For some people, breakups are just a fact of life that we all have to get through from time-to-time — like vaccines or trips to the dentist. For others [raises hand], breakups feel so awful that they put them off dating completely. Regardless of which group you fall into, you’ve probably had to deal with at least one breakup and may have more in your future.
Though nothing can really prepare you for the sting of a breakup, there are ways to become more resilient and speed up your breakup recovery time. We spoke to several relationship experts and therapists to get some tips for how to get over a breakup with someone fast.
Put it in perspective
Yes, breakups — especially when you’re the person being dumped — hurt. But according to Dr. Tina B. Tessina, psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today, it may be a blessing in disguise. “You don’t have a relationship if the other person’s not really interested,” she tells SheKnows.
Embrace your feelings
After a breakup, no one is expecting you to be all sunshine and rainbows all the time. People understand that you need time to process your emotions — and you need to understand that, too. According to Victoria Tarbell, a licensed mental health counselor, if we try to pretend like breakups don’t hurt by ignoring our heartache, all we’re doing is creating bigger challenges for ourselves down the road. “It’s just like ignoring the sniffle that eventually turns into a full-blown sinus infection because you didn’t give yourself the necessary rest, hydration and vitamin intake,” she tells SheKnows. “Make it somewhat easier on yourself by dealing with it now and knowing that this will be your best bet for long-term healing.”
Swear off guilt
Guilt is like time payments — you can keep suffering forever, Tessia explains. Instead, do the grieving you need to do, figure out how you helped create the problems (or stayed around for them) and decide to change what didn’t work before. “Grieve all you need, but don’t exaggerate your feelings,” she adds.
Think of it as a learning experience
After you deal with the initial upset, review the dynamics of the relationship and analyze what went wrong, what you could have done differently and what you learned, Tessina advises. “There’s no need to give yourself a hard time about it, just process the information, so you don’t repeat mistakes,” she says.
Don’t wait around for closure
Ahhh, the elusive closure. It means something different to everyone, but chances are, you didn’t get it immediately after your breakup. But instead of waiting around for your ex to apologize, or for the two of you to sit down for a relationship post-mortem, try and move on without them.
“Closure requires getting truthful answers to your questions about what happened — to understand why [things ended],” Tessina says. “After a breakup, both of you are upset, hurt and guilty and probably won’t be telling the truth, even if you understand it. Neither of you really wants to hear the truth this soon. Longing to talk ‘just once more’ to your ex is just asking for pain.”
Put away the stuff that reminds you of your ex
This is easier said than done if you lived together, but try, as much as possible, to put away or get rid of your ex’s stuff or items that remind you of them. “You don’t need to throw anything away just yet, but get a plastic tub and put in it everything that your ex gave you and all of your pictures of you both,” Anita Stoudmire, a licensed therapist and dating and relationship coach tells SheKnows.
Don’t play the blame game
It’s easy to blame your ex for everything, but according to Tessina, if you do this, you’ll eventually turn that blame to yourself. So rather than issuing blame, try finding more neutral things to say, like, “we saw things differently,” or “we had some good years, then things changed,” she advises. And if your ex left you for someone else, don’t blame that person, either.
Focus on rebuilding your life
We only have so much time and energy, so rather than wasting it on your ex, work towards rebuilding your life. “Drama is not practical,” Tessina says, “it’s a negative fantasy. Focus on the practical things you need to do and think.”
Part of that involves getting your emotional, personal and financial life together as soon as you can. And consider it an opportunity, Tessnia suggests — think about all the things you now have time to do, and do some of them. Try things you would never have done before, or things you’ve always wanted to do. “Use the energy from your anger and grief, and channel them into doing things just for you,” she adds.
Take a weekend trip somewhere new
Sure, tips with friends are fun, but Stoudmire suggests traveling solo to a place you’ve never been before. “When you are in a new place, your brain is forced to put on hold all of the emotions and feelings you have about your break-up because it needs to take in new information about your surroundings,” she explains. “Your brain has to figure out how you’re going to get to where you’re going and where you will eat and sleep once you get there. It also won’t conjure up any ‘nostalgia’ as you have never been there before and nothing will remind you of your ex.”
Don’t forget about self-care
Breakups are a form of grieving, so give yourself the time, space and care you need. Part of that means surrounding yourself with supportive people. “Talk with sturdy friends and family about the feelings, doubts and worries,” Brittany Bouffard, a licensed psychotherapist tells SheKnows. “Soon, hashing details over and over again doesn’t feel helpful, so utilize others to reflect and reaffirm your abilities to move on.”
Like anything else, resilience takes practice and patience. In the meantime, take care of yourself, give yourself room to grieve and process your emotions and take this as an opportunity for a fresh start.