First things first: Breakups are hard. There’s no easy way around it, and the only way is through. Any relationship worth having will inevitably require an investment of hope, emotion, and vulnerability, which also means that when a relationship ends, yes—it’s going to hurt.
And while no two relationships are the same (because of circumstances, personalities, beliefs, etc.), take comfort in knowing that we’re all still human at the end of the day. The capacity to feel pain, but then also to rise triumphantly is possible regardless of the particulars, and there is a process to working through a breakup that can make it easier—especially when viewed in light of this.
So, if you find yourself such a place, then keep reading. Here’s how to make things a little easier on a broken heart.
Step 1: Grieve
So many people skip this step because they feel silly, stupid, or that something isn’t worth “getting upset over.” Don’t give into this. If a relationship mattered to you and brought you joy, you have every reason and right to mourn its end.
There isn’t a monopoly on grief, so don’t compare what it could/would/should have been with someone else. Your grief is yours, and it’s OK to see it through. Be honest, raw, and messy with your feelings. Holding them in or pretending they don’t exist will only stall your ability for proper closure later.
Source: Caleb Ekeroth
Step 2: Cut Ties
This is a hard step but so, so important. Boundaries are incredibly helpful when you’re in an emotionally tender place—being constantly reminded of the way things were or inquiring where your ex is now will only keep you fixated on what you cannot change.
Unfollowing, hiding images, and blocking numbers as soon as you can post-breakup will help shield you from unnecessary pain. (Have a trusted friend do this if you just can’t.) And it doesn’t have to be forever. If you find yourself struggling to detangle from an ex, or if she or he has said “I still want to be friends,” then consider saying, “Maybe someday, but for the next ___ weeks I can’t have any contact with you.” It’s not cruel and it’s not unsupportive, but being clear about what it’ll take for you to mend.
A true friendship with an ex, in the wake of a breakup, will weather whatever boundaries are drawn in the meantime.
Step 3: Self-care
This isn’t an excuse to overindulge and never face your pain—though sometimes a little distraction might be exactly what you need. The point is to get in touch with you again and what you need. Remind yourself of your inherent worth, relationship or not. For some, this might look like a massage or day at the spa. For others, it might mean a long hike, a trip with a friend, or signing up for a class for something you’ve always wanted to try.
Whatever it is, purposefully choose to do what fills you up and reminds you that life can, and will, go on without your ex. Taking physical, mental, and spiritual care of yourself won’t just stabilize stress levels and protect your ability to think clearly, but it will also remind you that passions and talents are valid regardless of relationship status. The sooner you’re able to internalize this, the sooner you’ll be able to step into the next season wholly and freely confident in what you bring to the table.
Source: Brooke Cagle
Step 4: Truth Block
The mind can be a dangerous place, especially post-breakup where lies, shame, and pain can swirl to no end. So, as you are able, when you get moments of clarity about why the breakup was needed or why this person wasn’t right for you, write them down and refer back as often as needed.
Confide in a few close friends or family members that you trust—also trusting their outside perspective of the relationship—and ask them to remind you of the truth when you get in a downward spiral. As they do this, however harsh or sad it may feel in the moment, choose to believe that it’s the medicine you need.
Step 5: Be Understanding
Similarly, as time goes on, give grace to those closest to you when they aren’t able to meet every need you have. Especially in very traumatic or difficult breakups, it can be hard for the people closest to you to know how to navigate your painful emotions while also maintaining their own healthy boundaries (and possibly even a continued friendship with your ex).
This can be a good thing. In those moments where no one is able to answer the call or do the thing you needed, instead of taking it as license to get down on yourself, let the gap teach you how to rely on yourself again. No one person should be the utmost foundation of your life, friend, lover or otherwise. So in the moments where it’s you alone, choose to lean into this as opportunity to recover strength and independence. It will give others the chance to continue with their lives, as well, so they can be there for you again in the best, healthiest way.
Source: Ryan Moreno
Step 6: Visualize
One of the most painful parts of a breakup can be the shattering of plans—those future dreams you were so sure would happen together.
The truth is, breakup or no breakup, nothing in life is ever entirely within our control—and this truth can wreck us or it can balance us. When things don’t go our way, we can sit paralyzed in the sadness, or we can choose to believe our story is still worth exploring. There are just new chapters ahead we weren’t expecting to write.
But we can. Moving on after a breakup is only possible if we allow ourselves to picture new beginnings as clear as old endings. We have options, hope, and eventually, love again.
Step 7: Get Out There
The timeline on this is different for everyone; nonetheless, it’s inevitable. At some point you’ll need to start saying yes again, too. Staying at home grieving is a necessary part of self-care, but only so much of it gets you to a place where you’re able to leave the house and interact with the world again.
This is where your trusted truth blocks come in, those friends who love you and want to see you healthy and happy. Ask them to invite you somewhere, or to keep inviting you if you’ve been saying no. Challenge yourself to start saying yes to one new thing a week. By putting yourself in new situations, you’ll begin building a life and a routine without your old relationship, allowing the painful emotions to slowly fade as they are replaced with new, real-time experiences.