There’s no getting around it: breakups suck. They also offer a clear choice in that you can cry, drunk text and beg them to come back … or you can stand tall and handle it like the badass, in-control, grown-ass-woman you are. Guess which one future you will be most proud of?
Here’s what you absolutely must do after a breakup.
- Cut off all contact.
You don’t have to cut them out or go silent forever, but if the romantic relationship is really over, let it be over. You’re going to need to re-balance and re-enter your own life as a single person. Besides, let’s be realistic — unless two people sit down and both agree they want out of a romantic relationship, someone is likely hurt and longing for more.
Asking them to hop into the friend zone immediately (or expecting this of yourself) is really unfair. It could also create scenarios that make a real friendship impossible down the line.
- Allow yourself to grieve.
The idea that being vulnerable and emotional is a sign of weakness is a fallacy. The truth is that a loss of someone you love (and the future you had envisioned with them) is really hard. Allow yourself to feel what you feel without judgment and move through it at a reasonable pace that feels right to you.
While you don’t want to get stuck in a depressive state, pushing yourself to “get over it” won’t do you many favors either.
- Go on, bawl your eyes out.
Breakups are stressful and research has shown that emotional tears carry stress hormones in them. Toss on Adele for a night and get that sh*t OUT of you. Better to let them pour than to have them seeping out of you at awkward, random times (at your desk, on the subway, on your first post break-up date).
- Take off the rose-colored glasses.
Yes, there were “good times” or you likely wouldn’t have been in the relationship. But if your ex is selfish, immature, emotionally inept, or a great person who just wasn’t a good long-term fit, forgetting that isn’t going to work to your benefit in the long run.
- Don’t send him long-winded emails or text messages, drunk or sober.
Write them out and delete them, or send them to a trusted friend and talk about it. You’re likely feeling quite a few conflicting emotions and sending them all in real time will only help you lose credibility.
- Remember that it’s not about winning.
Not in terms of getting them back or making them sad. It’s about being the best you in your best life because you deserve that. Wish them well and remember they are no longer a part of the equation.
- Avoid making any drastic changes to your appearance.
Want a new lipstick or to try a new nail color? Go for it. Thinking of chopping your hair or dying your hair black from blonde? Wait 90 days (and try on a wig first).
- Focus on what you learned, not on what you lost.
People all have wisdom to share and even the relationships that don’t last forever are meaningful. Focus on how you’ve grown, what you’ve learned, and what you’re grateful for.
- Don’t become a super-angry and bitter breakup cliché.
Yes, they may have screwed you over, lied to you, broken your heart or betrayed your trust, but being angry with them isn’t going to make them sorry or a better person. In fact, it will just make you unpleasant to be around, even if alone. Focus on filling your life with the things that make you happy and bring you joy instead on the reasons they deserve to be miserable.
- Don’t beg for them to come back.
You’re not only better than that, you’re too smart for it! It never works and only makes you look like you don’t value yourself. Someone who wants (and deserves) to be with you will fight for you, not argue against your desire to work things out.
- Lean on your friends.
You may not want to go to the club and pop bottles, but you can certainly have them over, open a bottle of wine and watch a comedy, which will remind you that you do still have love and laughter in your life.
- Remember that someone not wanting to be with you doesn’t make them a bad person (and vice versa).
Don’t be angry at someone for simply not wanting to continue the relationship. We all have a right to leave something that isn’t right for us.
Relationships don’t always last and no one should feel as though they need to convince someone to stay committed.
- See this as a success.
Lose the idea that you “failed.” Ending a relationship that isn’t right for you allows you the freedom to find one that is.
- Avoid irrational absolutes.
The worst thing you can do is sit on your couch and convince yourself that this is proof you will A) never find love, B) can’t trust anyone, C) never meet anyone in time for ____, or D) die alone.
- Do NOT stalk their social media.
You don’t have to unfriend them, but you can unfollow them or even tell them that you need to delete them until you’re ready to be friends (if ever that happens). You’ll likely be tempted to look and “see what they’re up to” or go through their photos, which is emotional cutting at best.
- It’s all about self-care.
Once, during a breakup (breakdown), I texted my good friend who suggested that I spend a large chunk of time focusing my energy on pampering and loving myself. It sounds silly, but getting a manicure, giving myself a facial and popping in for a massage really did make me feel better.
- Do something to enhance the lives of those around you.
It can be tempting to fall into the rabbit hole and wallow in self-pity, but now is the perfect time to give. Volunteer for the less fortunate, offer to watch your neighbor’s newborn while she takes a much-needed nap, or simply send thank you notes to the people in your life who always have your back.
- Be grateful for everything else in your life.
When you wake up, stop your thoughts in their tracks and turn the “OMG, how will I live without them?” thoughts into “I’m grateful for the life I achieved without them” thoughts. Then, say at least five things you’re grateful for. You’ll feel better, guaranteed.
- Do not start filling in the blanks.
If you noticed that he has become friends with other women, is liking photos or are hearing stories, do not start creating stories and taking fantasy as fact. Besides, remember what we said about his social media. Stop doing that!
- Remember that these feelings are temporary.
You may not believe it, but you will get through this. This isn’t your first heartbreak and I’m sorry to say that it may not be your last. We all go through highs and lows in life, and if he or she were really your “great love” they wouldn’t be able to walk away.