It’s been three months since my first breakup. I’m largely over it, although not completely. It’s still the most devastating thing to happen to me, which says something because I’ve been through a lot. The recovery isn’t easy, especially since it’s still ongoing.
But in this post, I’ll detail the things I did (and should have but didn’t) to recover from the breakup. Please not that these are from my personal experience with ending a healthy relationship. If you are getting out of an abusive relationship, your experience might be vastly different, and some of these might not apply to you. Also, this post should not be regarded as medical or psychiatric advice. As always, seek professional help when you need it.
So that talk happens. They break up with you, or it’s the other way around. Either way, you’re in pain, anxiety, and depression. Breakups are very similiar to withdrawal symptoms found in recovering drug addicts. Your brain literally recognizes your ex-partner like it does drugs and addictive substances. What happens now?
Block your ex everywhere. Unfriend their friends. Stop receiving updates from and about them. Frankly, I didn’t do this. But looking back, I wish I did. Your ex-partner had been your major support system, and this will be the first life challenge you’ll have to go through without them. It will be tempting to contact them and tell them how you feel. You shouldn’t. Continuous contact will only impede yours and their recovery. Honestly, this will be the best and hardest decision you will make after. After al, it’s not easy to cut off someone you had shared your life with.
Reach out to your friends. You would thank yourself if you hadn’t left your friends behind when you got into a relationship. But if you had, now is the right time to reach out to them. Forget about being ashamed and embarrassed for running back to them. This thing is something that happens all the time, and true friends will understand.
If you have no established friend groups, or friends for that matter, reach out to strangers online. I turned to Discord servers and Mastodon myself. It will be embarrassing reaching oout and for the first few days you would only be an outsider looking in, greeting everyone a good morning, afternoon, and evening. But eventually, people will notice you and start talking to you. Remember, be compassionate and kind to everyone. Your hurt shouldn’t hurt anyone else but you. Try to be charming and fun, but most importantly, just try. A breakup is a really great opportunity to build new circles. Approach it with an attitude of tring to make new friends instead of just finding strangers to vent out to.
Cry. Like I said in my breakup post, I cried ugly immediately after that breakup call. And while I do distract myself from the feelings, it’s only to give myself an allotted time to cry and grieve my relationship. I cried myself to sleep almost everyday for the first month or two since the breakup. On the first week of breakup, I would go on office calls crying and literally sobbing, and then trying to compose myself to speak to the mic to provide my work updates. I felt patjetoc amd weak, but that is exactly what I needed, and crying helped me every single time.
Buy yourself a treat. Ice cream really helped me several minutes after the breakup call. So I highly recommend buying yourself a treat immediately after the breakup happens. Consider this your emotional first aid. Anecdotal evidences show that sweets (especially ice cream) really helps in soothing the immediate sharp pain that comes after the breakup.
Tell yourself: this is about you now. You’re single again. Depending on boundaries you’ve set with your ex-partner after the breakup, you are very much single and free again. Give yourself time to process the fact that you are on your own again. This can feel scary, especially if the relationship lasted years. But this can be of huge benefit to you too! Being single gives you more time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.
Find a new routine. One thing I learned during my breakup was that I grieved the routine I had that I would no longer have. Establish a new routine. Easy for me because I work from 8 Am to 5 PM. After shift, I would usually talk to my ex-partner untill we fall asleep. But since I no longer have that, I returned to the gym and hired a personal fitness coach. I had a fitness goal, yes. But mostly, I was there to just get distraccted from the feels when I don’t want to deal with them yet. Similarly, use this time to establish habits and routines. The pain you feel from the breakup will be a great fuel and motivational boost to finish your activities and achieve your goals.
We used to stay up until 2 Am in the morning. Since I don’t have that anymore, I hop on Discord calls with my new friends. Sometimes I’m just there listening to them, but a lot of times I actively participate. Granted, not ever Discord server will be good places to make friends with, but I’m lucky to have found onces that were good for me.
Affirmations. Repeat it enough times until it’s true. That worked for me. Every time I cried, I told my self I will be fine. I grieve because I loved. And the love I gave will come back to me. Tell yourself everything you want to hear. Anything that will soothe your pain.
Activate the delusions. Again, delusion is an effective solution. Create situations in your head that would help you. In my case, I used to always imagine myself meeting my ex years later and then ignoring them. Or meeting someone new. Or becoming so hot and fabulous that my DMs literally explode with messages. It is your delusion, it doesn’t need to be realistic. You also don’t have to consider your ex’s feelings; your self is your focus now, and you shouldn’t care about your ex anymore, the way they probably don’t about you.
Go on walks. Walks have been proven to be effective combatants of negative feelings. I found it personally helpful and effective, if only to organize your thoughts and lighten up your mood.
Embrace the change, or even better, catalyze it. Breakups can be trials by fire. You can use this opportunity to rebuild yourself and become someone you’ve always craved to be. The intensity of this pain could very well be the exact push you need to go get that new hobby you’ve always wanted, or that new look you’ve been eyeing for a while. Use this breakup as a catalyst to be an even better version of yourself, or even just a version of yourself you love more. Remember, you are changing for yourself, not for anyone else.
Address the fears and anxieties. Feelings of anxiety will be rampant during this post-breakup period. You might feel that you will never love someone like that again, or that a huge part of you died the moment you broke up. These are valid feelings, and it’s normal to feel them. However, they are not necessarily true. Have an honest audit of yourself. List down the things you fear the most about this new phase of life you’re entering. For each item in this list, identify why you feel that way or why you fear that thing. And then identify at least three reasons why that fear isn’t necessarily true. I’ll give you an example:
I fear that I'll keep looking for my ex in new partners and dates I'll be meeting.
Why I believe this could happen: The way my ex treated me is the way I want to be treated. And because of that, I think I'll hold new dates and partners to that standard. I am afraid that I'll never truly move on from my ex.
Why I shouldn't fear this:
- The treatment I deserve isn't necessarily the way my ex treated me. There is someone out there who could treat me the same way, or possibly, even better.
- I accept that a part of my ex lives in me. It is just a testament to how good it's been for us. And good things should never be feared.
- Looking to be treated the same way my ex treated me is not me being unable to move on. It is me knowing what I want and what I need, and that is just me knowing how to take care of myself.
Establish new friendships, fortify existing ones. I know the guilt of letting your friendships go months with no communication upon entering a relationship and coming back to them after a breakup. But true friends understand. Use this time to fortify existing friendships. Make plans with them, and follow through. The first few plans could be just you and your friends catching up, letting them know about the breakup, and seeking comfort and support. But be careful not to pollute and alienate every single one of your meetups with just stories of you and how you’re dealing with the breakup. It will be emotionally tiring to your friends to keep hearing about how devastating and painful the breakup is; after all, from an outsider’s perspective, you will move on, and the breakup isn’t necessarily as life-threatening as it feels to you. Show them genuine concern and interest in what they’re currently up to. Ask them about that new PC they’re building, or that new RPG they started playing, or that new girl they started dating recently. While feeling your feelings is the way to go, it’s also good to be distracted from it from time to time.
Also, find new people to call friends. Of course, not everyone you’ll meet will be your best friend. But having something else going on in your life will be helpful in keeping your mind off the breakup and realize that there’s still a lot to life than love and breakups. Besides, the drama that people have with each other can be really interesting and entertaining, especially and as long as you’re not at the center of it. And who knows, maybe from this new circle of friends you might actually get to know the new person worthy of investing romantic interest months later when you’re fully recovered.
Consider going to therapy. Of course, there’s a lot of things that can’t be soothed and solved by ice cream and coffee dates with your closest friends. Sometimes, it’s helpful to seek professional help, even when you don’t think it’s that serious. Going to therapy is probably the best gift I’ve ever given myself. In many cases, breakups are hard to deal with because they trigger an issue you never even thought was there. I found out that I have abandonment issues stemming from my childhood years that was triggered by my breakup, and even though it wasn’t my fault and that I tried everything I could to save the relationship, I kept blaming myself because of an unresolved internal belief that when people leave me, it must be that I’m not lovable enough or that I’m not giving enough. Therapy helped me uncover, unpack, and in time, resolve that issue.
The word “relapse” have been overused and misused in recent years and probably hasn’t anything meaningul to it now. But then again, healing isn’t linear, and it is not only normal to relapse, but it is to be expected. Expect that you will cry again months later when you think you’ve already recovered. Expect that you will lose appetite even after a year because your song suddenly played on your Spotify shuffle. Expect that you will feel the pain like it’s the day after your breakup when Taylor Swift or Adele comes out with a new album.
When this happens, be even kinder to yourself. Remember the self-care routines you have already established and make sure you are still doing them. Take all the time alone you need, but be vigilant that you don’t ruminate on things that you no longer have control over. Notice the delusions and imaginary scenarios you form in your head, making sure that they don’t add to the false hope that you and your ex will get back together. When you are in a better mental space, reach out to your friends and seek their company. Keep doing what worked for you the first time around.
The recovery will be tiring, especially when you keep feeling like you’re regressing and your progress keeps getting hindered. But these are all to be expected, and as long as you’re moving forward, you are doing a great job.
In my personal journey of recovery, this is the final hoop I needed to cross. Seeing your ex happy with someone else evokes intense waves of pain and hurt. Finding out my ex has become official with their new partner brought me back to the first day of our breakup. I started crying myself to sleep again. I started losing motivation and feeling like neglecting my routines. I just wanted to lie down all day and wallow in the sadness. This will be worse when you see them doing the things that used to be your thing together, and doing the things you wanted to do together but never got around to. Even worse, you will fall into a deep spiiral once you find out (or even think about it) that your ex and their new partner had already had sex.
During this time, do the things you do when you “relapse”. Don’t forget your self-care routines, journalling, affirmations, and going out with friends. Feel your feelings, identify where you feel your feelings physically. Which body part feels the heaviest when you feel the grief? Resort to ice cream therapy, if only to temporarily soothe yourself in the short term.
During this time, it’s easy to just surrender to the belief that you’ve been betrayed. But remember, your ex’s journey of recovery is not your concern. Sure, they found someone new, but who knows, maybe they’re still recovering from your relationship even when they’re with someone new. And also, every relationship is unique. Your ex will never replicate the relationship you had with anyone else, not even with you if you ever decide to get back together years after.
Always remember that you had an impact to your ex’s life. In one of our conversations, I told my ex that I see more of him in myself now when talking to new people. And that’s not ncessarily a bad thing. They validated my thoughts and agreed that they too see parts of me in them. Romantic relationships are intimate, and you will adopt mennerisms, behaviors, and personalities from your partner. Don’t think for one second that your ex has suddenly thrown all of you out the window just because they found someone new. We are all just a collection of all the people we love.
Okay, the three-month rule that says both parties can’t talk to anyone else with an intent to pursue a romantic relationship until at least three months had passed. Controversial to some, but common sense to many. My personal thoughts about this is that this rule should be honored only if you both agreed to it. It is understandable that some people would see the three-month rule as a sign of respect and care for the other party’s feelings. But to me, clear communication always wins, and unless both parties agreed to it, the three-month rule should not be held against a person if they decide to break it.
And if your ex does break the three-month rule, how are you finding out about it? Didn’t you block them already?
A big fear I had, that I had also communicated to my ex when we were still together, was that I might keep looking for my ex in every people I meet. But I realize that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Your ex has once been the closest person to you; they saw a lot of things other people don’t see or know about you. The intimacy you shared (not just by sex, by the way) will no doubt imprint them on you, and you on them.
So when you meet someone new, resist the urge to overthink things. If you realize that the new person you’re seeing has similarities with your ex, ask yourself: “are the similarities good? What do they say about me?” It’s important to remember that sometimes we have a type, but a lot of times we date patterns, not people. If this is your first breakup, you don’t really have a pattern to base on yet. So don’t try and overanalyze everything.
Use this time to build and solidify your standards. Codify it, i.e., write it down. Write down the qualities you want to see in your next partner. Start with the things you liked about your relationship with your ex that you would love to see in your next one. Then go back to those times in your past relationships where (a) you asked for something you needed and it wasn’t given to you; and (b) you wanted to ask for something, but you know or feel that you won’t get it from your ex-partner. Write (or type) them down, because having a more tangible object you can get out from time to time will be helpful so you can uphold them. This can be anything ranging from the superficial (“I want him to buy me flowers from time to time”) to sexual ( “I want him to be versatile in bed, but leaning towards topping”) to non-negotiables ( “I don’t want someone who smokes, regardless of how amazing he is”).
Rebounds, in my opinion, aren’t necessarily bad. With clear intentions and boundaries, rebounds can be a great aid in your healing journey. It’s not really easy to determine when you’re actually “moved on”. But it should be pretty clear to you to realize when you’re still hung up with your ex, which is fine regardless of what people say. But if you start talking to someone and you’re still not over your ex, you have to tell them. Set the expectations, clarify your inentions, and give them the chance to choose if they want to pursue a relationship with you. Clarify with them that although you like them, this might turn out to be a rebound relationship.
I lean towards being liberated when it comes to relationship, so I have no qualms telling people that I’m only interested in a short-term relationship if I really am. But some people might need more courage to be clear about themselves. If you are one of them, remember that your healing process should only heal you, not hurt innocent bystanders. I’ve had quite a few people take a liking on me when I was still hung up on my ex who I would immediately jump on the chance to date, but knowing that they don’t deserve any half-hearted nothings from me, I declined all of them until I met someone when I’m ready to date. You can choose to do the same too, or like I said, pursue them while clarifying your current mental and emotional state.
A lot of people would agree that being friends with your ex is a bad idea. I agree, but only if it’s near or as intimate as your romantic relationship. When your breakup is amicable, it’s harder to let go of your past together, and a friendship with them might tempt you. After all, it’s better to have a connection with someone you’re in love with than have none at all. But think about the effects of having an intimate friendship with your ex on your healing process. You no longer have business knowing about them and their new partner; that would only hurt you. The less information you have about them, the better.
In an attempt at honesty, I’ll come clean; I did pursue a friendship with my ex. They wanted to stay friends with me, too, anyway. But I immediately realized how hard it was to draw lines between acceptable friendship things and intimate things we used to do together. I kept coming to him for emotional support from the breakup, which made it harder for him to continue his recovery. As early as three weeks into the friendship-with-my-ex thing, I realized that I can never be friends with him with the same intimacy I have with my best friends. Knowing intimate details about him, his new routines, his new fascinations and career choices, and especially his new partners would only hurt me because he’s not doing it with me.
We tried setting newer and newer boundaries until I stopped breaking it about two or three months later. And when the dust has settled, we only talked about things we are fans of, like Genshin Impact, Drag Race Philippines, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is now implied that we cannot talk about more intimate things and our past together, save for a few inside jokes that make fun of me and my failures because that’s just my brand of humor. We got a good thing going for us, and our friendship, no matter how superficial, is something that works for us both. And while it’s good, I expect this friendship to fizzle out eventually as our paths further diverge. This exact same thing could also happen to you if you so wish to pursue a friendship with your ex. Boundaries are important even more now if you decide to.
Let your partner know about the friendship. If you are talking to or dating someone, let them know as early as possible about you and your ex’s friendship. A lot of people are not comfortable with this, even going so far as having their partners block their exes on every social media platform. When this happens, ask yourself which matters more to you between your ex’s friendship and your partner’s relationship. Depending on the case, either is fine, but your mileage may vary. After all, you will know better the context of the problems and concerns your partner will have about it.
A lot of people go on a hoe phase (or phases) after a breakup. It’s a duration when one person engages on sexual acts with multiple different partners. There’s no need to be judgmental; sex is good, and it’s okay to have multiple sexual partners, one-night stands, friends with benefits, and such as long as they are between consenting parties. And just because you broke up with a romantic partner doesn’t mean your sexual needs are just going to get ignored. So if you feel like you want to explore your sexuality, that is your body, and you are allowed to do it.
However, remember not to equate your self-worth with your sexuality. People have been depressed about their high body counts. It’s understandable, and for some, it’s inevitable. Just remember that when you go on a hoe phase, this could happen, especially if you’re particularly active. But keep in mind that you can never be defined by your body count. You are who you are, and you are still worthy and deserving.
To keep yourself sane while on a hoe phase, remember to put your well-being first and for most. Do not have sex with just about anyone. If they’re not your type, get out. If they are cute, or hot even, but they flash you a red flag, get out. If you wanted it so bad but then you decide you don’t wanna do it anymore, don’t do it. Keep all dicks wrapped, and get tested regularly.
Breakups are weird. For someone experiencing it, it could feel like it’s the end of the world. It could feel like your life’s falling apart. But to an outsider, it looks like just a case of a bad Monday morning, and you will get through it if you suck it up. This look from the outside could be very invalidating, but it unfortunately is true.
Going through the pain and grief of a breakup is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to get through. But like every other thing in the world, it gets better. It will pass. It did for me. And it will also for you. Good luck, keep yourself cared for, and remember: there’s so much love in you with nowhere else to go. It’s alright if you give it to yourself for now.