Love happens. So do breakups.
Sometimes you see the breakup coming months in advance; other times, it hits you like a car collision on an interstate freeway.
Regardless, breakups hurt. Bad. Research suggests that your brain processes a breakup similar to how it processes physical pain. People who are recovering from a breakup experience obsessive thoughts, partake in dangerous self-medicating behaviors, and even crave an ex in a way that resembles cravings for cocaine. So, how do we deal with it? This guide will help you officially get over your ex, and move on with your life. Doesn’t that just sound wonderful?
Let’s get started.
Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Over Your Breakup
1. Eliminate all contact with your ex.
This is the first and most important step to getting over your former beloved. It is essential that for the first nine to twelve months, you sever your connection with your ex.
- Delete his or her number from your phone.
- If you suspect that he or she will call, block his or her phone number.
- Unfriend him or her from Facebook; stop following on his or her handle Twitter.
- Throw away photographs around the house and remove all digital photos from your computer.
- Stow momentos from the relationship in a box, and stick it in the attic.
Unfortunately, ending the connection can be exceptionally difficult.
After all, you shared a very special part of your life with this person. You made sacrifices for this person. Sometimes, the good outweighed the bad, right?
If you’re struggling with ending contact, remember this:
the problems that you had in the relationship will never, ever resolve.
Those problems were fundamental to the relationship; therefore, you needed to end. Your former lover came with his or her own baggage. And if you want to open yourself up to a new love and lifestyle, you have to let him or her go.
Are you still not convinced?
The hours you spend remaining in contact with an ex is wasted time. In a very real sense, you are holding onto dead energy.
It’s time to say a prayer and bury it.
2. Give yourself time to grieve
A breakup is a type of emotional death, and it deserves to be properly mourned.
According to psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These phases do not pass in neat steps; rather, we cycle through them over the course of the grieving cycle.
You will successfully reach the final phase of healing if you do not contact your ex.
If you continue to speak to him over the phone, browse his Facebook photos, or even chat with some of his friends, you will get stuck in one of the other phases – and being stuck in grief is worse than purgatory.
Give yourself space to be alone. It’s okay to take a day or so off work in the beginning, if you can allow it.
Do not use alcohol, drugs, sex, or any other kind of addictive substance to help alleviate the pain. Not only will you make the pain worse by burying it, you will begin to establish a dangerous pattern for yourself .
Just give yourself six to eight weeks to grieve.
Stay off the grid. Mope around on Saturday nights and watch Netflix. Talk in circles with your close friends or family. After about eight weeks experiencing melancholy, you’ll feel ready to move on and get back to your life.
3. Practice self-care
We hear a lot about self-care these days, but what is it?
Self-care is a set of soothing activities that promote strong health, internal well-being, and activeness. It includes soothing showers, shaving, spending a few days each week at the gym, daily yoga, or walking.
Ladies, have your hair professionally blown out. Men, take a trip to the barber.
Self-care is essential to moving forward. Step by step, you are moving into a new, purified space.
During your time in the gym, in the shower, or at the barber, clear your mind. Do not ruminate on what was. This is the space that you have given yourself to be free of all that — baggage. You are focusing on moving forward.
4. Cultivate a new identity
Breakups are painful largely because an important part of your identity has been lost.
The love that was shared has so much to do with who that person was, and what that person added to your life.
Now, he or she is gone, and without the support of a partner, it can feel like you are floundering.
In truth, this is an opportunity to cultivate a new identity for yourself.
The breakup might have exposed parts of your personality that were immature, needy, or unfulfilled. It’s time to work on that.
During your relationship, you might have neglected friendships, hobbies, habits, exercise, or skills. It’s time to work on that too.
It’s time to take a trip to Greece, to learn to cook, to focus on expanding your career. When you’re ready, join a dating website and get yourself in the game.
Over the course of a year, you will come to realize that the time that you shared with your ex was an important part of your life, and the lessons learned have changed you fundamentally.
But things don’t end there.
When the time is right, you can open yourself up to a new romance who has the qualities that you want in a partner.
Perhaps you will find a new partner who is emotionally present, faithful, happier with his or her job, or doesn’t have “ex” baggage (to avoid developing your own ex baggage, see steps 1 – 3).
Perhaps after the course of a year, you can have coffee with your old ex, and maybe become friends.
But honestly, your focus right now is on moving forward with your life.
In addition to eliminating contact, cut back on talking about your ex with your friends, writing about him or her, thinking about the times your shared together. Don’t talk about him or her when you’re starting up a new relationship. All of these activities will set you back, and you want to move forward.
For further reading, we recommend Getting Past Your Breakup by Susan Elliot or How to Heal a Broken Heart in 30 Days by Howard Bronson.
For Kimberly’s thoughts breaking up with an ex husband or partner when children are involved, check out her How To Handle An Ex When You Have Children.