So, you got dumped. Or you dumped someone. There’s been a dump (not that kind). Now what? A break up is more than just the moment someone says “It’s over.” A break up is a process. It takes time and effort, and there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. This is the right way.
Give them (and you) some space
I need to take a second to dispel a pervasive and deeply damaging myth in society: YOU CANNOT IMMEDIATELY BE FRIENDS WITH YOUR EX. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care how chill they are. Y’all need some space and that is a capital-F Fact. Take some time totally apart. Don’t call, text, poke, like, fav, or casually walk by their house at 8:15 when you know they always leave at that time for work. Helpfully, the only man who has ever broken up with me did so the day before moving to England. The space allowed us both time to heal, collect our thoughts, and not have to see each other while we did so. If your ex doesn’t have their hands on a conveniently-timed plane ticket, you can both do each other a favor by staying out of each others’ hair for a while. If you were living together, someone should get out for a week or so. If you weren’t, avoid each other’s favorite haunts.
Don’t get with their friends in the aftermath of the breakup
This is unnecessary. The world is large, and rebounds abound. This will only cause problems for you, your ex, and the friend(s) involved.
Oh, you had a bad night and you wish you could give your ex a call? TOOOOO BAD. They are not your primary support system anymore. And they won’t be for a long time, possibly ever. Maybe you’ll end up close friends again one day, but for the next year or so keep another friend on speed dial for vulnerable occasions. As a rule, I’d suggest not communicating with your ex after 9pm for a while, just to keep lines clear. Times it is especially inappropriate to call them include: when you have been drinking, when you’re feeling bad about yourself, after being rejected by someone else, or when you’ve just kissed someone who wasn’t them and don’t know how to feel about it and want to ask how they feel about it. Back away from the iChat, girl. At the same time, don’t be too hard on yourself if you (or they!) aren’t great at staying away at first. Emotions are flying, it’s a tumultuous time, everyone’s learning, and no one’s perfect. Do your best.
Jealousy ≠ Feelings
If you see them with another girl (or hear about it, or there’s like, a purse in an Instagram photo of their bedroom or something (#2014)), don’t freak out and call the whole thing off. It will probably sting a bit, sure. It might even remind you of all the great, dateable qualities your ex had. But you guys broke up for a reason, and this is the very last time you should be considering getting back together. Go for a run or have a froyo or take a long shower and sing Adele instead.
Adopt a Destiny’s Child approach
Repeat after me: I’m not gonna blast you on the radio (I’m better than that) / I’m not gonna hate on you in the magazines (I’m better than that) / You know I’m not gonna diss you on the Internet, ‘cuz my mama taught me better than that. Bad mouthing your ex is not a good look, no matter how acrimonious the split. Take the time you need to get your complaints out—to your besties, your therapist, your mom or someone else appropriate—and keep them there. No need to spill the beans about how bad it was to the whole world. There’s a difference between healthy venting towards moving on, and making yourself bitter and sad by carrying around an old grudge. You out now, ladyfriend, don’t worry about it!
When the dust has settled, go out for a Civilized Exes’ Coffee
This is as much for your mutual friends as it is for you guys. Even if you’re planning on barely hanging out again, it’s nice for everyone who was involved in your relationship to know it’s not going to be awkward if you two run into each other on the street, at a party, or at a fancy 1950s dining club.
Remember: It’s going to be okay.
Break ups suck, but they happen to all of us. It feels cruddy now, but it will be fine. There will be other loves and even other break ups, maybe, but no matter what, you’ll be fine.