A solid almost 15 years of serial monogamy gave me plenty of helpful lessons—how to spot red flags, emotional vampires, men who don’t pull their weight, etc. The best among those lessons? How to get over the worst part of a breakup.
No matter which way you slice it, breakups are hard. But when you go through, like, 12 of them over the course of your 20s, you wind up turning that shit into a scientific formula. This works whether you want to move on or get back together (if the latter, you’ll be thinking more clearly by the end and be in a better place to assess whether this relationship was serving you in the way you needed).
So, here is the formula:
Step 1: Impose a No-Contact Rule for 30 Days
You will not feel better if you decide to reach out to your ex, regardless of whether you’re telling them you hate them, feel betrayed, or still love them. They’re all bad scenarios that won’t make you feel any better.
Instituting 30 days of no contact for yourself will give you the distance you need to evaluate everything. You’ll get a clearer view on the relationship and how you specifically might need to heal.
To do so successfully, I always kept a note on my phone (or designated a trusted friend) where I could type out and store/send the messages I wanted to say or text. It gave me the release I needed of saying what I needed to say without causing more shit for myself.
The reason for 30 days is to let the emotions cool down. You need that time to get level-headed so you can make decisions based on what you want for your life overall, rather than what you want in the moment.
Here’s the catch: If you break the 30 days of no contact, you have to restart the clock. You’re getting those 30 days no matter what, so you might as well stay committed. You can even mark the last day on your calendar or change your ex’s name in your phone to the day you’re allowed to talk to them again. No matter what you do, don’t give up!
Exceptions to Step 1
If you have a kid together or need to arrange getting your stuff back, keep the conversation SOLELY to these topics. You’re not to discuss anything else but the necessary. Not even, “How are you?”
Remember, this is about healing and getting out of the enmeshment is the only way to cut those emotional cords.
Finally, if you truly feel like you need to send SOMETHING before you stop, you may only send a message full of GRACE and FORGIVENESS. This is what it should sound like:
Hi John/Jane. I just wanted to say thank you for the past three years. I know they haven’t been perfect, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to grow and learn more about myself during the time we spent together. I wish you the best of luck and hope we can both find what we’re looking for. We both deserve it.Seriously. This is the only kind of text you’re allowed to send.
Generally, when we feel compelled to text the ex, it’s NOT to extend understanding and well-wishes. And that’s why it’s the only text you’re allowed to send before 30 days of no contact.
However, this process is all about healing and leveling up. You can’t do that if you’re being petty or begging. So, if you don’t want to send this kind of message, then go straight into those 30 days!
Step 2: Focus on Meeting Your Basic Needs
Whether you knew the relationship was ending or not, you’re likely in a place where you don’t feel cared for. Heart-sickness can feel so much like actually getting sick—you don’t have the energy to feed yourself or do anything productive and, generally, no one is around to do it for you.
What you do during this time is whatever the fuck you want.
Give yourself a week to cry it out. If you don’t want to cry, put on a sad-as-fuck movie and cry over THAT. You need an emotional release that can only come from tears. Get them over with early so you can move onto the more fun stuff.
Also, follow the rule my therapist gave me for bouts of depression. Every day you must (1) bathe, (2) brush your teeth, (3) go outside.
That’s it. Let people love on you and do whatever you want. Eat the ice cream. Drink the wine. Binge watch the Netflix. Just do whatever that broken heart needs!
Step 3: Get Your Mojo Back
Once you’ve had the time to cry it out and stay in your pajamas for a straight week, it’s time to start getting back to your bad-ass self. These listed options aren’t the only ways to do it, but they’re MY tried-and-true methods, so feel free to give them a spin.
Change up your hair. The saying goes, “When a woman changes her hair, she’s about to change her life.” That’s not just for women! Any time we get a fresh look, we see ourselves in a new way. Guys will feel just as good about a fresh fade as women can feel about new highlights. The point is to just see yourself a little differently and hair is the easiest way to do that. Chop it off or color it or get the side bangs—now is the time for experimentation!
Buy new clothes. You don’t need to re-haul your entire wardrobe, but a few new pieces of clothing can go a long way in making you feel like a fresh, new, sexy version of you. If you catch your ex in public, you’ll feel much better in a new outfit they haven’t seen before.
Get on a workout program. This isn’t about appearance as much as it is giving you a way to channel all that sadness and energy. To quote Elle Woods, “Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands! They just don’t.” Except in this case, those endorphins will keep you from totally succumbing to the need to weep yourself to sleep every night.
Step 4: Go on a Date. Yes, Seriously.
This probably sounds absolutely bizarre, but one of the best things you can do after following the above advice is to go on a date. With who? Anyone, honestly. But the better looking the better.
This is NOT about rebounding. I don’t want you to bone this person! The point of going on a date with an attractive stranger is to remind you that YOU ARE DESIRABLE AND PEOPLE WANT TO DATE YOU.
During a breakup, we tend to feel like trash and that’s totally legitimate. It feels like you let someone into your soul, they took a look around and said, “WOW, no thanks.”
By going on a date, you’re just reminding yourself that there are people out there who will pretend to be interested in your interests and act super polite just for the CHANCE to get to know you. If that’s not an empowering feeling, I don’t know what is!
Side story: I once sent a bunch of guys on dating apps pics of the jewelry I made just to see who would come up with the most creative fake-interest. I’ve timed it to see how long a guy would pretend to listen to me talk about my cat on a date.* When you make that initial date about seeing the power you wield, you take the pressure off yourself and can just have fun.
*I actually dated him for like four months.
Step 5: Infuse Your Life with Newness
Along the lines of building confidence is developing new friendships and hobbies. This doesn’t mean you should toss out your old friends. It just means it’s time for you to get out of that comfort zone where you’ve been hiding.
When you hang out with your tried-and-true friends after a breakup, the conversation will inevitably turn to asking how you’re healing, analyzing what was good or bad about the relationship, and a pep talk. Those are wonderful things, but when we’re trying to heal, they keep us energetically tied to the pain.
By developing better friendships with some of your acquaintances or going out and meeting some new people, you’re not in a comfortable place to discuss your relationship ending or how you’re healing. Instead, you’re letting people get to know you from a blank slate. It’s a break from the nonstop breakup talk you tend to have with your regular crew.
Similarly, new hobbies will occupy your thoughts in the same way. When you’re forcing your brain to process something new, it won’t be able to think about the breakup at the same time. Learning the mechanics or the guitar or how to knit won’t allow you to hold breakup thoughts at the same time.
Step 6: Do Something That Scares the Shit Out of You
I’m not talking about that cutesy saying. I want you to get WAY out of your comfort zone. You don’t need to go deep sea diving with great white sharks, but find something you’ve always said, “Omg, I could NEVER do that” and then go do it!
In the past, I would always go for activities involving heights because that was my biggest fear. I did ropes courses and rock climbing. Then I wound up liking rock climbing so much it became a hobby!
If I were to go through a breakup again, I would probably need to find an activity outside of the heights category—maybe ride a roller coaster, hold a tarantula at a petting zoo, etc.
Why is this the necessary final step? Because it gives you that last, HUGE jolt of confidence to show you that can DO ANYTHING and survive it. It reminds you that you’re brave and resilient.
When you do something that feels like conquering a fear, it’s nearly impossible to NOT see yourself as a bad-ass and appreciate yourself. So, as a final gift to yourself, you’re essentially evolving into a new version of yourself that your ex wouldn’t even recognize if you still want to talk to them at the end of 30 days!
Tell me: Did I miss anything? What are your go-to coping habits on how to get over a breakup fast?