As I write this post, I have five different friends texting me about their respective breakups. Fortunately, I pretty much have a Ph.D in what NOT to do when a relationship ends. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have committed just about every post breakup crime a woman can perform (OK, a little ashamed). I have texted my ex’s (both very drunk and very sober) and done so enough in one sitting to make them think I was in the trunk of a strangers car speeding across the border. I have spent hours I will never get back trying to figure out just who owned the feminine finger that clicked “like” on his post about the weather, and yes, I have even lied to my friends, telling them I had plans to go out when really, all I planned to do was drink a bottle of Malbec and sing “our” song like Simon Cowell was in the room. (For 7 heartbreaking truths single people never talk about, click here.)
The bottom line: I know a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t when trying to heal a broken heart. Here are twenty-one of my best lessons:
1. People don’t “fight” for things in the same way, and breakups often require some “fighting through” to achieve clarity.
2. Just because they are not blowing up your phone, showing up with flowers, sending long emails or otherwise begging to get back with you doesn’t mean they don’t care or that it all meant “nothing.”
3. You should probably sit on any emails/texts for 24 hours before sending. Sit on them forever if they have not responded to several already.
4. What is meant to be will find its way back to you. It may not be now, or in a month or even a year; the only thing we can do is trust our journey.
5. Have faith in the fact that you are right where you need to be with—and without—whom you need to be with.
6. It’s not fair to suddenly break the promises you made in the relationship. Secrets need to stay secrets. Breaking trust says more about your character than theirs.
7. Trying to piece the full story through social media posts is like trying to navigate through the ocean on a cardboard box. In fact, block them. I know it’s hard. You want to see what’s going on. Just remember they know you’re watching. Don’t give them that power.
8. Don’t get so caught on their sudden rejection of you that you miss the fact that you left them for a very good reason. Some people are really, really good at flipping the script, and before you know it, you’ve lost sight of reality and are chasing acceptance and acknowledgement.
9. Be wary of any information offered up by their friends.
10. There’s zero honor in texting and texting someone who can’t be decent enough to respond. Text your friends instead. Note: Please trust me on this one. I once texted an ex so much that his WhatsApp could be published as a trilogy if printed and bound. Guess what? It brought about nothing positive. No closure, no kindness, nada.
11. You don’t have to be perfect. You may say and do things you regret. Everyone else does this, too. Forgive yourself.
12. Do like Duchess Catherine: Don’t sit in and cry, go out and dance. You may not feel up to it, but your life cannot stop. In fact, it moves on faster when it doesn’t.
13. Your friends do not have any better an idea of what he or she is thinking or feeling than you do. Talk as much as you’d like about it with them and learn from their wisdom—just understand it is not the gospel.
14. It doesn’t feel like it right now, but you will find love again (and there are plenty of people to find it with). In fact, you will be so, so, so happy this didn’t work out. I know, you want to kick me right now, but trust me, it’s true.
15. Go to the gym. Go for a run. Release endorphins. Lay off the ice cream. Work off the wine.
16. That being said, there is zero shame in drinking wine and singing Otis Redding and Patsy Cline. In fact, making a dramatic scene like this usually makes you feel utterly ridiculous and you giggle a little at yourself.
17. What’s Love Got To Do With It? is always better than The Notebook in times such as these.
18. Now would be a good time to invest in you: your job, your career, your home, your health, your wardrobe … Do. Not. Cut. Or. Dye. Your. Hair.
19. Sleeping with your hot model friend is not going to fix this. OK, it might be super fun and take your mind off of it for a little while, but it’s still not good idea.
20. You’re still going to do it anyway. Sigh.
21. Do what you feel is right and grieve on your own timeline. Nobody has to understand. Repeat after me: Feelings are not facts.