11 Breakup Survival Tips (That Don’t Involve Positive Thinking)

Breakups are as much a part of the human experience as a breathing oxygen and not licking cactuses. It’s actual science that going through a breakup does the same thing to your body as withdrawal from an addiction, activating the part of the brain associated with motivation, reward and addiction cravings.

As well as this, emotional pain triggers the same pathways in the brain as physical pain. 

That’s the bad news. The good news is that it will get better. 

If you’re going through a breakup now you’ll probably want to file that under ‘B‘ for ‘But you don’t get it – no-body has ever lost like I’ve lost.’  Yes. It’s highly possible that humankind is unfamiliar with the level of wretched misery you’ve fallen to now, but read on anyway, because the ugly truth is that the only way through a breakup is straight through the middle. Here’s how to start with that:

  1. Don’t make any big decisions.   

    Tattoos, relationships, work and cutting off your locks. It might seem seem like a good idea to get ‘Just Breathe,’ or ‘Live Life‘ tattooed in times roman 120pt on your forearm but seriously, if you need these sort of reminders so badly as to have them embedded into your skin, then you’re in no position to be making life-lasting decisions. They might all turn out to be great decisions one day, but make them when Rhianna stops singing ‘Love the way you lie’ in your head. ‘Just gonna stand there and watch me bu…’ Don’t. Just don’t.

  2. Unfriend him (or her) on Facebook.   Do it right now. We’ll wait.

    He’s not going to be posting sad faced ‘missing you’ selfies from the places you used to go – and anything else, you don’t need to know about. Keeping up the follow will swallow you whole. The only reason to have him there is to check he’s not getting on with his life too happily without you. He will be. So will you, without him, just as soon as you stop the Facebook stalk. If you’re going to keep him friended, just rip your heart from your chest, hand it over and tell him to squeeze. It will hurt a lot less.  

  3. Exercise. Just not at the gym he goes to. At the same time he goes there.

    Possibly the only exercise you’ll feel like doing is hurling ‘that’ photo of both of you across the room but if you can manage something more active (though perhaps less cathartic) you will feel better afterwards. Cortisol, the stress hormone, will be making itself at home inside you. One way to take the fire out of cortisol is to exercise. Exercise will also stimulate the brain to release endorphins (the feel good chemicals) and you’ll already be short on them so you’ve got nothing to lose. You don’t have to work up a sweat – going for a walk will do. A caveat though: If the activity involves walking slowly past his house or climbing up the stormwater pipe to get a look into his window, it doesn’t count as exercise. It counts as stalking. 

  4. Get rid of texting capacity if you’re going to have a drink. A couple of drinks won’t make you Shakespeare. They just won’t.

    Alcohol is a depressant, so if you’re on a downhill slide it’s best to stay away from it. If you are going to have a drink though, protect yourself at all costs from the temptation to drunk text. You’re human. You’ll want to. But don’t fall for the courage that comes in a bottle of decent pinot. It’s been fed by slightly hammered wisdom and it won’t end well. Never. Ever. Just give your phone to a friend you trust and tell her to feed it to a pack of wolves before even thinking of giving it back to you. Unless you’re totally – totally – sober. You won’t need to explain why. She’ll get it. 

  5. Connect with friends and family. 

    The real ones. Not the ones who you haven’t heard from since the last crisis. The real ones who will sit through ‘Love Actually’ with you for the 37th time and eat microwaved Indian from the dodgy plastic container it came in last night because you used the last clean plate three days ago. One of the reasons a breakup hurts so much is because it messes around with the primal need to be connected to other people. You might not be able to be with the one person you want to be with, but spending time with your tribe will feed the human need for connection and will bring a much needed boost of oxytocin (the happy hormone) you’ve been missing. And those real friends? On the way out the door they’ll pop the dishwasher on before telling you they’ve organised for both of you to do salsa dancing classes to get you out of the house. Don’t argue. Just go. There’s a good chance you’re starting to smell like a week-long temper and it will only get worse.

  6. Give your bedroom a bit of a reno. And get some sleep.

    Buy new sheets, new pjs and new scented candles for your bedroom – nothing that reminds you of him. Get rid of anything that makes you think of what you’ve lost. And then remind yourself that you haven’t lost it because it wasn’t there. Otherwise he would be too. Shake away those sepia dusted images of the two of you at your almost-but-not-quite spring wedding staring longingly at each other or the buffet. Keep your ‘OMG My Wedding Yay’ Pinterest board though. It will still come in handy one day. If you want it to. It just won’t be with him – and that will be okay, you’ll see. And stop falling asleep on the couch in your day clothes. 

  7. Eat Healthy. Or don’t. Whatever. Just don’t keep it going for too long.

    You’re doing it tough.  You’ve got enough to worry about – you don’t need to get sick on top of everything else. Give your body what it needs to function. Eat healthy and eat regularly. Of course, the occasional crowd-pleaser bucket of fried chicken won’t hurt. Everything in moderation. Or in a delicious crunchy coating.

  8.  He’s gone. He’s not coming back. But you are.

    Every breakup survival needs a breakup comeback. When the time is right, plan for yours. Do something you wouldn’t have done while you were with him – and no – that doesn’t mean hooking up with Russell, the 40-something from accounts with the earring and gold bracelet who threw you a cheesey line at office drinks. He’s not the only man to own a guitar and being able to play the first four bars of The Simpsons doesn’t make him a musician. Leave Russell where you found him – possibly texting Shona, Shaniqua and Shaniya – and instead learn Italian, cook French, buy new lingerie (with you in mind, because you deserve it), plan a girls trip to Morocco – or if you’re budget’s gasping for breath, a girls’ trip to Target for your new lacy knickers will do fine.

  9.  Don’t meet up for coffee as friends. Actually, don’t do anything as friends.

    There is nothing in this ‘let’s be friends’ thing for you. No doubt you’re a mature, emotionally together lady-human who can deal with this just fine, and deal with it you will … until he wants to introduce you to his new friend Sally – ‘Sal’ – the pilates instructor who snacks on kale and beetroot juice and drops a quick line about the movie they saw last night together. Together. As in, to-geth-er. Rational heads don’t necessarily follow broken hearts. There. I said it. So when they go to the movies, you (quietly) go to ‘What. A. Jackass. Did I ever really know him no I don’t think I did because we’ve been untogether for three months now which is practically five minutes in breakup years and now he’s watching movies with some girl and that can only mean that they’re shagging and she says his name like they’re practically engaged and I can’t believe this did he ever really care about me at awwwwwwlllll?’ Sound familiar? Nope? Well maybe just me then. At any rate, you loved him once remember. And he loved you. It’s hard to go backwards from that.

    If you can take the dignified high road and forgive and forget and be friends, good for you, but you might be heading for trouble. You’ve been there. Done that. Nothing to gain from doing it again. In this sort of relationship, someone will always want more. And it probably won’t be him – especially if it’s only been weeks since he was outta there. If he is the one that wants more, then still ‘no’. A few weeks is never enough for him to ”find himself’.  He’s not a remote that slipped behind the couch. It’s never that simple. Never.

    Of course, if you have kids together you will have to stay on friendly terms (at least in front of the kids). It might not be easy but you’re a woman who will always love your kids more than you’ll want to hate any man so you’ll be fine. You’re phenomenal. And that’s why you’re his loss. Remember that.

  10.  Look for what it can give you.

    Sometimes when you’re down it’s because there’s something down there you’re meant to find. As part of your breakup survival, look for the gems. What can you learn? Why did you choose the relationship? What’s the wisdom that’s left for you when everything is said and done? Everyone comes into our lives to learn from us or to teach us. What have you learnt? The fact that it’s over doesn’t mean it wasn’t important. It just means it’s run its course and it’s no longer the right one. Use it as a step up to the one that is.

  11.  You only have to get through today.

    Don’t think too far ahead. It still has the imprints of you and him with your perfectly behaved children, that spring wedding and you running that marathon (actually, keep that one – just don’t have him at the finish line ready to receive you and your gazelle-esque stride). Just don’t go there. Unless it’s to make real plans for something fun. You only have to get through today. You can deal with tomorrow when it gets to you. Just put one foot in front of the other and it will get easier. Promise.

Above all else remember that the path to wisdom and a happy life is often littered with shards of broken hearts, including our own. And keep going. You’ll get there. 

What are your breakup survival remedies? Let us know in the comments below …

162 Comments

Shez

I discovered he’s been cheating on me, while telling me he loved me and wanted a future, a family, etc. Having the rug pulled out has been such a shock and I don’t know how to handle it. I was living a completely different reality this whole time. The pain is unfathomable right now and the craving for messages/contact is killing me.

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Ruby S

I can totally relate! My partner has had me living a lie for the past 8 months, telling me he loved me when he admittedly didn’t and texting other girls whenever drunk and to top it off we had a child together. He had also sat and made future plans for more kids, holidays, EVERYTHING. The pain is the worst I have felt in my life 😰

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Marijke B

Same here…5 months of betrayal, of wich i have proof, while being super attentive and lovey dovey with me, only to find out between xmas and NYE via his tablet at his home where I was waiting for him to come home after work, that he had synced with his phone that he is an a*hole. Still he denied and even made up a photoshopped bank statement as proof he didn’t purchase a paid dating profile. Luckily I had made pictures with my phone. He lied some more and i kicked him out. 3.5yrs down the drain, day before my birthday. Happy new year to me. F*ck that shit. Oh yeah, and mister perfect also was back doing drugs.

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Claire

I know everyone else commenting did so years ago but thanks. My 9 year relationship, engaged, ended and I feel like I’m dying. I’ve been reading dozens of articles like this and they do give me a bit of hope.

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Shez

I’m with you and suffering the same pain right now. I’m so sorry and hope you are able to heal and get through this soon.

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Lina

I m sorry for you! My 7 year relationship also just ended… I m devastated. I hope that this advice will help me to get through everything! And I hope you heal and get through it too!!!

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Erica

My love of 1 year and 3 months decided to leave our relationship last night. He was my first long term partner and someone I thought I would spend my life with. He was my best friend, my daily dose of serotonin, and we had the strongest most secure and healthy relationship. One that my friends and even family admired. His sisters and friends told me I was the best partner he had ever had and welcomed me into their lives. He was the first person I brought home to meet my parents and they grew to love him as much as I did too. The majority of our relationship was rainbows and butterflies but when there was ever conflict, we worked through it, we communicated well, we prioritized each other, and we made the other person feel loved. We had so much love. For example, if something was wrong, he could tell immediately. No one else was like that. No one else could instantly make me feel better. Its hard to think that such a strong connection and presence is now gone. The relationship began its end when one night, he breached my trust emotionally. Nothing detrimental to our relationship luckily, but I was very upset. He was careless and his mistake was a direct repercussion of him feeling too comfortable in our relationship. He was beside himself with guilt, shame and anger and had also been struggling with depression, self confidence, and self love throughout the entirety of his life and our relationship. So when I addressed my need for more from him as a result of my trust being breached and needing time to heal, the two came to a head. I pulled away, but he didn’t chase or fight, he avoided. I asked for more and he gave me less. He believed that he didn’t have the emotional or general life security to give me what I needed or wanted in our relationship despite everything he had given me and shown me throughout. He told me he felt like he was in a crashing plane and was giving me the last parachute. I told him that he was what I needed and leaving my life and giving up on our future is not what “I needed”. I told him that I loved him and wanted to be there with him as he navigated his personal and real world insecurities and transitions. That relationships aren’t always black and white. There is grey. I made sure he knew that this was his decision and that I didn’t want him to be ending the relationship. This was not “for me” as he put it but for him. And because I love him i would respect his decision even if i thought he was being stupid. We were planning on moving in together, he joked about proposing all the time, we had everything to go the distance. At least I did. in the end, he was the one driving the plane. I would’ve gone down with him and maybe he knew that.

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Rui

She’s on her hometown for 2 months now, I let her be to fully enjoy her leave, but one time I was shocked, she sent me her photo with friend lesbian holding her too close. She’s with old friends and drunk like she didn’t care in the world and she handed her phone to her friends who have seen my negative reaction about the photo, they reacted in return in messenger. I felt betrayed for them all to sneak into my private message that’s only for my gf. My distrust was triggered, I’m not a possesive person but I argue that she has to know some limitations now that she’s not single anymore. The next day she posted something to pacify her friends that they won’t drop them just because her relationship is “jealous” with her female friends. I felt the rage of anger for such actions… My fb is now up for deletion, I don’t want to know what’s goin on anymore. I felt so disrespected. She’s supposed to come back after a month, and the pain is dragging now. I keep myself busy improving my fish pond, but I’m always reminded me of her in this room. It’s hopeless for us to be together again, she’s more open with her friends than with me. I just want to get this over and pack all her things. I feel so miserable seeing those.

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Hope

My boyfriend and I broke up a few days before our 3 1/2 years together. I knew it was coming. He knew it was coming. He broke up with me but I did not fight him on it, thus making it mutual. He said he does not feel as though he can be affectionate towards me right now. In the past year, he has stopped posting about me, bringing me around his friends, and stopped being as ‘obsessed’ with me. Which in turn, made me doubt myself and I became very insecure and less confident. He said he still wants to see me again and reassured me that it wouldn’t be the last time we see one another. We face-timed a couple of nights later and he said the possibility of us getting back together is slim, which makes me hold onto that hope. I feel as though he looks at relationships in a very black and white way, which is bad. Relationships have a lot of gray areas and he needs to understand that. I started therapy a few days before the breakup to start working on myself and help the relationship. Once we see one another again, I want him to see that growth and feel more secure in the relationship. I also feel like we won’t know until we see one another what we want. I think it is easy for him to say that his policy is that when people break up, it is for a reason and they shouldn’t go back on that, but I feel like/hope that once we see one another again, we won’t be able to walk away. I made a joke about him wanting to kiss me and he said, “well, yeah low-key.” So there is still that strong attraction there. I could use some advice, though.

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Ashley

My boyfriend and me were together for 3 years a few months ago he started getting protective over his phone and when I went on vacation he met up with a girl , he answered the phone accidentally and I heard them , he lied to me and told me it was his mom he dumped me and told me my insecurities ruined our relationship I begged him to stay with me but he was really
Cold toward me like if he wanted nothing to do with me , the next day he sent me messages saying he loved me and wanted to see me when I came back and declined and we haven’t talked in a month , I keep blaming myself we have broken up before and he always reaches out to me , he does post on Snapchat sometimes throwing subs at me

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Rita

My boyfriend of 1 year and 3 months broke up with me yesterday, because he said he can’t give me what I need (more attention, affection and time) and that my trust issues pushed him away, he also said we are too different. I feel so horrible, my trust issues only involved one area: his exes. I felt like he hasn’t gotten over them and felt the need to talk to them. Sometimes he would be so much more comforting and nicer to them than to me. So it got my mind to overthink everything he did and sometimes I would accuse him doing something that he did not actually do, only I overthought it. I do truly love him, and it hurts. He tells me not to blame myself, because it’s both of our faults, but I feel like it’s mostly mine. How can I get over this feeling and the break-up?

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Martha

Rita, same thing happened to me or at least something similar. I wish I could give you answers as I’m going through the same thing right now. I know its hard though. My boyfriend was hung up on his ex and would compare me a lot to her. His obsession with her was so bad that on Valentines Day he broke into her house drunk. Of course my stupid self stayed. Then eventually bc of that event that insecurity led to more because the only thing he was concerned with was not how it impacted us but how it impacted him alone…career wise and such. I overthought a lot and would bring these insecurities to the table which he took and ran away. When I think of it now and what I learned, if this guy cared for you he would have made you feel secure in the relationship. He would have made you feel loved. He didn’t though. Take this as a life lesson and find someone that loves you and makes you to not have to feel those insecurities or drive you to the point of overthinking. Do as much self healing as much as you can so you can bring your best self into the next relationship or if anything know when to walk away when you see the red flags such as this. Best of luck!

Reply
Liv

Hi Rita,
If your not already, then start following Matthew Hussey on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube. The videos he posts will help you understand that the breakup wasn’t your fault.

Reply

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Separation anxiety can come with a tail whip - not only does it swipe at kids, but it will so often feel brutal for their important adults too.

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The more we treat anxiety as a problem, or as something to be avoided, the more we inadvertently turn them away from the safe, growthful, brave things that drive it. 

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Posted @withregram • @sccrcentre Over the next fortnight, as we prepare to mark our 10th anniversary (28 March), we want to re-share the great partners we’ve worked with over the past decade. We start today with Karen Young of Hey Sigmund.

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I often go into schools to talk to kids and teens about anxiety and big feelings. 

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The thing is though, all powertools need a little instruction and practice to use them well. Breathing is no different. Even though we’ve been breathing since we were born, we haven’t been strong breathing through big feelings. 

When the ‘feeling brain’ is upset, it drives short shallow breathing. This is instinctive. In the same ways we have to teach our bodies how to walk, ride a bike, talk, we also have to teach our brains how to breathe during big feelings. We do this by practising slow, strong breathing when we’re calm. 

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When it’s time to do brave, we can’t always be beside them, and we don’t need to be. What we can do is see them and help them feel us holding on, even in absence, while we also believe in their brave.♥️

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