Does anyone know how to actually get over a breakup, or is it just something we’ve all agreed to muddle through the process, and then one day hope to not be sad anymore? Breakups can be devastating and painful, no matter what the relationship was like or the reason for the split.
The universal truth is that breakups suck. There’s not much more to say about it. They’re necessary to have, and there aren’t too many people in the world who haven’t been through a terrible breakup, but they are absolutely the worst, and it’s never a joyful experience.
But the good news about breakups and their aftermath is that once you’re over a breakup, you’re done, and it’s over. While you might not be entirely over the person, you can usually get back up, dust yourself off, and get back into the dating world.
There is a proper way to get over a breakup. It is a process you must go through, and it might not be the simplest or the quickest, but it will help you get out of the dumps and into a better headspace.
If you’re wondering what the process for getting over a breakup is, here are the ten steps you will need to know and employ in your healing process.
Why Are Breakups So Hard to Get Over?
Now that we’ve established that breakups are difficult to overcome, we should also probably talk about why. I don’t know about you, but I’ve gone through my fair share of breakups that wrecked me and impacted me and my mental health more than the relationship did as a whole.
It is a strange phenomenon that breakups are usually what can make or break our mental health more than anything else. But have you ever wondered why that is?
The Journal of Neurophysiology wrote a study about the feeling of rejection and why getting broken up with and feeling rejected has such an impact on us. Romantic rejection specifically can create a number of adverse side effects, including clinical depression and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts or tendencies.
One of the reasons romantic love has such a massive effect on us is that love activates a section of the brain that is usually in charge of motivation, reward, and addiction cravings. The Journal of Neurophysiology found that because the area of the brain that handles your romance and desires is the same, the brain often has difficulty distinguishing between romantic rejection and a cocaine craving.
I know that that sound s little bit off the wall and like it’s way more dramatic than it is, but this is a fact.
When the researchers for this study asked their subjects to look at photos of their previous romantic interests, the parts of their brain that were stimulated were a part of the mid-brain that controlled the motivation and reward, the area of the brain that is most often in charge of dealing with addiction and cravings, specifically the reward system, and the region of the brain that handles the sensors associated with physical pain and distress.
So when you’re getting over a breakup, no matter how healthy your previous relationship was, nor how easy or natural or simple the separation felt, because the part of the brain that gets triggered during the breakup process shares the same part as addiction, the result is similar to someone trying to get over a cocaine addiction. I guess some people’s love really is like a drug.
But something else that the study found that is much more positive is that time does heal a broken heart. As more time passes and as you continue to grow and heal after your relationship comes to an end, the brain will have less activity happening in that triggering section.
In this case, one of the best ways to get over a breakup quickly and with as little pain as possible is to follow a few steps to make your transition away from your ex and into singlehood easier.
If you’re wondering what those steps are and how to start the process of getting over a breakup, keep reading!
How to Get over a Breakup in 10 Steps
I know it is easier said than done, and getting over a breakup is a long and involved process that can take a ton of time. Still, it is good to have a method of how to go about grieving a relationship and starting to get over a breakup.
Even though there’s not necessarily a magic wand that we can wave and everything will be okay and healed immediately, it is nice to have a process and a road map of sorts to help you get over the worst parts of the breakup.
Of course, not all of these methods might work for or apply to you, but try your best to stay as close to these expert-approved tips for getting over heartbreak.
1. Stop All Forms of Communication with Them
I know that this might sound slightly obvious, but this was something I needed to hear more than twice during all of my breakups. I know that you loved them, and this is hard, but if you keep looking at their Instagram pictures, texting them, or even having an open avenue on which to talk or communicate with them, you’re not ever going to have time to heal, and you’re not going to get over the breakup any time soon. Instead, you’ll keep opening up a new wound every time you go back and look through old pictures.
Because the part of the brain that gets triggered during a breakup is such a hot spot for activity and can get so easily triggered, it’s best if you don’t try to reactivate it and avoid doing anything that will trigger any reaction to that area in the brain.
Suppose you and your ex ended on good terms and still want to be friends after the breakup. In that case, we applaud that and aren’t telling you to cut them out of your life for the rest of time, but we would caution you to still put some space between you and your ex for a little bit of time before rushing into a new kind of relationship with them, even if it is platonic.
During this time, you will be rewiring your brain and reworking how you think of your ex and how you view them and refer to them in your brain, so give your mind the proper time to work it out and recover from heartbreak.
By opening up any form of communication or by continuously going back and looking at old pictures of the two of you, you’re never going to be able to heal and get over the feeling you had for them. It’s easier to take a month or two and cut off all communication to heal faster and better than ever before.
2. Feel Your Feelings, Especially the Sad Ones
One mistake that a lot of people make when they’re trying to get over a relationship is skipping the grief stage. This is because toxic positivity has become more popular in the past few years, and many people give advice like, ‘Look on the bright side’ and ‘You’re better off without him, be glad it’s over.’ While this advice is accurate and might be true, it’s also valid to feel all your emotions when you’re in the thick of a breakup.
Yes, this means that you can sit around your house and eat ice cream and watch Dirty Dancing as often as you want, but we also want you to process and grieve your relationship correctly.
In order to grieve the demise of a relationship, you might want to look at how people would mourn any other death. The order of the grief cycle is denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You likely won’t feel or deal with all these emotions at once, but it is important to note when these thoughts and feelings are coming up, and you start to face them.
It’s also important to note that you can’t complete and go through all of the stages of grief in one day or even one week. It will take some time to get over your loss, like with any wound or pain. But once you do, you will come out of your breakup a better and more whole person than you were before.
Also, by allowing yourself the proper amount of time to grieve and get over a past relationship, you’re allowing yourself to heal and prepare for your next relationship so that you can enter into it with a whole and healthy mindset that isn’t stuck in the past. That’s why it’s good, healthy, and encouraged to take your time when you’re getting over a breakup and not rush any part of the process.
3. Focus On You
While it’s very valid to spend some days post-breakup on the couch in your sweats, eating pizza, and not showering, there should come a time when you’re done with that, you pick yourself up, and you go seize the day (after you seize a shower first, of course).
Many people delve right into the crying stage of the breakup, but to do that stage properly and healthily, it’s good to first take care of yourself and ensure that you’re clean and healthy for this process. By prioritizing yourself and your hygiene, you’re sending a message to your brain that you’re worth taking care of and worthy of being looked after.
This is also an important message to take with you even after you’ve healed from your relationship. A lot of relationships take the focus off of you and put it on the relationship as a whole. While it’s good to share some of the responsibility and go through life together, a considerable weight gets lifted off your shoulders when you can finally get out of the relationship and put the focus back on yourself and what you want.
I know we talked about toxic positivity and that all of your feelings, especially the sad ones, are meant to be felt when you’re grieving a breakup. Still, it is good to also look on the bright side and realize that after you’re out of a relationship, you can take all of the energy you poured into your relationship and pour it into yourself.
This is a great time to focus on yourself and what you want out of life. When you’re ready, you can also look back at your relationship and start to figure out what worked and what didn’t work in it. That way, you’ll know what to look for in your next relationship and what to avoid.
4. Get Productive
I know we just told you to focus on self-care and take it easy for a bit, but another great way to get over a breakup and heartbreak is to focus on productivity. We’re not saying to get a second job or to take on more responsibility right after you get broken up with, we still want you to take the proper amount of time to grieve and heal, but this is also a great time to invest in yourself and start a project or a hobby that you’ve always wanted to do but never really had the time to do before.
You can interest your time in organizing your life, doing some minor home projects, starting to bake or cook for yourself, taking up crafting, teaching yourself a new skill, working out, or whatever you want to do! Remember, this is your time to shine and do everything you’ve always wanted to do, so take advantage of it.
This is also a great time to start dating yourself and figuring out what you like to do when you’re alone, and no one else’s opinions or thoughts really matter. It’s during the time of your breakup that you can take advantage of certified alone time and find a healthy way to escape from reality and get a little productive.
Finding something to create or do during this time will also benefit your healing process and help you move on faster after the breakup.
5. Rearrange Your Life
When you’re thinking about all of the ways that you can get productive and all of the hobbies you might want to take up, one of the best things you can do after a breakup is refresh your space and your life.
Do you know how women often cut their hair after a breakup? That’s because they’re letting go of the old and welcoming in the new. You can cut your hair, but there are also multiple other ways to change your surroundings and refresh your space that might benefit your mental health, be productive, and get the grieving process going.
One thing that you can do is to give your home a little makeover. If you always hated how one of your rooms looked or didn’t love a particular piece of furniture, this is the time to change it! The change will also be nice because you won’t walk into a room that might hold some painful memories. Instead, you can treat your space like it’s new and improved and eliminate any old memories with a little makeover.
Another thing you should look into doing is burning sage, getting rid of old sheets or their clothes, and going ahead and throwing out anything that reminds you too much of your ex. I know I held onto a few presents that my ex gave me for a bit too long, making the process of getting over them much harder.
Of course, use your discretion when shifting through the things you’re thinking about throwing out. I still have a few valuable things that exes have given me, but you don’t necessarily need to keep all the letters they wrote you or the bear they won for you at the carnival. You can also take as much time as you would like to shift through what you want to keep versus what you’re unsure about and wait until you’re sure before you make any decisions. But obviously, we support you embracing your inner crazy and having a huge bonfire fueled by anything they ever touched. That’s also a way to cope!
6. Get Support from Your Loved Ones
This is such an overlooked part of the healing process when it comes to getting over a breakup, but it’s so integral to going about a healthy way to recover from a broken heart. The people in your life are there for a reason, and they more than likely want to love you and support you. If you’re going through a tough breakup, reach out to those people and talk to them about your emotions.
Friends and family are wonderful people to reach out to during breakups because they will support you, become your safe people, and hold you accountable for not returning to your ex and cutting off contact with them altogether.
While it might be difficult for you to reach out to people and tell them you’re hurting and need support, we promise it will be worth it. It’s especially important to reach out to someone when you’re going through a breakup if you’re feeling dark thoughts or showing the signs of depression that can often be associated with the grieving process of separation.
No matter what your history of dating is like or what your previous relationship looked like, your feelings are valid and powerful, and it might be good to have your support system on your side as you begin to process those deep feelings.
Also, as you’re grieving and getting your emotions out there, it’s good to feel these things deeply because it moves the grief process forward and speeds up the healing process. With your friends by your side, they can often help you better process your emotions and feelings while also being there if you need anything.
Their presence can also help you feel safe and not isolated or alone, as many people are prone to the feeling when they’re going through a breakup.
7. Seek Help
If you’re processing your breakup and you find yourself feeling deeper emotions than you might have expected or you start to realize that, in hindsight, the relationship might not have been as wonderful as you thought it was, you might want to seek out professional help.
Many people shy away from therapy or working through their thoughts and emotions after a breakup because ‘It wasn’t that bad’ or ‘It’s just a breakup.’ While those statements might be factual, you’re allowed to feel whatever feelings pop up while processing your breakup, and you might learn some things about yourself that you had never thought of before.
Breakups often leave people feeling raw and vulnerable, and because of that, they create a space where feelings are high and emotions are more heightened. The time you spend after your breakup to get back to yourself might be the most critical time you could spend working on yourself and trying to better yourself.
You can also seek therapy or help if you’re trying to move on but still feel like something is holding you back. A professional might know not only how to help you but also how to shift your mind and perspective away from your ex.
8. Take a Break from Dating
I’m sure you’ve heard that the only way to get over someone old is to get under someone new. While that may be true, and it may work for some people, there are also other coping mechanisms that you can employ to get over an ex.
If you feel as though people are pressuring you to move on too quickly after a breakup, ask them politely to stop pressuring you and maybe think about committing to a season of singleness for a while.
There’s no preconceived date for how long it should take to get over a breakup and into another relationship, and there’s no right or wrong way to heal from heartbreak. Don’t rush yourself, your emotions, or your heart. That’s one of the worst things you could do for your healing process, stunting your growth even more.
Instead, take all the time you need to get over your ex and take some extra time for yourself. Spend your single time focusing on what you want and what you need. This is the time to be as selfish as you want, and you can really take advantage of it.
9. Close the Door and Don’t Look Back
This is a more complicated step, but it’s a necessary one. Remember how the first step of getting over a breakup is to go cold turkey with your communication and avoid looking at pictures? That’s the penultimate step as well.
Even after some time spent healing and growing from your past relationship, you may be tempted to go back and look at old photos or check up on your ex online. While that’s natural and something we’ve all done, we don’t suggest doing it too early or too often.
Again, even if you’ve gone through all of the previous steps and you think that you’re finally over your ex if you open up a door for communication or you start to silently stalk them on social media, you might unintentionally open up an old wound and leave a bigger scar than before.
You might also be tempted to ask your mutual friends how your ex is doing if they are over the breakup, if they talk about you, or anything else. There’s no need to do this. It’s best to leave your ex out of your conversations for a bit to swiftly and healthily move on. There is genuinely no need to continue going back and opening up new wounds.
If you get closure with your ex, that’s wonderful, but most people don’t get that opportunity, and a lot of them get closure by doing some exploration in themselves and going on their self-important journey alone.
10. Move On and Let Them Go
While it may take more time than you think it will, there will be one day that you wake up, and they are not the first thought in your brain. While you may never be able to go to that restaurant, cook that meal, or see that movie again, all of the small reminders of them will stop popping up so frequently, and you’ll stop feeling so much pain soon.
I know that this is the easiest section to write, and yet it’s the hardest one to live out. But I promise that you will get over them eventually, and you will heal from this heartbreak. It will take some time, and there will be days that you think you’re over them, and reality will crush that hope, but we promise that it will happen.
Be patient and kind with yourself, and take advantage of the tie you have to learn and grow in what you want and how you want to be treated. While it might not be the easiest process to go through, and it will be excruciating at times, it will be so worth it in the end, and you will come out of this experience as a better and more whole person altogether.