Breakups suck, no matter how long you were together or why you broke up. Whether you were together for six months or married for ten years, whether it was an amicable split or a shouting-match, parting ways with someone you cared about (and probably do still care about) feels terrible. But there are ways to get over your ex in a healthy and positive way.
Gregory Frank, co-founder of DivorceForce, an online community that connects people going through divorce and offers post-divorce life advice, gave us some advice on how to get over your ex, regardless of the circumstances.
Go ahead and mourn
Frank says that mourning is totally normal, and, in fact, he encourages it. Mourning a breakup instead of ignoring it is an essential part of eventually being able to move on in the future.
“When somebody goes through a breakup, no matter the relationship, the emotions are there,” Frank says.
Studies show that honoring your emotions–even the negative ones–is the key to emotional well-being and happiness. So when you’re sad about a breakup, swallowing that sadness is the last thing you want to do.
Find people who are going through the same thing
Sure, friends are great sounding boards–to a point. But Frank says that friends can get tired of listening to you work through your breakup if they perceive you’re holding onto things for too long.
“If you find individuals going through the same thing, they’re going to be more understanding,” Frank says. Take, for instance, DivorceForce, which has forums where people going through divorce can come together and offer support.
“Our users can exchange stories, talk about what has worked to ease pain and what hasn’t, and just generally be in a space where they’re allowed to feel bad about a breakup.”
And, hey, if you’re not going through a divorce, the internet has a ton of resources you can tap into–everything from Reddit to 7 Cups–if you need a sympathetic ear.
There are added benefits of listening to each other’s stories. You can usually come to a resolution faster than if you were to talk through things with someone who hasn’t recently broken up, Frank says. To boot, online users usually don’t know your ex, so they are more likely to offer unbiased advice.
Keep yourself busy
While mourning is a totally normal part of the process, you don’t want mourning to turn into moping, because that gives more power to your ex than they deserve. When you’re not with your support community, make sure you’re busy.
Frank says keeping yourself busy will give you less time to think about the past, which will lower your risk of wallowing. You’ll also most likely fall into bed exhausted each night, and getting a good night of sleep is a key component of maintaining good mental health.
“Get out and love your life,” Frank says. “Don’t just sit around binging on Netflix.”
Whether that’s starting a new gym routine–which Frank stresses is one of the best hobbies you can pick up–or joining a game night, do something you love. Take back your life.
“Go to the gym four days a week,” Frank says. “You burn calories. It’s also a great place to release anger and sadness.” He also says that the endorphins released by exercise will help you recover.
Cultivate new hobbies
Don’t just run yourself exhausted–try to discover new things or get back to hobbies that you loved but perhaps didn’t have time for while in a relationship.
“This is a time to take for yourself, to learn who you are,” Frank says.
Frank says it’s best to pick a hobby that you’ve always been curious about but perhaps have never tried. (And, in fact, research shows that trying new things can promote positive health and happiness.)
Or, if there’s a hobby you loved that your ex didn’t, and you didn’t get to do it much while you two were together, do that. Choose something that is wholly yours.
Really consider what happened
This is, Frank says, one of the tougher aspects of getting over your ex, but it’s also one of the most important.
“When it comes to really getting over your ex, you have to consider what actually happened,” Frank says.
Maybe you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s absolutely freeing to realize that it really wasn’t you. You can stop beating yourself up over what-ifs.
And if you did do something wrong? You can start the road to self-improvement. You’ll be better off in the long-term if you can own up to your own flaws and start working on bettering yourself.
In the end, Frank says, “You really owe it to yourself to soul-search about why the relationship ended. It’s one of the only ways to really get over someone.”
Know when to let go
“Healing, when it comes down to it, is a factor of time,” Frank says. Getting over your ex won’t happen overnight, and sometimes it takes a long time to deal with the damage of a particularly rough breakup, but it is possible.
You shouldn’t be consumed by a break-up to the point that it interferes with the rest of your life, but, at the same time, devastation happens. “If you’re having difficulty finding the balance,” Frank says, “go to therapy.” A therapist can help you see the breakup in a different light and help you develop coping mechanisms that directly address your needs.
Moving on isn’t the same as dating again, though dating can be a part of moving on.
“I’m not convinced that people just wake up and say, ‘Hey, I’m ready’ but the pain fades.”
Frank says you’re ready to date when you can emotionally get through a date and engage in conversation.
“Over time, you might start to view your breakup differently,” Frank says. The pain won’t be as immediate, and you’ll have more good days than bad. And eventually you’ll wake up, and you’ll realize: “Hey, I’m okay.”