According to The Byrds, “to everything there is a season…a time to laugh, a time to weep...a time to dance a time to mourn.” When it comes to romantic relationships this sentiment could not be any more accurate. There is a time to love and a time to let go. The truth is that despite your wisdom, your relationship prowess and your overall awesomeness you will likely face one or more breakups throughout your life. It is no secret that breakups can ignite some of the most intense emotions from red-hot wrath; to sickening sorrow; to frigid loneliness. While the aftermath of a recent breakup can seem agonizing, the end of your relationship doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Letting go the right way will prepare you for all of the love and positive experiences that await you. Here are the best do’s and don’ts to ensure that your broken heart heals with the least amount of permanent scarring:
Don’t stay in contact with your ex after the breakup;
Do keep in touch with your friends on a regular basis
After the initial breakup discussion and the obligatory swapping of personal belongings you should make a clean break. Even if you think there is a chance that you and your ex could be friends in the future it’s best to take significant time apart until both of your passions have cooled. If you were the one who ended the relationship don’t call to see how your ex is holding up. Continuing to make contact with the person you dumped will stifle his or her healing process and it will make moving on more complicated for you as well. If you were the dumpee it will be better for both of you if you don’t make up excuses to text your ex every night. Even if you think he or she still has your favorite Taylor Swift CD or your Chicago Bulls hat that you “can’t find,” let it go and buy a new one.
If the two of you continue communicating on a regular basis you will end up in an emotional limbo. Also, if you attempt a friendship too soon it could lead to the two of you hooking up which will inevitably result in hurt feelings. Even if you don’t end up hooking up, if your ex remains a part of your life you will drive yourself to the brink of insanity wondering if he or she is seeing someone new. You won’t be able to fully focus on healing and moving on but you will instead exert unnecessary energy on balancing the emotions that come with transitioning from boyfriend and girlfriend to “just friends.” Don’t put yourself through the agony. Nothing good can come of it. If it is meant for you and your former partner to be friends at a later point it will happen naturally but right now it is likely that your desire for your ex’s friendship is just residual romantic feelings for that person.
While it’s best not to keep your ex as a friend during the healing process it is important to have friends that you check in with on a regular basis. You should have a safety person that you can call whenever you feel the urge to contact your ex even if it’s at 2am. It is normal to be needy during a breakup just make sure you are leaning on the appropriate people for support. Your friends and family will help you heal; relying on your ex for emotional support will only deepen the wound.
Don’t pretend it’s all sunshine and roses when really it’s darkness and thorns;
Do allow yourself time to mourn the loss of the relationship
Although it’s wise not to drop into fetal position under your cubicle and cry hysterically at work, it is best not to bury your feelings under a perpetual fake smile. If you are not in the best of spirits admit to yourself and to those who are close to you that what you are going through hurts. Suppressing your true emotions instead of expressing them will only lead to a deeper and less predictable pain down the road.
To prevent yourself from dragging around emotional baggage indefinitely, in the beginning stages of healing, take some time to yourself and let your emotions run their course. Lie in bed for a day or two and cry. Go to the gym and unload your anger on a punching bag or on the tennis court. Write cathartic songs or poetry. Vent in a journal. Talk to your best friend, your parents or your therapist/life coach. Listen to your favorite breakup songs including “Brokenhearted” by Brandy and Wanya Morris; “It All Gets Better in Time” by Leona Lewis; “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” by Madonna; “Nothing Compares 2U” by Sinead O’Connor; and “Me Myself and I” by Beyonce. Allow yourself to wallow, sulk and mourn but only for a limited time. After you have given yourself adequate time to release your unpleasant emotions, be sure to seek out people and activities that make you feel good.
Don’t curl up with a bottle of wine and watch romantic comedies;
Do grab your favorite comfort food and engage in inspirational dramas, slapstick comedies and intense thrillers
As you progress through the healing process you may be looking for ways to take your mind off of the breakup but you may not feel like going out just yet. A movie night is the perfect activity to engage in as you prepare to move on. While you may want to numb yourself by downing a bottle of wine it is best to avoid alcohol until you are feeling better. Alcohol is a depressant, it will slow you down and it may intensify the negative emotions you are feeling not to mention give you a hangover. It’s best to heal holistically rather than with substances.
And although the clichéd way to get over a breakup is by indulging in romantic movies, in reality watching movies that glorify relationships will only make you yearn to be in one. There is a time and a place for romantic movies which will be discussed in an upcoming post about getting out of your anti-dating rut. But for now, as you are trying to move on from your recent breakup, partake in movies that are so engaging that they will temporarily distract you from what’s going on in your life. Try an inspirational drama such as, “Pursuit of Happiness”; or a silly comedy like “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”; or an edge of your seat cop thriller like “Training Day.” None of these movies center around romantic relationships and they are enthralling enough to provide a brief mental escape. And while binge eating isn’t recommended, go ahead and treat yourself to some comfort food. Although movie nights are great for awhile remember to eventually get out of the house and associate with other people.
Don’t go to the gentlemen’s club or the male revue;
Do go to a sporting event or out for live music
One of the best ways to begin to feel better is to get out on the town and socialize with your friends. Going out can be fun and uplifting if you choose the right place. Avoid the gentlemen’s club and the male revue. Indulging in lap dances from sexy, semi-nude entertainers may seem like the perfect way to get over a breakup but in all actuality it will just make you feel sexually frustrated and lonely which is the last thing you need while you are healing.
Instead, get dressed in your favorite sports gear, go out to the game and really let loose as you root for your team. If you’re a music lover, check out a new band and sing; dance; twerk; “get-low”; head-bang; skank; crowd surf; and raise the roof (yes people still do that). Do whatever it is that makes you feel alive. When you’re out your main objective should be to blow off steam and enjoy yourself with your friends but don’t be afraid to engage in some harmless flirting if you see someone who catches your eye. While flirting with a few cuties may be helpful as you get over your breakup, going home with someone or immediately hunting for a new significant other is counterproductive. Behave accordingly.
Don’t immediately jump into a new relationship;
Do take time to yourself to heal and grow as a person
It is common knowledge that rebounds rarely work out but when you are in the throes of a bad breakup finding someone new may seem like the best medicine. In truth, bouncing from relationship to relationship without taking some time off in between has multiple downfalls. First, it’s not fair to the potential new person. When you are fresh out of a relationship you may still have residual feelings for your ex. If you are still consumed by anger or longing for your former partner you won’t be able to focus on your new partner in the way that he or she deserves.
Secondly, if you start a new relationship without taking the time to figure out why the first relationship didn’t last you are bound to repeat the same mistakes. Of course you shouldn’t over analyze the minutia of what you could’ve and should’ve done but you should take a step back to mentally acknowledge how you contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. Also, think about what qualities you want to avoid in a partner next time around. Figure out what are your new deal breakers and pet peeves you’ve discovered from this last relationship. Take note of the characteristics that are still top priority for you to find in a mate. If you don’t take inventory before you start something new you will have no way of knowing how to correct your approach and you may slip into a pattern of dating the same type of person all over again and going through yet another breakup.
Finally, being single is an opportunity for you to build the most important relationship you will ever have in your life which is your relationship with yourself. It is good to take some time out to cater to your own wants and needs without worrying about a significant other’s needs for awhile. Now is the time to pick up the new hobby you have been putting off because you were too busy. You can also put more time into your career. Now that you’re single you’ll be more inclined to put yourself out there to make new friends and reconnect with old ones that you may have inadvertently neglected during your relationship with your ex. If you take time to heal and grow before looking for someone new you will enter your next relationship with more confidence, a deeper sense of self-awareness and a better chance at succeeding next time.
Don’t expect to feel better over night;
Do set realistic goals throughout the healing process
Even if you are the most zen, “glass half full,” “I Will Survive” kind of person recovering from a breakup takes time. Despite popular belief there is no mathematical formula that determines when you will be completely over your breakup. Some days will be better than others. You may have a few days in a row where you feel invincible followed by a night where you feel like you are broken beyond repair. It is imperative to keep reminding yourself that just like everything else in life this breakup will pass. Think back to all of the other times in your life when you thought you were enduring the worst hardship in history. It is likely that now that time has passed those past heartaches and hardships don’t feel quite so traumatic. In due time, the same will be true for this breakup.
Keep planning events for the future to remind yourself to look forward. Is your favorite band releasing a new CD in a few months? Mark it on a calendar and tell yourself that by the time the CD comes out you will feel 10 times better about the breakup. Plan little things every week like a trip to the library to check out a book you have been interested in reading. Remind yourself that by the time the book is due back to the library you will be that much further along in the healing process. Continue to gently push yourself forward. Take note of what time of year it is during your breakup, is it the holidays or the beginning of summer or are the leaves just starting to change color? Just think about how much stronger you will be by the time whatever is happening with the seasons now happens again. For everything there is a season. There is a time to hurt and a time to move on. By this season next year your life may be even better than you could have imagined. Keep your head up.
Please share your favorite breakup songs as well as techniques you have used to successfully progress through the healing process.
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