Most people aren't strangers to break-ups nowadays. The awful, soul-crushing feeling we go through where we eat ice cream in our underwear and cry is only half the battle. There are plenty of guidelines to surviving break-ups out there, but not many that tell us how to move on and feel good about it, even though, right now that may seem like an impossible concept. But, there are ways to properly endure a relationship ending and come out clean on the other side, perhaps better than you were before.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you it isn’t okay to mourn your past relationship; that it isn’t okay to curl up in your bed and sob while watching that episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel were “on a break.” With any loss, it is only healthy to grieve. This is the only way we can process what has happened and reflect on the good and bad of our previous relationship.
• Let it Out
This goes for guys and girls. We may live in a culture that frowns on girls being “too dramatic” and guys who show their sensitive side, but keeping your emotions bottled up is only going to hurt one person. You have to let your anger, your frustration, and your sadness out. Whether it was your fault, their fault, or a mutual decision – break-ups suck, so don’t try to convince yourself you’re fine when you actually aren’t.
Chances are, your friends hate the person who dumped you (or who you dumped, I really don’t know your life) just as much as you do. If they offer to help, let them. I’m not saying you need to agree to let your friends go egg your ex’s house, but let them be there for you in a healthy way. Let them take you out for a night on the town, or bring you a pizza and watch a movie with you. Your friends know you best; they’ll be able to get you back to feeling like yourself again in no time.
This tip is very time sensitive. I don’t care what the situation is, there is no reason for you to be talking to your ex mere days after the big blow-up. You cannot expect yourself and them to grieve the relationship and have a chance of getting over it if you keep on speaking to them like nothing happened. This means no texting, no lurking on their social media accounts, and no asking your mutual friends how your ex is doing. After a few weeks – but, personally, I’d say months – you can start thinking about rekindling a friendship with that person, if you really want to. Give yourself – and your ex – a chance to have some space and time to yourself before jumping on the “let’s still be best friends” train.
Sitting around and saying, “Oh, what if I had been a better significant other? What if I had gone with them to that party? What if I had been more agreeable?” is only going to make you feel more miserable. Playing this game of “what if” is just plain torture. Do it all you want, but it does not change the fact that you can’t change the past. Besides, even if you had done all those things that came as afterthoughts, there is no guarantee that those things would have saved your relationship. So don’t torture yourself.
Using a new person to get over the old person is the oldest tactic in the book. Sure, it might make you feel good for a little while, but at the end of the day you’re only going to think about how this new person isn’t your ex – and there you are back at step 1. You have to be emotionally stable before you can bring a new person into the mix. Enjoy your time as a single man or woman. Concentrate on what activities and goals make you happy, without constantly feeling like you have to rely on another person to make the sun rise and set for you. You can do that for yourself.
Perhaps one of the most important things for you to remember is that this relationship was not entirely a failure. With every relationship – romantic or otherwise – we learn what we like and dislike about a person; what traits are deal breakers and what qualities we want the person we end up with in the long run to have. In addition, you now know what you can do better in your next relationship [and there will be a next relationship, I promise]. And that next relationship will wipe away the tears and painful memories from this break-up. You can only move up from here, so chin up and make every day one for the books.