Recovering from a long-term relationship can be so challenging and painful, part of me feels like a masochist for even writing about it.
However, helping others navigate this ordeal is one of the only truly worthwhile reasons for dredging up one of the hardest times in my life.
Whether you knew it was time, had no idea it was coming, ended it yourself or ended it mutually, there are certain aspects of your life you don’t even realize shaped themselves around your relationship.
That is, until you find yourself no longer in said relationship.
Chances are, this person was not only someone you loved romantically, but also someone you called your best friend.
He or she was the person you went to for pretty much anything and everything, and now, all of that has to change.
Whether you were ready for it or not, you have been thrust into a new phase of your life, and when you look back in five years, it will be nice to know you handled yourself with dignity and respect.
Let Yourself Mourn The Loss (Within Reason).
I told myself I wouldn’t get personal here, but I’m just an oversharing kind of gal, so here it goes.
After very seriously dating the same guy for all of college, I moved to Washington, DC by myself to attend law school.
Naively, I thought my already-struggling relationship could survive long distance.
Fast forward to not even a month in, and we were done. I spent way too much time being depressed over the breakup that year and not enough time looking forward.
However, I think it was important not to repress how I was feeling because when I moved on, I was able to move forward without all those feelings bubbling up.
Bottom line: Feel all the feelings, but know when it’s going on for too long. How long is too long?
It’s personal, but when your friends start seeming annoyed rather than sympathetic, you might want to take the hint and try to at least force yourself not to make your breakup the main focal point of conversation.
Revel In The Little Things You Are Doing On Your Own.
Packing up my car on my own for winter break after my first round of law school finals and heading home was a huge milestone for me in my breakup.
I know it sounds silly, but as a female, I got used to having someone do all the heavy lifting (literally).
Although it was a pain and I ended up with some bruised shins, I managed to lift those heavy suitcases into my car, load up my dog and have an awesome mini road trip by myself.
Rather than seeing this as an opportunity to miss my ex, it was an adventure I accomplished and experienced by myself on my own terms.
Congratulate yourself in the moments that allow you to feel your independence.
In the moment, doing these often mundane things might not feel as empowering and awesome as you would like them to feel.
However, going to the grocery store alone or cooking your favorite dinner by yourself are total wins.
Try to take some time to reflect on your tiny wins and use them to boost yourself up when you start to feel bummed about the breakup.
Do the Things You Love Even If You Once Loved Them As a Couple.
I can affirmatively say I truly moved on when I took a trip to Europe by myself to visit some friends living abroad.
Traveling alone is an extraordinarily gratifying experience, even if you aren’t relearning how to be independent.
I had traveled a lot with my ex, so it was important to me to reclaim this as something I could do without him.
I quickly realized I had never learned how to read the maps or learn the public transportation systems, and had always relied on him to handle those aspects of traveling.
Touring Athens by myself at sunset, with nothing but a guidebook and camera to lead the way, taught me I didn’t need to depend on another person in the way I previously had grown accustomed to doing.
Whether you and your ex used to hike together, go to music festivals or travel the world, show yourself you can still enjoy and thrive in those activities without them.
Figure Out Whether You Can Still Be Friends.
Some exes can still be friends; some exes need to hold on to what they call friendship for a period of time after the breakup, and some exes have way too much baggage to be in each other’s lives.
It all depends on why you broke up and how you feel about the other person.
If you are still in love with your ex and feeling extremely hurt, it might feel like any contact you can have is a life vest.
I wouldn’t recommend holding on to this false sense of security. Only be friends if you are okay with having only a friendship with your ex.
If either party is staying friends with the hope that it will eventually lead back into a relationship, there will only be more hurt feelings further down the line.
Stop Following Your Ex On Social Media.
Do yourself a favor and stop following your ex on social media. This doesn’t necessarily mean un-friending, but remove him or her from your news feeds wherever possible.
You are both doing your best to move on, and that means you are both going to continue to live your lives, trying to enjoy yourselves as much as possible.
You don’t need to see your ex trying to move on from you, and doing so is only going to hurt you.
Even if you are completely over your ex, seeing someone you once did everything with doing things without you is going to be painful.
Obsessing over a girl in his picture? She’s probably just a friend, but now you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out who she is for the next three hours.
Do yourself a favor and wait until some time has passed before engaging with him or her on social media.