It's normal to feel lost, but don't let it last.
You learned to sail because he loved the open seas. You became a tequila aficionado because your ex went gaga for agave. You may have even starting eating differently—seriously, who wants to watch someone enjoy a juicy cheeseburger without stealing a bite?
As if we needed proof, a study from Northwestern University confirms it. "Across three different studies we found that when a relationship ends, people think their self has changed. They change their hair, their friends, and their goals for the future," says study author Erica B. Slotter, M.A. While a drop-dead gorgeous new 'do can make you feel better, all this change can be rattling. "Being less sure of who people are contributes to the emotional stress that happens when a breakup occurs," says Slotter.
So, how can you start reclaiming your self after a split? Read on.
1. Gather your gal and guy pals.
No man—or woman—is an island, and this is the time to cash in all those late nights spent listening to other people's problems. "You need support to know that others care and to process your feelings and get it all out," says Susan J. Elliott, JD, MEd, and author of Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss Into the Best Thing That Ever Happened To You.
2. Keep talking.
The YourTango Experts network can help you find a qualified relationship professional to help you. Facebook can be a great place to reconnect with old friends when you're ready to start socializing again.
3. Don't lean on mutual friends.
Yes, talking is good. But you want to avoid reconnecting with your former "his-and-her" friends early on. "Being in touch with mutual friends will be a temptation to talk about what he is doing, and you don't want to be in that position," says Elliott.
4. When you're feeling better, take a trip by yourself.
While it's smart to surround yourself with friends, taking a solo voyage is a great way to focus on the future. "If you do it too early, you're just going to feel more alone. Once you are feeling optimistic, it's a great idea to book an adventure," says Elliott.
5. Make the most of your free time.
What is important to you? A hobby? Your work? Or something you haven't tried because you were too busy playing First Mate to your ex's Captain? "Rediscover things that make you who you are and find new interests and hobbies that you didn't have time for," says Elliott.
6. Keep a journal.
Just like talking, putting pen to paper can be cleansing. "Processing your thoughts and feelings are very important. Put it on paper so you can see how you are you are doing," says Elliott.
7. Seek professional help if necessary.
How do you know it's time? "When you feel really down and disinterested in life after a month or two or when you feel despair," says Elliott. She adds: "However, everyone will benefit from talking to a therapist. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness."
8. Force yourself to live your life.
"Keep a balance between letting out your feelings and building your life. Give yourself time each and every day for doing both," says Elliott. So this means taking the time to cry, but drying your eyes and moving on with your day—and eventually, your life.
9. Try not to rebound.
"It is very important to carve out your own life and not jump into a relationship. And when you do get into another relationship, do not lose your identity and important pursuits again. Retain your individuality even when you are partnered," says Elliott. That will not only make any future breakups easier but your relationships better!