One of the benefits of serial monogamy is becoming an expert at dealing with breakups. I’ve learned how to spot red flags when the inevitable demise approaches. I’ve learned how to process my own tendencies in this often emotionally reactive state. No matter how much you prepare and how soon you recover to your fully functioning self, it’s never an easy process.
My most recent breakup was especially painful for a few reasons. Number one, I really cared for this guy. I was falling for him. I had genuine hopes for a future. Secondly, it had been a long time since I had allowed myself that level of vulnerability and intimacy. The length of relationship and depth of feelings can make the journey of healing longer. But here are some methods I have found helpful over the years in repairing my own broken heart:
1. Cry it Out
Don’t be afraid of your emotions, especially in the beginning. Allow yourself to feel the pain, the anger, the frustration, the hopelessness. Whatever it is you’re feeling allow it to happen. Taking ownership of vulnerability can be surprisingly empowering. If you can express these emotions through some kind of creative or physical activity (dancing, writing, working out, etc.) it’s even better.
2. Bitch to Your Friends
Once you’ve embraced your emotional state, it’s important to talk about how you feel with those who know you best. This will provide another essential outlet of being able to speak your mind. Many times at the end of relationships we are not given the opportunity to articulate our sadness and frustration. It’s cathartic to have someone who understands you and respects you offer an ear and encouragement.
3. Write Down a List of Their Annoying Traits and Habits
On the subject of complaining, it is important to remember the bad times. We often romanticize past relationships, especially when they are cut short at the hand of someone else. Our ex can then be put in a position of power and we tend to feel weakness and rejection. Do not forget those things that turned you off, or were disrespectful or maybe downright mean throughout the course of your relationship. From his profuse sweating during sex to his lack of concern for your well-being… Write it all down and don’t forget it when you start to fantasize about the happy times.
4. Find a Mentally Stimulating Activity
Now that you’ve confronted your true feelings you need to take a break from the heavy emotional stuff. Relax your mind from worry. Read a scientific book, watch a documentary, or reorganize your home. Focus your energy on logical tasks that can be completed through a series of structural steps. We can’t always control what happens in life, but it feels nice to have a color-coordinated closet.
5. Pamper Yourself
Take a break from worrying about what your ex is thinking or doing. Focus on yourself. Eat some yummy food, take a day to sleep and rest, take a hot bubble bath, get a massage. Anything that makes you feel good.
6. Call an Ex (But Not THE Ex)
Maybe a bit unconventional, but hear me out… This is helpful particularly in cases of previous destructive relationships that have had a chance to settle over time. I have many exes who I am in contact with and we are on great terms. This wasn’t always the case, and some of those breakups were painful. It’s uplifting to know that a relationship with so much negativity can develop into a respectful and emotion-free friendship. It is also particularly gratifying if said-ex knows what he or she lost when you left the picture and reminds you what a great catch you are and how your most recent ex is an idiot.
7. Flirt with a Stranger
This isn’t about falling in love again. This isn’t about starting a new relationship. This is about taking a small risk for a small payoff. This is about hope and connecting with another person. It can be as simple as a smile on the sidewalk or a compliment waiting in line for coffee. It’s important to know there is life after your ex.
8. Have Sex
This will be different for each person and each relationship, but it’s important to feel desire and be desired again. Sex should not be used as a form of punishment or revenge. It should not be abused as a mechanism for avoiding confrontation with your true feelings. But once you have confronted your emotions, it is perfectly healthy and natural to indulge. Feeling visceral desire can make you feel alive. Having sex can lower your cortisol levels and stress hormones, it can connect you to your own body and another person.
So that’s my list. I hope this breakdown can help someone in need out there. I will do my best to follow my own advice in my own journey of recovery. Let me know how you have gotten over past relationships. Good luck and look up to all the broken hearts out there. You’re not alone.