The worst things you can do after a breakup (and how to avoid them)

Breakups are never easy. It’s not like we go through them, wake up the next day, and go about our business like nothing has changed. It would take either a very strong or very in-denial person to be able to do that, even if they were the one who did the dumping. And the longer and/or more invested in a relationship you are, the harder it can be to move forward.

It can also be really difficult to step outside the post-breakup circle of despair and see anything further than two feet ahead of you. I’ve been there; I think we all have. And while I, and most people I know who have been through difficult breakups, have come out of them as better people, there are a few habits many of us tend to harp on that might be hindering that essential growth.

Blaming, neglecting, and/or punishing yourself

Breakups suck, but I promise putting the blame on yourself won’t help anything. It’s usually no one’s fault when a relationship ends, and relationships ending are a very normal part of life. Taking time to fault yourself will only breed more sadness, and take you that much longer to move on. There’s a difference between blaming yourself and grieving, and the latter is totally OK – and more than healthy.

Seeking some kind of revenge

This is one of those situations where you should step outside your comfort zone, look at yourself as another person, and ask, “What would I think of someone who did that action?” Or think of the kind of person you want to be seen/known as and really ask yourself if that action will help or hurt that image.

If you’re thinking of socking it to your ex in some way or another, it’s usually best not to waste your time. Mostly because it’s precious, but also because it makes you look like the lesser person (and you totally aren’t). There are so many other ways to feel satisfied that are healthy and ensure you’re taking care of your image. A spa day is a great one. Or a really big Reese’s cup. Or, um, both.

Stalking your ex’s social media accounts

Another one of those things that, while tempting, will get you nowhere. At best you’ll find nothing (which, who cares, right?), and at most you’ll find something that will upset you. None of those consequences = erasing the breakup. You will feel all sorts of knotted up afterward, too. If you have to use the “hide” or “block” features, go for it. It’s worth the extra step!

Avoiding your friends and family

I know it can be tempting to become instant BFFs with Ben and Jerry and totally isolate yourself from the rest of the people who love you, but trust me: as someone who has shacked up with myself and my cat, I can tell you it’s not the greatest thing to be alone with your thoughts for too long when you’re going through such a huge emotional upheaval. Alone time is OK, but pick up the phone – even if you have to schedule some time in advance to do it. The people who love you want to listen to you and help in any way they can. I promise.

Listening to THAT song

Or album. Or watching that movie that the two of you always watched together. Or going through a special box of keepsakes for a trip you took together. You get the idea. Even if you want to hold on to these memories (which is OK and totally understandable), maybe just set them aside for now. They will always be there, but right now they’re power-packed with too many painful feelings. The photo albums of you and your friends and family sans your ex, however? Those are calling your name big time.

Making huge purchases you can’t really afford

I’m not saying don’t treat yo’self. because you totally should. If you’ve wanted to get a haircut or new hair color, take a weekend trip with a friend, or something else that you’ve just been saying no to for a while, now is absolutely the time to get on that – especially if your ex wasn’t a fan of whatever it is you wanted to do. Just don’t like, buy a house, if you’re not really prepared to take on the responsibility.

If pre-breakup you couldn’t afford it, post-breakup you probably can’t either. Just keep that in mind! Your future self who is over the breakup and has moved on will thank you!

Jumping into another super-serious relationship right away

As someone who has only been single for her adult life for a few months, I can tell you that those few months are probably the ones I grew the most in the shortest period of time. BE SINGLE. Get to know yourself outside that person, and be 100% OK with the awesome individual you are before letting anyone else get to share that intimately with you. Dating is awesome, but cherish that time you have with yourself. It is priceless. And hey – you don’t have to share your fries with anyone. Big plus.

(Image via A24)


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