I remember the first time I was dumped, and it felt like an arrow through the knee, or heart, in this case. Unfortunately, at the time, our high school curriculum did not teach us how to cope with a breakup you don’t want. So, I had to learn the hard and humiliating way, like most of us do.
Thankfully, I am one to reflect and experiment. I figured out all the dos and don’ts of dealing with a breakup you don’t want.
If you are in the midst of plotting and planning grand gestures to change reality, my friend, I hate to say it, but you are going to crash and burn like Icarus.
I’ve spent the better part of my week compiling a list of everything I know about how to cope with a breakup.
If you can implement more than a handful of the advice below, believe me, you will get through this breakup without regret, embarrassment, self-sabotage, or humiliation.
If you implement everything in this article, well, you’ll heal and move on much faster than you could imagine.
20 Tips On Coping With A Breakup
1. Find support from someone who genuinely cares about you.
In the process of moving on after a breakup, it is paramount for you to be alone. That is undeniably true, and it’s one of the hardest things you have to do.
But, I’ll be the first to admit, this is only applicable after you’ve recovered from the initial shock of being dumped.
I’ve met people who have been in this stage for almost a month, and they were unwise to isolate themselves.
During those early days or weeks of being dumped, you need to be around someone who cares about you.
You need to feel love and support while your mind, heart, and body catch up with reality.
Select someone who isn’t judgmental, immature, insensitive, or disinterested in what you are going through. Also, they should be fiercely loyal to you. What you don’t need right now is an objective lecture on the ins and outs of your relationship.
What you need is someone who will echo sentiments that build you up and remind you that all hope is not lost.
2. Focus on getting through the first week without making any rash decisions.
Never make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions.
As much as the heartbreak you are experiencing feels as if it will never end, believe me, it will.
Don’t make any decisions during these early days of shock and heartbreak.
Instead, keep yourself in a safe space where you are unable to do anything that jeopardizes your reputation or life.
You can take a week to slow down and not talk to your ex.
They will not forget you in a matter of days, and you do not have to turn the world upside down in an attempt to win them back.
All you need to focus on is de-escalating yourself from the fight, flight or freeze response that you are in.
Reflecting on my own breakups, I wish that I had practiced inaction during those early days. I would have spared myself added rejection, regret, and embarrassment.
3. Book a session with a therapist as soon as possible.
A lot of breakups are messy.
You may not exit this one without a wound or two that may stem from complex problems.
Instead of battling through this phase alone, you would tremendously benefit from speaking to a therapist.
When I was looking for help on how to cope with a breakup I didn’t want, therapy was the answer.
It provided me with a safe space to open up about my thoughts, ideas, and feelings.
More importantly, through discourse, I was able to learn a lot about myself and what I am capable of accomplishing.
Another benefit I experienced from therapy was emotional grounding.
While I was consumed by extreme emotions, she was relaxed and calm. When I was high-strung, she was composed. When I was angry, she was indifferent. When I was deeply sad, she was compassionate.
Her behavior or approach to therapy emotionally disarmed me. As a result, I was able to regulate myself at the end of each session.
Also, having your feelings validated by someone other than friends or family can offer a great deal of comfort, which is something I craved.
Therapy provided me with a lot of psychological and emotional tools to deal with a breakup.
4. Avoid rebounding or trying to fill your time with other people.
There’s a void in your life now, and it’s tempting to seek out temporary comfort in others.
But, I would caution you against this because the void you feel is currently shaped by your ex.
Nobody else is going to fill his or her shoes.
Trying to forcefully insert someone into your life will only make that void more visible. You will eventually become jaded and disappointed by everyone and everything.
People who could have been wonderful partners for you will fall short because you are trying to replace one person with another.
There’s a time and place for dating or meeting new people for romantic purposes.
It’s best to wait until you have learned how to cope with a breakup you don’t want.
That’s when you will have some space in your heart to introduce someone new.
5. Do not be unnecessarily harsh or judgmental toward yourself.
Undoubtedly, breakups reveal weaknesses.
You will be tempted to pass harsh judgment on yourself. Blaming oneself is a common symptom of heartbreak.
While you’re in denial because you don’t want a breakup, your mind will gravitate towards reasons why you are at fault for this issue.
Even if there’s a great degree of truth to your self criticism, the timing may not be right.
You need to catch up with reality and learn how to cope with a breakup before you move onto self-reflection and real personal development.
6. Don’t grovel, beg, or nag your ex to take you back.
The more you try to change or deny reality, the more you will suffer.
This was extremely difficult for someone like me to accept.
I have the mindset of someone who will never quit. I will work through problems until I’m dead before I give up.
That’s an amazing mentality to have, but not when it comes to love.
I’ll explain why.
Hard work is important for any relationship, but you must be working with a willing participant. If one person has their foot out of the door, there’s no way for the relationship to work.
You can’t make the other person do the work. It has to be of their own free will. More importantly, they have to feel a genuine desire to work with you.
If they don’t, you have to let them go.
Love in such a way that the other person feels free. That’s what Thich Nich Hanh once said, and it perfectly summarizes this section.
Groveling, begging, or nagging your ex to take you back will only solidify their decision.
It’s unattractive because it reeks of desperation and unrealistic attachment.
Even if it worked, you would never feel secure and safe with your ex. You’d keep questioning whether they actually wanted to be with you or not.
The relationship will eventually fall apart, leaving you in a worse position.
You need to read this article: How to let go of an ex you still love.
7. Temporarily end contact with your ex until you have calmed down.
It’s so easy to be seduced into outlandish and grandiose declarations of love or anger when you are deeply emotional over a breakup you don’t want.
But, when has that ever produced good results for you?
Honestly, think about it for a moment and make a list of times when being emotionally uncontrollable has resulted in good memories for you.
I can’t think of any instance, especially when my emotions were chaotic and induced by desperation or loss.
Far too many people ruin their chances of getting their ex back by communicating with them in this state.
You would have a greater chance of reattracting your ex by not talking to them than by staying in contact.
Time away from each other will provide the silence and distance needed to inspire feelings of longing and desire in your ex.
8. Break the cycle of rumination when it begins.
To ruminate is to repetitively fixate on a cycle of negative thoughts in a continuous matter. Rumination is exhausting, demoralizing, and corruptive.
It messes with your sense of reality and keeps you stuck in a negative spiral of thoughts that prevent you from actually healing or moving on.
I’ve learned to accept that I can’t outthink myself.
I can’t think my way out of rumination, and that’s the trap. You have to accept that certain negative thoughts cannot be resolved, and the only way to get through them is to let them go.
When you find yourself triggered by a particular negative thought, stop yourself from digging deeper into it by not judging it or trying to change it.
It’s tempting to go in circles over why your ex left, what went wrong, what they’re doing, or how much you are going to suffer.
You need to read this article: What to do when your crush rejects you.
9. Avoid triggers by removing reminders of your ex for now.
I will be the first to raise my hand and admit that I am extremely sentimental.
I have kept love letters for decades, and I still have them to this day.
But, at the same time, I can attest to how damaging this is when you are trying to move on or accept the end of a relationship.
You will remain stuck and resistant to reality for as long as you do not pack away some of the reminders of your ex.
Pictures, videos, letters, and gifts should be out of sight until you learn how to cope with a breakup you don’t want.
When my last relationship ended, I bought a brand new phone within a month.
I’m way too sentimental to get rid of the pictures and videos of the memories I shared with my ex. At the same time, seeing them only worsened the pain I felt after the breakup. So, I eased myself into accepting the breakup by getting a new phone.
If you are sentimental and cannot tolerate the idea of getting rid of these things, find a way to store them safely and out of sight for a short while.
You need to read this article: Should I delete photos of my ex?
10. Join a class that requires you to be physically active and engaged.
As mentioned earlier, rumination and obsessive thinking are common symptoms after a breakup.
Given that you don’t want the breakup, it’s more likely that you will examine every detail of your relationship and the breakup over and over again.
This is an endless endeavor that will trap you in the past and an uncertain future.
What I found to be helpful was walking in nature every single day for an hour.
But I was still engaged in some thoughts about relationships and my ex.
Only when I tried a new class and put myself in a situation that not only required me to socialize but to use my brain and body to compete, was I able to get some relief from obsessive thinking and sadness.
Put yourself in this setting at least once a week, and I promise you that it will help you gain some control over your life and your own feelings.
11. Don’t obsess over moving on.
The idea of “moving on” can be described as the act of waking up in the morning and going about your life without obsessively thinking about your ex or the breakup.
But, if you constantly fixate on moving on, you’re just giving more importance and thought to those very things.
Moving on doesn’t require forceful focus.
Instead, moving on becomes a result of accepting the breakup, experiencing the emotions, rebuilding your life, developing your identity again, and creating a new vision for the future.
By the time you work your way through these things, moving on from the past becomes a natural occurrence.
Instead of concentrating on the act of moving on, pay attention to these things in order to do so.
You need to read this article: What should I do if I wants a relationship and he doesn’t.
12. Exercise, work, pray, and eat well.
Take all that energy you would direct towards your ex and use it on yourself in a caring and loving manner.
It is tempting to retreat into a cave and drown yourself in junk food. Comfort doesn’t have to look like mindless television or a lack of exercise.
I would advise you to make it a priority to exercise, work, pray, and eat well every single day, despite how you feel.
At first, you are going to feel miserable.
But, as the results of your hard work begin to appear, the effects of progress will create mental strength and confidence.
You’ll be able to embark on the journey of coping with a breakup you don’t want by actually doing things that are considered coping mechanisms.
If you want to take a few days to digest what has happened to you, then by all means, please do.
But, after a week or two, you should be doing all of these things religiously.
You need to read this article: How to become the hottest version of yourself.
13. Don’t listen to everyone who has an opinion unless they can be trusted.
I remember turning to a casual friend after a traumatic breakup, and her advice to me was absolutely terrible.
I trusted her, but in reality, she was so chaotic and uninterested in my well being that she gave me poor advice.
The fault lies with me because I should have been fiercely protective of who was allowed into my inner circle.
There are people who will say just about anything for entertainment and amusement.
You are better off selecting two or three genuine people to confide in than trusting just about anyone.
It’s sad to say, but some people will pretend to be friends, but they are only looking for entertainment in your disaster.
Don’t let them have a say in your mind.
14. Give yourself a break from social media to reset.
Comparison is a thief of joy.
When you are going through hardship, the last thing you need are constant reminders of everyone who is better off than you are.
Granted, in some circumstances, seeing people thrive can be a source of motivation and inspiration.
But, more often than not, people are reminded of what they lost while they are unable to handle it.
To limit unnecessary exposure to these things, it is best to remain detached from social media.
Another reason to avoid social media is to avoid seeing anything your ex posts that may upset, scare, or traumatize you.
15. Learn how to feel without acting irrationally.
Believe me when I tell you that I was an emotionally weak person.
Every emotion triggered some kind of reaction out of me.
This is why I spent a significant period of my teen years overweight. I ate for comfort whenever I was bored or upset.
In most of my relationships, I walked around a slave to my emotions.
I’d toss reason and logic out the window when my heart was involved in any matter.
That’s a dangerous game to play.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling your emotions, but to allow them to drive you without measuring them against logic and reason is potentially dangerous.
Right now, you are in one of the worst emotional states a person can be in.
You’re dealing with shock, denial, rejection, loss, fear, anxiety, and abandonment all at once.
To act on these emotions blindly may result in more harm than good.
It’s best to bounce your ideas off someone who isn’t so emotionally wound up as you are to get a more realistic view of what your actions may result in.
Also, learn how to feel your emotions.
You don’t have to express or resist your emotions to deal with them.
Sometimes, feeling uncomfortable emotions without taking action can be the most therapeutic decision you make in learning how to cope with a breakup you don’t want.
16. Spiral in the safety of your home and with your loved ones.
There will be times in which you spiral into a short-lived state of anger, depression, excitement, or even madness.
As much as you should try to exercise emotional self-control, you can’t and won’t be perfect at it.
That’s what makes us humans.
During those instances when a spiral seems inevitable, limit your activity and reside in a safe space.
With loved ones, you will be cared for and talked out of self-sabotage.
17. Allow yourself the freedom to enjoy things you like.
Over a year ago, I ended my last relationship despite not wanting to.
Struck with grief, I was unable to enjoy anything for quite some time.
But, as I regained control of my life, it dawned on me that this journey was a long one.
With that simple fact in mind, I decided to reward myself with some time to simply step away from my grief and enjoy something I cared about.
The Batman had just been released in the cinema, and I decided to watch it with a friend.
For those 2 hours and 56 minutes of runtime, I immersed myself in the enjoyment of watching a movie that I cared about.
Whether it’s a meal with loved ones or an hour spent reading a book that puts a smile on your face, give yourself permission to enjoy something.
In time, you will find more enjoyment, peace, and happiness in your own company before it becomes your default state.
18. Make new friends if you are completely unready for dating.
A lot of people will advise you to jump back on the horse and ride your way into a new relationship.
But, are you ready to move on?
Forget about what other people think, what do you think and how do you feel about giving yourself to another relationship?
There’s absolutely nothing wrong or weird about choosing to be single for a while.
Your life does not have to consist primarily of romantic entanglements.
Indulge yourself in honest, kind, giving, and real friendships.
It is commonly said that we are heavily influenced by the five people closest to us. So, why don’t we find friends who are thriving, healed, confident, ambitious, successful, and strong-minded?
Being around people who have a strong mind and a healthy attitude towards life can greatly help us cope with a breakup.
19. Avoid talking about your ex or the breakup all the time.
Expression of pain and shock is a coping mechanism that is useful during the early days or weeks of a breakup.
But, its usefulness diminishes with time.
Once you have shone a spotlight on every detail of the breakup or your ex, it might be time to turn the light towards other areas of your life.
As you probably know, we are creatures of habit.
By doing something consistently and passionately, we wire our brains to develop a habit or routine.
When this happens, we experience a sense of incompleteness or disarray when we don’t partake in that habit.
Habits are not limited to good things.
In fact, I would argue that it is far easier to develop an unhealthy habit than a healthy one.
To avoid developing a thought habit or addiction to your ex or the breakup, I suggest shifting your conversations with people to other things.
Even if it feels forced or strange, make an effort to have a regular conversation. Perhaps, focus on being helpful to a friend or family member. Make them the priority of your conversation.
Over time, you will put more distance between the breakup and you.
This will make it far easier to cope with a breakup you don’t want.
Also, when you are looking to get away from daily life, you can look to those people who have been disassociated from your breakup for a positive escape.
20. Change your routine.
Your life has changed since the breakup.
I won’t deny how devastating and scary this feels.
It may be tempting to latch onto what is known and common.
But, entertain the idea that what you know is too wrapped up in the relationship you had with your ex.
Trying to maintain the exact same routine may just be the cause of more suffering in your life.
What if you were to change things up?
Think about it for a second.
You can gain some control over your life and feel safer in your own company by making intentional changes to your routine.
In my last relationship, I would have a call with my ex every afternoon. We did this for years, and I loved it.
No matter what I was going through in my life, I knew that talking to her at that time would make me feel happy and peaceful.
When the relationship ended, that became one of the most difficult hours of my day.
Given that I’m older and wiser, I decided to use that time to walk outside in nature.
I shifted the hour at which I exercised, and this made a huge difference in how I was able to cope with a breakup I didn’t want.
Also, it was a feel-good activity that always cleared my head and calmed me down.
Now, all this time later, I still use that hour to walk outside, and I can’t imagine my life without it.
Find productive and self-caring ways to change your routine. You will feel more in control of your life by doing so.
Acceptance comes either willfully or unintentionally as a result of time and space.
As the clock ticks on and life moves forward, you will develop the tools and strength required to accept a breakup you don’t want.
Something you can control is who you are.
By growing and investing significant energy and time into self development, you can outgrow your ex and the relationship that ended.
It’s easier to accept and cope with a breakup when you are not the same person you were in the relationship.
That has been the experience of countless people, including myself, who spent significant time in growing and developing our identity.
Figure out who you want and what you want from life going forward.
It will provide you with adequate motivation and direction to cope with your loss.
With that being said, I hope you found this article on how to cope with a breakup to be useful and insightful. If you would like to work with me directly, please check out my services page for more information on my email coaching package.