The 1 Thing You Should Do After A Breakup That Changes Everything, According To Therapists
Breakups are hard and confusing, and chances are, if you’ve been through one (or 10), you’ve also been on the receiving end of a lot of advice. Lord knows I’ve gotten — and given — plenty of it, most of it probably not very good or helpful. This made me wonder what the best post-breakup advice would actually be. So, I reached out to folks who actually know what they're talking about — therapists and breakup specialists — for advice on the one thing you should do after a breakup. Because, after all, how many of us couldn't use a little more help in dealing with heartbreak, am I right?
Honestly, their answers were some of the best advice you could ever hope to get, especially in the midst of a breakup when the heartbreak is the most intense. Some of it is common sense, some of it is practical advice, but all of it is a reminder that what you are feeling is temporary, and by putting your self-care first, you will get through it. To help that healing process along next time you're going through the end of a relationship, remember what these experts suggest. Take notes, folks, because this is going to be life changing.
1. Block them on social media for 90 days.
The first thing to do after a breakup, says Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent relationship therapist in Los Angeles, is to block or mute them on social media. "I would advise that you not see, talk to, or communicate at all — including through any social media — for a minimum of 90 days,” Dr. Brown tells Elite Daily. By taking this digital break it will “hopefully give you enough time to grieve the loss of your relationship without the inevitable complications of clinging to a false hope that it is going to work,” says Dr. Brown, who adds, “You are going to need that time to help you get over the initial and natural emotional hurdles we all go through when we experience a loss.”
While it can be hard to cut someone off, even temporarily, it can help you move on more quickly and less painfully. As Dr. Brown explains, “Hanging on and dragging out the end of a relationship that you know, deep down in your soul has not worked, is not going to help you move on with your life.”
2. Trust your choice to end the relationship.
When you break up with someone and you're hurting, it's common to wonder if you made the right choice in ending the relationship. Nicole Richardson, a licensed counselor and marriage and family therapist, says to resist that urge. “You are going to second guess your choice. Your brain is hardwired to seek pleasure and when you do something big and hard, even if it is the right thing to do, your brain is going to fight you on it,” Richardson tells Elite Daily. She also warns that “one of the ways your brain will fight you is to bring up all the good times, when you are working through the hurt of the breakup. It is important to have a list of all the reasons you broke up, and remind yourself when your brain starts to play the tape of all the 'good ol' times.'” While it may feel impossible in the moment, she says if you can push through that, “you can get to the other side and work towards the relationship that you really want.”
3. Get up and out of the house — even when all you want to do is lie in bed.
When I'm sad, all I want to do is crawl under a blanket with as many cats as I can pile on top of me. But according to Elle Huerta, CEO and founder of the breakup app Mend, that’s actually the opposite of what you should do. As she tells Elite Daily, “one of the most important things to remember during a breakup is that heartbreak affects your physiology and your neurochemistry. ... Going through a breakup feels like going through withdrawal, so it's really important in the early days to take extra care of yourself — make sure you're walking or getting a little bit of exercise every day to get happy hormones flowing.”
Huerta also suggests that you “spend time around people you love (another good source of happy hormones) and get some sunshine every day, which will help you sleep better at night and stay asleep.” She reiterates that the “worst thing you can do is lock yourself in your room and stay in bed, even though that's exactly what you want to do after a breakup. Just remind yourself that you will feel so much better, and you will mend faster, if you get up and out!”
4. Be honest about what wasn’t working in the relationship.
During a breakup, it can be really easy to idealize the relationship and forget about all the reasons it didn't work out, but breakup coach and host of the Breakup BOOST Podcast Trina Leckie tells Elite Daily that “the most important thing is to not lose sight of the reality of the situation. When people break up, so often they say ‘I have no idea what happened! Everything was perfect!’ This is because they are basically panicking that the relationship has come to an end and are merely focusing on how to get it back — even if they were really unhappy in it,” she explains. The problem with this thinking, she says, is that if you don't accept why you broke up “you are staying in a state of denial, which then only prolongs your healing.” She adds, “Not saying that healing doesn’t still take time, but acceptance is the first step in moving on.”
5. Remember that not all relationships are not meant to last.
Psychologist and wellness advocate Pax Tandon’s advice may be the hardest to take, but it’s potentially the most life changing, as well. She suggest you try “to be OK with letting go after a breakup, because not every relationship is meant to last.” But since that is easier said than done, she says to practice by repeating that to yourself “like a mantra.”
What that means, she says, is that, “many of the connections and relationships on our journey through life exist simply to help us learn and grow for a moment in time. This moment could be a few weeks, several months, or even years. These relationships can take the form of partners, close friends, and sometimes even family members. We must learn the art of detachment, of letting go, to recognize that it's all in the interest of our growth and evolution.” If that’s a lot to remember, she says to think of it like this: “Don't cling, that just makes it sting. Be aware, makes it easier to bear.”
6. Let yourself feel the pain.
Over the years, I have gotten very good at compartmentalizing my feelings. If something hurts too much, I just distract myself and set those feelings aside. It may feel like what I am doing is working, but the problem is, I'm just putting those feelings on layaway and eventually the bill comes due. That's why I agree with Pella Weisman, licensed psychotherapist and dating coach, when she says you have to let yourself feel the pain.
“Breakups can be heart wrenching and take us to the very core of our deepest wounds,” Weisman tells Elite Daily. She adds, “It is very challenging work, but if you can manage to allow yourself to be with the pain, and use the pain to help you heal ... then the end of a relationship can be an enormous opportunity for growth.” She adds that you should “take this time to learn, with support, how to be your own best ally and friend.”
7. Get back out there and start dating again.
For Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapistand author of The Self-Aware Parent, the best way to move on from a breakup is, well, to move on! “There is only one way to finally let go of your beloved ex,” Dr. Walfish tells Elite Daily, “and that is to begin dating, enjoy the dating process, and replace your ex with someone who values you and treats you better.” But when is the right time to put yourself back out there? Dr. Walfish says it's different for every person.
“Some people avoid the pain of loss and grief, and bed hop by jumping from one person to the next quickly," she says. "Others who have been deeply hurt may close the vault to their heart shut, and lock it away under key.” But the only thing that really matters, she says, is that “you need to know yourself and respect your own personal timing. When you are ready to ‘let go’ and try again, you will.”
Even with the best advice, a breakup is not going to be painless, but there are definitely ways to ease the process. There's a lot of great advice here, so follow the one that speaks most to you and give yourself time. Dr. Walfish reminds you to “allow yourself to grieve and mourn the loss of a significant romantic relationship, this opens the door for new possibilities to come.” She couldn't be more right.
This post was originally published on Sept. 21, 2018. It was updated on Aug. 23, 2019 by Lilli Petersen.