In the previous article, we talked you through five steps for mending a broken heart.
The first rules were focused on the acute stages of heartbreak; giving yourself permission and time to grieve, learning how to be alone again, finding and creating meaning in the aftermath of a relationship, etc. Now, we are going to chat about some more practical approaches for dealing with heartbreak, especially as time moves on.
Rule 6: Find some meaningful hobbies
This one applies to all of us, whether we are nursing a broken heart or not. Having fulfilling hobbies that we genuinely enjoy doing, outside of our regular work, is a no-brainer for positive mental-health and life balance. As adults, it can feel tricky (and sometimes indulgent) to allocate time for ourselves- but it shouldn’t. Hobbies, whatever they may be, facilitate a meditative space for playfulness, curiosity and collaboration.
If you’ve been recently heartbroken, you’re probably feeling nervous about re-entering and navigating the social sphere as a single person. You may even feel like you need to avoid your usual friends or social haunts, if you’re trying to have space from your ex. Picking up a new hobby is a great way of meeting new people and exploring different corners of our community. If you’re feeling anxious about starting up a conversation with a stranger, you’ve already found a common interest in your shared hobby. Besides, in the age of digital dating, an in-person conversation goes a long way.
Maybe you want to try life drawing? Or join a dance class? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to start your own Depop shop? Learn a language? Whatever it is, don’t be shy. Embrace the unknown and lean into the humbling experience of being bad at something initially. It won’t last long.
Rule 7: Find relief in exercise and movement
In accordance with the previous rule, finding a form of exercise or movement that suits our bodies can be an uplifting and meditative form of non-verbal expression. Exercise reduces stress and improves sleeping; two crucial features of our mental well-being that come under threat when we are heartbroken. It is so important to listen to our bodies. If we nurture and respect our physical bodies, our mental health will benefit too.
Rule 8: Don’t be tempted to see your ex too soon
We’ve all been here. Especially when there’s a lot of remaining love, it can be really tempting to text your ex, check in with them, grab a harmless coffee, a harmless drink…
Sometimes we feel like we need more closure, and immediately at that. Or that nobody understands our hurt like them and therefore they are the only person that we can confide in. It’s not unusual for ex partners to help each other get over a breakup. But can your ex really help you move on?
As a general rule, it’s probably useful to ask yourself a few questions before seeing your ex. What am I going to achieve from this interaction? Is this interaction going to make it more difficult for myself or my ex to move on? Is it going to give one of us the wrong idea about the future? What are my motivations for seeing them?
If the answers to any of these questions are dubious, it’s probably best to leave things be for a little longer, if possible. It does depend on the particularities of your breakup but having space from each other is most likely going to make it easier for both of you to move on with your lives. If you don’t give each other the time and space to heal, there’s a serious chance that one or both parties will feel led on, and feelings will remain. It’s helpful to have a transparent conversation, where you discuss why space could be beneficial. Alternatively, if your partner has asked for space, it’s important that you respect their wishes.
There’s always the option to reconnect in the future, when the initial pain and heartbreak have worn off. You’ll probably be able to have a much more sensible and constructive conversation with the clarity of time.
Rule 9: Don’t rush into new relationships
‘The best way to get over someone is to get under someone’ - right?
When we are suffering with a broken heart, it’s a totally normal response to seek out new sources of emotional and physical validation. It can take our mind off heartbreak by providing a type of comfort that we would not be able to find elsewhere.
If you feel that you are ready, seeing and experimenting with new people can be a pivotal step towards mending a broken heart. Sometimes you’ve got to treat it like ripping a Band-Aid off; at some stage, it has to be done. It’s an uncomfortable but necessary part of moving on.
However, and we cannot stress this enough, if you’re not ready, you should not feel any pressure to move on too quickly. When you are still emotionally vulnerable, rushing into a new relationship can make things more confusing in the long run. It can delay significant parts of the healing process that should be addressed for optimal future flourishing.
It’s also worth remembering that one love doesn’t replace the hole left by another. Be patient and kind to yourself. Listen to your heart and you will know when you are ready. Love is not a race. There are other people waiting out there, ready to adore you, but make sure you’re ready to be adored.
Taking it slow and seeing people casually can be a safe way of testing the waters before entering another committed relationship. Being single is a unique time where we can focus on ourselves and explore our own desires, without the competing interests of a partner.
Rule 10: See a professional
Make no mistake - break ups suck. It can only help to have a professional guide you through what is one of the hardest things you’re likely to go through.
A counsellor or psychologist can’t force your ex to get back with you, but they can provide you with cognitive tools to help navigate things like rumination and recurring thoughts, anxiety, depression, self-blame, anger and loneliness. If you recognise that you are struggling with any of these things, seeing a therapist can be extremely empowering.