1. The Ex Who Still Loves You For No Discernible Reason. Okay, so you don’t necessarily need this ex around. It’s probably more convenient that anyone who thinks highly of you loses their invite to your pity party, lest they’re compelled to explain — using charts, diagrams, and roleplay — why you’re alone again (despite being a great person, honestly. Why can’t you see that? YOU’RE TEARING ME APART, LISA.) But once you crawl from denial to depression, you’ll appreciate the ex who still loves you for no discernible reason. Even if you never, ever want to sleep with them — or see them, really — ever again. They’re evidence that someone, somewhere has the capacity to love you romantically, that you’re capable of being on decent terms with an ex, and that you’re not cosmically screwed for life. Once you’ve moved on, their affections might as well be coming from a lampshade (you did break up for a reason), but that’s neither here nor there. Let their misguided adoration comfort you in your time of need.
2. A Bartender. I’m not suggesting you self-medicate to deal with the loss of your relationship (LOL of course I am), but bartenders have a lot to offer by way of therapeutic support for someone in your situation. For one thing, they’ve already seen hundreds of patrons through similar dilemmas and so have a unique perspective on philosophical questions like, what went wrong? and how do I retrieve my very expensive vacuum cleaner from his apartment? If that fails, bartenders can get you liquored up and point you in the direction of a single, hot regular or even take you home themselves, as they’re typically attractive (and good listeners!) Just be sure to tip — therapy isn’t free and breakup sex doesn’t pay the bills. It’s not perfect, but it’s the world we live in.
3. A Stranger. Strangers are useful for two things when you’re in the shadow of a recent breakup — taking your mind off of your ex and providing an unbiased analysis of your situation. Your interaction will likely begin with the former: meeting someone new provides at least an hour of processing completely foreign information and stringing it together to form an impression. With your brain engaged and active, thoughts like who’s banging her right now? and dying would be kind of nice take a backseat. As for the latter, strangers will candidly tell you what they think because they have no stake in protecting you or your ex. The people you know are too afraid to tell you that you’re a tad overbearing or that your ex is just a straight up dickwad — but a stranger has no such fear. Their diagnosis will sound relevant and profound to you, even if all they’re doing is stating the obvious.
4. The Person Who Hates Your Ex. This person can be a family member, a friend, someone in your ex’s network, or a paid actor. The only requirement is that they despise your ex to a degree that almost makes you feel sorry for the poor bastard. Almost.
5. Your Friends. There is no better cure-all than time spent with friends. Dance. Drink. Egg a house or two. Even if you accidentally boarded the ship to OMG I’m In A Relationship Now And Don’t Require Friendship Anymore BYEEEEEEE Island, don’t be afraid to let people be there for you in your time of need. At least one of your friends will be happy that you’ve crossed back over from the dark side, and if not? An apology and some good will can go a long way. Redirect the energy you’d spend grieving your ex to nourishing your dilapidated friendships. And if you’ve really blown it, there’s always wine and reruns of Sex and the City?