This is part 2 of whatI’ve learned about how I survive breakups. Part 1 can be found here.
For me, one of the most important things to move on after a breakup is going no contact. I recommend it for at least some time even if you’re a “friends with all my exes” person. I’ve learned to make my no contact boundary explicitly clear to my exes when we breakup. I also do things like delete their phone number and unfriend or block them on social media to make it harder for me to contact them. Just adding a small extra barrier to contacting an ex makes it significantly less likely I’ll do so. You can also employ the strategy of any time you want to call/text an ex instead you call/text someone in your support network.
Building on that, I’ve also gotten better at how I react in the moment of the breakup. I’ve learned that generally the other person’s mind is made up and it’s not the time to try to debate them into not dumping you. Instead use it as a time to say thanks for what was good and close the door together with as much compassion as possible. I recommend the 12 rules of better breakups at the end of this Psychology Today article as a solid guide for how to navigate this difficult conversation. Starting an empathetic exchange even as the dumpee has lead to my exes also sharing what they appreciated about the relationship even though it wasn’t the right one in the end. Being able to see the value we added to each other’s lives has been a big help in being able to move on feeling positive about the finite time together. It’s also aided me in reminding myself what positive qualities I have and protect my self-esteem post breakup.
That being said, we don’t always get to have productive and mindful breakup conversations. Sometimes we’re blindsided with a text, email, or even a letter. The kinds of breakups that leave us searching for answers about what went wrong. Maybe there’s just one simple thing that would have saved the relationship if we’d only known. Which brings us to the cliche but true saying that sometimes you have to make your own closure. One suggestion my therapist has given me is to write not only a letter to your ex (that you don’t send!) but to also write a letter back from them. Write yourself the letter where your ex “says” all the things you need to hear from them to be able to accept and let things go.
Even if you’ve had a “better breakup conversation” and you feel like you have closure on the relationship, it’s natural to have moments where you still miss that person. What I’ve found most helpful is to acknowledge the positive thing that I missed but balancing it with a reminder of something I don’t miss about the relationship. For example, yes that time we went on that trip was lovely overall, but remember how we fought about how to split the costs? This TedTalk on How to Fix a Broken Heart provides some more examples on how to balance these thoughts and stop idolizing a relationship that wasn’t working.
That covers the major ways I think about and process breakup feels. Next week I’ll wrap up with somethings I do to just feel better post breakup (spoiler: most of it is listen to Lizzo songs).