If you’ve been to the site before, you might’ve already read some of the articles I’ve written and you know that I’m kind of a big deal when it comes to getting over a breakup.
But for those of you who haven’t visited the site before, I’m Ashley, and I’m Head of Content Development here at ExGirlfriendRecovery.
While Chris, our fearless leader here at the site, generally writes about recovery in the sense of getting a relationship back, my focus generally leans towards recovery in a healing sense. As my friends like to say, I’m the Queen of “Get Over It,” where “it” can be just about anything.
They aren’t wrong. And I love to help people find new ways to deal with the loss of a relationship, no matter how they found themselves in this position. And I know it can really be rough when your relationship comes tumbling down. Things can get downright messy and ugly. So we are going to talk about some breakup survival tips and strategies to get you through this rough and unforgettable period in your life.
So, if you are ready to get on with life and move past it, then let’s go ahead and jump right in.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to post some video where I just scream “Get Over IT!” a hundred times Shia Lebeouf style.
I tend to lean more towards personal experience and things I’ve learned from studying psychology and working with each of you.
That being said I need to tell you about a trip I went on many years ago.
We had gotten a group of friends together to go on one of those survival hiking trips where you find out if you can make it in the wild. We were only allowed to take what could fit in a couple of backpacks and had to follow strict guidelines as to what we could bring with us. I’m pretty sure it only lasted for a week, but it felt like a lifetime. It was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do.
For someone who wears contacts, takes vitamins, and is used to having coffee more than twice a day… (okay, maybe three times…), it was a pretty tough adjustment.
Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t helpless. I was in the girl scouts, and I had read quite a few survival guides throughout my childhood due to a weird fascination with zombie movies. We had quite a few “If there was a Zombie Apocalypse who would you team up with?” conversations even as adults.
You know you’ve thought about it.
But I’m no Bear Gryllis.
I enjoy indoor plumbing, espresso, and electronics too much to stay in the wilderness for long.
For the record, hunting is NOT my forte either. I pretty much lived on berries, fish, and granola the whole time because I couldn’t bring myself to kill the bunny I caught. Looking back, I’m shocked I didn’t wind up with a pet rabbit.
Anyways, what I’m getting at is that, even though we don’t always have the knowledge or the skills to accomplish exactly what we aim to accomplish, we each have that survival instinct that helps us press on.
I suppose I might as well go ahead and tell you that I got lost… twice. And I wound up spending two nights on my own. I’ll be honest, that first night by myself was probably the most terrifying thing ever. I mean, I was a college kid. I had barely left my hometown and here I was in the middle of the woods on the outskirts of a town several hundred miles from the area I was used to with no protection aside from a little Kershaw pocket knife. I didn’t sleep a wink that night. Fortunately, my group of friends were looking for me as well. So, with all of our efforts we somehow found our way back to the main camp after two nights of wandering aimlessly.
To be honest, I felt pretty helpless at first. And isn’t that how it goes when something doesn’t go as planned?
It’s not just with camping either. I have witnessed so many people that feel like their world is ending and crumbling around them after they lose a relationship.
I know that feeling.
I’ve been there, trying to find my way back to normalcy after a breakup.
Several months after the camping trip, I found myself sitting on the edge of my best friend’s bathtub, wrapped in a towel, bawling my eyes out because my, suddenly, ex-boyfriend didn’t even give me the courtesy of dumping me before he started dating someone new. I am pretty sure my friends, coworkers, and even distant relatives knew I was single before I did. It was not only the worst heartache I had felt up until that point, but I also found myself feeling like a chump, humiliated.
I was just a kid back then, and I found myself doing all of the wrong things. I spent a lot of time crying over the situation and trying to worm my way back into his life by any means necessary. It didn’t help that the girl was a good friend of mine too AND we all worked together. I was a wreck, and I was convinced that my entire world was just going to stop right there. I felt like there was no way to recover from the heartache I was feeling.
Boy, was I wrong.
If I could go back in time and hand myself a backpack full of everything I could possibly need to make it through those moments, I would pack as much of what I’ve learned over the years, from other breakups, situations my friends have been in, things I’ve learned from Chris, and the things I pick up learning from each of your situations. It would be a survival kit of sorts.
Since I can’t pull a Marty McFly and go back and mess with the space time continuum, I think I’ll just share them with you. At least some one can learn from the mistakes we’ve all made.
Firstly, what is the worst part about trying to get over a breakup?
This should be an easy question to answer if you’ve spent any time reading any of our other articles on the site.
It’s leaving them the heck alone! So let’s get into the 7 Ways you can survive a nasty and difficult breakup.
That’s where we’ll start.
- Drop Contact
This means no texting. No calling. No showing up at their favorite coffee shop all stalker-like. You’re going cold turkey. Don’t even try and get your crap back unless it’s something you CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
I you got used to having someone around to talk to constantly. And texting has become almost habitual when we see something that reminds us of someone. Heck, I get messages from exes in the middle of the night of random memes that say, “made me think of you.” From some of them, who have established a somewhat normal friendship, it’s not so weird. However, if it’s only been a couple of weeks or I KNOW they still have feelings for me, it’s not so endearing.
Trust me when I say this. If you are having trouble getting over her, EVERYTHING is going to make you think of her. Do not fall prey to thinking that she’ll appreciate you texting her anytime she crosses your mind. If she broke up with you, she’ll see it as annoying and desperate. If you broke up with her, she’ll think you want to get back together. Continuously texting a girl you don’t want to date that you just broke up with, isn’t just ill-advised, it’s kind cruel.
She may have dumped you and you may feel like you need answers. Trust me when I tell you this. There is nothing she can say that will make being dumped feel good. It’s going to suck no matter what.
So, if you are wanting to move on, you really have to set some solid guidelines for at least the first couple of months or so after the breakup. If you feel like you might want to try and reestablish a friendship later, then do that when the time comes. But, if you really and truly want to get over the breakup, you have to draw a line in the sand for yourself and have the will power to keep it.
- Surrogate Texter
A lot of my friends that have admittedly had a hard time dealing with not being able to stay in contact with their ex. In fact, I’ve made a deal with several of the people in my life. If they suddenly had the urge to reach out to their ex, they could text me instead.
It’s undeniable, this has made for some odd situations, especially in the beginning. One of the first guys I let substitute text me thought they he needed to send me what he was going to send their ex. So, I kept getting late night messages that said, “ I can’t stop thinking about you” or “my bed is cold, I wish you were here lying next to me.” We had a sibling-like friendship, so that was… uncomfortable, to say the least. I finally told him that I was more there for support, so he should message me so I could just distract him with regular conversation till the urge to talk to here passed. It was decided that a simple SOS would suffice. He would message me a quick little distress call and I’d just talk to him about random stuff till the urge to text her subsided. Usually, the situation was remedied quite quickly.
Although, I once spent half of a date on a phone call on the balcony of a fancy restaurant talking another friend down from that metaphorical no contact ledge.
Don’t worry, I had already decided the date wasn’t going well anyways. He was more interested in the game on the TV in the bar. So, it wasn’t just because I was an incredibly awesome friend ( although I am). Find yourself one of your close friends that you trust, that has a lot of patience. Because they’ll have to talk you off of that ledge several times, I’m sure. Or if you are blessed with a few good friends that are qualified with ample patience, you might enlist several friends that you can rely on to talk you through it, so you don’t drive anyone mad.
So, find yourself someone, or a couple of someones, that you can trust to talk you down from that ledge over and over again until you embrace the will power to do so yourself.
- Take Back Your Power
The English philosopher Bertrand Russell likened the relation of power to relationships to the way energy was an integral part of physics. Power is the foundation on which relationships are built, just like physics is constantly effected by energy. If the power is unevenly balanced between the two people, then the relationship itself is not stable.
So how do you take back that feeling of control after a relationship crumbles?
You take this moment find yourself.
Decide who you were, who you are, and who you want to be.
So often in relationships, it is easy to get so caught up in being a “we” that we forget that we are still a “me”.
You can do this by employing a series of actions.
Define Your Values – Values are the deep-rooted beliefs that guide your choices.
The difficult part here is determining whether the values you think you have are yours, or if you have chosen values you think you SHOULD have.
Look at what drives you and what gives you focus. What makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning.
Fight the Need to Please – You can’t please everyone. The urge to do so can be a difficult habit to break. Learn to say no to things that aren’t in your best interest.
Look at it this way. Everything you do changes the course of your life, even the slightest nudge. Do you want to be in the driver’s seat? Or are you going to let someone else determine it?
Set reminders for yourself that remind you to consider the outcome when making choices. I have a ring that I wear that I swap around on my fingers a lot to keep it from being totally comfortable, that wat I am always aware of its presence. Every time I make a decision, big or small, I ask myself, “How does this benefit me?”
I know it sounds selfish, but in the course of our lives I find that most people ask, “How will this affect the way people see me,” rather than if the outcome is beneficial and a healthy choice.
Say no to things that keep you from reaching your goals.
Accept Who You Are – This one is something everyone should constantly be working on. Why constantly? Well, we are constantly changing, personalities and values in flux.
Being hard on yourself can be a helpful development tool, but it can also keep you from moving forward.
I have this one friend who thinks that accepting herself is accepting that she is sad and lying on her couch all day moping about how horrible it is that she is the kind of person that lets life pass her by.
Do you see the irony?
She chose to be that person and then tries to justify it by saying, “Oh that’s just who I am.”
Did you ever watch the Iron Giant? It was one of my favorite movies as a kid. It’s funny, but the one line that resonated with me was all of two words long.
That’s it. Now, it was referring to choosing to be good or bad, but I always took it to mean that you get to choose the person you become.
Choose to be the person who accepts that you aren’t always going to make the right decision.
Heck, I had to come to terms with the fact that I chose to let a narcissist walk in and out of my life like it was equipped with a revolving door with his name on it for almost 10 years.
The key is not to get too focused on the idea of acceptance, but to focus on actions that help you to do so.
Remind Yourself of the Positive Things in Your Life – I know this sounds cheesy, but follow me here. Look at the things you are naturally good at. Look at the people who love and care about you. Look at the things that give you purpose.
If you try and tell me that those things don’t exist, then I’ll straight up tell you that you are fooling yourself. Maybe because you just like feeling sorry for yourself. Maybe because you just don’t like the place your life is at right now. Whatever the reason, wake up! There are people that care. The future is made up of millions of tiny possibilities. By focusing on the negative, you limited yourself to a very small fraction of those possibilities. Very rarely are any of them good.
Don’t limit yourself to the sallow end of the kiddie pool when the entire ocean of possibilities lays ahead of you.
Work on Becoming Present – It’s easy to get stuck on the past, or daydreaming about the future. Be mindful of the things happening here and now. Focusing on the past will get you in a cycle of dwelling on things you can’t change. And focusing too hard on the future will lead you to worry about outcomes of decisions made now to the point of not making decisions.
If you aren’t mindful of the things going on around you at the present moment, you are robbing yourself of the chance to react to them and steer the direction of the outcome.
I’ve often likened this situation people put themselves in, where they leave the outcome up to fate and expect just to sit back and worry about things that might happen or things that did happen, to sitting in the passenger’s seat of a catastrophic wreck.
Learn How to be Alone – It is natural to subconsciously fear being alone. Most people feel that way. I’m not sure if it’s because we are afraid of what we’ll find out about ourselves. Maybe it’s because, something in us is constantly telling ourselves that, if we are alone now, we will be alone forever.
I’m not saying go on some long vacation or start a meditation practice. I’m just saying schedule yourself some time with yourself. Go for walks. I like to ride my bike. So often the answers to all my problems kind of work themselves to the forefront of my mind right as I realize how far away from home I’ve gotten. But some people find that journaling or writing things down helps with that as well.
At first it might have you feeling silly or a little down. So many people spend their entire lives hiding from themselves by surrounding themselves with people and business constantly. Come out of hiding and get to know who you really are. This is a great way to find your values, like we talked about earlier.
Detach from Social Media Temporarily – What?! But how will you know what Jane ate for breakfast? How will I see that funny cat picture that everyone’s sharing right now.
Believe it or not, you might actually be forced to have an actual conversation about what is actually going on in the world.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good meme as well as the next guy. Bu I realized something yesterday.
We get together for Brunch every other Sunday, just as a guaranteed way to stay connected with our busy lives. And yesterday, one of our friends brought her new boyfriend along to get the dreaded friend approval. After Brunch, we took our coffee out on the patio to sit and chat. Not five minutes had passed before I realized that our entire conversation had been him showing us meme’s and silly things off the internet. Needless to say, I was not amused.
Substantial conversation has gone out the window and has been replaced with, “Oh, look what my friend posted.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am totally guilty of this, and as I say this to you I am making a promise to myself as well to have more actual conversations and get to know the people I surround myself with rather than just know what they find amusing.
- Stop Blaming Yourself
Sometimes things just don’t work out. Whether you had a hand in that or things just kind of crumbled around you, you need to realize that sometimes things just happen.
As of this very moment, the National Interagency Fire Center, or NIFC, has posted that there are currently 98,664 acres of active fires. There are 36 active fires. Six of them are contained.
When the fire and rescue is faced with a massive forest fire do you think they ever waste focus on the one tiny match that started the blaze?
They focus on putting out the fire. And then afterwards, the focus is redirected to rebuilding and recovering.
Don’t get stuck trying to figure out what went wrong or where your fault lies. I know how tempting and easy it is to fall into that cycle. Some of you are already there. Change your mindset! Focus on rebuilding and recovering.
- Get Rid of Reminders
I’m terrible at this one and I’ll admit it. I always find a way to convince myself that I am stronger than I am. But the truth is, sometimes you just need to suck it up and get rid of the reminders. Take down the pictures. Wash that hoodies that smells like her that you’ve been sleeping with for the past three weeks. If the prospect of getting rid of the memorabilia is just too hard, then box it up and put it in a closet or give it to a trusted friend.
Whatever you do, just get it out of your sight.
- Get your Priorities in Line
Life waits for no man. Instead of sulking or trying to show your ex how over her you are, try building a life that doesn’t revolve around anyone but you… and maybe your dog if you have one.
Your relationship came to an end… not your life. But if you focus on the negative and allow yourself to get stuck in that rut of feeling like things “aren’t ever going to get better,” then you are just being lazy.
Life is what you make it. Refocus. Decide what you want to accomplish.
No, showing your ex isn’t a priority. It’s a pleasant side effect.
Have you always wanted to start a business? Do you hate your job, but you’ve been putting off looking for a new one?
Whatever you decide to focus on, make it your life’s goal to reach your goals.
My suggestion, set a few small ones to start off with.
I always start with cleaning my living space.
Because, generally speaking, your thoughts will reflect your surroundings. If you are living in a dark, messy space, then your thoughts and your focus will be dark and messy.
- Remind Yourself What You Deserve
No one is promised anything in this life. But realizing that you don’t have to settle is one of the most liberating feelings in the world.
There is no reason to ever stay in a situation that you are unhappy.
If you don’t like your job, there are other jobs. If you girlfriend treats you like crap and walks all over you, there are other girls.
I feel like there should be an infomercial playing in the background while I type this.
“Are unhappy with your situation?”
“Did your last relationship leave you feeling like you can’t do anything right?”
“Did your ex constantly remind you of your failures”
“Well, today’s your lucky day!
For four easy payments of absolutely nothing, you can take home your very own sense of self-worth today!”
I left this one for last, because it’s not necessarily required, but it will make moving on with your life a lot easier. It’s not so much forgiveness as it is acceptance of the situation. I don’t care if your ex was the most awful person on the planet to you. If you are holding on to resentment and age, then they still have some hold on your life. I’m not saying that you have to condone their actions.
Let me put it this way, I’m on good terms with ALL but one of my exes, simply because I deal with my relationships by abiding by one rule.
If your ex walked away, understanding that she might need or want something different, gives you the opportunity to find someone who does.
For the love of all things, please keep your dignity. Don’t go hurling insults at your ex simply because their feelings changed.
That’s what happens in life. Can you honestly tell me that your feelings for everyone in your life have stayed the same your whole life?
There are plenty of ways to go about getting over a relationship ending, but these are the ones I personally have put the time in testing them. Take them. Try them out. And let me know in the comments how they worked for you. I know without a doubt that they’ll have you saying “ex-who?” in no time.