Relationships 15 days ago
It's never simple to deal with heartbreak. Readers of Stylist offer the finest advice they've ever gotten on dealing with a breakup.
Breakups are especially terrible since you typically have no idea how you'll feel when they happen. Some are brief and painless, while others are heartbreaking and paralysing. Even when the end was obvious, you saw it coming; hey, maybe you even caused it — relationships that lasted barely a few months may still pain.
Despite the fact that each breakup is unique, there is something curiously unifying about them all. From personal experience, there's a good chance you'll get into horoscopes for a while, buy some rose quartz, and develop some amazing new skills, like the capacity to bring all talks (no matter what the topic) back to your ex, or wasting hours at a time in a virtual hole of WhatsApp messages (meditation eat your heart out).
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The issue is, love is a potent narcotic, and a breakup, no matter how amicable, is still a breakup. To put it clearly, going cold turkey is essentially grieving, so it's no surprise that they may be extremely destabilising. But, with stories like spooning Ben & Jerry's out of the tub or attaining spiritual enlightenment abounding in popular culture, what are the most effective strategies to recuperate and go on?
Based on their own sorrow experiences, ladies give the most critical piece of advise they have for getting over a breakup.
Take the time to work through it
I broke up with the person I was seeing when I was 24 years old. It was a short-lived, toxic on-again, off-again relationship, and I quickly dismissed it – how could I be unhappy over something that was never really a relationship? I didn't realise how much it had affected me until I had a panic attack about it eight years later. I've learned the value of acknowledging how you're feeling at the time and taking the time to process it through counselling. Remember that your emotions are valid, and you have the right to grieve.
Leila, 33, Brighton
Time does heal
Those half-awake yearnings and scenarios I played out in my head after a breakup with another guy I thought was The One were terrible. I couldn't seem to break the cycle of last-thought-at-night, first-thought-in-the-morning.
I always thought it was a cop-out when people said time heals. But it turns out that it does. It wasn't until mid-morning that I realised I hadn't thought about him. Then a full day, a week, and finally a month. You'll gradually fill the hours with new people and events, without even knowing that the space and significance your ex once occupied has vanished.
Catherine, 34, Manchester
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Mute, unfollow and block
After a long-term relationship ended, I became social media obsessed, spending hours trawling through not only my ex’s account but also those of his friends and family too. I clung onto abstract clues, building stories in my head about what he was doing or who he was with. It took an honest (and brutal) conversation with my best friend for me to realise how unhealthy this obsession had become. Unfollowing both him, and anyone associated with him, across all social media sites, was the kindest thing I’d ever done for myself.
Tamsin, 29, London
Take it as an opportunity to grow
After each breakup, I try to do something to improve myself and grow. Whether it’s learning a new language or travelling more, it’s a chance to invest in finding what makes me happy again and distract myself in healthy ways. It means I’ll hopefully come out the other side with a new accomplishment or hobby. Actually, perhaps I can attribute every breakup as to why I’m so amazing now!
Eve, 31, Kent
Rebuild yourself esteem
After one particularly bruising breakup, I started blaming myself, questioning what I’d done wrong, and if I’d ever find love again. As someone who’s usually fairly confident, my self-esteem was down and out. One evening, my housemates sat me down and started listing all the reasons why they loved me. Although it was excruciating at the time, it made me acknowledge all the positive qualities within me that I was overlooking and that fulfilling love exists in my life in so many ways already.
Rachel, 34, London
Learn to be happy on your own
I think it’s important to really ask yourself if you’re upset about not being with your partner or not being in a relationship. My fixation on needing to be in a relationship often made me ignore red flags; once I realised the alternative of being on my own wasn’t the horrific option I’d framed it to be in my mind, I was able to evaluate things more clearly and walk away more easily when I knew things weren’t right. As cheesy as it sounds, learning to be happy on your own post breakup is so important.
Alisha, 28, Cambridge
Let go of the need for closure
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise when the guy I was seeing, who I now realise was never really interested in me, broke it off via text… but it did. I was absolutely shattered and desperate for one last talk, telling myself it was absolutely vital I understood in order to get closure. It actually took a light bulb moment from reading a clichéd self-help book that made me realise I was never going to get the exact response I was looking for, and ultimately, the closure I needed had to come from me in accepting it was over. Once I’d made peace with that, I could start the healing.
Natasha, 33, Leeds
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Learn what you will and won’t tolerate
In my early 20s, I had a series of long-term boyfriends who tried to control and change me; from where I went to how I looked and what I wore. One even openly admitted they wouldn’t have dated me if they’d known I suffered from anxiety and depression. After each one ended, I learned a little more about what I would and wouldn’t accept in future relationships, and perhaps most importantly, how I wanted to feel in them. It was in learning more about myself and my boundaries that led me to my fiancé, who accepts and loves me for who I am – something I now know I deserve.
Fay, 27, London
In some shape or other, all these pieces of advice remind me of a line from one of my favourite books, A Little Life, which, for me, perfectly sums up the beauty in the breakdown: “… things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realise that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.”
Because, time and time again, we somehow get through the pain and often find something spectacular on the other side; whether that’s the strength we found to heal, a fun new hobby, or eventually, the faith to risk it all and love again.