It’s about time I blogged about what to do immediately after a breakup. I’ve seen many men and women making mistakes, stumbling around clueless because the split turned their lives upside down.
Whether you broke up because of cheating, lying, financial reasons, or your loved one decided the relationship was not working, the end of a relationship can be crushing.
Top Ten Things You Need to Know
If you have no clue about what to do next, that is OK. You are not supposed to feel certainty after a blow like this.
Read on, and I will tell you exactly what I wish someone would had told me if I were in your situation.
1. Retreat and Start No Contact
After a breakup, the smart thing to do is to get yourself away from the fallout zone as calmly and briskly as you can. The longer you remain on the “battlefield,” the more likely you will do or say something regrettable. Same for your ex.
Retreat, and cut contact for the time being. You won’t be able to have a productive conversation anyway. At least in the short term. After all, your ex is likely feeling guilty, defensive, awkward or angry. Throw in YOUR emotions, and the two of you talking is a recipe for disaster.
Aside: You may know there is a name for when we stop communicating —The No Contact Rule. A popular recommended first step after a breakup.
If you live together, it is not wise or practical to cut communication entirely. Instead, your safest option is to exercise diplomacy and keep things civil.
And if you work or study together, follow the same advice: Diplomacy.
Tip: If you strongly believe you want to save your relationship, consider subscribing to my email newsletter so I can share practical ways to rebuild attraction with your ex, even when you live, work or study together.
Bottom line: When a relationship ends, the last thing you want to do is hang around and listen to your now-ex complain about you. Nor is this the time to debate or return fire.
2. Damage Control: Give Yourself Time
It’s vital to give yourself plenty of time away from your ex so you have space to vent, reflect, and heal. If you do not give yourself enough time, there are good odds you will say or do something you will later regret. You can think of this stage as damage control.
Whether you will later want to get back with your ex or move on, there is little upside in debating with your ex so soon after the breakup.
How long a break you take depends on a lot of variables, including:
- How long the relationship lasted
- What caused the breakup
- How much drama there was
- Whether you are a man or a woman
- The sex of your ex
If you live, work or study together, do your best to keep communication cordial and arrange your schedule to minimise time together.
3. Look After Yourself: Self-Improvement
When someone breaks up with you, it can be easy to feel like you don’t matter. But you do. So, as tempting as it may be to mope around, you deserve better than that.
Too often, people fall into deep depressions after a breakup, and they don’t know how to get out of it.
You can greatly reduce the chance of this happening to you by ensuring you:
- Move more (exercise delivers a natural mood lifter)
- Eat better (better fuel to weather the emotional and mental storm)
- Get sufficient sleep (we heal in our sleep)
- Lean on your friends and family (now is the time to be sociable and in contact with those who care about you)
The point is, even when you’re broken-hearted and don’t want to do anything, your body still needs exercise. So take a walk, run some laps around the block, go for a bike ride or lift some weights at the gym.
As for nutrition, when you are sad, you are more likely to eat comfort food —junk food— which is unhealthy and adds weight on top of everything else you’re going through. Don’t neglect your diet; if nothing else, you’ll end up with a bunch of extra weight on top of your broken heart.
If the breakup left you feeling paralysed, get out of bed. The world is still there. No one is stopping you from engaging in it. You may not feel like it yet, but I promise things will get better.
4. Spend Time With Your Friends and Family
Building on the above, it can be hard to even get out of bed after a breakup. You might feel like no one understands what you’re going through. And maybe that’s true. Yet that does not mean your friends will not be supportive. Try reaching out to them and to family members too. Having people who love you in your life will help remind you that there’s still good in it, even if it feels like there isn’t at the moment.
5. Don’t Post About Your Breakup Online
You shouldn’t be posting about your breakup on your social media channels. Whatever happened between you is best kept that way. Don’t air your dirty laundry. It’s unseemly. Your ex will respect your desire for privacy, too. Least said, soonest mended.
6. Don’t Stalk Your Ex (Online or Otherwise)
It’s OK to grieve, but don’t stalk your ex, online or otherwise. Your friends and family may tell you that this bust-up will make you stronger in the end, but there’s no strength found in using social media to spy.
Even if no one ever knew about your stalking habits, you hurt your pride when using your time unwisely. The healthy view is: “What my ex is doing is none of my business.”
I know this will be hard, especially if you’re still in love. Even so, keep your distance for now and avoid the temptation to watch their every move.
7. Don’t Watch Romantic Movies
One of the worst things you can do after a breakup is watch romantic movies. You’ll have heightened emotions, which will only lead to heightened sadness, so don’t watch any movies that are likely to make you cry and feel bad. It may seem like a convenient way to appease your emotions. Yet, the hurtful feelings will not become resolved when you indulge in sad movies—only encouraged.
8. Don’t Listen to Love Songs
Distract yourself from your heartache by listening to songs that do not remind you of your ex. Love songs are a trigger, so if there’s a song that sends you into a spiral of depression when you hear it, stay away from it. Listening to upbeat or motivational music can also help boost your mood. Just as with avoiding romance films, you will cope better if you do not feed your emotions with sadness.
9. Don’t Make Decisions That Carry Long-Term Consequences
Getting a new tattoo is a beautiful way to commemorate an important event, such as an anniversary or birthday. But when emotions are running high, it is best to avoid what can not be easily undone. And yes, you can swap the word “tattoo” with anything that has long-term consequences, like quitting school, a career, or relocating to a new city.
10. Don’t Sleep Around
It may seem like a good idea at first, but sleeping with people you don’t know well or don’t care about is risky. You can easily regret your decision later. So, while sex can help you to feel better, it can also lead to complications. You can not unring this bell.
It is also a good idea to avoid rushing into a new relationship, period. Many think the sooner they start dating, the sooner they will get over their ex. In reality, running into a new relationship can prolong feelings of sadness or regret from your previous relationship —and lead to a rebound relationship.
A breakup can break our character and cause a cascade of poor choices. Some will want to hurt their ex and engage in petty or destructive behaviour. Some will become desperate to win their ex back and will beg and plead for another chance. But as you know, it is better to retreat and give space. And give yourself time to adjust and lick your wounds.
While you may feel like calling, texting or emailing your ex, it is best to wait a while and see how things look once you feel calmer. After a breakup, you are better off focusing on life without your ex in it for now.
Take good care of yourself —as tempting as it may be to mope around your apartment or hit the bar to drown your sorrows, you can do better.
Focus on positive things like exercise, hobbies, and your job. Be busy enough that there is no room for going off the rails.
Breaking up is tough going. Understandably, you may feel angry, disappointed, frustrated or sad, but this doesn’t mean you need to act on these feelings in ways that make future regrets more likely.
In time, you will be clear-headed enough to make good choices, like whether to negotiate a reunion with your ex or to re-enter the dating market.