How to Get Over a Breakup, According to Experts

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There’s no getting around it: Breakups are terrible, even if they’re handled with compassion. They can shake you to your very foundations, causing you to question your confidence AND your faith in love itself. If you’ve been broken up with, you’re grappling with the very real pain of rejection on top of mourning a lost love. When you’re the one who chose to end things, there’s often guilt swirled into your sadness. Even in the most amicable, mutual situations, a split is an ending—and in a culture that emphasizes “forever” as a relationship goal, we’re made to feel like an ending is a failure.

In reality, breakups are often the shattering preamble to a new-and-improved life (one that can eventually include a relationship with someone you’re more compatible with). But in those first few brutal days and weeks, you’ve got every right to feel inconsolable. In time, though, you can move onward and upward. Here are 20 ways to start feeling better fast, according to experts.

Don’t stay friends–consider deleting your ex’s number.

Maybe the two of you said that you’d stay friends, as many people do. Dr. Gary W. Lewandowski Jr, Professor and former Chair in the Department of Psychology at Monmouth University in New Jersey, explains that for some, “keeping the connection helps things stay civil and makes the transition less abrupt,” especially when you do it for practical reasons like if you work together, but it can be a tough task.

A post-breakup friendship may well happen in time, but “time” is the key word here. Very few exes make a seamless transition into friendship immediately (and if you think you’ve done it, see what happens when one of you starts dating someone new). Dr. Lewandoski Jr adds that staying friends with an ex is in fact linked to “more depression, jealousy, heartbreak,” and even a “harder time finding a new romantic partner”.

“If the breakup was instigated by the other person, delete their number from your phone, so you aren’t inclined to contact them,” dating expert Lester says. It’ll help you avoid the dreaded drunk-dial, and eliminate the impulse to send ill-advised texts.

Protect your heart with a social media purge.

Whether you’re scrolling through old photos of happier times or hitting refresh on your ex’s profile to analyze every update, Facebook and Instagram can be pure poison for the brokenhearted. “Though it may be temporarily gratifying to satisfy your curiosity,” regarding what they’re up to, Lewandowski Jr suggests it’s best not to look back.

“Trying to decode if your ex is happy when he or she posted a picture from brunch is just going to make you feel bad about yourself,” says Brigham.

matter what an ego-wounded ex may tell you, it’s not unkind to unfollow them; feel free to block them in the name of mental health. You can also choose to “snooze” a Facebook friend for 30 days by clicking on the three dots in the right-hand corner of a status update, so they won’t appear in your feed for a month (you’ll still need the willpower to avoid checking their profile, though).

“The same goes for their friends and family,” Lester suggests. “If you think it’s just going to make you obsess over your ex’s every move, mute or remove them from your social media.”

In fact, Lewandoski Jr explains that Facebook research participants who stalked their ex’s profile more ended up having a harder time dealing with the breakup. Reports included “nagging feelings of love, continued sexual desire, more distress and negative feelings, and less personal growth post-breakup,” says the expert.

Don’t contact your ex unless absolutely necessary.

Are you sensing a theme here? Distance is tough, but crucial. Moving logistics and figuring out shared dog-custody is one thing; calling or dropping by to get that one sweatshirt you “need” is another. DO NOT DROP BY.

“It isn’t going to help your healing process, and the quicker you can adjust to life without your ex in it, the better it’s going to be for you,” Lester explains.

Don’t go back to them.

Let’s be real–redinkling a former flame can be tempting at times, even to the best of us. In feelings of weakness or a period of loneliness, one might find the idea of reconnecting with an ex more appealing than they should. Lewandoski Jr illustrates how exes can be associated with a certain familiarity and convenience, which is why many people revert to going back to them. More specifically, “those who need more reassurance and love in their relationships due to insecure attachment are more interested in getting back together with an ex”.

Instead of indulging though, take charge of your healing journey and avoid prolonging it by calling up an old flame. Chances are, you’ll re-encounter the issues that drove you apart in the first place or erase all of your efforts to move on, especially if not enough time has passed. It’s best to focus on yourself and redirect that energy to better things…or potential new hobbies.

Lean into your experience.

When faced with difficult feelings, many people opt for bottling them up in an attempt to avoid the pain associated with them. As much as you can distract yourself with fun activities, be careful not to box your feelings up completely. “That backfires because trying to hold back your thoughts, ironically encourages you to think about them more,” explains Lewandowski Jr. His own research demonstrates that when people going through a breakup tried blocking out those feelings, they ended up feeling worse. Dr. Lewandoski Jr. tells us to “embrace those inevitable feelings,” instead.

Although it’ll be painful, feel those feelings deeply and purposefully move through the waves of emotions that come with a relationship ending. Doing this will enable you to grow and move forward, without awaiting for the feelings of distress you’ve boxed up to eventually resurface.

Make a breakup playlist.

Music has a powerful effect on mood, which is why the breakup mix is a key part of your post-parting toolkit. When you find yourself adrift in a churning sea of emotion while driving to work or rage-cleaning your apartment, let the breakup playlist be your constant.

As for what to put on your mix? That’s intensely personal. According to a 2016 study, listening to sad music is a source of comfort for some, while it makes others feel worse. If you know from past experience that moody songs will soothe you, go for it. Otherwise, you’ll want to step away from that Adele album, pronto.

Consider energizing talk-to-the-hand jams that make you feel…well, “Good As Hell,” to quote a Lizzo song. “Truth Hurts” is another excellent option—and so are all of these perfect breakup songs.

Reconstruct the future without them.

During a relationship, it’s inevitable to talk about your hopes and dreams and plan out what your future together might look like. According to Kuburic, this is one reason why we often feel stuck and lost after a break-up. “The future we once envisioned we can no longer have”. If we don’t handle these troubled waters correctly though, we could fall into the trap of adding a “disproportionate value to our ex partner,” making it even harder to move on.

Kuburic suggests the solution is to focus on taking charge of our own path and goals. “What we can do is change the future we see for ourselves”. The more we’re able to look forward and accept that new vision without the person, the closer we are to feeling healed.

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