There is no pain like that of a broken heart. The anguish of unrequited love can be a soul-wrenching experience. It is an emotional injury that manifests itself in a very physical way, leaving grief-stricken individuals feeling raw, exposed and vulnerable. Most people make two mistakes when faced with such strong emotions. They either want to get over it as quickly as possible or get stuck wallowing in misery. Neither are healthy reactions to the situation, and both show weak dispositions. Although it’s not easy, the best approach is to use your painful experience to become a stronger person. These steps will help guide you through the process of mending your broken heart:
1. Acknowledge Your Pain
Having a broken heart doesn’t make you a weak person; it makes you a loving, caring and trusting person with real feelings. You were in a relationship with someone you loved, and that relationship ended. That’s very painful. If you try to pretend that you are either not affected by the breakup or push yourself through the process too quickly, you will never truly heal. You don’t have to become a drama queen to put a name on your feelings. Simply talk to someone you trust about the pain you are going through. Sometimes you can’t get over being hurt until you know you’ve been heard. Allow yourself to say the words, “I’m in pain,” instead of masking your feelings behind anger or indifference.
2. Grieve Your Loss
Give yourself permission to grieve. You were attached to this person and when they are taken from your day-to-day, you miss them. That’s completely normal. Set aside at least a couple of days for yourself. Take a day to just be sad and cry. Don’t be afraid to feel the sadness. That may sound silly, of course you feel sad, and you didn’t have to let it happen. It’s happening all on its own. However, when emotions get to an uncomfortable level, we tend to back away from them by turning to outside distractions. If you try to control the level of sadness you feel, it will only pop up later. Be by yourself and cry the ugly, wailing, snotting, hiccup-inducing, blubbering, bawling, gut-wrenching sob of the truly downhearted, until you fall asleep and wake up with a puffy face and your eyes almost swollen shut.
Once you have woken up from your crying jag, blow your nose, wash your face and call your friends. Having a good support system is important, and your friends will want to be there for you. These are the people who know exactly which comfort foods and movies to bring. They will also be there to listen and to tell you when it’s time to knock it off and get over it. Your true friends won’t allow you to wallow in your own despair and snot.
3. Don’t Get Stuck on the “Why’s”
The reason for the breakup is irrelevant. It’s just vocabulary for the inevitable – you’re no longer together. Trying to dissect every aspect of your relationship for things you coulda, woulda, shoulda isn’t going to change the outcome. Whether you were dumped for no reason or did the dumping over something terrible the other person did, you are still going to suffer. Playing the blame game is a waste of your time and energy. It will also keep you stuck in a holding pattern of anger which can turn to bitterness. Have you seen those ladies who look like they have a perma frown on their face? You do not want that for yourself.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do some honest soul searching, but be certain to define your intentions. Are you trying to move past the breakup or hoping to get back with your ex? You won’t get past it until you’ve accepted the relationship is truly over. Sometimes the relationship you need to rescue is the one with yourself. Moving past a breakup is about you – not your ex. When you look back over your time with your ex, look for destructive behavior on your part. For example, if you only heard what you wanted to hear or ignored red flags during your relationship, you need to know what caused you to do these things. Is it something that you have done in the past? If so, the pattern will continue until you address it. You don’t want to carry any old baggage into future relationships.
4. Cut All Contact with Your Ex
Nothing good can come from having contact with your ex. You don’t want to embarrass yourself or put yourself in a situation where you’ll look back and feel humiliated. Driving past your ex’s house, making dozens of phone calls, texting and emailing nonstop or cyber stalking him is no way to let go of the past or come out with your head held high. Plus, it will only create confusion and prolong your healing process. Delete him from your contacts, cut all social network ties, put away all reminders of him and sell any jewelry he gave you. Use the money to do something nice for yourself or donate it to a women’s shelter. If you go to the same school or work together, avoid him as much as possible. If you have mutual friends, don’t say negative things or talk about him. It will only make you look bad, and put your friends in an awkward situation.
Of course you still care about this person and are attached to them, otherwise you wouldn’t have been in a relationship with them. The only way to move forward is to break the attachment. You don’t have to hate them. That is only giving power to someone who hurt you. Instead, mentally shoot some ice into your veins and do your best to not care what or how they are doing. You know how they are doing, the same as you, crappy. They may be hiding it or distracting themselves with, shall we say, outside interest, but they are hurting too.
5. Change Your Routine
Accept that your life will be screwed up for a while. Depending on how long and how serious the relationship was your entire life could be impacted by the breakup. You may have to change everything from where you live, to your gym membership. Don’t go to the same places you went to as a couple. Not only will it keep reminding you of him, you will likely bump into him (and he may not be alone). Don’t do the same activities you did together either. Find new interests and hobbies.
Create a set routine for yourself and stick to it. You are going to be sad for a while and you don’t want it to turn into depression. Having a strict sleep schedule will prevent sleep deprivation and keep you from staying in bed too much. Read a book at night instead of letting your mind wander to sad thoughts. Take care of your body by eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise. Not only will this chase away the blues, it will keep you looking hot, which we all know is the perfect revenge when you do bump into him. It will also give you more confidence when you are ready to put yourself out there again.
6. Embrace Your Independence
Don’t rush into another relationship or even casual dating. Take some time to enjoy your independence. When we start dating, we make compromises here and there and lose little bits of our individuality. Sometimes making small changes can help you feel like you’re reclaiming yourself. Rearrange your furniture or change the way you wear your hair. If you bought a certain brand of shampoo because he liked the smell, trash it and buy a new bottle. If you lived together, make your place more girlie. Strategically placing frou-frou items around the house is the estrogen version of marking your territory.
Enjoy this time you have with yourself. Put a time limit on your crying urges. Don’t ignore your feelings, but don’t let them run your life either. Get out and have fun with your friends or try something new that you’ve been putting off because your ex wasn’t interested in it. Be a little selfish. You deserve it.
7. Do Not Go Back
It never fails, around the time you start feeling good about life again; he will try to come back. Men handle breakups differently than women. In general, they are impatient and don’t want to face the pain of heartbreak. They want to go straight to the happy times and start “dating” immediately. It’s not really dating because they are no more ready to date than you are. So, they hook up with random chicks. Inevitably though, all that grief that you have worked through is now beginning to pop up for him because he didn’t deal with it in the beginning. This is not always the case, but it is the general rule. He has also most likely heard how great you look and how well you are doing. He will start to feel the sad feelings, miss you and try to contact you. When this happens, you cannot be tempted to go back to him. Do your best to continue your no contact rule, but if he pops up in front of you, be strong. Don’t beat around the bush or try to sugar coat things. That won’t work. You must be straightforward when you tell him that it will not happen. You may be tempted to be cocky and rub it in his face, but be civil. There’s no reason to be a bitch. You can gloat to your girlfriends later.
8. Prepare to Move On
At this point most people either backslide from the contact with their ex, or if no contact was made, they are ready to start dating again. Before you jump back into the same situation you just spent all this time and energy getting over, do some preparation. Now that things aren’t as raw as they were immediately following the breakup, think back over your relationship again and get real with yourself about how you could have done things better. Everyone has baggage and issues. You can choose to carry them around from relationship to relationship or do some work ahead of time. Get yourself right before you dump your crap onto someone new.
Once you have done some work on yourself, think about what you really want out of a relationship and what values are really important to you. Most people do more research before buying a television or car than they do before inviting someone to be a part of their life. Even if you aren’t ready to settle down, you should have higher standards for yourself. You sure as hell don’t want a repeat of your last relationship. So really get to know yourself and what you are looking for instead of blindly going forward. Be picky. You are not going to be alone the rest of your life. Even if you are, that’s preferable to being with someone who makes you unhappy.
9. Put Yourself Back Out There
It’s been a long hard road, but you have made it through. It’s time to trust again. Whenever you get involved in a relationship, you know there’s risk. Don’t let a bad experience keep you from living your life to the fullest. You can’t go through life suspicious and fearful. People are meant to have love and happiness.
Although it’s easier said than done on some days, it’s imperative to stay optimistic. Whenever you feel yourself dwelling on the past, being overly negative or fatalistic do your best to snap out of it. Have a plan in place to draw yourself out of these moments. Call a friend, or, if you have to, jump up and down while making chicken sounds. Do whatever it takes to change your state of mind. You can’t allow yourself to be paralyzed by the thought of opening yourself up to loving someone new. Because the only way to avoid the pain of a broken heart would be to close yourself off from love completely and that would be the saddest of existences.