My first serious relationship ended this past winter, and for the next few weeks of my life, I transformed into a Hormone Monster. Let me tell you: life is pretty bleak when all you have the energy to do is wrap yourself in a blanket burrito and watch Netflix while simultaneously Kleenexing your face and eating Rocky Road ice cream by the pint.
Eventually, I got over both my ex and our break-up — the circumstances that catalyzed our break-up had made it particularly painful. My friends had given me a lot of advice I refused to listen to, as a foolhardy 19-year-old girl who believed she was the first person to ever experience something that awful.
However, hindsight is 20/20, and my friends turned out to be right. These are some of the better break-up pearls of wisdom I received; be smarter than me and listen to these pointers — it’ll make the process much less terrible.
1. Talk about it.
The temptation to repress your feelings regarding your break-up is strong; it might seem as though you’ll feel less sad, angry, or upset if you avoid thinking about it. However, that is a fallacy. You might feel better in the long-term, but when you inadvertently run into them months from now or accidentally find a picture you two took during happier times, you will feel as though someone stabbed you in the gut with a rusty knife.
In order to fully get over any situation, you should talk about it and reason it through. Figure out what went wrong. Reason through it. Understand that it wasn’t your fault — it always takes two. Avoid playing the “what if” game (unless you’re trying to drive yourself crazy). Grab anyone who will listen and vent until you feel yourself feeling better.
2. Depend on and be there for your friends.
One silver lining of any break-up is that you inevitably become closer to your friends. You will probably rely on them a lot for emotional support because you’ve just lost one of the people closest to you. Who else is going to drag you out of your apartment when you’ve been holed up in your room, wearing the same pajamas for three days in a row and writing angst-y poetry that sounds like something straight out of Taylor Swift’s diary?
Go on friend dates. Go to dinner, the movies, or parties with them. You are no longer singularly focusing all of your emotional energy on one other person; take the opportunity to focus it on those around you and become a better friend.
3. Stop speaking to them regularly — at least for a period of time.
If you continue talking to your ex without having gotten over your break-up — even if it is only semi-regularly — you will constantly feel shitty because they will continue to be on your mind. Breaking up with someone means that you can no longer be emotionally involved with him or her in the same way; you can’t turn to your ex for validation and you can’t let him or her use you for validation either. Maybe you two had an umbilical cord of undying communication before you broke up. Maybe you told each other everything — from what you ate for breakfast to something funny your anthropology professor said during class. You don’t get to do that anymore.
Wait until you’ve had some time to heal before you resume communication.
4. Focus your energy on yourself.
One perk of breaking up with someone is that you suddenly have all of this time that you’re no longer spending on or with him or her. Take some of that time and invest it in yourself — whether it be working on self-improvement or taking up a new hobby. Read books. Go the gym. Learn how to speak Japanese. Find something that can sap up some of your energy, serving as a distraction while also making you feel good about yourself.
5. Avoid looking at their social media activity.
The reasoning behind this is very similar to the logic behind #3. We live in the age of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and what-have-you. The problem with social media is that it feeds our greatest fear: that our ex is having fun — no, that our ex is happier — without us. The more time you spend at your desk, refreshing their Facebook page to find out what they’re doing or who they’re hanging out with at any given moment, the more you stunt your emotional growth.
So, hide them from your News Feed. Un-follow them for a little while. It might seem petty, but you will thank yourself for it later.
6. Don’t hook up with them again.
It’s easy to hook up with an ex. You already know what they like, and you already feel comfortable with them. In addition, chances are that you’re still attracted to them — even though it would be so much easier if you weren’t. Don’t hook up with them after you’ve broken up. Just don’t do it, no matter how tempting it seems. Doing so is like ripping open the delicate scab that has just begun to form over the gash they slashed in your heart. You will continue to feel attached to them, and it will just take longer for you to get over them.
7. Don’t immediately look for a rebound.
We all know the serial dater — the person who jumps straight into one relationship from another. This probably isn’t the healthiest break-up tactic: more often than not, it means that you’re placing your self-worth in the state of being with another person. When you do this, it means that each subsequent time it doesn’t work out after your Big Kahuna of a break-up, you will end up feeling worse about yourself.
Learn how to be alone first. Learn how to make yourself happy instead of relying on other people to make you happy. Learn how to depend on yourself before you allow yourself to depend on someone else.
8. When you feel ready, date casually.
They say that one of the best ways to get over someone is to get under someone else. While this isn’t wholly true, it can help the process — as long as you aren’t trying to become emotionally involved with someone too soon after your break-up (see #7). Dating casually — or even hooking up casually — can help you regain some of the confidence that you probably lost after your break-up. Though you can’t depend on external validation, it’s nice to feel wanted and to know that other people want you.
9. Get rid of their stuff.
Maybe you love to sleep in their old Cowboys jersey. Or all of the pretty jewelry they bought you seems too nice to throw out. First, screw the Cowboys. Second, keeping their stuff is unnecessary emotional masochism. It will only serve to remind you of them and the memories you shared, which you may be able to look back upon with fondness in the future but certainly not before you’ve gotten over the break-up.
Do yourself a favor and toss out their stuff — even the really expensive necklace they bought you from Tiffany’s for your birthday. Think of it as emotional cleansing. Just as you’ve purged them from your life, purge all of the stuff that came with them.
10. Know that it gets better.
You will find yourself thinking about them less and less. Sometimes, you will go whole days — and then whole weeks — without thinking about them. You will forget all of the details of their life that seemed so significant when you loved them — their favorite brand of cereal or the funny way they pronounced the word “milk.” You will even forget the exact color of their eyes (trust me).
When it feels shitty, it feels shitty and you’ll just have to tough it out. But one day, you will wake up and all the pain and anger you harbored during the bleakest moments of your break-up will have disappeared.
And you will feel whole again.
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image – The Break Up