Getting over a break-up is no joke. And unfortunately the realistic gamble of entering a relationship is that it will, at some point, end. That sounds pessimistic, but I don’t intend it to be. It’s just numbers. Out of all the romantic relationships you and I have been in, almost all (if not 100%) have ended in some way. Sometimes we’re not very invested, and it’s easy to get over. Sometimes we don’t remember what it’s like to be single and literally don’t know how to operate our bodies because it’s such a drastic adjustment to our lives. They say there’s all these formulas. Half the time you dated to “get over” the person you were with. Tons of equations that are supposed to equal a feeling when really no number can tell you what your heart does or doesn’t know.
What does “get over” even mean, anyway? Forget them? Hate them? Not think about them every day? Be able to function without them? Love someone else? All of the above or a combination? Who knows. Maybe there’s some people you’ll never really “get over”. Maybe you were married and had kids with them and need to see them every weekend to drop the kids off or pick them up, so you can never really get them “out of your life”, but you know that you’re not in love with them. Maybe you never see them again. Maybe it takes you three years to know that you don’t think of them when you look at red grapes anymore. There’s different qualifiers, there’s different goals, there’s different relationships, break-ups, reasons, feelings, everything. Nothing is the same, including your last two relationships.
That said, right after you officially part ways, there’s obviously a much more tender time period that we are all too family with. That “broken heart” period where it feels like daggers. Sleeping, eating, driving, working, everything is different and miserable. We feel like we’ve been run over by a truck and there’s no hope in sight that we’ll ever be glued back together. That’s the part that I want to focus on today because that’s the part that prevents you from functioning, from living your life and being your fabulous self. Remember that it is 100% okay and ultimately necessary to dwell in the melancholy state you’ll find yourself in post break-up, but even with the best support systems in place it’s still up to us to pick ourselves up and make a decision to try to start finding the pieces of our heart that have been scattered across the floor. You don’t have to do anything with them at first, even. Just know that you’re a whole person and deserve to be happy again, one day. If you think that seeking out a therapist could help with these feelings, the professionals at BetterHelp.com can link you up to one that fits your needs.
An Uncustomary Babe requested this list, and even though I’m currently in a relationship, that doesn’t mean all of my break-ups aren’t extremely vivid in my mind. Those feelings stay with you; I promise I remember. Actually, here’s a post that I wrote about six months after I ended a six and a half year relationship. It was the first time in half a year I felt like the rug wasn’t being pulled out from under me and I was standing firm, with a literal light at the end of the tunnel that I was responsible for lighting. That’s how I want you to feel.
I know if you’re reading this post it’s more likely you feel how I did six months prior to writing that post, when I would lay with my head buried in the couch for nineteen hours at a time, not eating, sleeping, or speaking; just feeling completely numb, wasteful, and stupid. It’s okay to feel that way. You’re going to feel that way. But when you’re ready, this list is here for you to try different things to begin the healing process which is slow and still painful. You will be whole again. In fact, you’re whole right now. It just doesn’t feel like it. The person you’re not with anymore was someone who added things to your life, but by leaving, they have not taken anything away from who you are. You are still here, just as you were before they arrived. It might feel like a piece of your heart is missing, but scar tissue builds back stronger than before and I promise you’re going to come out of this as such a bigger badass than you knew you could be.
50 Ways To Mend A Broken Heart
1. Don’t bother asking for advice – you’re going to get a different answer from every single person you ask and ultimately you know exactly what you should do and what you deserve, so just trust your gut and don’t waste time hashing things out with people who are going to give you 101 ways to think about the thing you’re trying to move past
2. Cleanse your home space of things that remind you of them (you don’t have to destroy them in a bonfire or anything, just put them somewhere you can’t see things that remind you of them every day)
3. Stop contacting your ex – yes this is different for everyone, but I’ve found in my experience that every time you contact that person you have to start the healing process over again; if you can, take them out of your phone or get a friend to do it (you can also download apps that will block their number from texting and calling you, so even if they’re not on the same page you don’t even have to see their communication)
4. Okay, now unfriend and unfollow and block them on social media… all of them
5. Put energy into helping someone else to shift your focus and give you something positive to work towards
6. Make a goal to do X things a month that you haven’t done before (bonus if they’re things you couldn’t do before because of your ex)
7. Forgive yourself for whatever “mistakes” you made that led to the relationship ending; guilt won’t serve you any good now
8. Go to events, especially ones where they emphasize meeting new people
9. Do a visualization exercise – sit/lay in a calm space, close your eyes, and imagine yourself six months or a year from now as detailed as you possibly can: What do you look like? Where do you live? Where do you work? How much money do you make? Who is your best friend? What are your hobbies? What is your relationship status? Create a full life: the only rule? No ex involved!
10. Take some stock in those corny sayings because they exist for a reason – especially this one: time heals
11. Recognize that time is going to pass with or without your consent, so you’re going to decide to spend it in positive, fun ways that make you happy and will provide you with fun memories
12. Make a stockpile and ongoing list of things that make you laugh (jokes, puns, memes, stand-up comedy routines) that you can refer to when you need a pick me up
13. Say positive affirmations for the things you’re grateful for about the relationship you had – what good came from it?
14. Work on building your self-esteem up
15. Read stories about people who have gotten through break-ups
16. Connect with nature and animals for stress relief
17. Write a blog post with advice on how to mend a broken heart (sitting down to give advice will make you realize you know more than you think you do!)
18. Totally embrace each stage of grief and allow yourself to really engage in each emotion as they come up (likely not in order)
19. Educate yourself on the difference between grief and depression, and know when it’s time to ask for support for your mental health because that comes first!
20. Allow yourself time to be incredibly sad – don’t worry about taking care of yourself, call out of work, screw chores and to do lists; it’s okay to cry into a lasagna while sitting in the bathtub
21. Make a list of all the beautiful things in this life that are impermanent, giving you some perspective
22. Check out this list of 50 Ways To Cheer Someone Up and decide that you’re the someone who needs cheering up!
23. Dance, sing, talk out loud, tap your feet, hum, whistle – move your body and exercise your voice; you deserve to take up space and make noise!
24. Make a list of all the wonderful things that have happened in your life that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t have broken up with your second most recent relationship, demonstrating that good things do come from break-ups and you just haven’t realized you’re in the right place at the right time yet
25. Get a new hair-cut/hair color/couple of outfits/make-up set, etc.
“This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.”
26. Make a list of all the reasons someone would be lucky to date you
27. Spend more time with your friends and less time with your ex’s friends/mutual friends (for the time being)
28. Decide now might be a good time to healthily explore some of your fantasies and fetishes
29. Buy new sex toys and get to know yourself through masturbation (sometimes we rely on our partners a lot during a relationship and forget what it’s like to pleasure ourselves)
30. Conversely, try an experimental period of celibacy to see how it feels
31. Do not stop writing in your happy journal (and if you don’t have one, start one NOW)
32. Change up your routine – when I broke up with my ex I quit my job and started my business (obviously a drastic change not everyone can make) which allowed me to have a different schedule so I didn’t realize the spaces where I was “supposed” to be going to his house, etc. because everything was new
33. Do all the classic pampering stuff we think of for Spa Days of a Parks-And-Rec-esque #TreatYoSelf Day
34. Avoid places you know your ex might be like grocery stores, concerts, bars, etc. and for goodness sake don’t plan an “accidental” bump in!
35. Get out of the house – it’s a lot harder to find things to be grateful for when all you see is the inside of a couch cushion!
36. Get your heart pumping – I’m the last person to tell you to go for a jog, but it helps to get your endorphins up for depression and there’s plenty of ways to get your heart rate up that are fun like hula hooping, rolling down hills, or even playing hop scotch
37. Say “I love you” to people and things you love; just because you’re not in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to love (and don’t forget to say it to yourself!!)
38. Don’t say blanket statements like “All men are dogs” because 1) that’s not true and 2) you want to attract positivity into your life, not negativity!
39. Say positive mantras like “I deserve love” and “I will find love again” over and over and/or write them on sticky notes to post around
40. Turn off the music – yes it’s all healing blah blah blah, but it can actually totally reinforce your sadness and during a break-up it seems like every single song was written about you… just turn off the stupid radio and if you’re going to listen to music be super curative about what you’re putting on
41. Make a list of the reasons it was in your best interest to end your relationship, even though it’s hard
42. You can also make a list of the reasons you don’t miss your ex (it’s okay to be a little negative) 😉
43. Check out this list of 50 Ways To Celebrate Being Single and realize there’s actually a lot you have going for you
44. Think of something that would have made your ex really happy, visualize it happening to them, and practice being happy for them even if it feels completely fake at first (you might have to repeat this exercise once every month or couple months to see where you’re at; feeling genuinely happy for your ex is a great sign of “moving on”)
45. Journal your butt off; not just listing in a Happy Journal, but writing out all of your feelings free association style as often as you can (you might be surprised some of the things that come out on paper!)
46. When (if) you’re feeling up to it, use your journal to see if there are any patterns in your relationships – I’m not implying (and you should not think) that you are the “problem”, but do you notice you go after the same “type” of person? Do your relationships always end the same way? Do you always get frustrated over the same things? Brainstorm solutions for future partners, even if it’s a list of red flags for first dates! Break the pattern, babe
47. Write out the story of your relationship from beginning to end in a totally objective way, not from your point of view (third person)
48. Make an online dating profile and consider getting back out there (despite what people say, it’s actually alright to rebound as long as you’re protective of your feelings and you know what you’re doing and being responsible)
49. Put the Death Tarot card on your altar, because it signifies a rebirth, a new beginning
50. Seek out support – get a therapist if you need it, but also just tell your friends what you need from them and I bet you they’ll come through for you
If you’re feeling suicidal, please call this hotline: 1-800-273-8255
What techniques have you used to mend a broken heart? Like I said, it’s different for everyone, so I would love it if you shared your ideas and thoughts in the comments below!
Photos: Maura Housley