How to Want to Get Over a Breakup
Cry. Wallow. Repeat. Now, change your life.
Posted May 23, 2011 | Reviewed by Matt Huston
- Science shows that music has therapeutic effects, including lowering one's heart rate, reducing pain, and relieving stress.
- Researchers have found that verbalizing one's feelings mitigates sadness and anger.
- Getting outside and moving can help alleviate depression: Studies show that nothing reduces stress as well as Mother Nature does.
Before I even begin to address this topic, I should tell you that there are more than 3.19 million results for this search, according to Google—and a lot of them are written by psychological professionals, not valley girls with alleged brains. I've read multiple help guides, but sometimes, it seems like these so-called experts have no idea what mourning a relationship is like. You're not just dealing with grief about the demise or the romance, but you are also sometimes grappling with pretty awful feelings of self-pity, loathing, and helplessness.
I've decided to write about my own step-by-step healing process, featuring steps that I (or close friends) have personally followed with success. Keep in mind that nothing changes and nothing gets better in life unless you want it to get better, which means you're going to have to make some active changes. This guide explains these changes and why you need to make them.
Just a warning: You will cry, a lot. Especially, if you're the one being dumped. Sorry. That's life. Now, let's begin.
- Cry. Cry until your face turns tomato red and you can't breathe or you start hyperventilating. Cry until your stomach hurts and you and the supermarket have run out of Kleenex. Get the tears out of your system, as soon as possible. You don't need those repressed feelings to erupt later on the day of your wedding.
- Listen to a really good breakup mix. Science shows that music has therapeutic effects, including lowering your heart rate, reducing pain, and relieving stress. Plus, listening to music is a great way to spend your time not talking. I recommend Chiara Atik's "Get Over Your Breakup in 47 Minutes With Our Play List" play list on How About We.
- Feel numb. This isn't really a suggestion, but something that I should tell you is inevitable. You'll actually say this to your friends a lot: "I feel numb." Other variations include, "I feel dead," "I don't feel anything anymore," or "I'm broken." It's okay. Feel numb. But realize that deep down, you will feel a swift kick in the ass. I'm just saying.
- Talk it out. Your friends will try to console you and be there to listen. Do it. In fact, I'd be surprised if you even have any other conversation topics at the moment, right? Complain, cry again, feel sorry for yourself, be angry, be sad, be whoever and whatever you want. According to UCLA researchers, even though we may feel like we don't discover any new brilliant insights, verbalizing your feelings still does mitigate sadness and anger.
- Set a time limit to wallow. This doesn't mean you have 10 minutes to grieve, but you should think about wanting to feel better with your life, which means eventually moving on with it. Some people calculate the appropriate mourning period as ½ the length of the relationship. It depends on you, so make sure you are comfortable with your decision. Do not change the date, no matter what. Even if you're miserable on that day, you must still commit to making positive changes in your life—think of it as Maury sending you to boot camp.
- Assess the relationship. If you were the victim of a drive-by dumping, as so many of us are, think about the reasons your partner cited for ending the relationship. Do you agree? Are they legitimate? Was he/she blaming you? This is the tough part, where you have to acknowledge that your partner wasn't happy. (Were you?)
- Try to reconcile (if you want to). This may be a surprising suggestion, since most experts will tell you to cut him or her out (Joey Gladstone style), completely, which means no texts, no wall posts, no tweets, and definitely no late-night stalking. Still, I believe in trying to reconcile—but only once. So make sure you come up with and execute a really good plan. Reconciling means that both of you are going to give the relationship another shot; this does not mean one last sexual tryst or a booty call. In my own experience, 99 percent of the time, reconciling doesn't work. Instead, it leads to more confusion, anger, and hurt, which is why you only get one chance to make a fool out of yourself.
- Stop staring at the phone. All I do after a breakup is stare at the phone. When I'm not staring at it, I'm throwing it against the wall, because the ex isn't calling. Sometimes I hear my phone ringing and run in a frenzy to pick it up, only to find that it is my mom telling me that I should wear a jacket today because it's cold. What I do to remedy my phone addiction is delete the number and shut it off or keep the phone on silent. People always say that they need to keep their phones on in case of an emergency. What about your mental health and sanity? Aren't they important enough?
- End the virtual stalking, too. Don't tell me checking your ex's Facebook profile is totally harmless because it's not. It can harm you, especially when you notice that your ex has changed his status from "in a relationship" to "single" in the amount of time it took you to log on to the site. Don't delete him as a friend (it's petty and makes him think that you're a mess, which even if you are, you don't want him to know, right?). Instead, just block his profile, so none of his updates show up on your feed. Also, block him on Gchat, iChat, Skype, and any other communication network. Talking to someone who doesn't reciprocate your romantic feelings is agonizing, especially when it seems that the ex has moved on before you. So if you contact him or he contacts you, you are only torturing yourself and basically saying that you don't want to feel better. One day, you and your ex may be able to become friends again, but not now. Sorry.
- Remember the bad times. Think about that time he took the last bite of pizza, even though you were starving. Or recall those shady text messages you found in his phone. And don't forget about that time he threw up all over your bed and made you clean the sheets. Now, think about your future—10 or 20 years from now, imagine yourself in those same awful situations. How does it make you feel? Be thankful that you will never have to experience those moments again.
- Go outside. When I'm depressed, the last thing I want to do is exercise. In fact, I hate moving from my bed at all. Still, studies show that nothing reduces stress as well as Mother Nature does. Walk your pets, go jogging, dig a hole to China. Whatever you do, make sure you're getting fresh air and experiencing some sunlight.
- Go out. Okay. This can be a difficult step, but once you get here, it means that you're ready to return to your normal self. Channel that person you were before you were in a committed relationship. You were cool, attractive, funny, and outgoing. Be that person or fake being that person, it really doesn't matter. But you do have to eventually make your way back into society. You're scared. I've been there too. But the really nice thing is, that for the most part, society hasn't changed much. And neither have you.
- Love yourself. Just because someone has stopped loving you or doesn't love you enough, it doesn't mean that you are not deserving of finding love. One of my favorite quotes is from Lucille Ball: "Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world." (It's no wonder why we loved her.) And by loving yourself, I mean being good and kind to your body and your mind. As an acting teacher always used to say, "Don't beat yourself up."
- Take a trip. Whether it's to the beach, the mountains, on a road trip, or a day at Disneyland, get away from your current environment. Go solo, take a friend—it doesn't matter. You may not feel better right away, but you will have a different frame of mind.
- Want something better. This is the cheesiest, but most important and most difficult step of all. Acknowledge that you are a wonderful person and no one has the right to hurt you or make you feel bad. Expect to be treated well, instead of always accommodating others. Trust that your ideal match is someone who will love you and accept you for who you are, no strings attached. Realize that your ex was not that person, but now that he's out of your life, you are that much closer to finding your true soul mate.