Unhappy woman staring at her phone in cafe

Are you looking for ways on how to put a bad break up behind you? It doesn’t matter who dumped the other, the fact is it hurts either way. You are not alone dear; a relationship is an emotional investment, and once it comes to an end, even the strongest among us find it hard to move on.

While rejection is common and it could be a stepping stone to the love of your life, a speedy recovery is advisable. Without the right support structure or mental aptitude though, you may find yourself still hang up on a guy years after you broke up. As the saying goes ‘life goes on’ and so should you.

Create Distance

“Every time I see him, all my feelings start flooding back” or “the mere glimpse of his photos leaves me weak and I just want to reconsider.” Does this sound like you?

These are common feelings, especially if there were lots of good times when you were still an item. The danger though, is that if you keep bumping into each other or you keep reminiscing about him, chances are that you will never get over him. If you want a clean break, it’s simple; break all contact with him and distance yourself.

Creating distance is not just limited to avoiding your previous hanging spots, you have to digitally cleanse yourself from your ex. Start by blocking them. No more following them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and any form of social media. Out of sight out of mind; avoid any platform that has his content.

And let’s be honest, he could try winning you back right there on social media. Worse still, if the break up was messy, he could be trash talking you to the world- you don’t need that, just make a clean break and expel them from your life.   

What if we work together, do I resign?

A good question whose answer is a big NO! That’s giving him too much power over your life. When radio silence is not on the table, you need to be smart and creative. Use your co-workers as a buffer zone. And, if you can, opt out of events that he in attendance and if not, keep your conversation brief and professional. Above all, never discuss him with your workmates   

Take An Inventory

Part of moving on is knowing what went wrong. This will help you to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. It’s the only way to know if the relationship was doomed from the beginning and exactly whose fault it was. From your eyes it’s hard to be fully objective, hence you might need a friend for a little dose of reality.

It’s only a true friend who will tell you that you fall in love with men whom you are not compatible with. You could also be picking guys who are always working or those who live out of town.

That said, it’s good that you also think about the positive aspects of the relationship. While it lasted, there must have qualities that made him attractive. From this, you can come up with a list of traits that appeal to you. This whole exercise is meant to diffuse the turmoil going through your mind.

Don’t Sleep with Him

This might sound like a non-issue but it’s an issue nonetheless. It is not uncommon to hear of exes who somehow end up in bed- and all the while trying to convince themselves that it means nothing; after all, you are just human and maybe sex was not even a factor in the breakup.

Well, don’t dupe yourself, sleeping together is a big step backwards. Science even has a good explanation of why sex with your ex is a no-no: When you orgasm, oxytocin, a social bonding and reproduction hormone, is released. For you, the hormone makes you feel bonded to him. On the other hand, the release makes him look forward to a short-term relationship.    

How bad is the release for you? Consider that oxytocin is the hormone responsible for mother-baby bonding. Once the two of you are sleeping together, you will be powerless and even subconsciously look forward to getting back together- the opposite of what you are looking for, right?

Take Care of Yourself

We all deal with stressful situations differently. The worst you can do after a break up is give in to destructive behaviour. Drinking yourself into a stupor will only prolong the process of moving on. Think about it; how many times have you drunk-texted the very person who has made you drive to the bar in the first place?

Eating your feelings is also out of the question. Not only will this behavior come back to haunt you, but it could also drive you back to him. To be fair, emotions can’t be switched on and off at will, the only way out is to find a healthy way of dealing with your feelings- which brings us to the next step.

Wallow If You Have to

Start by identifying your emotions. Instead of distracting yourself from the awful feelings, label what you are going through. This will reduce the pressure, shame and devastation that comes with a breakup.

How, you ask? By facing your feelings, you will be able to go through the 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. While you don’t necessarily have to go through all the five emotions or even in the above order, it’s good to realise that what you are feeling is normal and is to be expected.

You should also be ready to go through guilt, insecurity, loneliness and sadness. In some cases, the emotions may be accompanied by sicknesses such as headaches, fatigue and loss of appetite.

There are several ways of addressing your feelings, including but not limited to;

  • Talking to a friend. This could be your mom, sibling, neighbour or best friend. The idea here is to get a trusted friend, someone whom you can confide in. Sharing will lessen your burden in a big way; according to a study by UCLA, talking about the break up will reduce even the headaches through the release of natural opioids.
  • Writing a letter. Pen a letter to your ex. In it tell him all about how he made you feel, what the relationship meant to you, and what you are going through. Don’t send the letter though, the document is just a way of storing all the resentment that you have into paper- away from your system.

Writing letter

  • Wallowing. Yes, that’s right, crying is a healthy way of dealing with heartbreak. Think of it as mourning, if you don’t mourn your lost love, you won’t accept and neither will you move on.
  • Having an imaginary conversation with your ex. Writing is not for everyone, for some people facing the problem head-on is the only way to let go. Since we have ruled out meeting your ex, have an imaginary confrontation with him and end it by saying goodbye to all that you have lost.

Change Your Outlook

Being hopeful is a huge part of moving on. It’s only through hope that you can look forward to a new relationship. You will need to remind yourself that you deserve better and that the best is yet to come. Bear in mind that your destiny is in your hands and the break up is just a tiny bump in a much happier future coming your way.

All this sounds philosophical, but guess what, that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be:    

To find the big picture and move with your life, you need a positive outlook of the situation. It’s only through this that you can look beyond both your faults and imagine a better tomorrow. 

If your ex led you on, it’s normal that you would feel vulnerable and fearful of future relationships. But when you change your outlook, your mojo will come back and you be brave when facing the unknown.

Start a Hobby

Hobbies offer a way out of stressful and unpleasant situations. This is why you find yourself in the gym working out after a hard day in the office. Exercising will also work for your situation since it’s a way of releasing opioids and increasing endorphins, the feel-good hormones, in your body.

While you are at it, you can pick a new hobby or pick up old ones that you haven’t had time for. This should be activities that you delight in. The logic here is simple; if you love baking, it’s within reason that you won’t be thinking about your ex as you turn those cupcakes.

Baking cupcakes

It would also be helpful if the hobby could be a shared activity. Think of joining a book club, cooking classes, martial arts club, or yoga classes. While these are not meant to be group therapy sessions, being surrounded by people who are having fun will definitely have a positive effect on you.      

Give Yourself 3 Months

As the saying goes ‘time heals all wounds’ and your heart could do with some time off.  Before you put yourself out there, you need enough to go through and process the negative outcomes of the failed relationship. If not, you will find yourself rushing into a new relationship with unresolved anger and resentment towards guys.

If you hook up with a new flame too soon, deep down it will hurt since there will be a nagging reminder that it’s just a rebound. To avoid dooming a new hook up before it even has time to grow, take some time off from guys. Use that time to concentrate on you.     

You can also take that time to do things that you couldn’t do with your ex. Maybe take that vacation or road trip that your ex never had time for. Go for things that fulfil and make you happy.   

How long does it take to mend a broken heart?

There is no clear answer to this, but there have been numerous studies trying to find the answer to this. For starters, one study found out that if you are still hung up on your ex 6 months down the line, chances are that you will be exhibiting signs of depression. Any longer than this and your mental state could take a serious hit.

On the specific time that you should wait before dating again, a study published by the Journal of Positive Psychology gave 3 months as the average.      

Find Your Network and Literature

After you have observed that all of the above things are getting back to normal, it’s time to move on. This is among the most important steps in getting over a guy. You have to get back to your normal routine or even a new routine that makes you happy. Laugh, sing, joke, just do anything that makes it fun to be around you.

People who care, and new friends too, will find it easy to engage you without feeling like they are walking on broken glass around you. If you’re struggling to find a network – or if your friends are busy with their own lives – check out these apps to meet like-minded people. You could find your BFF on one of them!

Reading through motivational literature can also help in moving on. Same goes for working on your looks: A new hairdo, lipstick and clothing can be an excellent way of introducing the ‘new’ you to the world. Who knows, maybe you will bump into your ex and they will be awed by the new, stronger and bolder you. 

Talk to A Trained Professional 

If all of the above fails, then it’s time to make an appointment with a mental-health practitioner. This could be a trained counsellor or therapist. These are people trained to guide you through the emotions that you are feeling and generally steer you away from self-destruction.

Woman talking with therapist

When you meet with your therapist, just remember that your way is not working and it’s time to let another person guide you. Be ready to do the work, including opening up about your situation during sessions and taking prescribed medication.   

When all is said and done, getting over an ex will involve you dating at one point or another. For this, you need to let your heart feel again and be open to new possibilities. Mr. Right could just be around the corner and to catch his attention, you have to be ready to play the game again. Remember the basics still apply to you and do not badmouth your ex to your new boyfriend, in fact, don’t make him the subject of all your conversations, you don’t want to scare the new one away now, do you?