What to Do After a Relationship Break-Up
The Morning After...
The first few days after a break-up can seem like waking up from a nightmare. The days play out moment by moment, flashes of present reality mix with the past and a future that never realized its full potential.
When was your most recent break-up?
1. Clear Your Space
The last thing you need is little reminders of an ex scattered throughout your personal space. Relationships transform in the bedroom, so start with the bedroom to symbolize a post break-up transformation.
Decide that your space is sacred. The act of clearing and cleaning out all that reminds you of this person is an act of beginning again.
Clearing your space also includes wiping your ex's presence, and existence, online. You don't need them in your online space either. You can reassess that later if you have mutual friends or decide to be friends, but for now...clean break!
Break-ups should not be like Band-Aids. The way in which people like to hang on just a little longer is to keep an online attachment to their ex. Rip it off now and save yourself the ongoing torture.
2. Work It Out, Sulk It Out, and Suck It Up
There's a process to all "successful" break-ups. Similar to the DABDA (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance) of grief most of us are familiar with, there is an anatomy to a break-up that typically has three stages or steps.
1. Work it out. Unfinished business: If there's unfinished business between the two of you, get it finished sooner than later. A break-up needs to be final, otherwise it's just a "break". If there's kids involved, a plan needs to be established. Also make plans to collect your stuff and tie up loose ends.
If you don't work things out, make sure it is final in some way that represents closure for you. I've always had one last "meeting" with my exes. Not sure that I planned it, but there seemed to be an opportunity after the dust settled to discuss things and answer each others' questions. If the emotions are still raw, an informal Q&A closure session might never occur. You have to make peace with that.
It is too hard living in limbo, not knowing where you stand with someone you care deeply for. Get them to commit to an end or a restart; one way or another.
2. Sulk it Out: When the end is established, you can sulk. Give yourself permission to have your day or week to be unapologetically sad and negative, and angry.
Don't feel bad about feeling bad.
3. Suck it up: At some point you must also declare when to end the pity party, and suck it up. The end should be represented in a big, definitive (big-bang-palooza) way. The break-up is yours to do with as you please. It doesn't own you, you own it. You take charge when it is over for you!
Think about the steps you are taking (literally and figuratively) and where they are taking you. Start making future plans for your current life. Start somewhere! Envision the big "GO" at the start position of a monopoly game.
3, Celebrate Your Break-Up
"Celebrate" your break-up. Totally easy if you initiated the break-up! Right?!
If the break-up was your idea or not, the first significant thing you do without your ex paves the way to a smooth transition period. If the break-up was your decision, you may be tempted to throw caution to the wind, but this could wind up only making you feel worse about yourself later. That's not the idea here.
You want a lasting impression of a positive new beginning!
The best way to celebrate is by doing something that makes you feel good about yourself...by yourself if possible. Do something your ex didn't like to do, but you enjoy. Finish a goal or project that got put on the back-burner while you were on lover's lane.
Celebrating may be the last thing you want to do, especially if the break-up was difficult for you. It's just as important though, that you do something positive to establish your life as enjoyable without your ex.
Cook a nice dinner for yourself, learn something new, splurge on an activity that gives you joy, anything that gives you a boost of autonomy and a spark of self-confidence.
In the future, keep a list of activities and items that make you happy. The list will be convenient when you find yourself in a rough spot.
Break-ups are an intensely positive thing. And while they really, definitely hurt, so does all of the most important growth in our life. Re-framing a break-up in a positive light helps you heal, and forgive, and move forward, and ultimately, be happier and more confident. (And waaaay better at attracting quality relationships in the future.)— Zoe Foster Blake (Break-up expert and Author)
Why do you want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with you?
4. Reason With Yourself
It's tempting, and natural, to recount all the good times in a relationship after it ends. It's ironic we begin relationships with romantic notions of grandeur and end many relationships in the same stupor; romantic notions of the best of what we had.
Wake up! Remember the reason you broke up?! There is usually a damn good reason this person is not in your life anymore. Reign your brain in, and come back to that reality, instead of reminiscing.
On the flipside, you could be replaying your mistakes in the bask of a moonlit glow until 2am, recalling how stupid you were to let this person play a major role in your life.
It stands within reason that your mind is playing tricks on you. Make sure to give yourself a reality check and bring yourself into the present. If you keep reverting to the past, go way back. Psychologists report nostalgia makes us happy; the kind of nostalgia that takes us back to our favorite childhood moments...before your ex!
Enjoy your own company and get to know yourself again!
5. Do Not Do Stupid Things to Make You Feel Better
If your only goal is to make yourself feel better in the short-term, you'll waste this opportunity for growth and learning in the long run. Your mistakes will show up again...and again.
So basically don't engage in casual sex or eat too much/give into addictions. Give yourself a healthy reboot. Invest in self-care. Put yourself first when it counts most.
Stupid things include rebound relations (I won't dignify them with the word, "relationship"). For some reason this notion of "rebound relationships" became totally acceptable, but completely idiotic. File it under the category of 'if enough people do something stupid, it suddenly becomes a smart idea'.
Likewise, bad habits slip past our radar when we're vulnerable. Put self-care at the top of your break-up to-do list. Be more purposeful than spontaneous about your actions during this crucial time period.
Most life events are not 'completely disastrous' or 'absolutely wonderful' but contain elements of both good and bad.
6. Stop Over-Generalizing
Over-generalizing is the psychological term for 'it's not the end of the world as you know it'.
It's really important to keep a healthy perspective after a break-up. Don't distort reality with common thinking traps (and errors) such as over-generalization (creating a negative generalized view of something while the truth may be that this view was only built based on one situation that you faced.) or all-or nothing thinking.
With over-generalization, instead of trying to fix a problem, you try to let the problem define you, creating limited beliefs about people, the world, and your life- believing that one or even ten break-ups means you are an unlovable person is one example.
Treat each break-up in a unique way, and not a sign of something more.
All-or-nothing, or black-and-white thinking is a facet of depression. 'Nobody wants me'. 'I must be a terrible boyfriend/wife/girlfriend/lover'. Stay away from absolutes and find the grey area.
DO NOT Use These Words!
7. Embrace New Beginnings
Until you are ready to let go of this past relationship, you are not ready to truly embrace a new beginning with someone else. The worst thing for a future relationship is a past relationship. Also, the best way to end something is to begin something.
With these two thoughts in mind, mark an end and a beginning in your mind. This is the power of the illusion of control. The more we feel like we're calling the shots, the better we handle life.
Recognize what you have learned and move forward with that...