Breakups. Whether you “consciously uncoupled” or were heartlessly dumped out of the blue, any kind of parting ways can sting. There are healthy ways to deal with your grief, which is real and vaild, but there are also things that can trip you up and postpone healing. Don’t lose heart: you will move on in time, find a love better suited for you, and all of this will be a memory. In the meantime, when mourning the end of a relationship, be sure to avoid the following “don’ts” of breakup etiquette, which can just end up harming you more.
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1) Pretend you’re fine.
Let yourself mourn. Cry. Punch a pillow. Journal. Surround yourself with friends who listen. The temptation may be to pretend you’re unaffected by the breakup; don’t let pride get in the way of being real. You don’t have to sob at the office, but take some quiet moments to reflect and be honest with yourself. It’s okay to be angry, hurt or humiliated. It’s healthier to express yourself honestly than grow numb.
2) Try to be “just friends.”
Create intentional space for a while and let yourself mourn the end of the relationship. If your ex is pushing for friendship, stand your ground if you’re uncomfortable with the idea. Right now, you’re not looking for a friend who looks exactly like the person who broke your heart.
3) Seek revenge.
Don’t key his car, kidnap his cat, or destroy his stuff. And never, ever do something that could land you in legal trouble. (If you share the lease, deal with it like responsible adults. Don’t lock him out.)
The thrill of revenge only feeds bitterness and hatred. You may have been deeply wronged, but “getting even” won’t heal any wounds. Forgive and move on. Carry your head high and spend your energy on people who deserve it.
4) Communicate. In any format.
You broke up last week, but you still “have thoughts” you want to process with the ex. You pick up your phone. Something makes you laugh on your way to work. Your first instinct? Text your ex about it. Don’t.
There will be times when it’s important to communicate with an ex. Maybe you need to return his things. Maybe you have to deal with a shared lease or pet custody. Resist the urge, however, to call or text whenever you would have when you were still dating.
Breakups create voids. Ask a close friend if you can call him/her every time you would usually reach out to your ex. Recruit a support system of friends and family to help you fill the time normally spent with a significant other. Many people feel lost after a breakup; not because they miss their ex, but because so many of their daily habits once revolved around someone else. Give yourself some time to adapt to single life.
5) Beg for reconciliation.
Yes, dogs can get away with begging. But you can’t. Maybe you don’t understand why it ended. Maybe you think it ended for the wrong reasons. Maybe you’d just rather be in a bad relationship than be in no relationship at all. Instead of clinging to lost hope, find a wise friend who can help you walk through the reasons why you’re having a hard time letting go.
Don’t beg for him/her to return. Deep down, you know that you don’t want to be in a relationship with someone you had to beg to be with you. Besides, if your ex rejects you a second time, it won’t just hurt; the rejection will sting with extra humiliation and regret.
6) Sleep together.
Don’t do it. No woman on her deathbed says, “I really wish I slept with my ex-husband one last time.” Let the break be clean.
7) Facebook-stalk your ex.
Social media can be dangerous when dealing with heartache. Give yourself two rules: Don’t post anything about the breakup drama online, no matter how vague, and resist the urge to stalk your ex. “Defriending” or at least hiding statuses can help you avoid the constant temptation to check in and see if your ex is living a life more miserable — or worse, more awesome — than yours.
8) Get a haircut — or tattoo.
Make no drastic changes for a while. It’s easy to make rash decisions post-breakups. One major change in your life can inspire even more change. If you have a tattoo-design epiphany in the days following heartache, wait a few months before acting on it. Wait until you’re emotionally back on your feet.
Hair grows back, but be warned: a bad bowl cut can hurt your already-bruised confidence. Don’t kick yourself when you’re down.
9) Give up.
She wasn’t the one. He made you feel like nothing. Don’t let a breakup destroy hope. Continue taking care of yourself. Take some time to refocus and pursue the things you’ve always loved to do. Spend time with loved ones. Love isn’t a one-shot-only experience.
Learn what you can from the relationship that just ended and move forward. Don’t give up on meeting your perfect match. Be thankful that the wrong relationship ended to free you up for the right one.