Break-ups are painful and messy. No matter how amicable, and regardless of your role in the breakup, at some point you might feel a combination of sad, conflicted, and weird. Despite the fact that humans have been “breaking-up” since the dawn of time, there’s no real template out there for how to get through a split. Sure, everyone will want to give you advice, but it can typically be chalked up to “it will all get better eventually.”
No matter how experienced or mature we are, we’ve all made some classic break-up mistakes. We’ve eaten an entire tub of ice-cream or stalked our ex’s social media just a little too obsessively. I’ve found that while there’s no simple way to get over the actual heartache, there are definitely some concrete things that you can do to help get you in a better, healthier place.
Here are some common mistakes commonly made during a break-up, and a little practical advice for avoiding them:
Too much communication (and a little too much internet stalking)
While some mythical creatures can be mature and handle contact with their ex right after a breakup, it’s definitely not for everyone. Breakers might feel mentally pressured to keep up communication when they don’t want to. Breakees might feel hurt by lack of contact, or confused if there is too much. While the connection is still raw and very real with this person, sometimes the healthiest thing you can do is to just have no contact for a little while.
Because here is the big secret: no one is safe from heartache.
I know, easier said than done, right? This is going to take a ton of willpower and maybe a bit of “phone probation.” But, I promise that if you can do this successfully, it will help set you up to be in a better place. No contact allows you to remove yourself from the situation. You can focus solely on you: how you’re feeling, how you want to grow and what you want to do. If you are constantly stalking your ex on social media or texting them, you are allowing them to fill up valuable space in your life. And, right now, that space should be filled with making sure that you’re okay.
Refusing to fill up your dance card
One of the first things you’re going to notice when you’re suddenly single is that you have a lot more free time. All the time you spent with you ex, is now free time that you suddenly need to fill. While this is actually very exciting, it can seem daunting and lonely at first.
So immediately after a breakup, go look at your calendar. Stare it right in face and make some plans. Even if you don’t feel like it, try to fill up every night for at least the first weekend. Go have long crazy hangouts with your friends. Sign up for activities that are totally random and all about you. Watch all the movies and TV shows that you’ve been avoiding because your ex doesn’t like them. In short, go throw yourself into new adventures and make new memories!
Forgetting that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you
This seems like it would be a no brainer, but there is nothing like a breakup to help shake our self-confidence. Immediately afterwards, it can be really important to remind yourself what is good and true about you and your situation. The key is to remember that the relationship wasn’t right, not you. Never, ever feel like if you had been cooler, smarter, or prettier, you would still be together.
Because here is the big secret: no one is safe from heartache. There isn’t some special group of humans who never experience rejection. We all do. No one is exempt. Everyone gets rejected, and everyone rejects people. It has no bearing on you as a person, other than it meaning you are, in fact, a person.
Holding on to their stuff
I know what you’re thinking: they left their favorite hoodie at your place. Clearly they’re planning to come back! Not necessarily. Instead of sleeping with their hoodie at night, breathing in its smell, let’s do this: Take all of their stuff, put it into box. You can give this box to a friend for safe keeping or return it to them at a later date (once your healed enough to see them). If you’re really feeling like a fresh start, you can also dispose of their things. I know this seems destructive, but it can actually be pretty therapeutic!
One time, after a particularly messy break-up, my friends and I gathered to have a Boyfriend Burn Party. We took all the items that my ex had left behind at my house, and burned them in a bonfire. It was destructive and a little crazy, but sitting around the fire with my best friends truly did help me feel a whole lot better.