I don’t have to tell you know how devastating and downright raw a breakup can be.
Whether you saw warning signs or were completely blindsided, breakups suck.
Often we’re so hurt that we act like mental patients for months or years afterward. Later on, when it all dies down, you don’t want to look back and think “oh man, did I really act like that??”
If this has ever happened to you, rest assured that you aren’t alone. I hate to admit it, but after a few particularly bad breakups, I struggled hard to avoid doing a bunch of embarrassing things that still make me cringe.
Since so many people do things after a breakup that they regret, here’s how to handle a breakup gracefully, with class, even if the actual split-up already happened and you feel terrible right now.
1. Get a Breakup Buddy
Get one of your friends to help you with sticking to civility and handling logistics when it comes to dealing with your ex. Sometimes we don’t quite think rationally when in the midst of a separation (understatement of the year for lots of us).
Having a rational breakup-buddy (who isn’t going through heartbreak) to run your ideas past is helpful. Your friend can help keep you from doing something you’ll regret and provide you with a shoulder to cry on that doesn’t belong to your ex. If you have to move your household items, having someone there to help who can remain neutral in the face of a potentially crying ex is another bonus.
2. Formulate an Action Plan
It helps to think about what you’re going to say or do under the circumstances surrounding your breakup.
For example, if they won’t let you have the entertainment center (or something else), how are you going to act? If they’re angry and speak to you that way, how are you going to handle that? Do you really want to “let them have it” or do you feel that it would be better to remain calm and rational? It’s your choice, but easier if you decide in advance.
Remember they are going through a range of emotions just like you are. If you have a plan to remain calm and collected under the not-so-great circumstances that surround your breakup, you lessen the possibility that you’ll fly off the handle and do or say something that you’ll regret.
3. Filter Your Words
This is probably the hardest suggestion on this list, especially when you’re hurting.
How many times have you said something you regretted?
How many times have you begged or acted pathetic?
Ever felt like if you just hadn’t said “that one thing,” you might not have broken up?
Right? I know, me too. That’s why being mindful of you say is one of the most important things on this list, and one that your breakup buddy can help with.
4. Handle Your Shared Responsibilities Fairly
Usually a breakup comes with some dividing up of property, time with kids, pets, etc. When you’re dealing with shared things big and small, there is the potential for either of you to irrationally cling to items in hope of a reconciliation. Some people are so heartbroken that they bitterly let their ex have everything in the vain hope that they’ll curry favor or cut ties completely. Neither is balanced.
Make plans to rationally divide things up and resolve to be as fair as you can possibly be. Consider it future relationship karma. If you act like a crazy-pants now and try to get everything, don’t be surprised if it comes back to bite you later. If you or your ex simply can’t be rational, consider mediation. In the long run, you’ll be happy that you did.
5. Accept The Breakup
Whether you want your ex back or not, right now it’s time to accept that there is a breakup. It’s embarrassing, but I’ll admit that after one or two failed relationships, I had a hard time admitting that the end had actually arrived. I acted like we were just “taking a break,” as if it was all temporary. This led to a lot of stalling when it came to dividing up shared responsibilities and emotions. In the end, I needlessly drug out the whole process and caused us both more heartbreak than absolutely necessary.
Even if you think you eventually might want to try get your ex back, work on accepting that for whatever reason your relationship is broken. This can be really difficult especially if you love them and don’t want it to be over, but fake it until you make it.
Move your stuff out, get your loose ends sorted fairly and start living like you’re single. Sticking around emotionally won’t make them more likely to return, in fact the opposite. For right now, put the focus back on yourself.
6. Clear Out Your Social Media
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth saying again. Seeing your ex happily (or not) moving on after your breakup is a recipe for more heartbreak. Don’t post status updates meant to get a rise out of them.
Unfriend, unfollow and otherwise untangle yourself from them online. This cuts down on cyberstalking all around and keeps you from re-opening the wound with every status update.