This guest article from Psych Central was written by Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S
Maybe he was a cheater or porn addict. Maybe she never could get over that other boyfriend or worse, was still seeing him. Whatever the reason – ending a relationship where you have become close and attached to each other – is going to hurt. This is the pain part – the one that makes the joys of life more rewarding and meaningful when they come. So to support your survivorship thru a difficult time, here are some suggested, tried and true rules for surviving a recent break-up.
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After Break-up Rule #1. Box up their stuff, tape the box closed and give the box to a friend – for a while. On the pain continuum, wandering around your home seeing his or her gifts, letters, pictures and stuff everywhere is about the same as bamboo shoved under the fingernails. You are better off putting the relationship reminders away for a while. Make sure you can get these things back…at some point he or she may want some of it returned or you may want some of it later. For now, put the pain provokers away.
After Break-up Rule #2. Stay off the phone with him (or her). This includes email, texts, face-time, Skype – you get the picture. If the relationship is recently over then unless you share children or need to exchange property there is no reason to talk further right now. A friendship might develop at some point later, but for now, being in contact will only produce confusion not clarity.
Long discussions about “why we broke up” and “what we could have done differently” are best taken to friends and therapists than to THEM. Logistical things like returning stuff, paying bills and the like, you can handle with very brief emails or texts. Take a good month or two and cut off communication so you can heal – trust me on this one.
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After Break-up Rule #3. Find healthy indulgences. If you can afford it, go shopping and take in as many movies, farmer’s markets and ball games as you can stand. Just don’t hang out where you used to spend time together. Go someplace new. When home, take bubble baths with candles until your skin prunes or consider getting some non-sexual massages – healthy touch is good for you! Move your body – to the gym, yoga or at least walk. Exercise improves mood.
And speaking of distractions, there are a couple to be avoided, like heavy drinking and drugging, starting the hunt for your next lover or having a lot of anonymous sex. Sure, let friends take you out for a round or two of trash the ex over cocktails, but abusing substances to feel better will eventually leave you feeling worse. And while it can feel hopeful to have someone flirt with you in the grocery line or laundromat, spending lonely evenings searching for your next love now is bound to leave you lonelier than when you started. And – searching for a potential mate while you are still stinging from the end of the last relationship is one of the surest ways to hook up with the next wrong person.