over my break up.  Several of them (crying into a glass of wine, planning the intimate details of my ex’s demise) were not helpful.  However I have found a few things that have made me feel better and have helped me back on the road to awesomeness.  Such as:

Tell people what you’re going through

In the beginning, I was very hesitant to tell people that I’d been dumped.  I felt humiliated and incredibly vulnerable, and I wanted to share that with as few people as possible.  But I soon realized that wasn’t going to be do-able.  Once I began telling people that we’d broken up, things did start to get a bit easier.  For starters, by telling your friends and family you’re making the break-up “official” and you can begin healing.  Also, once people know what is going on they’ll begin to offer their help and support. And trust me, you’re going to need it.

Say “Yes” to opportunities and invitations

When you’ve just been dumped,  socializing is going to be the last thing on your mind.  But when people hear about your predicament, they’re going to start inviting you places and offering to come around and hang out with you.  The nerve of them!

Although you might not feel like it, I’d recommend saying “yes” to as many invitations as possible.  You don’t have to knock yourself out trying to fill your calendar, but try to accept as many invitations as you can.  Socializing will get you out of the house and take your mind off things for a little while.  It will also help you to realize that you aren’t on your own, and that your life is filled with incredible people.  You don’t need your ex-partner to have a good time.

Often, when you’re in a relationship, your friends and family will be somewhat neglected. So now that you’re single again, this is a great opportunity to nurture those relationships once again.

Explore things that interest you

When I moved out on my own, I noticed that I had an awful lot of time to fill in.  Before, my evenings were spent going out on dates, hanging with my boyfriend on the couch or talking to him on the phone.  I was at a loose end.

I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to explore some of my interests.  So I sat down and made a list of absolutely all of the things that interest me, from writing and crocheting to Tudor history and costume making.  Then I tried to think of as many activities as possible that would allow me to explore these interests.  And then I started actually doing the things on the list.  It helped me to fill in my time, improved my mood, allowed me to meet new people and gave me a sense of accomplishment.

Remove triggers and relationship collateral.

When you’re in a relationship, you wind up with a whole lot of ‘stuff’ that has gathered from your union.  That ‘stuff’ includes birthday presents, love letters and kitchen appliances you bought with your lover.  When you break up, these things just serve to remind you of the love you’ve lost, and can act as a trigger to send you spiraling into a deep depression.

I found it best to get all that relationship collateral out of sight.  Some of it got thrown out, but most of it simply got put away.  I replaced all the photos of the two of us together with pictures of my friends and family.  I tossed away crummy novelty gifts and itchy ill-fitting lingerie that he’d bought for me.  I packed up all of the letters he’d sent me and put them at the back of the closet.  Purging all of those things out of my space was so cathartic.

You don’t have to throw all of the stuff away, just get it out of your sight.  Pack up the collateral and give it to a friend or family member to store until a later date.  Put it in the shed.  Whatever works for you.

Feel all the feels.

Break ups are highly emotional.  They bring up all kinds of feelings, and most of them are not very nice.  Now, if you’re anything like me you don’t like feeling down and low, so it can be tempting to deny your feelings and pretend to be “just fine”.

You might also find that you don’t react to the breakup in the way that you imagined you would.  You might discover a whole lot of anger and resentment that you never knew was there.  You might start harboring jealous tendencies.  And those feelings might scare you a bit.

It’s so important to honor your feelings and let them run their course.  Don’t try to pretend that you’re fine if you aren’t. Don’t feel ashamed if you aren’t able to breeze through this crisis in a cloud of serenity and forgiveness.  Take it easy and let them out.  Talk to a friend or relative if you need to.  Cry for hours, write in a journal or throw on some Alanis Morissette and scream into your hairbrush.  Just let yourself feel however you feel, and then move on.

Don’t see your ex.  Like, ever.

My boyfriend had been a major part of my life for nine years.  He was the person I talked to about absolutely everything.  He was there for every major event in my adult life.  So when he left, I felt like there was a huge hole in my life.  It was so tempting to pick up the phone and call him, just to hear his voice.  I started creating scenarios for that would give me an excuse to get in touch with him, or go to places where I thought I might run into him.

Let me tell you a hard truth: no matter how much you want to do those things, try your best to resist.  Every time you see your ex, it makes it harder to get over them.  Now, it might not be practical to completely cut them out of your life, particularly if you lived together and you have joint property that has to be divided up.  But I’d definitely recommend cutting out all non-essential contact with the person who broke your heart.

Re-introduce romance

You don’t need a partner to romance you.  You can do that for yourself!  Take the time to nurture yourself and celebrate the awesome person that you are.  For more information about romancing yourself, read this post.

 

Have you ever gone through a nasty break up?  How did you get through it?

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4 thoughts on “How to get over a break-up

  1. Thats some really amazing advice there. I don’t think I’ve handled any of my break ups particualry well, I tend to retreat inside myself and pretend that I’m fine, when I’m not. I don’t like to show weakness, I guess. I’m so proud (I hope that doesn’t sound weird) of how you’ve managed so far to get through this. It’s not easy, and I know you’ve had some dark times, but you seem to be making progress, one teeny step at a time.

    • Thanks so much for saying this. I’ve found it really tough, probably one of the toughest things I’ve had to do. I’ve had some really dark moments, but overall things seem to be looking up. I really appreciate your support.

  2. Great advice, thank you so much for sharing. I’ve been going through a similar situation over the past year, and it’s only now that I’m starting to come close to being “over” it. Stay strong!

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