At 37, I’ve been through enough breakups to last a lifetime – Seriously, it’s kind of depressing.

Whatever the situation or reason for a relationship ending, breakups suck hard. It’s why self-healing, rebuilding and repairing, is so important to find peace. Hard to put into practise though. I’ve frequently prolonged a painful breakup by delaying the process.

But from experience, keeping my self-respect and dignity as a top priority after a breakup has got me there a whole lot quicker. So this is a little therapeutic outpouring from me to you about how I’ve tried to handle a post breakup situation – by keeping my dignity firmly intact. Because keeping my dignity after going through a breakup is an act of self-care I know I need to show myself.

“If you have to speculate if someone loves you and wants to be with you, chances are they don’t. It’s not that complicated. Love, in most cases, betrays the one feeling it. Don’t waste moments waiting and wondering. Don’t throw away your time dreaming of someone that doesn’t want you. No one is that amazing, certainly not the one who would pass you up.”

— Donna Lynn Hope, Author

Pursue mode

“How can I get them back?” We’ve all been there at one time or another, right? Facing that immediate urge to reason and essentially bargain with the Ex on why they are making a mistake, which often has us falling into the, ‘How can I win them back?’ approach. But the question really isn’t what should we be doing to remind them of how amazing we are. Or of all the good times we shared. How much we loved them. The real question is, What should they be doing to win us back?

What should they be doing to acquire our trust again? How should they be showing us that they love and care? What should they be doing to reaffirm that we are valued by them? Now take a moment to ask, What are they doing!?

If they are not doing any of these things, then why are we still chasing them? We absolutely do not need to beg, plead, explain or reason with anyone to obtain or continue their love for us. If we are the only one putting energy into a reunion, we’re just playing a game of Tag alone. And that means we have to love ourselves enough to let them go. We are worth more than that.

“She loved him like a soulmate, he forgot her like an idea.”

Continuing to sleep with them

Trust me, you’ll probably regret it. Because they aren’t interested in all of you but they will still take what you put on the table. Sex isn’t going to win them back. But it will make the painful process of a breakup even worse by adding inconsistent and confusing situations into the mix when you’re already vulnerable, hurting, seeking comfort and so possibly not in the best mindset for making healthy decisions.

We all miss sex, that’s natural. We might even have had the best sex of our life with them! (To date, may I add …). But there really are plenty more fish in the sea and often we don’t need a lot of bait to hook a catch. We can fulfil our desires elsewhere. Because honestly, that emotional attachment to an Ex makes sex with them a loaded gun. And we are only going to receive another gunshot wound to the heart. 

Invest in self

Breakups are emotional and there are a whole heap of feelings to process. Just one of them being losing not only a stable relationship we used to be able to rely upon, but a friendship too. But our ex cannot be the reason for the breakup, and also our support in getting through it. That transition from having that partner as part of our life, to not, really hurts. However cause and remedy don’t usually come from the same place. Respectfully, consider cutting off all contact and making it clear that the relationship status with them has changed, permanently.

Do things that will positively affect your life

Delete their number. Unfriend on social media. Don’t call, message or snap chat. Avoid scrolling through old messages and photos or dropping by somewhere you know they hang out regularly. Whatever you do, do it because you know that whilst you might like not like the actions you’re taking, investing in you and taking care of yourself really is a healthy way to retain your dignity after the breakup and give yourself space and time to grieve without their involvement.

Friends with Ex benefits  

Maybe they want to be friends still. Or they get a few months down the road after the breakup and realise they want us back in their life in some way. Maybe they just want some of the perks but not the whole relationship package? Whatever the reasons, they’re thinking about themselves. Which is why we have to think about what’s right for us. Keep that respect solely for you by ensuring that you’re the priority for yourself, and you’re not prioritising someone else’s wants or needs.

Don’t continue a friendship or try and retain one if you deep down want more. Be really honest with yourself. You need time to process and figure out what you want. Trying to be friends immediately complicates your healing. It’s hard to let go and move on when switching from a romantic relationship to an instant friendship.

If there is a long-term friendship there, then a little space and time to get everything straight in your head won’t change anything. The friendship will be waiting when you’re ready for it.

But if they make a sudden appearance months down the road, your warning signs should be flashing for a number of reasons:

  1. They chose to end the relationship and at the time, didn’t express a want to retain a friendship. They disappeared when it suited them, and if they’re reappearing on their own terms too, this is incredibly selfish and one-sided. Who needs a friend like that?
  2. You. Deserve. Better. Point blank. I cannot stress this enough. You deserve better than what you’ve been feeling, experiencing, and going through. And these feelings were all caused by the person you are considering a friendship with again. Seriously, who needs a friend like that?

“Don’t you dare, for one more second, surround yourself with people who are not aware of the greatness that you are.”

— Jo Blackwell-Preston, CEO

They will probably come a’knocking

It can take up to six months for some guys to start missing you and regret ending the relationship. But a breakup is a pretty big deal. We can love someone, miss them, but sometimes they were still not supposed to be in our life. We can leave the door unlocked if we are not in the mindset to throw away the key just yet, but do make sure that it is firmly shut. And at the very least that there is a firm wedge under it. Because we are hence forth demanding full notification via a door bell and a solid knock before we even entertain the idea of opening it.

However if they do come a knocking, by that time we will be able to look through the peeper whilst reminding ourselves that there are a lot of other doors out there. So we do not need to keep going through the same entrance and tripping over that damn step every time. There will be one that doesn’t have cracks in the pavement and sends you arse over tit before you even saw the obstacle.

Dating again

I’ve done a fair amount of rebound dating in my time and whilst a whole lot of fun, they’ve also been a not so great way of complete avoidance in dealing with the emotional trauma of a breakup. Distraction, in my experience, doesn’t lead to mental or emotional healing. Because you just can’t connect with someone when you’re still not over somebody else.

There isn’t a hard and fast rule of appropriate time after a breakup to begin dating. But recognising that we need time to heal, and placing importance on self-care. Finding ways to love ourselves on our own and be happy, and dating for a relationship only when we are mentally and emotionally available to do so, are ways that we can make sure the next match is a better fit.

Be your own champion

Similarly, whilst there are others out there who can fit the criteria – and do a much better job than our ex. Be your own champion. The protagonist of your novel. This breakup was just a chapter of your life, you’ve still got the whole book left to discover. And a big positive part of a relationship ending is having time to commit to yourself entirely.

I’ve found that the more time I’ve spent on the relationship I have with myself, the easier it is to handle a breakup with my dignity intact. Because I know what I deserve, and if that person didn’t see how fucking amazing I am, if I was too much for them, then they can respectfully go find less.

What’s Next?

Breakups are tough and carry an overwhelming sea of emotions. And I know it’s hard to comprehend, but we really don’t know what is around that corner. If this breakup was unexpected, then consider that so too is what tomorrow might bring. And whilst today we are hurting, that is not our tomorrow. Tomorrow could make us smile, lift our heart, make us laugh and bring new possibilities. And each day will heal, one piece at a time. And from experience, keeping that dignity intact after a breakup will get you there a whole lot quicker.

Learn to forgive yourself, for every time that you acted against what you deserved – because you put someone else first. For each night that you spent wiping tears that dampened your pillow over people who couldn’t take care of your heart. Learn to forgive yourself for being soft in a world that didn’t know what to do with a soul like yours. For taking time to learn that love is not pain. That love does not make you uncomfortable. Love is not unsure about you … with forgiveness comes faith that you know what’s right for you from now on, and you will never accept anything less than what you deserve.”

— Ruby Dhal, Author

By Amy Roullier
By Amy Roullier

Amy is the Founder and Editor of The Authentic Optimist. She talks all things life. From the highs to the lows, to all those messy bits in-between. She is a writer, rambler, lover of carbs (her true soulmate) and she is especially passionate about dispelling myths about women in their 30s. Amy lives in Lincolnshire with her two greyhounds.

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