A top lesson that most of us have learned is that it’s hard to get over a breakup. As cliche as it sounds, there’s a song (there’s a song for everything) by Neil Sedaka aptly titled “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.“
The song is not wrong! Breakups can be, and often are, life-altering. Unless there were glaring signs that the split was coming or you’re Nostradamus, it literally feels like someone kicked you in your chest. That feeling is your heart breaking, and it can be physically and mentally painful.
Even if you are the one who initiated the breakup, it is never easy to hurt someone you care about. Unless they did something very messed up, and it’s easy to pull the plug, then it’s kind of empowering to end it.
So you’ve broken up—now what? Not all relationships end the same way; some are amicable, while others leave a person feeling completely unmoored. And while there are no easy answers or magical quick fixes, there are some tried-and-tested ways to cope.
And that is why we put together a helpful list of the top 7 ways to get over a breakup.
1. Stop Asking Why
This is the best advice I have received on how to get over a breakup, and it comes from my bubbe. If you don’t know what a “bubbe” is, it’s a wise Jewish grandma, and I was lucky enough to get these words of wisdom.
After a particularly devastating breakup, I was really going through it. We are talking about not eating, existing on coffee and cigarettes, and incessantly sobbing for an entire summer. While the heartbreak was gut-wrenching, I was hyper-fixated on the “why.”
“Why doesn’t he love me?” was basically my mantra for two months. When my bubbe came to visit, and I asked her this impossible question, she took my face in her wrinkled hands and said, “Bubbela, stop asking “why.” Because no answer is ever going to satisfy you or ease your pain.
“The only thing that would make this hurt go away is if he came back and said, “I made a huge mistake, and I do love you; please forgive me.” These words helped me snap out of it and move on to the next stage of a breakup—accepting it was over and stopping needlessly obsessing over the “why.”
Because the why does not matter. It is over — and knowing why won’t change anything.
2. Let It Go
No, I am not quoting Elsa from “Frozen,” but her sentiment is not wrong. You are allowed to wallow and feel your feelings. Still, according to experts, there is an expiration date on feeling sorry for yourself.
Psychology Today says the five stages of grief are not just for the death of a loved one but can also be applied to the loss of a relationship.
According to the famous psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, here is the process:
“The first reaction is denial.” In this stage, individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken and cling to a false, preferable reality. Some may also isolate themselves, avoiding others who may have accepted what is happening,” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross explains.
“This stage is usually a temporary defense, so long as the person has adequate time to move amongst the stages as they contemplate death.” In her book, Kübler-Ross states that “technological advancements have caused people to become fearful of violent, painful deaths; therefore, in order to protect the psychological mind, they deny the reality of their own inevitable death.”
Feeling angry after a breakup is normal, and it’s an absolutely normal reaction to the situation.
When one partner suddenly disappears, and you’re left to pick up the pieces of your future without them, a breakup can feel particularly cruel and unfair.
As a result of the breakup, it’s normal to feel anger, either at the person who wounded you or at yourself for your actions or inactions leading up to the split.
As humans, we struggle to accept helplessness when we’re in pain. When we bargain, we start to make deals with ourselves, or maybe even with God, depending on our religious beliefs.
We hope that if we take certain actions, we will experience a positive change in our emotional state. It’s also typical to find oneself dwelling on past events, filled with “what if” scenarios and wishing things may have been different had different choices been made.
Most of the time, when we think about loss, we tend to veer toward feelings of sadness and yearning. Intense emotional pain can come in waves that last for months or even years. It’s frightening when you feel like your life has lost all significance.
Loss is a process that occurs in waves, each one making it seem like things will never be the same again. Eventually, though, most people agree that the suffering lessens enough to allow them to accept the reality of the situation.
OK, that was dark but necessary, so we will move on to some lighter ways to get over a breakup.
3. Go Out and Have Some Fun
We highly recommend a night out with friends if you can pull yourself together and de-puff your crying eyes.
Grab your girls or boys and plan a night of stuff that will keep you occupied (i.e., not thinking about your ex) with the added bonus of having a good time!
Whether it’s going to a movie, bowling, or finally eating at that restaurant you’ve been dying to try, go forth and have fun. You may have to push yourself a little bit—because, let’s be honest, the couch and your favorite sweats are easier—but we promise you will feel better if you get out. In this situation, our motto is “fake it ‘til you make it.” If you don’t enjoy being out and about that first night, the second time will be better, etc.
My personal advice is to go ax throwing, but my therapist says that activity is aggressive. Is it? Yes, but it is also cathartic to picture your ex’s face on the target, and throwing a hatchet toward it is a release.
4. No Texting or Calling Your Ex
This one is a no-brainer, but we must advise you to never, ever text your ex. Trust us, nothing good can come of this, and it only ends in two ways.
One outcome is that they ignore the text or phone call, and you feel dumb afterward. The other outcome is that they do answer, and you end up talking — or worse, hooking up. And if that happens, you’ll have to start this “get over a breakup” process all over again!
5. Sign Up for Dating Apps
For many, moving on means accepting that your ex isn’t the only fish in the sea and that others may be a better fit. When you are ready to jump back (or even dip your toe) into the dating world, there are fantastic dating apps at your disposal. Try Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, or the ultra-exclusive dating app Raya (I am still on their waiting list).
Therapy is your friend, no matter what you are going through. When it comes to a breakup, you don’t want to constantly trauma dump your breakup blues onto friends and loved ones. With a therapist, you have an impartial sounding board that will not blow smoke up your ass and tells it to you straight—whether or not you listen is up to you!
7. Retail Therapy
Shopping during a breakup is by far my favorite way of coping to get over a breakup. We are not by any means advising you to go into debt over a person, but you should treat yourself. You know those shoes you keep visiting at Saks Fifth Avenue? Buy them. They may not cure your heart woes, but they certainly cannot hurt.