Breaking the Rules of Breaking Up


Everyone who has been through a breakup has their own surefire, go-to rules: Accept that it’s over. Call friends for support. Fill your freezer with Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream (just me?). As I make my way through my own post-relationship jungle, I’ve come up with a few of my own (for example: no matter how friendly he seems, Jack Daniel’s is an enemy for at least the first month).

In general, I think any breakup rule is an attempt to set guidelines where none exist. And while I’ve seen a few gems, lately I’ve come across some that, in my opinion, are just plain wrong. Here, my picks for the breakup rules that were made to be broken.

Steer clear of rebound relationships

Rebound relationships are bad news. Rebound dating, however, should be embraced wholeheartedly. Shortly after Alex and I broke up, I got right back on the proverbial horse. I kept telling myself, “I’m single now. So get out there and be single.” At first the dating was more a distraction than anything else, but now I’ve started to enjoy going out with new people. This will probably last until I meet some guy who seems normal, only to find out he has an extensive collection of New Kids on the Block memorabilia.

Never, EVER contact your ex
When Alex and I were setting the terms of our breakup (yes, we set the terms), we both agreed to stay in touch. After being together for so long, the thought of going cold turkey was just too much for either of us to bear. So for the first month, we called each other every few days. Granted, I barely talk to him now (probably once a month or so). But weaning off of the daily chats helped us remain in each other’s lives while still making the transition to “just friends.”

Don’t place all the blame on him
I agree with this one to a point—I never put all the blame on Alex, or took it all on myself. We both messed it up and we share responsibility. But along with blame comes getting mad, and let’s face it—that just feels good. Healthy or not, anger trumps sadness any day. While I won’t blame him, I will replay every moment of doubt, every stupid argument, and every time he pissed me off until I feel OK that we broke up. When we were dating I got to pretend he had only good qualities, so why not do the opposite now that we’ve split?

And my favorite, just for good measure: Set aside 15 minutes each day to cry

This tasty tidbit comes from Mike Riley, co-author of How To Heal a Broken Heart in 30 Days. Mr. Riley recommends that recent breakup victims “flush” their feelings for at least 15 minutes every day. If you find the tears just won’t come, he suggests you “stand erect, place your hand above your heart, close your eyes and take short, sharp breaths while listening to music that brings on sorrowful feelings. Just be careful not to hyperventilate.” (Seriously, that’s part of the quote.) I’m all for crying when you need to—letting yourself feel overwhelmed for a few moments does wonders for getting it out of your system. But actually forcing yourself to cry? That’s messed up.

If any readers out there want to share their own rules, I’d love to hear them. And if you’ve broken any (like I have), ’fess up so I know I’m not the only one committing breakup misdeamenors.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.