Snow White Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Laughter, pleasure, malice, and the pursuit of adult fun

Timeline for Getting Over a Bad Relationship

What will it be like if you decide to break up? Can you cope? Will life improve?

You've seen those timelines illustrating the way your health improves from the very moment you stop smoking, right? The facts come from an august group, perhaps the American Cancer Society, and prove that simply stopping something that's bad for you makes life infinitely better. Let’s consider the idea of how leaving a bad boyfriend would improve our lives immediately if we just STOPPED breaking our hearts over him...(I bet this would work for anybody leaving a broken relationship, but I’ll stick with heteronormative since it’s what I can speak to from experience.)

Timeline, with associated benefits, for leaving a rotten relationship:

–Within eight hours: Mascara stops running because fewer tears stream down face. Need for tissues decreases  

–Within twelve hours: Desire to commit mayhem and throw objects decreases. Inability to form sentences not containing swear words improves dramatically. Need to make sarcastic, critical, ironic, malicious, vengeful comments about everything in immediate environment becomes less constant.

–Within 24 hours: Sniffling becomes intermittent. Savage ripping up of photographs increases.

–Within 24 hours: Chance of making pitiful phone calls during the day decreases. Ability to look in the mirror without weeping begins.  Anger  also begins.  Ability to shower and put on clean clothes increases. Need to talk about stuff aside from horror of relationship is almost impossible to stop.(Warn your friends.)

–Within 48 hours: Ability to taste and smell improves. Anger is paired with increasing sense of relief and gradually awakening of self-esteem. Chance of making bitter phone calls in the middle of the night decreases.

–Within seven days: Sleep is possible. Anger becomes tinged with ability to laugh at various relationship miseries. Friends no longer fear hysterical outbursts. Ability to move about in public increases.

–Within two to three months: Circulation improves. Walking, eating, sleeping, exercising  become easier. Chance of calling up erstwhile paramour and slamming down phone without speaking significantly decreases.

–Within one to nine months: Energy increases. Flirting becomes possible. Refusing to re-enter rotten relationship becomes essential. Desire to take courses to prepare for new interests becomes delightful

–Within one year: Excess risk of heartbreak drops to near normal. New interests replace sense of being shackled to the past. Ability to see erstwhile lover in a crowd without gasping and weeping is possible.

–Within two years: Wondering why it was ever such a big deal is typical; big miserable memories turn into little things you barely remember. You might even be able to recall certain moments with a smile, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. The important thing is this: you’re healthy again.  

Gina Barreca, Ph.D., is Professor of English at UConn, and author of It's Not That I'm Bitter: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World.

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