20 Dos and Don’ts After A Breakup
There’s no getting around it: breakups suck!
But on the bright side, they also offer a clear choice in that you can either cry, drunk text, and beg them to come back… or you can stand tall and handle it like the strong, in-control, grown woman you are. Guess which future you will be most proud of?
What should you do immediately after a breakup?
To take the best care possible of your freshly broken heart, it’s important to give yourself time to mourn the end of your relationship. You owe it to yourself to let out your anger, heartbreak, and sadness in any way you want (as long you don’t hurt anyone, including yourself).
“Breakups are sad. Sometimes you’re left with anger. But let yourself have your feelings — all of them. They’re part of grief,” suggests psychotherapist Sandra E. Cohen, Ph.D. “If you can, don’t move on too quickly, even if it seems unbearable to be alone.”
Along with making sure you feel your emotions, this can also mean throwing out your ex’s stuff, making a playlist of sad songs, cutting off contact, and surrounding yourself with your friends or family members who support you.
What do guys typically do after a breakup?
Believe it or not, guys can get just as torn up about the loss of their relationship. While some men will grieve by talking to their support system or laying low, others will go out and seek affection and attention from other people.
But these rebound relationships aren’t meant to last and may end up making them feel even worse.
When you’ve recently ended a relationship, t’s not easy to move forward. But you can get it through it most easily go by focusing on your mental health, treating yourself with kindness and compassion, realizing what you want in a loving relationship, and detaching from your ex altogether. It will certainly take time, but what lies ahead of you is worth it.
Instead of drowning your sorrow in tears, here’s what to do after a breakup to let yourself heal and move on.
12 Things To Do After A Breakup
1. 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.
2. Allow yourself to grieve.
The idea that being vulnerable and emotional are signs of weakness is a fallacy.
The truth is that the 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 any favors either.
Adds Cohen, “Give yourself some time. Time is essential to healing. It is also important for thinking about things that were right or wrong about this relationship. When you’re clear and really ready, open yourself up again.”
3. Cry if you need to.
Breakups are stressful, and research has shown that emotional tears carry stress hormones in them.
Toss on Adele for a night and get it all out. 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-breakup date).
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Focus on what you learned, not on what you lost.
We 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.
7. 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.
Even consider traveling with your friends rather than taking a solo trip. Take a weekend trip with the girls, spend time laughing, and give yourself a chance to feel good with the people you trust most.
8. 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.
9. Give yourself a little tender loving 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.
Relationship coach Deborah Roth explains, “If there was ever a time for radical self-care, it’s after a breakup. Engage in some serious body-love — luxuriate in a bubble bath or get a fabulous mani-pedi.”
10. 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.
11. Be grateful for everything else in your life.
When you wake up, stop your thoughts in their tracks and turn the “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.
12. 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.
What should you avoid doing after a breakup?
The most important thing to not do is try to get your ex back. No matter why you broke up, spare yourself more hurt feelings. Also be sure to not psych yourself out, talk poorly about yourself, mope in excess, date too soon afterward, or not rely on your support system of friends and family.
Now is a good time to use that support system, especially your closest friends.
“Gather your gal-pals around for a ‘welcome to the rest of my life’ party,” Roth suggests. “Don’t spend too much time venting about what a jerk your ex is; instead, let everyone remind you of your best, most fabulous qualities. Just the boost your wounded heart needs right now!”
8 Things Not To Do After A Breakup
1. Don’t send 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 or negative emotions, and sending them all in real-time will only help you lose credibility.
2. Don’t make 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 blond? Wait 90 days (and try on a wig first).
3. 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.
It’s time to focus on filling your life with the things that make you happy and bring you joy, instead of on the reasons they deserve to be miserable.
4. Don’t beg for them to come back.
You’re not only better than that, but you’re also 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.
5. Don’t think in 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.
6. Don’t 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.
7. Don’t start filling in the blanks.
If you noticed that he has become friends with other women and liking photos or you are hearing stories about who he’s seeing, be sure not to start creating stories in your head or taking fantasy as fact.
Besides, remember what we said about his social media. Stop doing that!
8. Don’t see the breakup as a failure.
Lose the idea that you “failed.” Ending a relationship that isn’t right for you is a success that allows you the freedom to find one that is.
“Let yourself mourn the loss of this relationship, whether it’s a good cry (maybe several) or journaling about what you’ll miss the most, but also what you’re glad to be leaving behind,” Roth recommends.