I don’t care how long your relationship lasted or what caused its end. The fact of the matter is that breakups are always a stressful, emotional process. They leave us confused, hurt, and lonely.
And while it may seem like your heart will never mend itself, the reality is that eventually, it will.
However, before you can move on and dive into a healthy relationship with someone new, you must take the time to completely grieve the loss of the previous relationship and work towards healing your broken heart.
If this whole breakup thing is new to you, though, you may be asking yourself: How do I even recover from a breakup? Where do I even start?
Luckily many people ask themselves these questions every single day, so numerous relationship experts and psychologists have invested time in energy into finding the answers and helping people like you heal from your breakup.
What should you do after a breakup?
In the days and weeks immediately after a painful breakup, you have every right to feel heartbroken and hopeless.
While you may dream of crawling into bed and never leaving again, experts recommend that you do several particular things in the aftermath of a breakup.
1. Allow yourself time to grieve.
As dating expert and chief officer of the dating app, Lumen Charly Lester points out, "You're losing a big piece of your life when you break up with someone. They are a friend, a lover, a confidante, and maybe a housemate."
Because of this, Lester and other experts advise that you take time to grieve that loss almost like you would grieve a death."
2. Protect your heart by deleting your ex from your life.
As many of us know all too well, Facebook and Instagram can just add to the pain for a brokenhearted lover.
Because of this, it’s best to at least temporarily remove your ex from all of your social media accounts.
Similarly, you should also probably go ahead and remove your ex’s number from your phone.
Seeing it in your contacts list will only cause you to think about him and potentially reach out. You don’t want to do that when in the early stages of a breakup.
3. Pick old hobbies and activities back up.
Relationships sometimes cause us to lose touch with ourselves. When they end, though, an excellent way to recover is by picking back up those activities that once defined us.
In fact, therapist and life coach Tess Brigham points out just why this is so significant:
"When we meet someone new and start spending a lot of time with them, some of our favorite activities can easily slip away.
Now that the relationship is over, it's time for you to start practicing daily yoga, bike riding... whatever it was that made you happy [before].”
4. Explore the world.
One of the most exciting things about a breakup is that you no longer have any strings attached.
You’re free to come and go as you please without considering how it might impact your significant other. So why not take a vacation or plan a girls’ weekend?
I’m not saying pack up your bags and leave the country, but traveling and immersing yourself in activities with your besties can really help ease your heartache.
What's a typical breakup timeline?
When a breakup is still fresh, you may feel like you’ll never recover from the heartache you feel at that moment.
You may firmly believe that you’ll never forgive your ex and never move on.
Believe it or not, though, scientists with the Journal of Positive Psychology found that nearly three-fourths of women can see their relationship in a positive light just 11 weeks after a breakup.
You may be asking yourself how someone can get to that point in a mere matter of weeks after experiencing enormous heartache.
Luckily, Dr. Gina Barreca offers this encouraging timeline for any woman exiting a relationship:
- Within 8 hours, the initial phase of hysterical crying subsides.
- Within 12 hours, some of the overwhelming anger fades.
- Within 24 hours, the desire to pitifully call beg him to take you back leaves.
- Within 36 hours, a need to vent to friends begins.
- Within 48 hours, a brief period of relief occurs.
- Within 7 days, you start resuming normal activities of daily living and look less zombie-like.
- Within 3 months, energy and circulation improve.
- Within 9 months, you start feeling hopeful and flirting again.
- Within 1 year, your heartache is mostly healed.
While some may bounce back faster or slower than this, the general consensus is that most women will resume life as usual within a few months of a breakup and feel fully ready to move on within a year.
Does time heal heartbreak?
As many of us know, all serious losses — including breakups — require a grieving process.
In fact, it’s entirely possible to move on with your life but still experience fleeting moments of sadness or nostalgia years later. In time, though, you will feel lighter.
Relationship expert Marissa Walter explains the way time heals heartbreak in a slightly different way, though. Walter believes that “it’s not really the time that heals us at all. Growth is what heals.”
We can all use heartbreak as a growth opportunity if we allow ourselves to learn from the past, find forgiveness, and make choices based in the present and future instead of living in the past.
By taking these steps towards growth, while also acknowledging the pain that a breakup causes, we can all eventually heal from heartbreak.
Will the pain of breaking up go away eventually?
When we’re in the thick of it, it feels like the pain of the breakup will never fade. However, life coach Rebecca L. Norrington offers this sage advice:
“Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to eliminate all heartbreak and disappointment. The secret is…choose to prioritize happiness. People with broken hearts have one thing in common—having expectations of other people. The first step towards healing is to eliminate [that].”
Ultimately, lust can prevent us from ever building a deeper connection with our partner, and when the intense physical attraction wears off, the relationship often fizzles.
According to psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, “Men and women are less aroused after they have repeatedly viewed the same erotic pictures or engaged in similar sexual fantasies.”
Because of this, The Hope Line claims that “lust turns people into liars, deceivers, and manipulators.” While that may sound a bit extreme, the sentiment is valid.
How can I heal faster after the relationship ends?
While you can’t entirely rush the grieving process after a relationship ends, you can help yourself heal a bit faster if you take good care of yourself.
In fact, Coach Natalie of Love Advice TV says that the best way to heal after your relationship ends is by focusing on yourself again. Natalie outlines exactly how to do that in this brief seven-minute video:
Additionally, the experts at Lifehack recommend following these 10 steps to help yourself heal your heart faster:
- Take care of your body.
- Love yourself again.
- Surround yourself with people who will let you be yourself.
- Forgive yourself and your ex in time.
- Listen to your inner voice.
- Re-visit old places with new people to create new memories.
- Avoid dabbling in gender negativity.
- Learn to do things entirely alone.
- Learn from your mistakes.
- Break the cycle if you recognize one.
What is closure and how do I get it?
By definition, closure in a relationship means “knowing the reason a romantic relationship was terminated and no longer feeling emotional attachment or pain, thereby allowing for the establishment of new and healthy relationships."
Finding closure is important because, as humans, we process the world around us through connections to the future, present, and past.
When we recognize why the relationship failed and learn how to live without it, we can ultimately move forward and not remain stuck in a loop.
We can achieve closure in a few different ways, depending on the terms of your relationship’s end. If you’re on speaking terms with your ex, you can invite them to meet for coffee or even take a walk.
During this time together, you can share both positive feelings, your view on what went wrong, and ask for input from your ex on how the relationship ended.
This isn’t meant to mend the relationship, but rather to close the door and give you each a building block for moving forward.
If you cannot communicate with your ex for one reason or another, then consider writing everything out in a journal or letter to them instead.
Once you’re done, you can even burn or tear up the letter to provide yourself a tactile symbol of closure.
Regardless of which option you choose, once you process your feelings and accept that you and your ex acted with the best intentions and ultimately see the breakup as a learning experience, you can release any emotional baggage from the relationship and move forward with your life.
Are you ready to move on?
Obviously, you’ve just taken in a lot of information that can help guide you on what to do during this emotional time so that you can heal your broken heart.
However, while this guide may make it sound easy, recovering from a bad breakup is no easy feat.
It requires a lot of emotional stamina and incredible determination to really implement all of the steps and changes recommended here.
While I fully believe that everyone should heal on their own timeline, I really suggest that you look within yourself before you do any of the work required to heal your broken heart. Ask yourself if you are truly ready to do the work and ready to move on.
If the answer is yes, then it’s time to get to work! Take a warm shower, pick up a new journal, and rediscover an old hobby you lost touch with during the relationship.
Establish your support system and lock in some healthy coping skills, too, because you’ll need them.
Once you have all of your coping skills in place, start dismantling the pieces of your past so you can put your broken heart back together.
It may seem hard some days during the journey, but I know you can do it.
Be gentle with yourself and don’t rush things: You’ll heal when it’s time, I promise.