Break up pain is the worst. The sadness, feelings of loss, the disappointment, fear, and hole you feel inside of your heart can be all too real. It can feel like you’ll never recover. Or if you do, you’ll never find someone as good or ever be as happy as you once were. Add a healthy dose of self loathing and “What did I do wrong!?” on top of that and you are under a garbage heap of feelings that it can feel impossible to ever escape.
Want to figure out why you broke up, do’s and don’ts for short term and long term recovery from a break up, what the hell you’re supposed to do now?, if things will ever get better, or how to improve your self-esteem that feels like it’s in the toilet? This is the post for you. Or maybe you are thinking “Why am I even reading this? I’m smart I can get over this it will just take time.” Keep reading to find out why you can’t overcome a breakup with just logic.
Break-ups these days can be more subtle too. Maybe you dated for 2 months and now they’ve ghosted you. They don’t have to have been your significant other or spouse to experience the feelings of a break-up. You can still feel heart broken and still need help recovering.
A super important take-away I want you to get from this post: Don’t try to be a hero. Don’t try to push your will-power and mental toughness beyond their breaking points by avoiding feelings. Don’t be too strong to feel. Don’t try to escape breakup pain with “logic” it doesn’t work!
The strongest thing you can do right now is to be “weak.” Experience and process your feelings. It won’t look pretty, it won’t always feel good, but you’ll come out better (and stronger!) for it on the other side.
You may be feeling like an ugly little dumped caterpillar right now, but stick with me and you’ll be a Beautiful Badass Butterfly (BBB) at then end of this process. If you just sort-of half follow these steps you might be kind of a dumpy moth at the end of the process. Stick with it. Be a BBB.
Before we get started, let’s tackle something that might be on your mind: Why did my ex break up with me? Was it for the reason they told me, or did they really mean something else? Are they seeing someone else? What if they ghosted and said nothing at all? What if they ARE just really busy at work? What if everything was perfect and now they have disappeared? What the hell happened!?!?!?
The good news is that I don’t even know you and I can answer this question for you. The bad news is you’re probably not going to like the answer. What happened? They don’t want to be with you. OUCH. Sorry, I had to rip the band-aid off.
It doesn’t matter what they told you (if they even said anything at all), the message is still that this person does not want to be with you. And what’s the #1 non-negotiable criteria for someone you are going to be in a relationship with? They have to want to be with you.
This is going to simplify things for you (yay!). Remind yourself:
“This person does not want to be with me. The #1 non-negotiable criteria I’m looking for is someone that wants to be with me. This person (now my ex) does not meet the criteria. Therefore we can no longer be together.”
Now things are simplified because you no longer need to discuss this break-up with your ex. Even if nothing was said, no discussion is needed. The message is 1000% clear. Even if they said they want to be with you but can’t, this is what their actions are telling you which is way more important.
So what do you do after a break-up?
Stop. Block. Protect.
This is something I feel strongly about. Take the time to go ahead and block them on all social media and block their phone number and email address. Be sure to turn off notifications and unfollow mutual friends too so you won’t see their posts that could contain your ex. Don’t forget to block them on all dating apps. Notice I’m saying block and not just unfollow. You do not want to see them in your “recommended friends” or see their name when you’re checking out who viewed your SnapChats or Instastory.
You do NOT need a random pop-up of what your ex is up to to crush you all over again. You must protect yourself right now the best you can. This is an important first step!
I know what you’re thinking. “But my breakup was different.” Or, “We said we’d stay friends.” Maybe, “It will look like I care too much if I block them or it will send the wrong message.” I don’t care. Just do it. It can always be undone. Trust me, I have blocked someone and then become friends again when my heart and head were ready. De-friending someone on Instagram is not the same as de-friending them in real life. It’s just Instagram.
What if you’re “taking a break” and not broken up? Bad news girl, you’ve been broken up with. Taking a break is the same thing. If someone said they want a break, go ahead and give them what they asked for. If you absolutely need to you can set a time to speak or meet again in the future . I recommend waiting at least 2 weeks. Don’t leave space open for “I miss you” texts when you’re trying to process and choose how to move forward. Make a date to talk in 2 weeks and in between now and then block them.
Anyone that cares about you will understand you need some space and time to heal. This is your time to focus on you and you cannot do that when you see them posting on social media. Do not try to white knuckle this one! Don’t tell yourself “I’m strong I can handle it.” You are extremely vulnerable right now. Don’t let a surprise social post show you just how vulnerable you are. Stop. Block. Protect.
Next up it’s time to reach out to friends and loved ones. NOT YOUR EX. Text, email, message on social media and/or call friends and family. Tell them you’re hurting.
I repeat, do not tell your ex how you’re feeling or attempt to have them help you process this. Remember step 1 when you blocked them? Yeah, part of the reason for that was to prevent you from contacting them. You may be thinking they are the only person that can make you feel better. This is not true. You and your friends and family aka support network can make you feel better. You do not need your ex to make you feel better. Also think of the unbearable pain if you reach out to them and don’t get the response you want or get no response at all? OUCH.
What if you feel ashamed? What if everyone already told you dating this person would end in heartbreak? What if you know you’re going to get some “I told you so’s.” What if this is the 20th time you’ve broken up? Maybe you were so ashamed of the relationship you didn’t even tell a soul you were dating someone in the first place. It’s OK, still reach out. In fact you more than anyone need to reach out.
Don’t be alone with this pain right now, just reach out. Reach out to your least judgmental loved ones first. Try talking to a friend that’s not as close to you or the situation, but who always has good, thoughtful advice. If you don’t have a person like that and have to talk someone who might say something judgmental, be honest. Start the conversation with “I need help. I know you didn’t approve of this relationship/told me not to get back with them/told me this would happen/whatever, but I did and now I’m hurting. What would help me the most is if you could just listen to me vent right now. I’m sure you feel frustrated too, but I really don’t need to feel worse than I’m already feeling so please be kind.” Tell your friend or family member what you need from them because they can’t read your mind.
What if you ditched all your friends for this person and now you’re crawling back? Same thing, be honest and be candid. Acknowledge that they may be feeling hurt too. Ask them to please be there for you and tell them you’re sorry. Make it up to them. Remember this feeling and if you say you won’t do it again in your next relationship and then stay true to your word in the future.
Now that we’ve put boundaries up to protect ourselves (Stop, Block, Protect) and called to action our support system (Reach Out) it’s time to do break-up stuff. The reason I recommend the immediate reach out to loved ones because you don’t want to feel completely alone when you stew. I also recommend blocking your exes number and social media because this is when you’ll be tempted to stalk social media. BTW don’t forget to block socials of anyone you think your ex might be dating.
Stewing is basically when you sit around in soft clothes not bathing and eating horrible, disgusting things. You can eat Taco Bell, cry your face off, take your hair to a new level of greasy that you’ve never experienced before, eat ice cream out of the container using a cookie as a spoon, and binge watch any and all Netflix (I recommend stand-up comedy or something light like Friends).
Get mad, get sad, get comfy, and just stew in the feelings for a while. Is this going to make you feel good? Temporarily, yes. The important part is to not feel too guilty. Give yourself a break and allow yourself to come undone a bit. Let it out. This stage needs to be brief, but go at it full force.
A word of caution about booze and drugs: a bottle of wine or 2 after a break-up can feel nice. Or even a few bender weekends where you go hard at the bars with your friends. This can feel like a fun escape, but can actually end with you feeling much worse. If you find yourself drunk texting or calling your ex or trying to “accidentally” run into them while out, then cut yourself off from the party. Alcohol is a downer anyway and can make you feel worse physically and emotionally.
The time you’re going to need for stewing is probably going to depend on the severity of the break-up. For most relationships try to limit stewing to between a long weekend to about a week. If he left you on your wedding night for your sister maybe you need a few weeks. Let yourself stew for a short time, but do not get to comfortable in this stage because it will not feel good long term.
Remember: It’s OK to feel bad. Being a human means that sometimes you feel bad and that’s normal and OK. You don’t have to try to correct or fix this feeling when it creeps in. Let it be for a bit and sit with it. The pain and the bad feelings are only temporary. Even if it’s unbearable remind yourself: this is temporary. Do not try to skip, ignore, or suppress the bad feelings, they’ll just pop-up later.
Write It Out (Optional Step)
Have some choice words for your ex? Want them to know exactly how you feel about them? Great, write it down! Write out everything you want to put in a Facebook status, text, tweet, DM, message, e-mail, or tell your ex in person in a letter. Really let them have it. Once you’re finished read over the letter once or twice. You can include this as part of the stewing process.
Now that you’ve written it all down, set it on fire. Do not ever send it to them. Do not try to show them what they did wrong or try to “help them” learn the error of their ways. We both know you are not trying to help your ex, you just want to say those things so you can feel better. So write it out and set it on fire. Safety tip: either throw it in a fireplace or light it on fire and drop it in your kitchen sink. Or type it out and then delete it. Don’t save any back-ups.
If you’re concerned that you might be tempted to make a Facebook status or Instagram post or Tweet to directly or indirectly send a message to your ex, have a good friend you trust temporarily change your passwords.
Important tip: You do not need your ex’s input or help to get over your relationship. You can and will get over this breakup even if you never speak to them again. Even if you never find out why they broke up with you in the first place! You do not need their permission to move on.
The ice cream and Friends marathon has put a nice little band-aid on the bullet wound in your heart, but now we need to heal. If you want to emerge better than before then you’re going to need to go hard on the Self Care.
The purpose of Self Care is to feel better and look better (so you can feel better). Self Care is going to build your confidence back up. Every little step you take towards recovery is going to make you stronger and more confident moving forward.
Self Care means working towards being the best version of yourself. The best version of you is going to be that super girl that eats super healthy, works out regularly, looks polished and gorgeous, and exudes happiness and contentment. Your best you does things that makes her truly happy- she crushes it at work, she spends quality time with her family and friends, she works on her creative outlet(s), she regularly enjoys hobbies that fulfill her, and she gives back to others.
If you’re currently stewing and just read that paragraph above and want to sink into a puddle because being that super girl sounds completely overwhelming and you really could just use another nap… If you feel paralyzed by sadness and depression it’s OK. Start small. Don’t try to be and do all of those things at once. Just brush your teeth. Or if you did that already, just wash your face. If that’s too much just make your bed. Or just throw away all of the used tissues all around you. When you complete small tasks like that you’ll build confidence and start a snowball effect.
So now you’re clean and dressed and ready to leave the house. Great! Go get a mani/pedi, a hair cut (a girl that’s ready to change her hair is ready to change her life), try eyelash extensions, get your brows threaded and tinted, get yourself a nice new outfit, get a blow out, get a facial or a massage, treat yo self.
Broke? That’s ok! Go to Salon Moi (do some DIY beauty stuff at home). Do a face mask, exfoliate your body with coconut oil and brown sugar, shave your legs, do an at-home self tan, give yourself a blowout, do your makeup in full glam even if you have no where to go. Optional step: take a really great selfie. Honestly some of my best selfies have been when I’ve done full glam because I’m depressed about a break up. Remember if you post it: it’s not for your ex. They should not be able to see it because they should still be blocked!
Make Plans and Get Busy
Doing the above steps will get you started on this step where you’re going to make plans and get busy! Try to spend each Sunday planning out the rest of your week so the majority of the time you are scheduled to be doing something. Do not keep sitting around stewing or watching TV you will start to feel worse. Pack your schedule.
During times where you’re not doing actual “activities” spend time on healthy habits: meal plan, cook healthy meals, meditate, do yoga, stretch, go on a walk, clean, organize, plan etc. Try to start a routine so that you can get in a flow of being busy and productive. This will help keep you off social media and keep your mind off your ex.
Make plans with friends or family you haven’t seen in forever. Remember you are now working on being your best self so you’re not allowed to talk about yourself and your ex the entire time! Plan a trip to visit someone. Schedule workouts with friends (or alone!) Get tickets to shows, concerts, museums, etc. Do a paint night or work on your hobbies (photography, blogging, gardening, anything!) Try something you’ve always been interested in. Cross an item off your bucket list.
Broke and friendless? Or are you a teen so you can’t do whatever whenever? Do yoga and stretching videos on YouTube, re-arrange your room, clean out your closet (I’m obsessed with book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up which you can get from the library or listen for free to the entire book on YouTube), practice makeup looks on yourself, find a job or side hustle, go on a hike, volunteer, try to talk to new people and make connections at school or work or even online, go in your closet and be your own stylist putting together new outfit ideas and take photos so you can remember your creations.
Again all of these things are going to help you keep your mind off of your ex, work on making yourself feel and look better, and are going to build your confidence. They aren’t just going to happen though you’re going to have to put in effort, change your habits and routines, and make the plans!
Build Yourself Back Up
The Self Care and Make Plans and Get Busy steps are going to be the beginning of building yourself back up. Spend time being single and figuring out who you are and what you like. Think about or write down your good qualities and accomplishments. Make plans and changes in your life and stick to them. Make short term and long term goals for yourself that you can work towards in small ways everyday. These things are going to help you build your self-confidence. These steps are going to be especially critical if you previously defined yourself by your relationship, were in a relationship with someone that was constantly critical and shredded your self esteem, or were in an emotional or physically abusive relationship.
You are not going to just wake up one day changed and confident. Everyone has it within themselves to become more confident. It takes conscious, persistent, and purposeful effort to build your confidence and maintain it. Your confidence needs to be built up to the point that no matter what someone says or does you know who you are, what your accomplishments are, and what your value is.
Be the kind of person the person you want to be with is looking for.
Get Back Out There
Now that you’ve put in the hard work on yourself and you feel better inside and out, it’s time to get back out there! You are worthy of love! You will find someone that can’t stand the idea of not being with you. You will find a relationship that will exceed your wildest dreams of how great love and partnership can be. You’ve got this! You’ve overcome this breakup like a champ and you are stronger, more resilient, wiser, more focused on what you want and need in a relationship, and more beautiful inside and out than ever before!
Get on some dating apps, keep your eyes out for red flags, don’t fall for future fakers, keep loving yourself, and if you ever feel down again then go back to the Self Care step and work your way up to this one again!
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