How To Get Over A Breakup With Someone You Know Is Bad For You

by Annie Foskett
Julien L. Balmer/Stocksy

I know that some things are inarguably bad for me: McDonald's French fries, baking in the sun, and having upwards of three glasses of wine on a school night (oops). Unfortunately, these are all things that I love. In fact, I can't think of something that is bad for me that I don't like... maybe black mold? (My new biggest fear.) I've also liked people who weren't great for me, because I'm a human. Figuring out how to get over someone you really like, despite how they treat you, is difficult. Maybe even harder than ridding your life of those fried potato sticks that come with burgers.

I know that when I first feel like someone I'm dating — or in a friendship with — isn't treating me well, I get a pit in my stomach. It's a gut feeling, similar to the feeling I get when I accidentally like a stranger I'm creeping on's Instagram. I know better, so why am I doing it? On the other hand, I also know that I have high standards, and sometimes just need to chill and accept that the person I'm seeing is a human, too. (As a human, I can also treat people imperfectly.)

It's hard for me to tell if I'm being picky AF or if I'm not being treated well, so I usually stay in unhealthy situations for too long. Don't we all? Maybe? Well, because I need advice, too, I spoke to relationship and etiquette expert April Masini about how to identify a bad relationship and how to get over it.

Identify What "Bad For You" Means

Sometimes, you are very aware that you are in an unhealthy relationship. If your partner has either physically or emotionally abused you, I'll remind you that someone who loves you shouldn't hurt you. Physical abuse does not make it easier to leave a partner, but it's extremely important that you speak to a trusted family member or friend as soon as possible. (The National Domestic Hotline is a great resource.)

"A bad person is someone who endangers your and your family's health and welfare and who doesn't respect you," explains Masini. Even if the behavior is not abusive, you could be with someone who constantly shuts you down, or expects you to make compromises for them. "A bad person is someone who creates a life that's worse for you with them than it is without them," Masini adds. "A bad person is someone who puts your interests at risk."

I know that when someone I am dating is not treating me the way I had hoped for, I usually make excuses to my friends about the exact behavior that's disappointing me. If he hasn't been texting me much to hang out, and I justify his flakiness to my friends, that's pretty much a confirmation that I simply want to be with someone who actually wants to hang out with me. (Pretty basic need, but easy to ignore when wearing heart goggles.)

Take Time To Process The Relationship

Once you've identified what behaviors felt "bad" in your relationship, it's important to remember that it didn't work out for a reason, and that moving forward without this person is actually better for you in the long run. "When you can articulate the losses, it's easier to gain a perspective beyond feelings, about what's happened and why the break up is in your best interest," says Masini.

She adds that everyone processes breakups differently. Some do it on their own, while others prefer to work through things with friends. Ask yourself what you need, and focus on the people around you who care deeply for you.

Take Care Of Yourself

Lorde has a great lyric in her song "Hard Feelings/Loveless" that goes "I light all the candles / Cut flowers for all my rooms / I care for myself the way I used to care about you." I will say that in my own darkest times of heart burn and break, I have paid extra to taking care of myself. Whether that's yoga, eating well, or truly spending money on flowers to make your bedroom that much brighter, this really helps.

"Actively take steps to care for yourself. It's too easy to binge watch Netflix in your pajamas and eat ice cream. Take steps to really care for yourself during this rehabilitation post-breakup," says Masini. "When you're getting outside of the 'blues zone' post-breakup, you're more likely to see a new life for yourself."

I love Netflix and ice cream, but it usually makes me feel terrible afterwards. I hate working out, but it usually makes me feel better. Alas, such is life.

Take Them Out Of Your Life Equation

Whether that means unfollowing them on social media or returning their things, take baby steps to move on by ridding yourself of anything that will remind you of them. This part is hard, but vital. "It's too easy to become an amateur stalker," says Masini. "And that's a method of staying engaged, which won't help you get over your heartache." I feel that. You've got to stay off the social media to protect your hearts.

The good thing about getting over someone who was "bad for you" versus someone who was wonderful to you, but things just took a turn with, is that you can use logic to tell yourself "you wouldn't be happy if you were back together with this person." Write a list of all of the things you put up with or settled for that you no longer have to deal with. Keep friends around to remind you how bad things were when they were bad. And finally, crank that Lil Uzi Vert's "That's The Way Life Goes" and get back out there. I promise there is someone who will treat you better, and you'll know it when you feel it.