How to Survive a Breakup
I find it highly ironic that the word used to describe the dissolution of a relationship is breakUP, not break DOWN. Because often, that’s what happens.
You experience a plethora of feelings. Loneliness. Regret. Guilt. Depression. Anger. Grief. Confusion. Shock. Vulnerability. Paralysis.
It’s a deadly cocktail that causes you to feel like you’re losing control, if you haven’t already, and you don’t know what to do to feel better.
I’m going to paint a picture for you that’s helped countless people. And I think it will help you too.
So… you’ve been dumped. Or, perhaps following my advice, you’ve let go of your relationship.
Believe it or not, that was the easy part. What comes next – the acceptance, letting go, and healing, is the hard part.
It’s never easy to breakup, especially if you were the one who was dumped, because often you’re completely blindsided when it happens. But even if you were the one who ended it, you still feel it. You might’ve had more time to prepare, mentally and emotionally, but you too will feel a sense of lost, guilt, regret… in other words, pretty shitty.
Of course, I’m talking about a relationship that was real, one in which you both invested emotionally. I’m not talking about the other rubbish like Friends with Benefits, hook ups, fuck buddies, and the like. That doesn’t apply because you won’t be going through the kind of pain that we’re addressing in this article.
I’ve had a few break ups over the years. And I’ve coached people, particularly men, through breakups. And I’ll tell you right now there is no one real, foolproof, pain-free way of getting through a breakup. There is no one RIGHT way and if anyone tells you they have that, they’ve got some swampland in Florida to sell you too.
But there is definitely a WRONG way to handle a break up. And it’s why many people suffer too long, dragging it out, doing crazy things that will haunt them down the road.
So here’s my plan for you.
Before anything else, understand this truth: TIME HEALS. You will emerge from this eventually. What you have to ask yourself is, what and who will you be at the end of this period of time. Are you going to be
a) weak, helpless, depressed and defeated, with low self-esteem and confidence?
b) stronger, fuller, more balanced and confident, better version of yourself?
My plan is to make you the latter, not the former. And there are two parts.
1) What NOT to do and
2) What TO do
Let’s get to it.
PART 1: THE DON’TS
Before I start, let me clarify that I’ll speak in terms of a girl dumping a guy, simply because it’s easier for me to say since I am a guy, last I checked. But if you’re a lady listening to this, all this will apply. So just flip the “he” for “she” and you’ll be fine!
1. Don’t Take the Low Road
By this I mean revenge, shaming, bad mouthing, spilling of private secrets. There’s a reason why you were dumped, and all these negative acts just reinforces that it was the right one.
Remember, this was someone you loved, and whatever she’s decided, you have to honour that, not destroy the past and let your love turn to poison. Even if she cheated on you, getting into revenge is a vicious spiral that wastes resources and screws you up, even if you manage to punish her. It puts you in a mindframe that will just hold you in the past, and colour all your future interactions.
Contrary to popular advice, do not villainize her. Sure, it can be easier to handle it if you now see her as an enemy. But unless she was a really toxic person, or cheated on you, if there was real love, don’t. It is wrong, weak, and cowardly to completely erase her from your history simply by painting her evil, while thinking yourself a saint. Believe me, you were not.
2. Don’t Lose Your Dignity
No begging. No bargaining. No blowing up her phone with text messages. No Facebook or social media whining, accusing, cryptic remarks, and pathetic forlorn messages.
A break up is the ultimate rejection. But how you handle it will show, and create, the kind of person you are. Strong and respectful, or weak and needy.
Think about the future… when all this is over, you’ll be kicking yourself over actions you will never be able to take back. If ever there was a chance for you to get back together again, all this, will destroy it. And, any potential future girlfriends are on social media, reading all these pathetic warning signs.
3. Don’t Do Anything Destructive
Don’t do anything that harms you, either physically and emotionally.
Don’t attempt suicide, which hurts the people you will leave behind.
Don’t start smoking, because you’re on the path to lung cancer that bite you in the ass down the road, when you ARE in a great relationship.
Don’t drink. The next day you get a hangover, and you waste another day. And you feel even worse!
Don’t sleep around. What you regret losing is something real, which you won’t get back from a random hook up. You wake up feeling hollow and empty, cheap and dirty. And you’ve sullied yourself in a way that will affect future relationships. And if the girl who slept with you actually had feelings for you, you’ve now used and hurt someone else. Oh, and are you ready for an unwanted pregnancy?
You have to ask yourself at all times: How’s that make you feel? What kind of you are you creating?
What have you done to build yourself up during this mourning period? Nothing!
Really focus on this first stage of: PROTECTION. Refrain and abstain from these. Hammer it in. Interanlise these don’ts. In Part 2, we’ll look at the REBUILDING part: The Dos.
PART 2: THE DOS
1. Practise the No Contact Rule
Note that I said “rule” not “technique” or “tactic”. The No Contact rule seems to have become twisted into a psychological tactic for manipulating someone to come back to you. Just do a YouTube search to see what it is about. But I can tell you right now the No Contact Rule used that way won’t ‘work’.
When I say No Contact, I mean a period where you literally cease contact, with no ulterior motive. No phone calls, texting or drunk texting, birthday wishes, targeted status updates, or playing that ridiculous game of sending a Whatsapp message and deleting it to get her curious… none of this weak, manipulative shit.
If you say you still love her, respect her. Give her the space she wants. If you hope to get her back, harassing, pressurizing, pestering or creeping her out sure seems the way to do it… NOT!
You need a cooling off period. Calm down, avoid the DON’TS above, try to rebalance your Life. Whether you get back together or not, this period will see you emerging as a better person. So, for now, block all social media and contact, lock all physical reminders in a box and leave it with a close friend, then focus on becoming that better person.
2. Remember The People Who Love and Support You
Do not isolate yourself in your grief. This is a time when you need emotional comfort, encouragement and reassurance from the people you love and who love you, unconditionally. This does NOT mean find comfort in the arms of opportunistic players or orbiters who used to keep trying when you were in a relationship. You are not after temporary relief or vindication. Your aim is to be with people who love you without ulterior motive. To remember there is love, that you are worthy of love, that there are still people you can in turn give love to.
If you’re really struggling, consider seeing a trained therapist or counsellor. And don’t feel guilty or weak doing that too. Admitting you need help can be the greatest courage of all.
3. Do Look After Yourself Physically
The flip side of doing destructive things is to construct a better health and physique for yourself. By that I mean of course, exercise! Get in shape, become fitter and healthier, and you’ll feel more attractive and confident, and benefit from pleasure-producing endorphins, especially at a time when you might be feeling lowly about yourself.
A word of caution: Don’t do this ANGRY. Many people go crazy and balls-to-the-wall, hitting the bag, killing themselves on the treadmill… Don’t do any of this! You see, imagine your baseline is here. But because of the break up you’re here. Now if you do something for adrenaline, you will get a very high spike of it, but then when you come down, you fall a lot further, and you’ll feel worse! Also, if you get injured, then you will be temporarily restricted, leading to yet more misery!
Needless to say, don’t neglect basic health and hygiene. Eat properly, cut your hair, shower and brush your teeth.
4. Do Create an Exciting Future for Yourself
Now that you’re single, revisit some of your goals and dreams. Are there any you would restart, give up, or change? Then, make plans to achieve them, perhaps some you put on hold for the relationship. Think of this as rebooting yourself, to start up again as a better version of yourself.
Very importantly, do you have a Life Purpose? Briefly, a Life Purpose is: what am I here to do? What’s my Life Mission that informs everything I think, feel, decide? My most important contribution to the world around me with which all my decisions are align? Go check out my Life Purpose article or video to get started.
A Life Purpose is a light that pulls you forward and keeps you strongly grounded, so at all times you have a grand, big picture idea of why you’re doing what you’re doing, why you want what you want.
Having one keeps you strong, makes you confident, gives you drive, and makes you a better, more attractive person for it.
A breakup teaches you lessons about yourself… WHEN you’re ready to learn them. This process I’ve given you starts you off on that journey. It will take you from the initial paralysis stage, and then a long way into recovery, happiness, and readiness for a new relationship as a healed, learned, better person. It turns a sad and painful situation into the spark that galvanizes that change.
But there’s yet more change on your quest to become a better person. For example, after you’ve accepted it’s over, there are some hard questions to ask yourself, especially if you took the low road of blaming and villainizing the other person.
What did I do, what characteristics and values did I have, that contributed to the breakup as well?
What knowledge and skills do I lack, in terms of attracting – and keeping – a relationship with the opposite sex?
What do I really want and don’t want in a relationship, and why did I still want the relationship if it didn’t have these?
For now, follow this plan, with the goal of working on yourself to become better, stronger, more attractive and balanced. You’re not doing this to get back your ex, but for yourself. In fact, I strongly suggest you do not go back to your ex. If you do, you will lose the motivation to do any of these things. You’ll just go back to your previous comfort zone: the same person, same weaknesses and deficiencies, and with the same ending… only you’ll have to endure it all over again!
No, do this for yourself, and for the future, and you will be ready for a better relationship than the one you just left when the time comes.