Recently I went through a breakup and it totally sucked. So now at 36, I’ve become what I can only describe as a begrudged expert in moving on from the latest relationship catastrophe.
So how do you recover after someone breaks up with you? Moving on, healing, keeping your dignity and recovery after a breakup are all about processing the trauma and making sure you are the priority right now. Because although it might not feel like it in this moment, life is going to be okay. And to help get you there, this is my little therapeutic piece on my own breakup recovery. With a few learned tips in the form of a cathartic outpouring.
1. It is OK, to not be OK
This sounds like fairly uninspiring advice as I write it. But the reality is that often people expect you to get over a breakup far quicker than you’re able too. You’re told to get back on the horse or pull yourself together before you’ve had a chance to process the end of a relationship you truly valued. Everyone tells you ‘time is a healer’. That’s all well and good, but it’s perfectly okay to spend some of that time with the curtains shut, curled up in a ball and letting it all out if you need to. It is OK to feel like this and to give yourself time to process. It is OK to cry, to feel sad and to grieve. A breakup is a painful experience. You have emotions and it’s okay to express them. It is OK to not be OK.
2. Invest in finding comfort
Don’t feel bad for listening to sad songs, reading books on breakups, or finding solace in other people’s inspirational quotes. Do what you need to do to find comfort. Listening to or reading words from other people that can relate to how you are feeling right now offers comfort and support. So stick on that Joni Mitchell record and don’t feel guilty about it for a damn second.
3. Sleep, eat & exercise
I have two extremes when recovering from a breakup; I’m either reaching for a family size tub of Ben and Jerry’s or forgetting to eat altogether. Anyone else do this?. If it’s the latter, I try hard to make small portions and eat often, just concentrating on getting some fuel in my body so I’m able to keep functioning properly. If it’s the former, I just go for it because a week of Ben & Jerry’s isn’t going to kill me. Sleep and exercise also offer a variety of health benefits and exercise actually aids sleeping patterns, boosting endorphins which in turn alleviates depression, reduces stress and anxiety and boosts self-esteem. All major feel good factors for recovery post breakup.
“We have to be whole people to find whole love.”— Cheryl Strayed, Writer
4. Talk & share with supportive people
When it comes to recovering from a breakup, those friends are all over it. So take advantage of people who want to support you. Your friends are your biggest ambassadors in reminding you how strong you are, even if you are crying on their shoulder as they are saying it. They know damn well that you are going to pick yourself back up again and they will be there every step of the way.
5. Book a trip away or go & experience something new
Whilst it is perfectly okay to draw the curtains, snuggle into bed and ignore the world for a while, making plans really does help with that post breakup healing and recovery. Because they offer a mental break from a sometimes self-destructive state of focusing solely on the breakup. Okay so you may not be the life and soul of the party right now and you might want to cancel those plans last minute. But creating new memories will keep you uplifted. Interaction with the world once again will help you feel a little more like yourself, day by day. And those experiences will help heal your heart little by little.
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”— M. Kathleen Casey, Politician
6. Avoid the bad relationship cycle
When going through a breakup, that sudden absence of a person who gave you a steady presence can be one of the most painful parts of all. That loss of frequent messages and interaction with someone you cared about can leave you feeling incomplete. And I’ve learned that if you try to fill that void by searching for someone else too quickly, it is only likely to make you choose the wrong relationship and end up months or years down the line feeling unfulfilled and incomplete once more. The only way to avoid the bad relationship cycle post breakup, is to focus on making you happy. By yourself and for yourself.
7. Set firm boundaries
I have been asked many times, “Should I be friends with an Ex?”. My first question is always, “Why would you want to be?” ‘’One of the worst outcomes of a breakup is an on-again, off-again, ambiguous limbo relationship, which almost always leads to worsening heartache.’’ Unless there is a necessary reason for doing so – such as children are involved – I’d recommend staying away from friendships with an Ex. It is often an unhealthy prolonging of your healing and recovery post breakup and you are just offering opportunity for them to abuse the friendship and hurt you again.
I know it’s hard to let go. And that friendship would mean they still get to exist in your life and be a part of it in some way. But, setting firm boundaries removes situations where you stay in contact hoping they remember how amazing you are and that this then leads to more. Because if you still want them back, a platonic friendship is probably going to end up a romantic limbo relationship that isn’t going to help you move on.
8. Start dating again
Avoiding a bad relationship cycle is one thing, but dating is a whole different ball game and there are a lot of fun times to be had with rebounding. Everyone requires a different period of time to heal after a breakup of course. And only dating when you feel comfortable to do so is key. But there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun. And when you’re ready to date seriously again? Do it because you want to, and not because you’re dulling the pain of the breakup. Not because of revenge and not for anything other than you being ready to go out there and see what life has got to throw at you.
UPDATE: I’ve been single for a while now and I have to say, it’s working out. I may not be single forever. I will probably delve into dating again one day. But right now, in this moment, I am happily single, and falling head over heels in love with dating myself. And every time I think I might be ready to start dating again, I also feel a stronger urge to continue focusing on myself.
What steps have you used to recover after a breakup? I’d love to know (Like seriously, I’m obviously TERRIBLE at relationships)