So, it happened. You broke up. Maybe they were the love of your life. Maybe they weren’t. Maybe you weren’t even sure. But one thing is for sure: there’s a reason they call it a break-up, and that’s because it was broken. It’s hard to remember that when you’re grieving the loss of someone you cared about, but you’ve got to stay strong.
So, before you stand outside their window with a boombox Lloyd Dobler-style, take a step back. That’s right, step away from the boombox. (And for those of you who are too young to get the reference, rent Say Anything immediately. Or stream it. Or watch it on your phone. The point is: see it immediately.) There are plenty of things you want to do after a break-up, but those are precisely the sorts of things you shouldn’t do. So here are some things to avoid for those first tender, post-break-up weeks.
1. Don’t keep calling.
They don’t want to get back together. They don’t want to talk to you. In fact, they may have deleted your contact info from their cell the second you left each other. So, stop. Just stop. Calling isn’t going to get them back. And, really, why would you want to get them back? You deserve someone who values you and wants to be with you.
2. Don’t keep hooking up.
You didn’t listen to rule #1 and you called them. And then you agreed to meet up with them at 3AM, “just to talk.” OK. Did you end up getting back together? Sure, it happens, but often with disastrous results. I know someone who got back together with her ex for 48 hours, only to break up again for the exact same reasons they broke up in the first place. Don’t hang on to the past. Some really cool girl from my high school had as her senior quote, “Don’t look in the rear view mirror to see where you’ve been, use it to see how good you look on the way to where you’re going next.”
See how wise she was? So, let’s not go back to the scene of the crime. It might have been comforting. Hell, it might have been mind-blowing. But it’s not good for you. It will keep you from moving on.
3. Don’t hold on to their stuff.
I know what you’re thinking: they left their favorite hoodie at your place. Clearly they’re planning to come back! Not necessarily. Instead of sleeping with their hoodie at night, breathing in its smell, let’s do this: Take all of their stuff, put it into a trash bag, and throw it down the garbage disposal. Not strong enough to do it yet? Call your best friend and have them do it. That’s what best friends are for.
4. Don’t stay in touch with their friends.
But they’re my friends, too! I hear you saying. No, they’re not. They’re your ex’s friends. End of story. Delete the contacts from your phone. Keeping in touch with some random dude your ex works with is not going to re-kindle your relationship, no matter what you tell yourself.
5. Don’t stand outside of their window with a boombox.
Didn’t we cover this already? Do not—under any circumstances—stand outside their window with a boombox. You are not Lloyd Dobler. This will end poorly for you. It might even result in a restraining order. They don’t deserve your romantic gestures, anyway.
So, what should I be doing? I hear you asking. Well, that one’s easy: do things for you. The best thing you can do in light of a break-up is to treat yourself. When you were with your ex, you were too busy for that yoga/dance/pottery class you always wanted to take. Now’s the time! Post break-up time is all about you. Re-connect with your friends, take some moments just for you, and get back to yourself. You need this time alone to remind yourself why you’re totally awesome and why you were way too good for that guy/gal in the first place. Really, you dodged a bullet. But they were gorgeous and smart and charming, I hear you say.
But so are you. If they weren’t smart enough to realize how completely amazing you are, then they don’t deserve you. You should never settle for someone who doesn’t think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread. And now, once you’ve mastered these five steps, you can totally take out the boombox, but only to dance around your apartment to Beyoncé and Taylor Swift songs at top volume.
Brenda Janowitz is the author of Scot on the Rocks, Jack With a Twist, Recipe for a Happy Life and The Lonely Hearts Club. Her fifth novel, The Last Supper, will be published by St. Martin’s in 2015. Her work has also appeared in the New York Post and Publisher’s Weekly. You can find Brenda on Facebook or on Twitter at @BrendaJanowitz.