As any girl knows- at least girls like me, who turn to the internet when they’re struggling- there are probably at least 500 self-help articles when it comes to relationships, particularly breakups. Why? I guess because at some point or another everyone goes through one, and none of them are easy. Even the ones where people say “Oh, it was mutual,” “Oh, it wasn’t a bad breakup,” “Oh, we’re going to stay friends;” yeah even those are hard.
No matter how you spin it, a period of your life is coming to an end and you are having to at least somewhat, if not almost completely, rediscover yourself.
In the best of scenarios, you really are able to stay friends (after a period of extreme awkwardness), and it was a healthy, respectful, mutual decision made between people who care for one another. In the worst of scenarios, someone is cheated on, someone is being lied to, the love is lost, fights are had, and people are hurt. Unfortunately, it is these worst scenarios that are far more common.
If you have never yet gone through a breakup, especially a nasty one, I genuinely pray that you never have to. If you have however, or are currently going through one, here is a list of potential life savers that will leave you with a new perspective, some dignity, and hopefully as little regret as possible.
1. If you’re going to rebound, do it for the right reasons.
There is a common saying in the breakup world that goes “The fastest way to get over the last is to get under the next.” While I am in NO WAY encouraging sleeping with someone to get over someone else, the saying does have a bit of value. When you experience heartbreak, especially if you are the dump-ee rather than the dump-er, your self-confidence can plummet. I will never suggest sex without love, there is too much risk for regret, but I would encourage a good make-out.
Put down the Nutella, shower and shave (please), pick out a cute outfit, fix your hair, do your makeup, grab your girls, and head to your local bar. With a couple drinks in your system, you might find yourself loosening up and flirting with the hottie at the pool table. Snag his number, and don’t be afraid to have some fun. A few good dates and/or make outs could be exactly what you need to feel beautiful and desirable. However, if you do decide to go the rebound route, I would strongly advise limiting it to one. Have your fun, and move on. You can only run from your feelings for so long, and jumping into a full-fledged fling could just complicate matters.
2. Give yourself a spending limit before you go shopping.
I am one of those girls that shop away their hurt. ‘A new me right? Well then I better get some new shoes! And a new shirt, and a new dress, and this weird pocket knife multi-tool, because why not?’ If you aren’t extremely careful, the next time you check your bank account, you might want to throw up. So decide on an amount that you would be ok with spending to make yourself feel good, at a time when you are not surrounded by all the pretty things.
3. Fill your time.
The last thing you want to do is turn into Elle Woods watching sappy movies and crying into a box of chocolates, while your cuticles run away from you. It is very important to acknowledge your feelings and what you have lost, even have some healthy crying time, but it cannot be all that you do. Go out and do all the things you’ve been wanting to do, but didn’t have time for. Learn a new hobby you’ve always found interesting. Read that book that everyone is talking about. Pour yourself into your career. Do anything to keep yourself busy, your mind occupied, and your emotions un-wallowed in.
Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make us happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands. Or their friends, or their neighbors, or their parents, all of whom are just there to help. (Sorry for all the Legally Blonde references, kind of.) People in your life understand how hard of a situation it is to end a relationship, and they want to be there to help you. The last thing you want to do is bite their head off because you’re cranky or upset. Exercise can boost your mood and improve your days, but it can also help you work on that body that had been put on the backburner while you binged watched Breaking Bad with your now-ex. Well, you’re back on the market, and getting fit and looking hot will certainly help you feel better and improve any low self-esteem issues you may be facing. Plus, it’s good for you and stuff.
5. Surround yourself with friends and family.
Your friends and family care about you and want to be there with you through this hard time. Let them. More than likely, at least one person you are close to has been in a similar situation, and can shed some light on it and offer advice. It is also just incredibly wonderful to be around people you love and who love you, at a time when you might not feel so loved. Chances also are, that while you spent the past however long doing things with your ex, you might have neglected the other important people in your life. If you find this to be the case, use this new single-hood as an opportunity to pour into them and strengthen those relationships.
6. Discover yourself.
Probably my best piece of advice is to really use your free time to discover who you are and who you want to be, especially if you’re young. It is easy to get so caught up in another person that you forget about your own goals and push them to the side. You can get so focused on them or on “us” that you forget about “me.”
To really thrive in a relationship, you have to be comfortable with yourself and sure of yourself as an individual, not reliant on anyone else. So figure it out. What are the major things you want to accomplish in your life? Is your career one that you find fulfillment in, or one that you are doing for the paycheck? What kind of person do you want to be and how can you work on becoming that person? What activities or hobbies have you set aside-or never tried- that you want to develop? Do you have healthy habits? Is there anything new you could learn? The list could literally go on and on and on.
Breakups are hard. There is no two ways about it. But if you set your mind to turning a heartbreak into an accomplishment, and a hard time in your life, into an exciting opportunity for growth, you may find that this could really be one of the best times of your life.