Breakups are an inevitable part of the human experience, and yet, they remain one of the most challenging and painful events we can endure. It doesn’t matter if you initiated the split or were on the receiving end of a broken heart, the aftermath of a breakup can leave you feeling lost, overwhelmed, and consumed by a whirlwind of emotions.
But here’s the good news: healing from a breakup is not only possible, it’s also an opportunity for personal growth, self-discovery, and a chance to build a brighter future. This guide, “How to Get Over a Breakup,” is here to help you embark on a journey of healing and transformation.
So, if you’re ready to take the first steps towards healing and moving on from a breakup, join us on this journey as we explore the path to emotional recovery and the possibilities that await on the other side of heartache.
What Happens in Our Brain When We Go Through a Breakup
One of the most challenging aspects of moving on from an ex is dealing with those unexpected rushes of positive memories during daily routines. It could be something as simple as hearing a jingle from a commercial they used to sing to you or passing by a favorite brunch spot.
Honestly, many of us often wish we could replace those bittersweet memories with the negative aspects of the breakup, like false accusations and constant attacks on our character.
According to therapist Travis McNulty, this desire is understandable, but it doesn’t align with the way our brains and emotions function when it comes to love.
McNulty explains, “During a relationship, the monogamous brain categorizes this person as your life partner. We are wired biologically to seek reproduction, so when we see our ‘partner,’ our brain releases potent neurotransmitters that make us feel good.”
To put it simply, going through a breakup is like attempting to quit a powerful drug cold turkey. McNulty adds, “When the brain registers that the partner is no longer in your life, grief sets in.
The brain stops producing the feel-good chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine that it used to release whenever you were with that person.”
This abrupt change in neurochemistry is what often leads to that queasy feeling in the stomach. “For most of us, this shift in focus can lead to behaviors that seem out of character, and even ‘crazy’ as we try desperately to win that person back, even when we logically know they may not be right for us.”
How to Get Over a Breakup
Here are some practical steps to help you get over a breakup:
Consider Your Breakup as a Physical Injury
Think of healing from a broken heart in a similar way you would heal from a physical injury. Just like you wouldn’t expect yourself to be at 100% after breaking a leg, extend the same grace to yourself for experiencing emotional pain. Understand that you may not be functioning at your best, and that’s completely fine.
Allow Yourself to Feel Your Emotions
Give yourself permission to acknowledge and process your feelings without judgment. You can set a timer for 10-20 minutes to focus on your emotions. Write your thoughts about the breakup in a letter (even if you never send it to your ex) or speak them aloud.
After the timer goes off, ask yourself what you need at that moment, whether it’s talking to a supportive friend, engaging in physical activity, taking care of your basic needs, or finding a way to relax.
Reconnect with Activities that Bring You Joy
Revisit old hobbies or interests that you may have set aside while in the relationship. Reconnecting with activities that make you happy can be empowering and help you regain a sense of self.
Seek Support from Friends
It’s natural to lean on your friends for support during and after a breakup. Don’t let embarrassment or anxiety hold you back from reaching out to your social network. If you’re concerned about burdening your friends, consider rotating the people you confide in.
Different friends can offer various perspectives and support, which can be immensely helpful.
Apologize to Your Support System If Needed
If you’ve lost touch with friends for reasons related to your relationship, consider reaching out to them and owning up to your actions. You can express regret for neglecting the friendship and explain that you’d like to reconnect.
For instance, you could say, “I know I stopped prioritizing our friendship while I was in my relationship, and I really regret that. I’d love a chance to reconnect with you if you’re open to it.” Or, “I got really caught up in having a significant other and now see that it wasn’t cool of me to disappear on you like that.”
Consider Therapy if You Don’t Have One
Having a therapist can be immensely helpful, providing an unbiased, neutral perspective to gain a deeper understanding of what happened in the relationship, your role in it, and how to learn and grow from the experience.
This is particularly important if your mental health has been severely affected by the breakup. Seek therapy if you experience a significant decline in functioning, such as loss of appetite or sleep, difficulty at work, mood or personality changes, or intrusive or suicidal thoughts.
Healing after a breakup doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself, even though it’s challenging. Understand that the pain won’t disappear instantly, and recovery is a gradual process. Some days will be better than others, and your thoughts and emotions may fluctuate through the stages of grief.
Your healing time depends on the significance and duration of the relationship. If you find yourself continuously grieving for over a year, it may be time to seek professional help.
Create Distance from the Relationship
To heal, you need to separate yourself from your ex. Limit communication to essential matters, like returning personal belongings, and then disengage. Whether to delete your ex’s number or block them on social media depends on your situation, but Dr Liner compares contacting your ex to picking at a scab, which can lead to emotional infections and scarring.
Appoint an Intermediary When Necessary
In situations where you’re living together, sharing responsibilities like pet care or co-parenting, consider asking a trusted friend or family member to act as an intermediary to manage logistics temporarily, allowing you to gain some distance from your ex.
Remove Painful Reminders
Consider putting away or disposing of items associated with your ex. This helps you cope with the breakup more healthily. Maintaining reminders like old texts or phone calls can hinder your ability to move forward and create a sense of hope for reconciliation.
However, if you’ve fully processed the relationship and can look back on it fondly, you may decide to keep certain mementos, which leads us to the next tip.
Safely Store Mementos
If you don’t want to discard all the memories linked to your ex, consider placing them in a box out of sight until your emotions have settled. This allows you to make a more considered decision about what to do with these keepsakes. If you worry that you might retrieve these mementos, ask a trusted friend to store them for you.
Yes, you read that right. Treating yourself as if you’re in a relationship with yourself can be surprisingly beneficial. Go on solo dates, cook enjoyable meals, and prioritize self-care. Remember, you are your best partner.
Avoid Keeping Tabs on Your Ex
Resist the temptation to monitor your ex’s activities, either directly or through mutual friends. It won’t help you move on. If you find yourself obsessively checking their social media, consider unfriending, blocking, or hiding them. A friend can help you take these steps if needed.
Avoid Physical Contact
It might seem obvious, but it’s crucial to break the physical connection with your ex. Engaging in physical contact can hinder your ability to move forward.
Take a Break from Dating If You’re Not Ready
Being single again can be intimidating, and you don’t have to rush into anything new. Jumping into another relationship too soon, before fully processing your breakup, can lead to added stress and regret.
Check-in with Yourself
To know when it’s time to start dating again, focus on your emotions. When positive feelings consistently outweigh negative ones, and you think of your past relationship without strong emotional reactions, you may be ready.
However, the right time to date varies for each individual, so ensure you’re looking to enhance your life rather than fill a void of loneliness.
Avoid Revenge Posting
Resist the urge to create social media posts aimed at making your ex jealous or showing how well you’re doing. These posts can maintain your ex’s presence in your thoughts. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with such posts, be cautious if you’ll be disappointed if your ex doesn’t respond as expected.
Volunteering can be both a distraction and a source of personal satisfaction. It allows you to give back and can enhance your emotional well-being.
Focus on Creating New Memories
Reclaim activities and places that were once associated with your ex by visiting them with friends. Alternatively, choose new locations and experiences to create fresh memories that are entirely separate from your past.
Don’t Wait for “Closure”
Avoid putting your healing process on hold while waiting for closure. Closure doesn’t always come in the form you expect, and it’s important not to rely on it to move forward. Accept that reminders of your ex will occasionally surface, which is entirely normal even after a good relationship ends.
CHECK THESE OUT: