Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Break Up Guide - Tips for Mending a Broken Heart

Many of you know that I have been going through a break-up and well, to be honest, I am horrible at them.  It is very hard for me to allow myself to get attached to someone but then it is twice as hard for me to dis-attach when I love someone deeply.  Here is some advice for those of you who are going through it and also for those of you who are friends and family of someone going through it.
None of this is easy, it sucks.  Some of us move on faster and some of us have a delayed reaction to the break-up.  We are all different.

Here my break up tips and advice all of which are very hard and I fail at them all the time but if I keep them mind, I only feel better each and every day! 

1.  Cry it out - When you need to feel bad and cry, do it!  I try to allow myself a set time, like five minutes or hell, a full Sunday. But after that, I'm done and moving on to something else.  Cry the whole time you are in the shower, cry for the whole Adele album, cry while watching The Notebook.  What you are going through hurts!  Acknowledge that pain and allow yourself to feel it.

2. Alone time - Okay, this is easy for me because I can't even think of dating for months.  Some people say, "the easiest way to get over someone is to get under someone else."  It's not going to make the pain go away.  You are just going to end up hurting that person or yourself.  It's a band-aid, that's all.  You need time to process your feelings and heal.  I know it sounds all therapy talk but it's true.  If you were with someone for a long time, if you start dating someone right away, it's not going to work.  You are going to miss the other person and have un-resolved feelings no matter how much you try and push them out of your head.
Because of this, my ex generally starts dating before me and it hurts like hell.  You compare yourself to the new girl and visualize how pretty she is or how she cooks more or whatever.  Listen, he is still the guy that he was with you.  You are only going to remember the good things right now but that leads me to #2. 

3. Remember why you broke up - Your ex is still the same guy or girl.  You are creating this reality where all of a sudden he is buying roses, taking her for exotic vacations, talking about kids.  Listen, if he loved his hours of video game time when he was dating you, I doubt it will be any different with her.  You guys broke up for a reason.  Even if you were the dumpee, were you really happy in the relationship?  Maybe you wanted to work on things, maybe he cheated, maybe, maybe, maybe.  The point is, it's never just one person unhappy.  If he was really unhappy, how could he be able to make you happy?  Just remember the negative along with all the good memories you are currently remembering.

4. No contact - I'm horrible at this one.  It's hard to not contact someone that you spoke to every day for 3 years, someone who was your best friend, who was your family.  But, it's not going to get easier faster if you don't stop now.  You don't have to be mean about it, just don't initiate contact with them.  If they contact you, avoid it.  Avoid every excuse to call them.  If you have their socks, throw them out.  If you have stuff that is important, ship it.  I have thought of every excuse in the book to contact them and it didn't make me feel any better.  Delete his phone numbers, email addresses, Twitter accounts.  You don't need to un-friend them on Facebook but maybe not have their updates show in your Newsfeed.  We know you are going to FB stalk him for a bit but try not to.  Try to just wean yourself off of that. One day, you will think, oh my gosh, I haven't checked any of my devices or accounts for him in a week and then it's a month and soon enough, you are on your way to being free. 

You will feel worse, repeat, you will feel worse if you contact them.  Here is why.  If they don't contact you back, it feels like crap.  If they do answer and it's awkward, it feels like crap.  If you hear anyone in the background, you drive yourself nuts wondering who it was. If they are contacting you and you don't want them to, just ignore it for a bit.  If it doesn't stop, just ask them politely to stop as it hurts too much and you need some time.  Then if you ignore it, you will have nicely explained yourself.

The most important reason, I think, is that you DO NOT want to know what they are doing and with who.  You don't want to know about everyone they are dating, it hurts too much.  If you aren't talking to them, there is a much slimmer chance you will ever find out. This applies to why #5 is important too.  

This takes a lot of strength and you might slip, its okay, just keep trying.

5. Don't be friends - at least not right away.  I honestly believe you can't be friends with your ex until you are both in love with other people or a lot of time has passed.  I really feel that one person is hoping for a reconciliation and the other wants to be friends and then you read too much into everything and just get your heart broke again and again.  The less you know about their life, the better.  Eventually, you might become friends again but only when you know in your heart, you are over them.  I am not friends with most of my exes.  I have one that I talk to about once a year but that is it.  I'm not against it, I just don't really share the same zip code or friends so it's not really needed.

If you really have no issues learning about your ex dating, it might not be the same for them so please keep that in mind.  You may have moved on faster but being friends with you is just going to keep that flame burning even if it's just a little flicker. 

6. Learn something - There is always something to learn.  Maybe you were a model girlfriend but he was a jerk and you stuck around, figure out why you put up with that.  Maybe things were perfect and then he cheated, you did nothing wrong.  Why might he have cheated?  There is NO excuse but had he been trying to tell you something about something he needed (emotionally or physical) and you just weren't really listening or just ignoring it?  Maybe you fought him over everything or you were too negative, whatever it was, there was something, so take this time and work on it.  If you really don't think you did anything wrong, then you need to do some deep searching within yourself.  I'm not saying you deserved to be hurt but we can always continue to improve ourselves, I always say I'm a work in progress.  I'm not perfect and I can't change others behaviors but I can improve my own.

I read two books recently and they were huge A-ha moments.  One is "The Five Love Languages" and the other was "Receiving Love."  I have always worked on conflict resolution and communication in the past but I really realized that I have a really hard time accepting love.  I know I want it, I know I deserve it but I tend to shut it down when it comes my way.  I need to figure that out.  I also have learned that sometimes you just need to say, "Babe, that looks amazing."  Instead of, "that looks great but now we should....."  Doing this would have been so good for my relationship but I just didn't get it.  I thought I was being helpful.

The Five Love Languages is good for all people.  What makes you feel loved may be different than what makes your SO or even your kids feel loved.  Give them the love in the language THEY need and understand and I bet you will get what you need too (as long as they know your language too). 

7. Reconciliation - We all want to believe that we will work things out with our ex.  Hell, I do that almost every time, even if I was miserable in the relationship.  Everyone says it doesn't work.  I bet most of the time it doesn't.  This is how I imagine it working best.  Work on movin on, no contact, really heal for a few months or a lot of months.  Work on you during this time, what would make you a better girlfriend?   If you still love and miss them after a good chunk of time, reach out to say hi, see where it goes.  If they are in another relationship, don't freak (I do each and every time).  I do think if it's meant to be it will be.  If the other person isn't interested, you deserve better.  You deserve someone who loves you and wants to be with you.  It still hurts like a friggin' arrow in the chest though when they are not interested.

Do NOT just want them back because they are with someone new.

If they aren't interested, it will hurt but you will have mostly moved on and can take this improved you out into the dating world.  If you try reconciliation, make sure you are both clear on what you need to make it work and forget about the rest.  Relationships aren't 50/50, they have to be 100% on both sides.  Don't just let him have everything he needs and you get nothing you need. 

8. Move on - at some point, you need to say, okay, I'm done being sad.  And you might not stop being sad that day but at least you will force yourself to get out of bed and start living again.  You will be ready to start dating at some point, you might need to force yourself a bit at first.  Take a new class, get a dog, start exercising.  Yoga is really helping me mentally and my arms and abs look awesome! Just do one thing at a time, one day at a time.  Take your time BUT you may need to step outside your comfort zone a little.   If you need help getting going, maybe go see a therapist.  Don't let this become who you are, it's just a phase.  Time will heal your heart eventually. 

Advice for friends and family:
  • Things people say that do NOT make us feel better:
    • There are plenty of fish in the sea
    • He was a jerk/ass/stupid or any other bad name..
    • You didn't do anything wrong, he is just......
    • I never liked him anyway.
      • Thanks for not telling us that when we were together
    • Just get out and start dating again (right away).
      • After a bit, maybe we need this push but not right away.
  • Things to do:
    • Just listen, simply listen, while we vent and cry.  
    • Give us a hug but be prepared for waterworks.  Hugs make me cry, I don't know about you.
    •  Get us out of the house to do anything.  We really need you right now even if we don't act like it.
    • If we go out drinking, take our phone.  We will get mad at you and beg for it back but this way we can try and avoid drunk texts to the ex and hey, if we aren't looking at our phone all night, maybe we can talk to some cute boys.
    • If you take us out drinking, please be aware that we might break down at any point.  We are pretty fragile right now so maybe a girls night in is better at first.  
    • Bring us comfort food and eat it with us.
    • I love watching Bridget Jones and The Break Up.  Bring those over with a bottle of wine and fried chicken and ice cream.
    • Let us heal in our own time.  However, if it's getting a little out of control, push us gently.  
Now, if I could just take me own advice!!!!  I'm hoping the next guy is the guy for me.  I don't know if I can take another real heart break, I've had my fair share!!!

What about you?  What helps you get over a broken heart?

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