Nothing can change that.
It’s going to be a painful, unpleasant, unhappy experience no matter what. But is there anything you can do to make it less painful?
Here are three things that help make breaking up less painful.
Number One: A cooling off period
This means a long period of no contact with the person you’ve just broken up with. By “no contact” I mean no phone calls, no texts, no letters (does anyone still write letters anyway?), no visits, no emails – no contact at all. [Related: The Breakup Aftermath: How Indifference Can Make All the Difference]
To work, the cooling off period should be at least a month long. During this month, you get time to figure out what you want, to feel your own emotions, and to work on the next two things – acceptance of your situation and a commitment to change.
Immediately after a breakup, you can’t trust yourself to make the right decisions. You’re overwhelmed by a swirling typhoon of emotions – anger, sadness, fear – and you need plenty of time to sort through them and figure out how you really feel.
Eventually, if you keep your distance and don’t communicate with your ex, you’ll feel calmer and better able to decide what you want to do next.
Whether you broke up with your ex or they dumped you, either way you’ll want time to clear your head. Do you want to try and win back your ex? It’s hard to know that for sure in the days and weeks immediately following a breakup. Often, you’re so miserable you don’t know what you want to do.
The cooling off period gives you time to feel less miserable, to make a better decision about your future, whether you want to try and get back together with your ex or move on.
Number Two: Acceptance of your situation
One important thing that will help ease the pain of a breakup is to accept where you are right now. The breakup happened – it’s a fact. Don’t deny that fact. Accept it. A cooling off period helps with that.
Acceptance may not come easy. Give yourself a daily reminder that you’re single and that it’s OK to be single. Try to do it without anger or self-pity. Those strong emotions cloud your judgment.
Sometimes someone who’s just gone through a breakup enjoys — for lack of better term — wallowing in a swamp of self-pity. Fine. If you feel you need a few days of hard grieving, that’s OK.
Close your curtains and stay home and cry and hit things (pillows or your bed mattress, not walls!) for a few days. Get it all out. But don’t give yourself permission for a two week self-pity holiday. That will just prolong the pain. It’s important for you to begin accepting your situation. Sooner would be better.
Another part of acceptance is accepting that you are a good, complete person, a worthy human being, whether or not you are in a relationship right now. During your month-long cooling off period, I suggest getting out and doing things with other people. Social activity is healthy and healing. It’s important to remind yourself that you can have fun and enjoy life even without your ex. You may be surprised to find yourself laughing at a joke or a funny situation. Hold onto that feeling.
Number Three: Commitment to change
Whatever you decide to do in the near future, whether you wish to try and win back your ex or move on towards a new relationship, it’s important to move forward.
Perhaps you did some thinking during your month of no contact, and there are some things about yourself or your situation you’d like to change. Maybe you leaned too much on your relationship, expecting your ex to be everything to you, to make you happy and keep you happy.
That’s a heavy load to put on another person. Though it may seem harsh, you are ultimately responsible for your own happiness. You don’t have control over your ex, but you do have some power over yourself. Decide to be happy and take steps to ensure it. Commit to changing your life for the better.
What are some ways to seek happiness? Using your mind is important. Take a class, join a club, travel, learn some new things and see new places. Social things are particularly good for you. Yes, you can learn a lot reading a book, but that’s a pretty solitary, lonely activity. Take a class, whether dancing or cooking or painting or sailing, where you can enjoy the company of others learning the same things.
Make a commitment to yourself to try one new thing a week or a month. Have some kind of adventure that is just for you. This will give you experiences to enjoy, memories to treasure, and stories to tell. All of that will make you a better, happier, more interesting and attractive person. When it comes to wooing your ex back or attracting a new partner, you’ll be ready.
Contact me if you’re going through a tough time and in need of some guidance.