Consider this your how-to guide to thriving after a breakup.
~ MARCH 2022 ~
They say death and taxes are the only two certainties in life, but the age-old saying fails to mention breakups.
When entering into a relationship with someone, it can end in one of three ways; marriage, staying together, or eventually splitting up. If it’s the latter, you’re bound to feel crushed and wonder if you’ll ever be happy again.
Thankfully, time heals nearly all wounds, and until then, we have expert advice on how to get through your darkest days following a breakup.
Megan Luscombe, a relationship expert at dating site Hello Tiger says that old wives’ tale that it takes half the time you were dating someone to completely get over them, is quite simply a myth.
“There isn’t a magic number or timeline to move past a breakup. It takes different amounts of time for everyone, especially if the person who is hurt isn’t doing any healing work to process this change, like working with a therapist or coach,” Megan tells Now To Love.
“Giving a timeframe for someone to heal is unrealistic and puts an enormous amount of pressure to be ‘over it’. Healing comes and goes in waves, it’s natural.”
What should people avoid doing when going through a breakup?
Ok, so you’ve just been broken up with, or you’ve been the one to pull the plug on your relationship; now what?
Unsurprisingly, the time immediately following a breakup can be difficult to navigate due to heightened emotions, lingering questions, and the urge to instantly stalk your ex on social media.
“Keeping the feelings in and pretending that they’re okay when they aren’t. It’s okay to express your negative feelings after a breakup, regardless of how long/short the relationship was,” Megan says.
“Keeping things inside will only ensure they come out in other ways and those forms of release aren’t always positive. Avoid stalking them on social media or checking up on them/in with them, you need to distance yourself immediately to start processing and healing.”
In order to move on, Megan reminds us that it’s not about simply “getting over” someone, “it’s about being able to move through the hurt stage of a breakup into more of a healing mindset.”
She suggests unfollowing or muting them on social media, removing their possessions from your house, and rearranging your room into a new space “that is reflective of you only”.
How to get over someone you were never in a relationship with
We’ve all been there before. The grey area of “almost” officially dating someone but never quite getting to the point of putting labels on your romance.
When relationships like this come crashing down, it’s all the more hard trying to navigate your disappointment and lack of closure.
It’s easy to feel like your feelings aren’t justified given you were never technically in a relationship, however, Megan says no matter the connection, the same rules apply.
“Time is your friend, and make sure you are creating space between yourself and that person so you can commence the healing process. Unfollow on social media if necessary and don’t go out of your way to check up on what they’re doing,” she says.
Why getting over someone is so hard
If it feels like getting over your ex is taking an eternity, you aren’t alone.
“Because our brains create the fantasy of a future with this person and it does that based on the reality of the relationship and conversations we’ve had during the relationship,” Megan says.
“When that changes it hurts us and causes a lot of uncertainty, it can also bring up past insecurities which cause us to become extremely hard on ourselves.
“Humans want what they want and when we can’t have it, or it gets taken away from us via break up, it causes a lot of internal turmoil.”
When to cut ties with your ex and when to maintain a friendship
Following a break up, particularly when there’s unrequited feelings still lingering, it can be tempting to maintain a friendship with your ex as a way of keeping them in your life in some capacity.
But this can lead to further disappointment and false hope when boundaries aren’t outlined properly from the get-go.
“However, I’d suggest a few months distance initially to allow both parties to start their own healing process and reconnect with who they are as individuals,” she says.
“If either partner is still harboring feelings it’s best not to maintain a friendship, but if this isn’t the case a friendship can, of course, be salvaged. Ex partners that remain friends, need to have boundaries though, so it’s important they are discussed prior to the friendship commencing.”
“In order for a couple who have broken up to patch things up it requires two people demonstrating the same level of effort,” she says.
“This means dedicated communication and radical transparency so they can heal the past to create a better relationship in the future.”
Is getting back together after several break-ups ever worth it?
We all know someone who’s rekindled things with their ex more times than we can count on one hand. Or you’re probably guilty of the on-again, off-again dynamic yourself.
However, there is a glimmer of hope for couples who just can’t seem to stay away from each other, Megan says.
“It can work only if both individuals have emotionally developed and grown in the duration of the break-ups,” she says.
“Couples that continuously get back together after break-ups but haven’t changed are doomed, and find themselves trapped in an endless and unhealthy cycle of sometimes confusing love with lust, as both come and go.
How to get back onto the dating scene after heartbreak
Dating at the best of times can be daunting, but when you’re feeling vulnerable following a heartbreak, going on a date with a stranger is the last thing most of us want to do.
However, Megan says we can’t underestimate the power of a little distraction.
“Find what social interactions work for you, but if it’s dating apps you’re after, try jumping on one where your chances of meeting someone looking for a genuine connection is higher,” she says.
Try one with embedded video call functions. It may force you to step out of your comfort zone and put forward the real you, these types of apps give you the opportunity to find that instant spark and gauge immediate chemistry before you keep chatting.
“It’s a super fun way to eliminate those awkward first date introductions as well,” she says.