After my last breakup, I told all of my friends and family that it was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do.
And it was.
Each and every day felt like I waftas climbing a mountain of grief, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through.
And I was mad at myself, too. Mad that I had allowed someone to have such a hold over me– that I gave someone the power to devastate me so completely.
In the direct aftermath of a breakup, there are strong, intense emotions at play. Shock, anger, pain. But what I think is arguably harder than the event of the breakup itself is coping on a day to day basis, when you have to re-adjust to life without your ex boyfriend.
I remember the feeling well, being too scared to fall asleep at night because I was afraid to wake up and have to re-adjust to a world where we weren’t together.
In that moment between asleep and waking, when your body hasn’t full woken up yet, but your mind is already at work. And then the weight of the realization that you are alone comes crashing down again and you have to learn to move on, breath by breath, minute by minute, day by day.
I know that many of you know this feeling all too well.
Today, we are going to delve into some of the more complicated types of breakups, and consider some coping mechanisms that may help as you try to heal.
First, though, I want to mention that regardless of which of any of these situations you fit into, the first step should be to begin a No Contact period. Sure, it could potentially make your ex miss you, but more importantly, it will give you the time and space away from your former partner to let your emotions settle, and come back to a place of putting yourself and your needs first.
I know a lot of women are resistant to the No Contact period and come up with a myriad of excuses, but there are none. If you have children together, you can still do a Limited No Contact (LNC) period.
He will not forget about you in 30 days. Give yourself, him, and the relationship you shared more credit than that.
Coping After the End of a Long Term Relationship
If your ex boyfriend had been a part of your life for a significant period of time, it can be especially hard to deal when, seemingly out of nowhere, they disappear from your life. It’s difficult when the person you shared every minuscule event of your day with becomes a total stranger.
I know that after every long term relationship of mine that has ended, this quote from season 2 of Buffy looms in my mind:
“It’s so weird… Every time something like this happens, my first instinct is still to run to Angel. I can’t believe it’s the same person. He’s completely different from the guy that I knew.” -Buffy, “Passion”
It rings so true.
Your ex may not have lost his soul like Angel, but if you and your ex boyfriend were together for a while, you guys were likely close friends, if not best friends. When you are hurting, it is your impulse to go to your closest confidantes. What is difficult about that is that your now ex is the one who caused this pain in the first place.
This is a bit of a side note, but for the record, this is why it is important to not cut your friends off when you enter a relationship.
I’ve seen so many of my friends drop off the face of the earth as soon as they begin falling in love. I don’t hear from them for months, and then once it’s over, I’m expected to pick up the pieces. I was even guilty of this myself once.
But no matter how intense your feelings may be, you cannot cut off your close friends. You never know how long your relationships will last, but you know your friends will be there to pick up the pieces when and if it ends.
But I digress…
You have to adjust to the new normal. You survived without this guy before the two of you began dating, and so you can survive without him again. You can’t go on the same way you did before, so you have to live in a new way.
Surround yourself with people you love – friends, family. Do whatever grieving you have to, but do not allow yourself to live in it. Do things you neglected over the course of the relationship because you were giving your time and energy to your, now, ex. Take up new hobbies that you’ve always wanted to try, but didn’t for whatever reason.
Go to therapy, write. Do what you need to so that you express your emotions in a healthy way. It’s okay to get emotional, but don’t allow your ex to see your weakness. Keep an emotionally clear head when interacting with mutual friends, and when using social media.
Ultimately, take care of you.
I know it doesn’t feel like it, but in many ways, this is a gift. You get to be selfish and care 100% only about yourself. Explore who you are. There will be other men, but how frequently do you get to love yourself with the fervor and abandon with which you loved your ex?
Focus on you. This is the path to healing. It’s slow, and a cyclical process that is frustrating and painful, but it will be worth it in the end when you feel whole and ready to begin dating again or begin the attempt to try and get your ex back.
How to Cope When you Still Love Them
I imagine you’re not reading this article just to see what Buffy reference I include, although, if you are, you might just be my new favorite person.
I assume you are here because you still have some sort of lingering feelings for your ex boyfriend.
If you are determined to get your ex back because your feelings for them are still strong, I encourage you to, again, follow the No Contact rule and try to focus some of that love energy on yourself.
I also am not quite sure how to say this delicately, so here we go – if your primary reason for wanting your ex back is just because you still love them, and you are having a hard time functioning on a day to day basis, obsessing, I suggest you take a step back. Your emotions may have the upper hand, and that is no way to enter into the Ex Recovery process.
There are more to relationships than love. You need to be compatible, have similar life goals that align, be on the same page with the basics like marriage, kids, religion.
Love and loss are also complex emotions. After my most recent breakup, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of loss, but I tried to logically work through to figure out where the pain was coming from.
How much of me was actually missing my ex?
How much of me was scared to be single?
How much of me was afraid of being alone forever, thinking he was the best I would get?
How much of it was because Loved him?
I created a pie chart in my head, trying to figure out the percentages of each point. And you know what I figured out?
I figured out that though – yes, I loved my ex boyfriend – those other sections of the pie chart had larger percentages than I originally thought they would.
Loss is complex. It is not easy.
Don’t just feel your emotions – analyze them as well and try to figure out where they come from. Discover why you love and miss your ex. You may be surprised.
As for how to cope, I suggest a No Contact period – enough time to re-set, get your emotions under control, and to get your ex to begin missing your presence in his life.
But if your primary reason for wanting your ex back is as simple as “I love him” I suggest that you do a little additional soul searching to figure out where you stand and what your real motivations are.
Apologies if this sounds harsh – it’s a pattern I’ve noticed in our EBR Facebook Group that I felt should be addressed on the Ex Boyfriend Recovery site.
Coping If You Live Together
I feel deeply for anyone who is stuck in a position where they are forced to live with their ex for a period of time after a breakup. It is so, so painful.
There is a girl on the EBR Facebook Group who I’ll call Jane, who successfully lived with her ex for almost a year, and then he broached the topic of the two of them getting back together.
Limited No Contact is rough.
If you share children, or live in the same home, it is impossible to just cut off full contact. But keep your interactions minimal and do not bring up emotional topics about your relationship. How you progress in Limited No Contact could make or break how the rest of your ex recovery unfolds.
My biggest piece of advice for coping if the two of you live together is to spend as much time as possible apart.
Not only will it help with No Contact, but it will also make your ex see that you are busy and not letting the breakup control your life. I also recommend writing. You can’t say a lot of things to your ex, but writing them down will help so that you can get those thoughts out of your system without compromising the Ex Recovery Process.
The goal is to appear aloof and secure.
Think of it as a game – poker. You can’t allow your ex to know what is going on inside your head, or what cards you hold.
Guard your tell with your life, and don’t feel badly about coming off as secretive. Your activities are no longer any of your ex’s business, even if the two of you do still share a living space.
Ultimately, the faster you can get out, the better. You will feel so much more free once you no longer are surrounded by your ex boyfriend every day. It may be one of the most painful things you have to do, to walk away. But ultimately, it is best in your Ex Recovery journey, and best for you if you can get out of that painful, toxic situation as soon as possible.
When You Have Gotten Closure
Healing from a breakup takes time. Even if you and your ex have discussed the breakup over and over again, and you have a sense of closure, it still hurts to have a relationship end.
The first thing I’m going to say is that as much as we may fight it, closure doesn’t come from external forces, it comes from within. You create your own closure. You decide to move on. I know it may feel important to have the last word, but if you and your ex have already had discussions about this change, that’s been done.
I understand that it still hurts, but the best things you can do is to begin the process of moving on without moving on. This means, – again – doing some work to take care of yourself. Take the time to mourn, but remember that each day, coping will get easier and easier. All you can do is keep going and taking the best care of yourself to pursue happiness.
Try dating. Not with any particular goal in mind, but simply to meet new people and get back out there. Casual dating gets a bad reputation, but really, it can be a useful tool if you are just dipping your toes in the water, considering getting back out there again. But don’t feel pressure to date. You don’t have to until you’re ready.
If you are attempting the “Moving on Without Moving On” tactic, just remember that you are the maker of your own happiness. This breakup may be a bump in the road, but you can turn it into a beautiful opportunity to learn to love yourself – something that not enough women know how to do.
Overall: Emotional Control and Coping
So many complicated emotions come into play when dealing with a breakup. Rejection, stress, anger, depression, anxiety, guilt, loneliness are just a few.
Having control of your emotions is one of the best ways you can effectively cope with your breakup. Remember, think of it as a game of poker. If you were very emotional during the breakup, your ex will be surprised and intrigued as to why you are now cool as a cucumber in your interactions.
I remember once saying to my psychologist after the demise of my college breakup,
“I just want to skip ahead and be over it. I don’t want to go through all of this pain. What do I do? How do I get better?”
She looked at me sadly and said,
“I’m afraid this is it. You’re doing it. This is the process of healing.”
It’s stuck with me, because it’s true. You can’t force the grieving and recovering process. Sometimes, all you can do is take it one day at a time. Then one day, a couple months down the road, you’ll wake up, and he won’t be the first thing you think of anymore. You’ll look out the window, see the sun, and realize that even if you are not incandescently happy then in that moment, you will be again someday. You’ve just got to keep going.
If you are still a little anxious about the breakup, you should watch this interview that Chris did about having to deal with the Anxiety of a Breakup.
Alright, now that we have walked through how to cope with a breakup in all of these different scenarios, let’s discuss your breakup.
- Tell me a little bit about your breakup.
- Tell me what you have done since the breakup.
- And tell me what you’re plans are so far for moving forward.
Our experts will work WITH you to figure out what you should do next and if you are on the right track.