Breakups suck. I’m putting it bluntly because no matter which way you spin it or how necessary you know it is you’re probably in for a solid week of crying yourself to sleep. I’ve had my fair share of breakups: I’ve been ghosted on by a guy I’d been dating for 6 months (!), I broke up with a guy I still had to live with (awful) but by far the worst breakup was the end of a good relationship. We both still cared for each other deeply. Half the time I wondered why we were breaking up at all (and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few times we were tempted to get back together). For whatever reason, good relationships sometimes end.
In the long run it’s great to have relationships that end without becoming toxic. Relationships that end on fairly good terms are more likely to result in friendships or at least as amiable acquaintances. Yet it is the end of a good relationship that is often the most painful. You may wish you could curse his name in spite but in reality you want what’s best for your ex…that’s a positive thing! Don’t let your lack of bitter feelings lead you to believe you should get back together as hard as it is to hear your relationship ended for a reason. Not hating each other isn’t reason enough to tie yourself to another human for time and all eternity.
Light a few candles, grab the Ben & Jerry’s and queue up all of your favorite sad Taylor Swift songs. Working through the end of a good relationship is an uphill battle but you will be stronger at the end.
What to do when a Good Relationship ends:
- Stop spending time together (even if you want to stay friends in the future)
As difficult as it is to cut off ties cold turkey it is imperative that you give yourself some space to redefine the relationship. No matter how mature you are it is difficult to go from holding hands and snuggling to happy in the friend zone over night. Even if you plan to be friends in the future give yourself a month or two to let go of any romantic feelings and release yourself from relationship habits (like calling every evening to say goodnight). Please avoid any breakup intimate relations it just makes moving on a longer, more difficult process.
- “Unfollow” on Social Media (you can hide their feed without un-friending)
Just because you don’t want to tear your exes eyes out doesn’t mean you need to see photos of him smiling next to some cute brunette you’ve never seen or heard of. The truth is you don’t know how your ex is really handling the breakup so it’s best not to torture yourself with social media stalking in an attempt to fill in the gaps. Hide his posts on Facebook and unfollow on Instagram (this doesn’t have to be permanent) but it will keep you from sporadically bursting into tears scrolling through Instagram at your friend’s dinner party after a few too many glasses of champagne. It’s called preventive mental health, I promise you’ll thank me later!
- Settle any Intertwined Business
Depending on the length and seriousness of your relationship you may need to do a little untangling to separate your lives. This step can be as simple as giving back his super soft sweatshirt or as difficult as packing up boxes and moving out. It can be difficult to untangle your lives while you’re in an emotionally fragile state but the sooner you switch your cell phone plan/decide who gets to keep the cat/toss out his extra toothbrush from your apartment the better it will be in the long run. Don’t feel guilty asking a close friend or family member to help you out if you know the process is going to make you weepy and depressed.
- Cry, scream, listen to sad music-do whatever you need to get it out!
You loved someone and for whatever reason it ended-it’s sad, you’re allowed to be upset. There is no shame in crying, watching chick flicks, listening to sad music or doing whatever it is you need to do to mourn. Whatever you do don’t suppress your emotions. MRI scans show that whether you acknowledge your emotions or suppress them your body deals with the stress of negative emotions, the main difference is that when you acknowledge them you are able to process and move on sooner. Most likely you’ll be forced to deal with your grief at some point anyways so why not face it at the beginning? Take a mental health day if you need to and let yourself cry.
- Vent to a Girl Friend (or your Mom)
This one’s pretty self explanatory but I’ll break it down: call up your people and let them comfort you. You might need to rehash the same old details of your breakup over and over again, that’s what friends are for. Don’t worry you’ll make it up to your bestie when she’s having a hard time one day.
- Recognize it’s Okay to feel Sad
Try not to be too hard on yourself. It can be frustrating to feel depressed after a breakup. If other areas of your life are going well it is tempting to feel guilty for letting a breakup get you down. Let’s be honest though, the last thing you need is guilt added to the large pile of sadness you’ve already been dealt. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay if you aren’t the life of the party, it’s okay if you skip a few nights out in favor of bad reality tv and store bought cookie dough. Feel sad and know that your emotions are perfectly valid.
- Cultivate your Interests
Unless you were in a long distance relationship, breakups usually free up a chunk of space in your schedule. Use this newfound time to cultivate your interests. If you’ve always loved yoga sign up for an intensive 30 day Yoga challenge. If you have always wanted ways to be more creative get yourself to that basket weaving workshop. Start a blog! Volunteer at your local Animal shelter! Get involved in a new organization or with a networking association. Spend time doing things you love so your heart can heal.
- Surround Yourself with Friends & Family
Now is the time to lean on your tribe! The days and weeks after a breakup can feel long and lonely. Fill your evenings and weekends with social time even if you’re just inviting a friend over to watch Legally Blonde with you. Don’t hesitate to make morning calls with your best friend a daily thing or to start FaceTiming with your sister on a weekly basis. Post breakup it is important to spend time with the people you love. Just a little time with family and friends can make the world feel like a much brighter place.
- Get Sweaty
You know the time honored wisdom “endorphins make you happy and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands (they just don’t)”? Well it turns out happy people don’t drop out of school and spend all day laying on the couch eating oreos and watching Friends reruns either. Get to the gym, lace up your running shoes or hop on your bike. Do whatever it is you need to do to get your heart rate up and endorphins pumping. You’ll be happier, healthier and though the sexy breakup bod isn’t the point it doesn’t hurt does it?
- Try Something New
Use the time right after a breakup to motivate you to shake up your routine by trying something new. After a breakup can be a good time to take up a new hobby, set a goal (like running a marathon or launching an Etsy shop) or take a trip (girl’s trip or solo trip it’s a good time to use those vacation days).
- Remember the Good
Just because your relationship ended doesn’t mean you have to pretend it was horrible if it wasn’t. While it is helpful to remember the parts of the relationship that needed work to help you moving forward it is also important to remember what made the relationship meaningful. Not only do you deserve to savor the happy memories (they are part of your story after all) but remembering the good can help you understand what you want in a relationship moving forward.
- Reflect on what Didn’t Work
Whether you’re happy about it or not your previous relationship is over so it is time to move forward. Be mindful and take time to think about what didn’t work in the relationship. You can use your new found knowledge when you begin dating again (even if you don’t date again for a long time).
- Enjoy Single Life!
Some people love being single, others dread it…well, you’re single now so you might as well enjoy the perks. Move across the country because you can, go on a girls’ trip, study abroad, decorate your apartment in pastel pink…do whatever it is your heart longs for. Even the happiest, healthiest relationships require the occasional sacrifice so use this time to indulge in self care and focus on achieving your goals.
- Be open to Dating again (when you’re truly ready)
When your ex’s name no longer makes your heart race and you find yourself day dreaming about the cute guy you bumped into at your local coffee shop it’s time to get back out in the dating world. Everyone’s timeline for dating after a breakup is different. Don’t judge yourself if your ready to date after two weeks or if it takes two years, it is important to let your heart heal (no one wants to be the girl crying to her date about her ex at Olive Garden). Don’t be afraid to date someone outside of your usual “type” and to try new methods of meeting people (online dating, speed dating, through church or at a bar). You don’t have to seriously date the first person you grab cocktails with, in fact sometimes it is preferable to ease back into dating anyways. Take your time getting to know new people and seeing where the relationships go, you could find a new friend, a new partner or just a really funny first date story to tell your bestie.