Breakups are an unpleasant and inevitable part of life. In their best form, you come to the mutual decision the pairing “isn’t working out” and part amicably or at least on neutral ground. In their worst form, breakups are earth shattering experiences where you find yourself rejected by the person you thought you would spend the rest of your life with and sitting on your stoop with moving boxes. If this applies to you, I’m extremely sorry for your loss. It may not feel like it now, but your life is moving forward and better things are yet to come. If I’ve learned one relationship lesson in my life it is this: if someone tells you they don’t want to be in your life, let them go. They don’t deserve another ounce of you.
Here are 6 tried-and-true methods for surviving and getting through a breakup…
#1. Remove your ex’s stuff from your space. All photos of your ex and items that remind you of him/her need to be removed from your home. Did you always stock his favorite soda in your fridge? (I did). Get rid of it. Give it away. Cute photo from your last vacation? Store it in the closet. If you have items of theirs that need to be returned (clothes, toiletries, etc.) get to the post office and send that shit back. The U.S. Postal Service is your friend. Make steps to re-establish your space as YOUR sanctuary free of imagery or gifts that remind you of them. It’s understandable that this process may be difficult, but your ex is not worth the constant heartache of seeing their photos and personal items- particularly in your own home. You don’t have to forget the memories, but give yourself a break. This step is key and must happen swiftly!
#2. Stay busy. As much as you want to hide under your comforter, this behavior needs to be kept to a minimum. It’s only going to make you feel worse and allow you to obsess over every last word and interaction, which let’s be real, you can’t take back or change. Get out of the house, meet up with a friend, take a power walk, go to a comedy show, go to the movies, cook a meal, call your grandmother. Be open with people you trust, it’s important to be able to express that the breakup has happened and you’re working to move forward. At the same time, don’t wallow. Life is too short. More detailed suggestions on that below.
#3. Get a bomb playlist going. Music soothes the soul. There’s no two ways about it. When you’re going through a breakup and emotions and questions are flying through your head, singing and dancing it out is absolutely essential to staying sane! Silence can be the most depressing thing, so fill your surroundings with music that makes you happy. Here’s a solid “Later, Dude” playlist to get you started.
#4. Try new things- LOTS of new things. Have you always wanted to try hot yoga? Sign up for a class. Right now. Spinning? Go. Today. Volunteer to foster an animal or feed the homeless? Yes, and yes! Do your research and get involved. Without doing anything insane or irreversible, get out there and make new experiences for yourself. The #1 thing you’ve gained through your breakup is freedom- so seize the day and put your ideas into action. Make a list of goals and activities you’ve been wanting to do and work through the list week by week. When you’re trying to heal your heart, pushing your body and mind to try new things is necessary and very rewarding. It will help you discover new parts of yourself, establish new routines and continue becoming the amazing person you were put on this planet to be.
#5. Rally your people around you. You have people in your life who love and understand you better than anyone else in the world– arguably much better than the person you just broke up with. Call those people! Bring them into your life with the intention of truly reconnecting. Often when we’re in romantic relationships, we lose track of relationships with friends and family members. Reprioritize those people. You need them right now and odds are they’ll be very happy to hear from you and receive your renewed attention and love! Be upfront about the breakup- let them know that the relationship has come to an end, you’re healing, want to reconnect and are working to move-on. During my last breakup one of my best female friends Claire (who is incredible and I am forever grateful to) declared herself my “breakup buddy”. Anytime I felt like calling or texting my ex, she encouraged me to text and call her instead. It was such a kind offer which I used many, many times. It’s priceless to have people in your life who are willing to help you through hard times. Embrace them now. (And remember to return the favor when they’re going through a hard time).
#6. Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel. Breakups can be life-changing, particularly if you co-habitat and/or shared a full and active life. For that reason allow yourself time to cry, grieve, feel angry and all the necessary elements of loss. Write: Writing about the breakup- a personal essay or letter that you keep for yourself- will help you process what has happened and express what you’re feeling. Look back to memories and experiences that happened during the relationship that didn’t feel right at the time and write about those too with a new perspective and clarity. Looking back after a breakup can be so helpful to recap honestly for yourself what was perhaps dysfunctional about the relationship all along. Speak: I’m a huge believer in therapy. Finding someone to speak with even for a limited amount of sessions can be hugely valuable in determining for yourself what went wrong in the relationship, what you want in life and your goals for the future. If you’re working with limited budget or limited commitment to the therapy process give yourself a designated amount of sessions to work through your feelings with a professional. Particularly if you’ve broken up with a long term significant other and/or the breakup happened under traumatic circumstances, therapy will be your friend.
More than anything else as you experience this breakup remind yourself that you are a prize. This breakup is not rejection, it’s direction toward bigger and better things.