A lot of us would rather swim with sharks than go through a bad break up, and for good reason. Categorically, break-ups suck. For both the dumper and dumpee, it's crucial to navigate the aftermath with care and compassion, both for yourself and your brand new ex. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and we have a few little steps to get you there faster.
Feel the feels.
Allowing yourself to feel is allowing yourself to process. Feelings aren’t always comfortable, but they generally serve an important function. You may go through phases of sadness, anger, confusion and relief – even all of them at once. Try to acknowledge your feelings as they come up without judgement, and let them pass once they have done their thing.
Cooling off doesn’t have to be cold. If the breakup was amicable, you can kindly let your ex know that you need a break for your own wellbeing. Limiting contact with your ex-partner, at least initially, will help create a bit of emotional space needed for both of you to heal. It’s going to be tough, but try to resist the urge to sneak peeks at their social media posts and stories. For those without superhuman willpower, an unfollow or mute might be necessary.
Self-reflection is a crucial part of post-breakup recovery. Try to avoid spiralling over what went ‘wrong’, and put your energy into thinking about what your wants and needs are in the present moment and short term future. If you’re a human being, your relationship will have had its positives and negatives, and it’s okay to reflect on both. Consider what you would want in a relationship moving forward, as well as any non-negotiables you may have learnt you have along the way.
Take care of number one.
Self-care is important always, but especially in the throes of a breakup. Take indulgent baths, self pleasure, eat your weight in chocolate, get a dramatic breakup haircut if you need to. Focus on activities that bring you joy and prioritise your health and friendships while you heal. Try to avoid jumping immediately into a new relationship as a band-aid fix.
This is a big one. While you’re in the process of feeling your feelings and focussing on yourself, don’t distance yourself from your besties. Self-isolating and avoidance are common behaviours people display after a break-up, but not always helpful ones. Make time for friends and family who uplift and encourage you. Go to the party, even for a bit. If you have good friends around you they will want to help you feel better – let them! Socialising can provide a sense of normalcy and help combat feelings of loneliness.
If you don’t have a therapist, now might be a good time to look into one. Mourning the loss of a relationship can be extremely painful, and a mental health professional can provide you with insights, coping strategies, and a safe space to express your emotions.
Remember that healing from a break-up isn’t always linear – there's no set timeline for moving on. Give yourself time to feel and to heal, and love yourself fiercely and unconditionally. There is always life after love, and it could come sooner and feel even better than you’d expect.