How To Be Happy After A Breakup, Even If Things Ended Before You Wanted Them To
I’d like to think that no one jumps into a committed relationship with the intention of breaking up, but unless both parties have come to the conclusion that each is the other’s definitive “person,” relationships end, and it’s never easy. Especially under the circumstances of the dumpee versus the dumper, an unexpected breakup can honestly feel like the end of the world, because it is, in many ways, the end of the world as you know it. Off the bat, this can seem scary AF, but it’s also really exciting, too. Initially post-split, you’re going to feel sad, maybe even angry, and you’re definitely going to wallow in your own way. You’re going to wonder how to be happy after a breakup, and if it’s even possible, but I’m here to tell you that it absolutely is, and you'll get there in time.
I was dumped by my first serious boyfriend during my junior year of college. We’d been dating for three years, and I was absolutely devastated, even though I knew one of us was going to pull the plug on us eventually; it was really just a matter of when. I remember the night it happened: Lying awake in bed, I wondered if I would ever feel happy again, if I’d ever feel like myself again — whoever that was.
Being the book nerd that I am, though, I took to browsing through a ton of quotes floating around the internet to get me in the right mindset. It was then that I came across a meme that gave me an all too necessary wake-up call. It said, “Hey, remember that person you thought you couldn’t live without? Well, look at you now, living.”
It might hurt to hear this now, but life does go on after a breakup, and eventually, you'll realize it was probably for the best. Even though it may seem impossible at first, you can be happy after a breakup. Here are a few baby steps you can take to get there.
1. Disconnect From Social Media
There are no words to express how vital this step is to overcoming a difficult breakup. Social media is wonderful for meeting new people, and even kickstarting new romances. But outlets like Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter can be your worst nightmare coming out of a long-term relationship, fling, or even a casual hookup.
For starters, most people are guilty of using social media as a tool to prove to their ex — and anyone else who's watching the scene unfold — that they are having the time of their lives being single. There's definitely a chance that these carefree statuses and photos are BS, and your ex is actually wallowing in their pajamas for the most part. Nonetheless, we're programmed to assume the worst.
Dr. Danielle Forshee, LLC, tells Elite Daily that social media is a constant reminder of what used to be, and in addition to these posts triggering "painful emotions in your mind and thoughts about them," they'll also "make you more vulnerable to reaching out."
2. Do Not Blame Yourself, Or Your Ex
Hindsight is always 20/20, but looking back on my past experiences, I can honestly say that placing the blame on one another does more harm than good.
I understand that you're trying to make sense of everything right now, and that you might feel as though, if you or they did something differently, maybe the outcome would have been different. But there's no use harping on the "what-ifs" of the past.
It's also important that you try not to let your vulnerability eat at you in such a way that you become judgmental of and unkind to yourself. According to wellness expert & co-founder of Stop, Breathe & Think Jamie Price, who spoke with Elite Daily over email on the subject, it's possible to find relief after a breakup by "giving yourself a little compassion and understanding."
Unless you know for sure that feelings still exist and you both want to work it out, it is in both of your best interests to accept what you cannot change, and move on.
3. Allow Yourself To Have A Wallow Period
There are so many life lessons to be learned from watching Gilmore Girls, but one of my personal favorites is the importance of a good wallow.
A breakup is the end of something significant. So, whether you just ended a years-long relationship or a month-long fling, you're now separating yourself from someone who had an impact on your life. Even if ending things is ultimately for the best, you deserve a few days, weeks, even a month of mourning what once was.
So, to quote the ever so supportive Lorelai Gilmore,
Get back in your pajamas, go to bed, eat nothing but gallons of ice cream and tons of pizza. Don't take a shower, or shave your legs, or put on any kind of makeup at all.
Just sit in the dark, watch a really sad movie, and have a good long cry.
Echoing Lorelai's wise words, Stacey Kaiser, Live Happy editor at large and licensed psychotherapist, tells Elite Daily that it's super important to "give yourself time to feel your feelings." So however you choose to wallow — whether it involves crying through an entire box of Kleenex, boxing a pillow, or locking yourself in a dark room with a sad playlist on repeat — allow yourself to feel every single feeling in its entirety and don't "just bottle it up inside."
4. Keep Yourself Busy
Now that you've cried a river, made Carrie Underwood's "Undo It" your anthem, and left all of your partner's belongings in a cardboard box on your doorstep, it's time to get busy.
Kaiser tells Elite Daily that after allowing yourself just the right amount of time to be sad, it's important to switch gears and keep yourself busy.
Go out with friends, watch your favorite movies, even take up a DIY project. "The important thing," Kaiser says, "is make sure that you are distracting yourself with things you enjoy."
After you've mourned the ending of something, it's time to celebrate the start of something new. Oftentimes we make a lot of sacrifices in our relationships, or we get so caught up in the other person that we tend to put our own genuine interests on the back-burner. So, when you think about it, it's really a shame when someone looks at a breakup as a punishment, rather than an opportunity to experience new things, meet new people, take up new hobbies, and just explore the world in ways you may not have thought about before.
5. Volunteer For A Cause Close To Your Heart
Sometimes the best way to work though your pain is to put what you're feeling into perspective. It may not initially make you feel better to hear this, but chances are, someone is likely going through a tougher time than you are right now. The pain and heartbreak you're experiencing is 100 percent valid. But during these hard times, it's crucial to remember and appreciate all the little blessings you have in life — blessings that other people may not be quite so lucky to call their own.
According to Preston Ni, M.S.B.A., after you've taken time for yourself, it can be a rewarding experience to volunteer your time in meaningful works or community service. He told Psychology Today,
Volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit an elderly home, or engage in other types of meaningful work or community service.
Realize how fortunate you are. Let service fill your heart with love and gratitude, and come back with a new perspective.
6. Channel Your Sadness Into A Good Workout
Elle Woods is right, folks. Exercise does equal endorphins, and when your body releases endorphins, your perception of pain is reduced, making you an overall healthier person physically and mentally.
I'm not saying post-breakup is the time to become a CrossFit competitor. (Although, who knows, maybe for you it is!) But rummaging your way out from underneath the mountainous pile of tissues on the couch and getting your blood flowing is an easy way to spark a little self-confidence.
Now I know not everyone loves to exercise, and you may even be the one staring at the screen shaking your head like "hell no," but trust me on this one. There are so many different ways to get your body up and moving that you'll actually enjoy, from dance routines like Zumba, to lifting weights at the gym, and everything in between.
Find what you love, get up, and get active ASAP.