Surviving a relationship breakup can be one of the most difficult things we ever do and, on an emotional level, can be one of the most painful processes in our lives. Losing a boyfriend/girlfriend or a husband/wife can feel like your heart is literally being torn out. It is not unheard of for people to express suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm at ending a relationship. People are not well equipped to deal with breakups because we rarely are taught anything about healthy coping after a breakup.
This article is designed to give you helpful strategies to cope with your breakup in the healthiest way possible.
By using these suggestions, it will not stop you from experiencing the pain of the loss. Instead, it will help you move through the grieving process as quickly as possible and let you move on to ultimately have more satisfying relationships in the future.
How to Get Over a Breakup
1. Don’t fight your feelings
A breakup is often accompanied by a wide variety of powerful and negative feelings, including sadness, anger, confusion, resentment, jealousy, fear, and regret, to mention a few. If you ignore or suppress these feelings, you will likely only prolong the normal grieving process and sometimes get totally stuck in it.
The stages of grieving frequently include shock/denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance—healthy coping means identifying these feelings and allowing ourselves to experience these feelings. As hard as it is, you cannot avoid the pain of loss, but realize that they will decrease over time by experiencing these feelings, and you will speed up the grieving process. Extreme grief feels like it will last forever, but it doesn’t cope in some healthy ways.
Several conditions will likely intensify your negative feelings, including:
- Not being the one who decided to break up.
- Not seeing the breakup coming.
- This being your first serious relationship.
- Your ex is your only real close friend.
- Continuing to run into your ex.
- The relationship has made you feel whole or complete.
- Your ex starting to date someone right away.
- Thinking about your ex being sexual with their new partner.
- Believing that your ex is the only one in the world for you.
2. Openly discuss your feelings
Talking about your feelings related to the breakup is an equally powerful tool to manage them. As we talk to supportive friends and family members, we can come to some new understandings and relieve some of our pain. Holding all of these negative feelings in doesn’t work, although there may be times when this is necessary, such as in public settings, at work, or in class. As we talk to others, we usually discover that our feelings are normal and that others have survived these feelings. Above all else, don’t isolate yourself or withdraw from those people who can give you support.
3. Write out your thoughts & feelings
In addition to talking to others, it can help journal your thoughts and feelings related to the breakup. People are not always available when you need to get out your feelings, and some feelings or thoughts may be too private to feel comfortable sharing with others. The act of writing your feelings out can be very freeing and can often give you a different perspective about them.
4. Understand that breakups are often an inevitable part of dating
Remember that many of our dating relationships will end up in a breakup. This is the very nature of dating. We will be moving in and out of relationships until we find our best match, so expect it.
This way, we won’t feel so devastated when it does happen. Relationships usually end for some good reasons, and they should end if we want to find our most suitable partner. Of course, no match will be perfect, and we have to decide how long to keep looking and what we can live with. Finding a complementary partner is more than love, and therefore, it will likely take many dating relationships to find.
5. Don’t personalize the loss
It is natural after a breakup to blame yourself, but try not to personalize the loss for too long. Much of the pain of a breakup comes from seeing the loss as your fault and regretting your choices while in the relationship. This process of self-blame can go on endlessly if you let it. It is far more helpful to see the ending due to conflicting needs and incompatibilities that are no one’s fault.
Each person in a relationship is trying to get their own needs met, and some couples can help fulfill each other’s needs, and others are not. One of the biggest issues is being able to communicate and negotiate those needs. It’s not easy to learn, so don’t blame yourself and try not to blame your ex. They are likely also doing the best they can, given their personality and life history. No one goes into a relationship to make it fail or hurt the other person.
6. Prioritize basic self-care
Self-care refers to ensuring that your basic needs are being met, even though you may be feeling upset and depressed due to the breakup. You may not feel like eating, but do it anyway, and try to make some healthy choices in what you eat. Give yourself ample time to sleep, particularly since this may be difficult for you.
The short-term use of some herbal alternatives or sleep medications may be necessary to ensure you get the sleep you need. Sleep deprivation will only compound your suffering. Keeping up or starting an exercise routine can also make you feel better both physically and psychologically. Remember, exercise causes the release of endorphins, which can make you feel better.
7. Get back into a routine
Since going through a breakup can create a sense of chaos in many areas of your life, continuing with your routines will give you a better sense of stability or normalcy. Although taking some expectations off yourself temporarily can help, returning to routines shortly after the initial blow can help calm you down and give you a returning sense of control. This might include routines around wake-up and bedtimes, meals, school or work-related activities, exercise, and time with others, to mention a few.
8. Indulge yourself
If there was ever a time to pamper yourself, it is after a breakup. It would help if you did something that will actively make you feel better. Indulgence can take many forms, depending upon what you really enjoy but could include: going to a special restaurant, going to a movie with a friend, having a hot bath, trying a massage, going on a short trip, buying something new, taking the weekend off, taking a yoga class or reading your favorite book.
9. Give yourself some slack
Expect that you will not be functioning at full capacity for a time due to the distress you are experiencing. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to lighten your load for a while. This might mean allowing yourself a break from studying for a while, studying less than you usually would.
It could also mean withdrawing from a class if you’re really struggling or working a lot less in a part-time job for a while. Although
some of these options may sound drastic, they will give you more time to process your loss adequately. It may also mean expecting that your grades will go down and not judging yourself for this.
10. Don’t lose faith in people or relationships
Since you may be feeling very hurt after a breakup, it is easy to assume that all men(or women) are bad or untrustworthy, but this isn’t true. By holding on to this belief, you will deny yourself all kinds of opportunities for a great relationship in the future. We can’t over-generalize from our limited relationship history and assume that it will never work out. Keep shopping! The more people you meet, the greater the chance you will find your best match.
11. Let go of the hope you will get back together
Unless there is solid evidence that you will reunite with your ex, try to let go of this possibility. Bringing closure to the relationship is impossible if you continue to hope that the relationship will be resurrected.
That means don’t wait by the phone for a call, try to e-mail or text them to try to have a little more connection, beg to get back together, or make threats to get them back (i.e., you will commit suicide). These options will only perpetuate your emotional distress in the long term and make you seem desperate, which will further impact your already shaken self-esteem. Life is too short to wait for someone to come back to you after a breakup.
12. Don’t rely on your ex for support or try to maintain a friendship
It’s not helpful to depend on your ex after a breakup, especially to help you overcome the breakup’s pain. It makes it a lot harder to get over someone if you’re continuing to see them or trying to maintain a friendship. After a significant period(i.e., months) of no contact, a friendship might be possible but wait until you’re feeling very emotionally strong again.
13. Avoid unhealthy coping strategies
There are several ways of coping with a breakup that is considered unhelpful and will likely only compound your problems. These include such choices as drinking excessively, doing drugs, overeating, self-harm, gambling excessively, or becoming a workaholic. You may be tempted to do whatever you can to avoid feelings of loneliness and pain, but it is essential to find healthier ways to cope.
14. Make a list of your ex’s annoying qualities
If you have been feeling bad because you keep thinking about how much you miss your ex or how well suited you were to them, it can help make a list of all of their less endearing qualities.
Particularly if you didn’t initiate the breakup, it’s easy to focus on everything about your ex that you will miss, which can only magnify your suffering. If you spend some time reflecting, you may come to see incompatibilities in the relationship that make it easier to let go and come to see that there is likely a better match out there for you.
15. Avoid the temptation to take revenge
The idea of retaliating against someone you feel may have hurt you significantly is very tempting, but making this choice may have unforeseen consequences. Depending on how angry you are, these consequences could lead to criminal charges if you did something like keying their car, stalking them, or damaging other property.
As much as this might feel like a good idea in your height of passion, it only makes you feel more out of control. The closure is promoted when contact of any kind is
16. Examine what you can learn from the relationship
We can learn a lot from all the relationships we have been in, harrowing ones. It’s beneficial after a relationship ends to spend some time thinking about and writing down what you have learned to have better relationships in the future.
However, don’t use this as an opportunity to beat yourself up or blame yourself for the relationship not lasting. Learning promotes growth, while self-blame(i.e., feeling you’re a failure) only extends your suffering.
17. Make a list of all the benefits of being single
Although being single again may be an unwelcome event, if you were not the one who chose to break up, it is worth reminding yourself there are some definite benefits to being single. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- You are now much more able to put your own needs first.
- You will soon have the excitement of dating again, even though this may feel a little
- You will have more control over your daily routines, not having to negotiate these
with someone else.
- You can spend more time with friends and family, who may have been feeling
- You can do some traveling that you might not have been able to do with your
- You can choose jobs outside of the immediate area because your partner isn’t
affecting your choices.
- You can eat what you want when you want to.
- You can go to bed and get up on your own schedule.
- You will meet lots of new people since you now have more time to do so.
- You may now be free of criticism.
- You will have much more individual freedom.
- You have the whole bed to yourself.
- You now have more time to study.
- You can be as messy as you want.
18. Perform a closure ritual
In letting go and grieving the loss, it can be beneficial to have a closure ritual. This could involve such things as writing a letter to yourself or your ex with your final words regarding the relationship, removing all of the photos you have of your ex, or burning some reminders of your exceremonially. This symbolic gesture can be significant if it is well thought out and considers the right timing.
19. Remember that you can survive on your own
It is important after a breakup to remind yourself that you could survive on your own before you entered the relationship, and you will be able to survive on your own now that you’re no longer together. Relationships do not and should not make us whole, even though they are a part of our lives and happiness.
We all need to stand on our own and meet our own needs, regardless of the status of any one of our relationships. Remember, the healthiest relationships are with two people who can meet their own needs.
20. Start dating again
You need to grieve the loss and discover what you can learn from the past relationship, but you also have to move on, which means beginning to date again. Although it is often hard to decide when the best time to date again is, don’t jump right back in and don’t wait forever. Keeping the dating casual at first might be wise, rather than jumping right into a deep, meaningful, long-term relationship.
Dating can help you see many other possible connections out there if you open yourself up to this possibility. More dating will mean more risks, but there is no alternative unless you’re content with living your life without a partner. Some people can be content in relationships with just friends and family, but most people need more than this to feel completely fulfilled.
Featured Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.AlertMe