How to get over a break-up

Relationship not work out? Here’s a guide to surviving the aftermath and coming out stronger

By Jane Hoskyn

DO accept that it hurts… a lot
Being dumped is hideous. Heck, dumping someone is hideous. You will feel the loss of a joint future and, if you were the dumpee, a whacking great sense of rejection. Cry, wail, scream, talk to your friends. Doing so is not self-indulgent, it’s a vital part of getting better. Don’t bundle up all that hurt and tension because you’re too proud or scared to let it out – it’ll stay inside your head forever like a giant mouldy teabag. Cry yourself ragged now, and you’ll find it easier to move on.
DON’T seek revenge
If your ex has done things to hurt you (other than simply finishing with you), don’t stoop to their level. What would you gain from it? Show some self-respect, and show the world and your no-mark ex that you deserve better.
DO think about why it happened
There is some comfort in examining what happened in an objective way with the help of an honest friend. You’ll start to dispel that vague sense of “I’m worthless” or “it’s all my fault” and replace it with valuable truths about where you and your ex went wrong. All of this will help you avoid similar mis-steps in the future. In the fresh pain of a break-up this won’t seem like much comfort, but remember that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
DON’T revisit old haunts
Standing outside the pub where you had your first date, gazing through the rain-streaked window at the sofa where you flirted all those months ago, is just wilful self-torture. You won’t get over the past if you make it such a part of your present.
DO write it all down
Writing about it, for your eyes only, can be very cathartic. You don’t have to be a poet to find unexpected insights when you write about your feelings and experiences. Be honest, and don’t edit yourself as you go. Patterns may become clearer, and you’ll find it much easier to see and understand lessons from your experiences. No relationship is ever a failure if you draw upon it to learn about yourself.
DON’T stay in touch with your ex
Not for now, at least. It’s tempting for new exes to agree to be friends, but in practice it’s torture, especially if you’re the dumpee. Seeing your beloved ex but being unable to touch and kiss them as before… could you really live with that? It won’t make them want you back, it will just mess with your head and cause you to act like a limpet with no self-respect. You will hate yourself for it, believe me.
If you really want to get over this person, take a complete break. No meeting up, no emails, and definitely no phone calls or instant messaging.
Incidentally if you’re the one who ended it, respect your ex’s need to keep his or her distance from you. Friendship may come easy to you but it’ll be a lot more painful for them. Give it time – several months if necessary, or even years if it was a very long and serious relationship – and then perhaps you can re-establish contact. But only when you really are over each other.
DO talk to your friends
Lovers come and go, but friends will always be there to support you when you’re down. Surround yourself with people who know you well, who accept your faults and who genuinely want the best for you. Happily single friends will be especially helpful, and will help you see that you don’t have to be coupled-up to be fulfilled.
DON’T let yourself go
If you’ve been dumped, a slovenly inner demon will want to morph you into a cliché of sofa-hugging, pyjama-wearing, chocolate-eating, non-hair-washing self-hatred. You may derive a few seconds’ comfort from stuffing your grubby face in front of daytime telly, but keep it up and you’ll end up feeling a hundred times worse than before.
Get it into perspective. You were a vibrant, attractive individual before you got together with your ex. That phase of your life is now over, and you are that same vibrant, attractive individual – only with more experience and know-how than before. Why turn into a trampy no-mark just because someone was dim enough not to want to hang onto you?
Here’s why getting off your bum will get your mojo running again:
1. Staying physically active improves your mood, boosts your sense of self-worth and helps to release all that pent-up frustration. And it’ll give you better thighs.
2. Looking your best and staying on the social scene sends everyone – including your ex and your subconscious self – a loud message that you don’t “need” anyone.
3. Keeping your home clean will leave you feeling refreshed and prepared for new things to come. Mess can be overwhelming and will add to your stress. Bring in the professional cleaners if necessary.
DO get busy
It may not seem like it right now, but your relationship was only one area of your life. Now’s the time to throw yourself into all those things that you had little time for when you were dating. Hobbies, travel, new things you want to learn, friends and family, even lying in the bath for two hours reading a book… your time is now your own, so savour it and do something great with it.
DON’T rush time
Above all, time is the best healer. Think of your broken heart like a broken leg. Right now it hurts so much you don’t have words to describe it, but time will fix it – and you won’t even notice it happening. Here’s to the future!