I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while now, but I wasn’t really sure how it would look or what I wanted it to say. Plus, I’m still in a few of these stages myself, so bear with me.
1. Stop trying to win.
First of all, the way to win your break up is to take away this idea that one person can actually beat the other. As young twenty-somethings, we’re constantly faced with the notion that when we break up, we should immediately try to be happier than the other person. We should act like our lives are all cool and great without them, and then they’ll be sad because it’ll look like we’re fine when they’re still hurting. This mentality is poisonous. No one is “winning” when both people in pain – and dealing with it differently.
2. Allow yourself time to grieve.
Maybe you dated for six months. Maybe you dated a year. Maybe you dated five years and broke off an engagement. There is no correct amount of time to grieve. I’ve heard so many people say, “well shouldn’t I be over this by now?” No darling, you shouldn’t. You should feel exactly how you feel (and this doesn’t just apply to breakups). It has taken me the full length of a relationship to feel like I’ve completely gotten over someone. There have also been times when three years down the road, I still feel pangs of sadness. That’s okay. That’s allowed. You grieve for as long as you need to, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
3. Take your happiness out of someone else’s hands.
When I break up with someone, I feel like I have to reinvent myself. I’ve invested so much of my joy and happiness in someone else and how they’ll act, and then I’m left feeling like I need to rebuild or start over. A badass chick once told me that a relationship should be two happy people walking side by side, rather than one walking toward the other, with their partner as the end goal. I believe that our happiness should based in something (or Someone) much larger – but, regardless, your happiness should at least be based upon yourself. Don’t let the other person have any say in the matter. What brings you joy? What makes you, at this exact point in time, want to take a deep breath of fresh air with a smile on your face? What fills your heart?
4. Learn to love yourself.
You are a diamond. You are a beautiful creature full of life and potential, with opportunities at your fingertips. We can’t be free or happy if we’re chained within our own souls. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. Give yourself some extra TLC. Do things on your own. Say no to plans. Drink wine. Wear cozy socks. List off the things that you love about yourself. As a matter of fact, I’m writing this post with Moose Tracks in hand and Friends reruns in the background – and that’s okay. Go out for dinner alone. Take a hike in a beautiful place. And, most importantly, be gentle with how you talk to yourself. If you’ve ever seen me post-breakup, you’ll know that I use terms of endearment to encourage myself throughout the day. And, as ridiculous as it sounds, it helps.
5. Stop creeping his/her social media.
If you’ve ever broken up with someone, you’ll know how dangerous social media can be. Whether you’re reading into their tweets, refreshing their Facebook, seeing what/who’s pictures they’re liking on Instagram or posting on your Snapchat story to see if they’ll read it – we start to find our validation and answers through social media. Or, we become obsessed. I’ve gotten irrationally angry a handful of times over things I’ve deduced via social media that aren’t even true – and that’s unhealthy.
The other downfall is that if your ex-significant other does have a shorter grief period and starts posting about a new person in his/her life, you’ll just be causing yourself more pain by having it in your face 24/7. Don’t twist the knife further. For me, this translates to forcing myself off a social media platform for the day – even if it means something as simple as not posting in my Snap Story.
6. Write down your feelings.
This has been the most therapeutic process I’ve ever come across, so I’d like to share it. Beginning with post-breakup Day 1, I began writing an email draft of everything I wanted to say to my ex-significant other. This was all unfiltered emotion – from what was happening to work to me being in pain to me confessing over and over that I felt like it was my fault and that I was acting weakly. Then I saved the draft, and continued on with my day. I felt like I’d gotten out everything I wanted to say at that point, and it was all written down somewhere (with the potential to go to the person it was intended for).
And then, as I thought of more and more things, I just kept adding to the draft. Some days I would write four or five paragraphs about missing him, and some days I would write angry sentences full of questions that would never be answered. But, as I wrote them down, I began to feel better. Now, a month into my email document, my entries have started to become fewer. I even accidentally skipped a day this week, which I took as a great sign. Granted, my email draft is pages upon pages of words that he will never (hopefully!) see – but I know it’s always accessible and there if I need it.
7. Learn the things that you were relying on them for.
Chances are, this person you were dating knew how to do something – or knew about something – that you don’t. Maybe they’re super handy. Maybe they’re knowledgeable about sports. Maybe they can cook. Now, without them, you’re going to need some context for doing these things alone. I changed a headlight the other day with the help of a YouTube video. If there’s a super villain in a TV show whose background I don’t understand, I Google it. When I place bets on March Madness (and my ex happens to be my only association to basketball), I have to do a little research. I still lose, but it makes me feel better that I don’t need to turn to someone else to solve these things.
8. Don’t self-destruct.
In the early stages of the breakup, there are a lot of things to say and emotions are running high. Don’t use these feelings as an excuse to contact the person. If you still feel the same way a day later, go ahead. But, we’ve all experienced those flashes of anger that makes us want to type out furious messages. I’ve written and deleted more texts than I can count. With the help of some diligent proofreading friends, they’ve been vetoed. Unfortunately, these messages usually don’t yield the responses we’re looking for. And, these types of situations can also inhibit your ex-partner’s healing process; we take the other person down with us when we pick lose-lose fights.
Breakups are tricky, and even trickier to do with grace. I think the real key to winning your breakup is to accept the closure of this chapter in your life. Cherish the good times you had with this person, and acknowledge that you will be okay. It won’t be this painful forever.