How many times have we seen the story of a girl who has gone through a terrible and painful breakup, and after some days of being depressed –in bed, eating ice cream while watching romantic comedies and pictures of the former love of her life–, she decides it's was enough? She grabs everything that reminds her of that person, goes out to have fun, and find her happiness in life. This last part is quite interesting because it shows more relationship clichés. The end of this formulaic story has two variations: either she succeeds in her career and understands that the best way to be happy is focusing on herself (ahem, Legally Blonde), or she meets a man who’s completely different from the previous partner and supports her, and they live happily ever after (and yes, Legally Blonde has also that part). The thing is that no matter how much we love watching these movies, and how comforting they can be at some point in our lives, they show completely unrealistic situations.
So, not to say that your love life is a failure, but somehow in our collective imagination, breakups have become a normalized event. In that way, even though each and every single relationship, and its ending, are very different, there are tons of articles out there promising that if you follow all those steps you’ll manage to overcome your breakup. As I said, each relationship is as different as the way they ended, and that’s why having a prefabricated list of activities isn’t likely to work for everyone. In my research looking for the best tips to overcome a breakup, I collected some of the most common ones. Let's find out if they can really work.
Of course, going on vacations can be extremely satisfactory in the right circumstances, but what the authors of these lists fail to see is that not everybody can afford to just hop on the first plane or train and go on a trip. It’s not just a matter of money. People have regular activities they have to fulfill. Another thing they don’t seem to foresee is that putting some distance can actually work for just a few people, because overcoming a breakup is not just about not seeing that person, but an emotional process. No matter the setting, we have to take some time for ourselves. Moreover, let’s say the trip managed to help you get distracted, but what will happen when you go back home?
Have your friends close to you
Actually, I do agree on this one, although I would add your family if you’re close to them. Having someone you can count on to cry, shout, or even get you distracted is one of the best medicines to cure this ailment. After all, these are people who care about you and know you well enough to help you overcome the situation. Of course, the only case where this could be awkward is if you share friends with your ex. In that case, I would consider how much can they actually help. As I said, each case is different.
Get rid of everything that reminds you of that person
I have mixed feeling about this one. On the one hand, I agree on the fact that having constant reminders of that failed relationship can’t be very helpful in the healing process. However, I strongly believe that overcoming a breakup isn’t a matter of just deleting everything you shared. After all, no matter how long it lasted, you shared some time of your life with that person. Just getting rid of things won’t automatically delete that past, since it’s a process where you have to acknowledge that time as part of your life and find a way to cope with it.
Give yourself a mourning period
I absolutely agree with this one. While it’s great to have your friends' support, you need some time for yourself to process what happened. It’s kind of a common reaction having people telling you that you have to do your best or to cheer up. Frankly, I think that’s one of the most useless things someone can tell you when you’re going through a difficult time. I mean, you know you have to cheer up, but it’s not a matter of choice.
Stop talking about your ex
I don’t really know if that would be helpful at all. I mean, yes, having them present in every aspect of your life isn’t going to take you anywhere, and more than helping you move on, it’s like being trapped in that disastrous moment. But I do think that one of the best ways to overcome any difficult situation is by talking about it, not in an obsessive and self-destructive way, but as a healing aid.
Don’t talk to them
Last but (absolutely,) not least, don’t contact them. That’s like a golden rule. Regardless of whether you ended on good terms and as friends, you need some time of cleansing, and speaking to them will not help you pass that border between a love relationship and friendship. Just don’t!
How to overcome a breakup depends a lot on the person and how they deal with difficult situations. Some prefer spending some time by themselves to process what happened, while others need a lot of company. There are many possibilities, from keeping a journal to listening to sad songs. Each person must find the option that suits them best.
Photos by @jesseherzog