Unless you met the love of your life in the 8th grade and you’ve been together ever since you have or will experience the pain of heartbreak. There’s really no way to avoid it. If you’re a human being with the ability to love and care, you’re going probably going to suffer a broken heart at some point. And there’s really not much you can do to avoid it—just blame biology.
A study from the Kinsey Institute in 2006 found similarities between romantic love and substance addiction, which may explain why it’s so hard to get over a break-up. According to researchers, the part of the brain linked to all kinds of addictions also lights up when you’re rejected by a lover. When you consider how lousy heartbreak feels—the inability to sleep, eat, or stop thinking about your ex—it’s not unlike someone going through withdrawals. You might give in to the temptation to call or text them, which provides a momentary satisfaction, followed by an even deeper low.
Heartbreak is always hard, but there are some things we can do to ease the pain:
LET YOURSELF WALLOW
No one can tell you how to grieve. We all do it in our own way and on our own timeline. Give yourself time to feel your emotions. We usually try to avoid negative feelings, but, if you’ve just had your heart broken, now is the time to embrace those feelings. Do whatever feels right at this moment. Spend hours binge-watching a TV show. Indulge in your favorite snack. Take a long nap. Let yourself cry.
Do your best to treat yourself gently and with compassion during this time and allow your emotions to flow freely and, eventually, they will pass.
FORGIVE YOURSELF& STOP ANALYZING
Forgiving your ex-doesn’t mean that hurting you was ok. It doesn’t let them off the hook for their bad behavior, but it does take a weight off your shoulder. Forgiveness is about freeing yourself from anger and freeing yourself from the chains that bind you to the person who conjures those toxic feelings.
Often, a relationship doesn’t work out because you weren’t a compatible pair. That doesn’t necessarily mean anyone is to blame, but it’s human nature to point the finger at someone. Forgive your ex, forgive yourself, and release the anger
This usually means you’ll need to stop analyzing the breakup itself. Don’t get stuck replaying the past in your mind, wondering what could have been if you’d done something different. Wondering “what-if” just feeds the pain. The relationship is over and you can’t change that. All you can do know is learn from the experience.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SUPPORTIVE PEOPLE
Heartbreak is a very personal pain. You might have some people in your life that dismiss it. They think the best way forward is just to get over it already. You don’t need those people right now. Connect with friends and family members who understand your pain and can offer sympathy. Spend time with people who lift you up and bring you joy.
It also helps to talk about your feelings. Discuss the breakup with an objective person who can help you see things clearly. But don’t go on and on about it—get it off your chest and then commit to not talking about your ex anymore.
STOP IDEALIZING YOUR EX
Even if a relationship has its problems, the breakup can still feel unexpected and out of the blue. We may not understand exactly why it’s happening and we want to resist it. We’re sad and in love and want nothing more than a reconciliation. Sure, you might get back together, but it’s not likely. Breakups happen for a reason. It’s time to focus on those reasons.
Of course, when we look back we only see the good things and the potential. Now, more than ever, you need to be honest with yourself. Stop idealizing your ex and the relationship you had. List the reasons why your ex-was wrong for you. Write down all the ways the relationship didn’t work for you and the compromises you had to make. Acknowledging those things and focusing on what you want and need from a partner can only be a help to you in future.
DON’T ‘STALK’ YOUR EX
If you’re trying to quit smoking, you don’t keep a pack of cigarettes in your purse, so if love really is like an addiction, you need to stay as far away from your ex as possible. Absolutely no contact allowed!
In this tech-focused era, it’s easy to keep tabs on other people, but cyber-stalking your ex just makes it harder to move on to start by deleting your ex from your social media accounts. You don’t need to know what they’re doing and who they’re doing it will. If the breakup was a bad one, go a step further and delete their number from your phone. Remove the temptation to contact them. Don’t ask mutual friends about them. Don’t visit places where you hope to run into them. Anything less will just make the pain worse.
FOCUS ON YOURSELF
After you’ve had time to process your heartbreak, you’ll need to start living your life again. It’s time to get busy. Have dinner with a friend, take a class, tackle a big chore, get some exercise.
Find things that bring you joy, especially new activities. Discover things that don’t remind you of your ex and allow yourself to reclaim your freedom and individuality. Awaken your inner self, uncover your passions, and make new memories.
A breakup is always painful, but you get through it eventually. Time truly does heal all wounds, but we must work hard to ease the suffering in the meantime. No one gets through it in exactly the same way or in the same amount of time. It’s a deeply personal experience, but one we should never judge ourselves for.