If there’s one thing that we all know, it’s that breakups suck. The hardest part is, no matter what side of the break up you’re on, the effects will eventually hit you and it won’t be pretty. It’s up to you how you choose to handle your sad feelings, and there are many options from which to choose. In hindsight, I may not have chosen the best options every day after my break ups, but now I’m all the wiser and able to provide some insight (along with the helpful suggestions from conversations with my friends) on 20 things you definitely should not do while navigating a break up.
1. Date just because everyone says you should
Just because your friends and family are constantly asking when you’re going to “get back on the saddle” does not mean you have to start dating again. No matter the pressure, date only when and whom you want; don’t let the free dinner and drinks get in the way. Maybe you’re simply not ready or maybe you want to spend time on other things.
2. Be depressed in public
No one wants to be seen with someone with visible tear stains on their cheeks and a frown that could make Droopy cringe. There’s a big chance that your friends invited you out to get your mind off everything so don’t let them down! Smile, flirt, throw your head back and laugh; be confident and irresistible no matter the war raging in your head.
3. Stop caring about your appearance
We’ve all seen the movie with the heartbroken girl sobbing into a gallon of ice cream, right? So cliche, but also so true! I know just how tempting a pint of cinnamon roll Ben & Jerry can be, and hey, go for it every now and then! Enjoy wearing those sweatpants and not having to suck it in with Spanx. Just make sure you don’t host ice cream socials on a daily basis. You might be hating your ex right now, but those feelings can quickly become self-loathing thoughts after too many binges.
4. Care too much about your appearance
In the opposite scheme, it’s a good thing to be lazy and disgusting every now and then. Lounge around the house for a day, forget to comb your hair, don’t shave your legs, because guess what? No one cares! Everyone has their own lives to live and no one will be completely focused on you and your appearance 24/7.
Find a balance for yourself: hit the gym, eat healthy, binge appropriately, relax and enjoy life. There’s nothing wrong with you and the way you look; you’re one damn good-looking single individual and you know it!
5. Lower your standards when you do decide to date
Take this newly found “you” time to raise your standards in a future mate. Don’t date someone who is damaged, a player, or a potential project. You have neither the time nor patience to actually settle for such a person, so why not aim for the moon?
6. Drunk text your ex (or text your ex in general)
I am a known supporter of the statement, “Nothing good comes from texting.” A person cannot hear the tone behind a text which can result in unwarranted fights, some texts don’t send right away causing a whole mess of potential scenarios, and texting can even kill behind the wheel. I much prefer hearing another person’s actual voice. But no matter the circumstance, nothing good ever comes from being drunk and owning a cellphone.
Whether you’re drunk or not, just don’t converse with your ex. He/she could end up saying nothing, but they could also say something you don’t want/need to hear, or say the perfect thing and get you right back into a chaotic web. Leave them alone for awhile so you can familiarize yourself with your singleness — you might actually find out that the break up was for the best!
7. Casually hook up with your ex
Ladies and gents… Just. No. Hooking up will not convince your ex to get back with you. Instead, it’ll only leave you feeling worse than before. Respect yourself and don’t go back to someone who didn’t fight for you in the first place.
8. Innocently (but not really) think your ex and you can still be “just friends”
Here are a few reasons why it is virtually impossible to be friends with an ex:
- You honestly think you’ll be happy when your ex starts dating again? No way, and unfortunately real friends want each other to be happy.
- There are too many memories, inside jokes, and emotions in the past to allow for a fresh start. You’re more likely to fall into old dating patterns even when not romantically involved.
- Admit it or not, attempting to be friends with your ex leads to false hope in an already-failed relationship.
- Think of it this way: your ex and you broke up for a reason. You’ve had your heart broken because you’ve discovered this person is not right for you, even though you wanted them to be. Why not invest your time and energy in the people who make you happy, not the ones who have hurt you deeply?
We all know the line “Let’s just be friends” is easy enough to say, but is simply meant to ease the pain of a broken heart. It is not supposed to be taken as a promise.
9. Rebound into a serious relationship
Coming straight out of a long-term relationship and attempting to enter another is means for disaster. You’re bringing a lot of baggage with you. It’s unfair to the new person who is interested in a happy ending. Work through your issues first and then look to devote your heart to someone else.
10. Seek revenge
Revenge is a petty action. Don’t be a petty person — don’t get even, get over it. Focus your time on yourself not on the waste who left you.
11. Drive by your ex’s home, friends’ homes, place of employment, baseball field, etc.
For those of you who read the above and hung your heads: be not ashamed! Such undeniably crazy behavior is one that a lot of heartbroken individuals find themselves participating. I’ve done it (in the form of borrowing a friend’s car and driving past my ex’s regular hangout at the time he usually arrived while drinking an actual-hot-chocolate-but-in-a-coffee-cup-for-coolness-factor and pretending I was an out-of-state tourist lost and confused while circling the block), my hard-ass best friend has done it, even my independent and self-declared asexual ex-roommate has done it. Be crazy once or twice, but then stop.
12. Stalk social media
So you think you’re too smart to stalk your ex physically, eh? But what about social media? In a world of constant contact, this no-do is one of the most obvious, but also one of the most destructive.
Don’t go probing into what you ex has been up to. Don’t self-righteously unfriend them just to type their name into the search bar, flip through as many pictures their privacy setting allows, and count how many likes/comments they have made to members of the opposite sex (“He went where with who!?”)
My advice? Block your ex, their closest friends, and their family. It is simply way too easy to track your ex through these outlets and you don’t need that! And honestly, just avoid social media completely right after a breakup. There is nothing helpful with seeing another engagement notice, or baby announcement, or picture of you with your ex.
13. Spontaneously reinvent yourself
Whether it be a drastic new hair-do, moving across the globe, or not remembering how you acquired that full-sleeve tattoo and nipple piercing, everyone goes through the phase of wanting to become someone completely new after a big break up. The problem? In most cases you’ll end up with a lot of regret and cringe-worthy pictures splashed all over the Internet.
Instead of making small changes in yourself, work towards something larger. Become Mister/Miss Determination. Choose to become super successful in your career, pick up interesting and unique hobbies, or work on your physique to make your ex know exactly how much they let go.
14. Become a floozy
If there’s anything worse than being the depressed friend, it’s being the group whore. It seems the longer the committed relationship, the less likely a person will be ready for anything too serious right away. Instead, some people decide to have no commitment with anyone and just let it all hang out. Not a good idea, folks. Stay away from the potential STDs and pregnancies and come to terms with your life. Respect yourself and you’ll respected by others. I may or may not be thinking of a specific friend in this instance…
15. Share “your love story” with everyone you meet
Everyone likes gossip, but no one really need to know how you’ve been wronged. Talk about a snooze fest! Save your heart-to-hearts with your best friends, mom, dog, or journal. The longer you keep holding onto “your story,” the longer it will take you to move on.
16. Answer “I’m fine.” to every question directed at you
(This is probably the #1 uh-oh on my list…) Even though it’s no one’s business, people will ask how you are doing and what happened in the break up. Here’s a secret: you are not obliged to give them an answer! You don’t have to lie, saying you’re okay and you’ve moved on and you couldn’t be happier. You’ll only be hiding a problem and giving yourself false reassurance. Simply tell people you’re working on you and don’t feel like talking about anything yet. Only say “I’m fine.” when you truly are!
17. Wallow forever
Like I mentioned above, there’s nothing wrong with going through the acceptance phase and crying your heart out a few times. However, don’t sit in this phase forever. Listen to Miranda’s mama and go fix your makeup and start actin’ like a lady. The world isn’t quitting for you — might as well take it on and save yourself in the process.
18. Spend all your savings for self-discovery
With break up comes an entourage of new friends: self-help books, trending mediation exercises and yoga poses, and inspirational movies. Don’t take your solace in the form of emptying your savings account though! Unlike Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love, why not take a short weekend and go camping or to a spa? You’ll find your alone time, indulge in the finer things of life, and not break the bank. It’s a win-win!
19. Hold on to memorabilia
I’m not saying to dump all the keepsakes, but put those memory-triggers out of the public eye. Just like with anything unhealthy, now is a time to detox.
In my own experience, I felt much better after the memorabilia was absent. I found a slightly-abused box to put all my pictures, notes, and various memories and asked my father to place it in our attic. (I’ve lived in my parents’ house for 22 years and have never ventured up there…) I want to be able to show my future children who my first love was, but I didn’t want the temptation of crying over our past so soon after the break up.
20. Focus on the relapses
Relapses happen. Especially around anniversaries, birthdays, half-anniversaries, family holidays, annual cookout events, etc. You get the picture. The key is to remind yourself that you are not with your ex anymore for a reason. Choose to keep moving forward and live a happy life without that person.
Instead of doing the preceding 20 things, enjoy being single. It’s an adventure! Revel in the freedom of being able to make decisions without having to include someone else. Surround yourself with people who make you happy and enjoy being around you. Start doing things for yourself, like traveling, reading a novel, or going to the spin classes you never had time to do before.
Keep yourself together. Don’t lose yourself in the heartbreak. Respect yourself and present yourself with poise. Know that you are perfectly capable of being alone and are happy to do so, because ultimately, you will want to love and be loved again. In order to be loved, you have to love yourself first.