What to do after a breakup: 11 no bullsh*t steps to moving on

Here’s one thing they never teach you in school: what to do after a breakup.

Love is, perhaps, the most profound human experience. It’s something we all go through, plenty times over in one lifetime. It’s beautiful. And there is nothing quite like it.

Unfortunately, like many things in life, there’s a hiccup. With love comes heartbreak.

That, on the other hand, is something we are sorely ill-equipped to deal with.

So if you’re reading this article, be comforted by the fact that you’re not the only one going through it.

What’s more, you’re not the only one having trouble with it.

No matter how many times you get your heart broken, it seems that you never really get better at moving on.

It still hurts like hell. And you still end up making the same mistakes as last time.

But that’s okay. There is nothing messier than going through a breakup.

After all, you’re letting go of someone who was once a big part of your life. Someone you’ve shared dreams, memories, and experiences with. And that is never easy.

So what do you do now?

The wound is still fresh and you have plenty of feelings, most of which are directed to your ex. And all of them are confusing.

We’re here to help. We’ve come up with some no bullsh*t tips on how to deal with a breakup. Read ahead.

1. Their social media is off-limits.

Unfriend. Unfollow. Block. Do what you have to do, but by all means necessary stop looking at their social media. 

This is the first mistake you are likely to make. And who can blame you? You’re used to knowing every little thing that happens to your ex. Now, the only way you can see them is through social media.

But this can do you more harm than good. Even science agrees.

According to this study that proves the harm of stalking your ex on social media,

“Keeping tabs on an ex-partner through Facebook is associated with poorer emotional recovery and personal growth following a breakup.

“Therefore, avoiding exposure to an ex-partner, both offline and online, may be the best remedy for healing a broken heart.”

Out of sight, out of mind is the key. It’s just easier for you when you don’t constantly see what they’re up to, who they’re spending time with, and how they are living their life without you.

2. Cut all contact.

It’s easier said than done, but it’s crucial that you completely cut off contact with your ex. And not just on social media, too.

This means you have to stop texting them, calling them, emailing them, or hanging out with them. When I say cut all contact, I mean cut every possible way of communication with them.

It doesn’t need to be permanent. Perhaps, in the future, you can even be friends. But for now, you’re too vulnerable. You might make the wrong decisions like getting back together. Or you might end up saying things you don’t mean.

It’s just better this way. For you, for him, and for everyone involved.

3. Don’t try to suppress your feelings.

Don’t pretend that everything is okay when it’s not.

It’s difficult for everyone to admit that they’re vulnerable. And this can be the case when you feel like you’ve been wronged. That, you are simply not used to showing pain. You want to appear strong, calm, and that this doesn’t affect you than it really does.

But right now, it’s best to let all your emotions out. It’s okay to feel sad. Actually, you’re more than sad. After all, along with the person, you’ve also lost your hopes of building a life with them. And it’s okay.

In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, it’s essential to face your feelings head on. The study’s lead author, Sandra Langeslag, director of the Neurocognition of Emotion and Motivation Lab at the University of Missouri St. Louis, says,

“Distraction is a form of avoidance, which has been shown to reduce the recovery from a breakup.”

Don’t try to tamper down your pain. Don’t hide what you really feel. Cry if you have to. Stay in bed if you have to. It’s okay to grieve.

Because only when you’ve truly felt the loss, can you start picking up the remaining pieces of yourself. You need to release those emotions. Keeping them inside will only prolong your pain.

4. But don’t neglect yourself.

It’s okay to wallow… for a while. But there’s a point when you have to say, “enough now.”

The pain of heartbreak is unbearable. There are days you don’t even want to get out of bed. But do it anyway.

Just because you’ve lost someone important doesn’t mean you’re no longer lovable. It doesn’t mean you’ve lost your value or your importance.

You are still a whole person. And no one has taken away the things that make you special.

So don’t forget to take care of yourself. Don’t let yourself go. You still deserve to be okay. So go and do things that make you feel okay.

Eat well, exercise, do fun things. You need to take care of yourself now more than ever because no one else is going to do it for you. You’re not going to feel any better if you neglect your needs.

(Interested in finding out about the stages of a breakup and how to work through it? Check out our guide.)

5. Save the “let’s try to be friends” for later.

In fact, save it for a whole while later. Don’t make the mistake of immediately trying to be friends right after breaking up.

Why? You need some space apart to heal.

Trying to be friends is also a way of trying to pretend that everything is okay. In fact, you will only make things harder for both of you.

How you feel for this person is not friendly. You either have some unresolved issues that left you resenting them, or you still want to be with them romantically.

Either way, you both need to establish some boundaries. It’s not that you can’t be friends forever. It’s just that you need to be able to move on completely if you have any chance of having a healthy friendship with your ex.

6. It’s over. Start accepting it.

Are you still holding out hope that you are getting back together? Let those expectations go.

It’s over. And you should start believing it. Heartbreak is kind of like the 7 stages of grief. At some point, you will have to reach the “acceptance stage.” The sooner, the better.

We tend to over-analyze break-ups. It’s easy to get caught up with the should have’s and if’s. You tend to focus on the things you could have done better.

But it’s important to remember that those things only mattered when you were still in your relationship. Right now, thinking about the things you could have done right, only prevents you from moving on.

(Check out our recent article: When to leave a relationship (10 signs))

7. Don’t let it affect other aspects of your life.

Pain is a distracting thing. It has the power to incapacitate you. But don’t succumb to it.

Wallowing with the heartbreak may affect your work or your social life. Try not to let it. It’s not the end of the world.

You might not feel like it, but you still need to live your life. This means you still need to go to work, or to your classes, or any other occupation you have. In fact, keeping busy can help you feel better. And it lets your focus go to other, more important things.

According to Dr. Guy Winch, psychologist and author of Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts.

“Avoiding such activities deprives you of important distractions and squelches important aspects of who you are as a person.

On the other hand, engaging in activities you used to enjoy, even if you can’t fully enjoy them yet, will help reconnect you to your core self and the person you were before the breakup.”

Don’t stop seeing your friends, too. Let them make you feel better. More often than not, it’s your friends that can give you comfort in this time of need.

8. There’s no such thing as “closure.” Stop finding it.

“Getting closure” is perhaps one of the most overrated advice you can get. The truth is, there’s no such thing as getting some closure.

There’s no use looking for answers from your ex. Truthfully, they won’t be able to give you any satisfying answers. People break up because relationships are no longer working. For whatever reason, you no longer make each other happy, or you’re going your separate ways in life.

It’s not a math equation you need to be solved. Life just happens. People break up.

The closest thing you get to closure is accepting the fact that the relationship is over and there is nothing more you can do about it.

9. Don’t jump to the next relationship.

One of the worst mistakes people make is jumping to the next relationship faster than you can say, “next!”

Getting over a relationship is not as easy as changing shirts. You still have a lot of baggage to fix. And you have to deal with any leftover emotions or problems you have from your last relationship.

After a breakup, your primary focus is you. Your needs, your goals, your well-being.

Jumping into another relationship before you sort these things out, will only bring more baggage. Think of it as bringing in some useless and burdensome things to your sparkling new home. It’s toxic behavior.

What you should do instead, is to take more time for yourself. Learn how to be okay with being alone. Try not being dependent on someone.

10. Find yourself.

As cliche as it may sound, you really need to rediscover yourself.

When we’re in a relationship, we tend to give a part of ourselves. We invest time, effort, and emotions. So it’s natural if you might feel lost after a breakup.

This is why it’s important to practice self-reflection. Reconnect with the parts of yourself that weren’t attached to your ex. Rediscover the things you loved doing, even if you have to do them alone.

Have you always wanted to go mountain climbing? Do it. Have you ever tried “dating yourself?”

Right now, the only thing that can help ease the feeling of uncertainty is to find the things that ground you. Finding yourself is never an overrated task.

11. When you’re ready, be open to new possibilities.

Breakups can be traumatic. And once you’ve moved on, you might feel like you don’t want to deal with relationships again.

But heartbreak is a part of life. And sure, it hurts like hell. But try to remember how it feels to be in love. There is nothing quite like being loved by someone who chooses to love you.

So as much as it scares you, try to be open to new possibilities. Give love another chance.

You’ve learned valuable lessons from your past relationships that will help you navigate your future ones better. Don’t close your heart off to the possibility of love again.

And don’t forget to be kind to yourself.

Here’s the thing hardly anyone ever tells you. After a breakup, you will do stupid things, crazy things, embarrassing things.

In the heat of the moment, when the pain is still fresh, you might end up saying or doing things you will later regret. And you will feel bad for it. You will beat yourself up.

But remember to be easy on yourself. Love and pain make us do stupid things. But we still learn from it. Don’t blame yourself too much. Don’t over-analyze every little thing you do.

And most importantly, don’t apologize for how you choose to move on. Everyone has a different process of dealing with pain and loss. What might work for other people might not work for you.

Respect your process. Give yourself a break. This journey will not be easy. And if you don’t believe that you are strong enough, who will?

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Written by Genefe Navilon

Genefe Navilon is a writer, poet, and blogger. She graduated with a degree in Mass Communications at the University of San Jose Recoletos. Her poetry blog, Letters To The Sea, currently has 18,000 followers. Her work has been published in different websites and poetry book anthologies. She divides her time between traveling, writing, and working on her debut poetry book.

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