First, I would like to say, I am so, so sorry you are going through a break up.
Second, you will be ok. I promise.
Breaking up sucks. There’s no other way to put it. But having been through my fair share of break ups, I have learned a lot, and figured maybe my trials and tribulations may help others. I’ve put together this list on how to break up gracefully, and I hope it helps you through this loss.
- A break up is a loss. Mourn it. All too often I see people doing things to distract them from facing their break up. Believing a break up is a loss, I encourage you to grieve it. Be sad about it, cry, be angry, but face it. Acknowledge this constant it gone, that your life will be different, and that it is indeed going to be difficult. But you will be ok.
- Set a mourning time limit. While I encourage mourning the loss, I also encourage moving on from the loss. During my divorce, my counselor told me to mourn it, but set a date when I would stop crying and move forward. It sounded silly at first – but it worked. I set a date for myself, months away, and I let myself be sad. I let myself cry, be angry, question my decision, and I did so without guilt, because I intentionally allotted time for this process. Grieving a relationship could easily go on for years, a lifetime for some, but I believe we can take control of this. Don’t sell yourself short, take as much time as you need, but it’s worth it to move on eventually.
- Trust your gut. I would bet every single person after one break up or another, questioned their decision. Loneliness sets in, and maybe that reason you broke up doesn’t seem like such a big deal now. You really miss them. You didn’t try hard enough. You’re just so sad, and getting back together would make it better. But I ask you this: Why did you break up? What led you to believe that you would be better off without this person? Has that changed? Do you actually miss the person, or do you miss the companionship or consistency? It will get harder before it gets easier, but you have to believe in yourself. You have to trust yourself that you have thought this through, that this wasn’t impulsive, it was intentional. You knew in your heart what you needed to do. And you did it. Trust in yourself, you know you best. You will be ok.
- Take time for yourself. After my divorce, I spent a solid 9 months focusing on me. I tell ya, those 9 months were the best 9 months of my life. I went to counseling, I traveled, I quit my boring job, packed up and moved to a little mountain town, found my dream job, I made new friends, I tried new things, I didn’t date, and I felt peace. I filled my time with activities and people who enriched my life and helped me grow as an individual. I recognized the errors of my ways and I worked on them. Let me repeat that, I worked on myself. I didn’t sit there and blame the other person, I had the humility to realize my actions contributed to the outcome of the relationship as well. This process humbled me and changed me for the better. The best part of this me time was realizing I am ok alone. What peace you feel when you know you are ok alone, and actually enjoy it!
- Give it time before you start dating. I would encourage you to give it at least a few months before you start dating someone, or many someones. Even if this break up has been a long time coming, you really feel the loss when it actually happens. Distracting yourself with someone takes away from your time to process and heal. Pay your relationship (and yourself) some respect by not hoping into another one right away.
- Allow yourself to heal by taking some space. The thought of cutting this constant out of your life if heartbreaking. This was your best friend, travel buddy, Netflix companion, and it’s crazy to think of life without them. You want them as a friend still – we can just be friends, right? Let me start by saying I fully support being friends with an ex….in time. However, 5 minutes after a break up isn’t enough time. I know there are some circumstances where exes have to be part of your life (i.e. kids, shared property) but if you don’t have any ties, I would strongly urge you to give yourself (and your ex) some space to grieve and heal. While it’s hard to think of them not being there, you will get used to it, and you will be ok. I very much believe it will be harder to move on if they’re still around. Also, maybe they need the space.
- Don’t stalk them on social media. I bet, out of this whole list, this will be the hardest suggestion for some folks. What they are doing? Did they move on already? Are they wallowing on the couch like I am? Who is that person they are with? Stop. Stop that right now. I think this is one of the most unhealthy, hindering behaviors you can do after a break up. Chances are, you might see something you don’t want to see, then what? This type of behavior, in my opinion, can only cause you pain. Maybe take a break from being “friends” or “following” each other, block them if you need more restraint. But give it a break for a while, and do whatever you have to do to not look them up.
- Don’t isolate. It’s easy to sit alone on your couch, night after night, watching re-runs of Sex and the City while crying into your bowl of gelato. While I support this occasional “woe is me” night, I think you should get up and get out. Go out with friends, join a meetup group, take your pup to the dog park, but do something, with someone. We (the human race) need companionship – it helps us through the grieving process and lets us know we are not alone. Conversely, I think it is ok, beneficial even, to isolate from social media. Studies have actually shown going on sites like Facebook, and comparing your life against others, can cause feelings of depression. Deactivate for a bit – get some fresh air!
- Be mindful of the advice you receive. A line that makes me cringe is “the easiest way to get over someone is to get under someone else”. Are you kidding me? That’s the worst advice, and I guarantee that person is single – not by choice. So who do you take relationship advice from? You take it from someone who has the relationship you want. We all have that go-to person we talk to about everything, but they may not be the best person to give you advice about your break up. I ask you this – who would you take medical advice from; your dog fluffy or your doctor? Think about it. I also strongly encourage talking to a counselor, especially if you’re having a prolonged, difficult time with the split. I know there is plenty of people who would never consider going to a counselor, and I think that’s a shame (side note, I would caution you about dating someone resistant to getting help – that’s a red flag in my book). My counselor has the same morals and beliefs as I do, and has the marriage I want – of course I am going to seek advice from her! She’s well educated, she thinks of things I wouldn’t even consider, she has the tools to help me, and she just simply knows what she is talking about. I humbly walk into her office, accepting the fact that I could use the help.
- Smile (and exercise). Did you know even the action of smiling releases endorphins which are responsible for making us feel happy? Sometimes when I am really down and out, I force a smile, albeit fake, it helps! I feel like an idiot, but it actually helps my mood! The same goes for hiking, walking, swimming, or any type of physical exercise. I feel better by just moving. So seriously, get off the couch and go outside or to the gym.
Friends, you will be ok. Keep telling yourself that. Also, you’re strong, beautiful, handsome, smart, steadfast. You got this. You will be ok.
God is good friends. God is good. For those that believe in prayer, I offer an 11th tip. Pray! Give God your pain, release it to Him, let Him heal you, He WILL not forsake you, you are the love of His life, and He has something better in store for you.