Over a breakup? Avoid making these 9 big mistakes
Understatement of the Year: Breakups are hard.
Humans are wired to make connections, and losing someone you care about can shatter your entire world, whether you were together for three months or three years.
Of course, everyone has different ways of coping with heartbreak. Some may bury themselves in work or start spending more time at the gym, while others may eagerly download their dating apps again to try and find someone new. And how you deal with those feelings can make a big difference on your path to healing.
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“How you handle a breakup sets the stage for how you feel,” she says Suzannah Weisscertified sex educator, relationship coach and resident sexologist for Biird. “If you continually ruminate about how horrible an ex was to you, internalize your ex, or become unnecessarily depressed, these thought patterns can become automatic and hard to break.”
To be clear, it’s okay to experience sadness, pain, anger, confusion, frustration, or any combination of these emotions after a relationship ends. There is no right or wrong way to feel after a breakup.
But experts say certain habits meant to suppress or act on those feelings can definitely hold you back. Here are nine self-sabotaging mistakes you’ll definitely want to avoid:
1. Try to stay “friends” with your ex
“Breakups affect the brain like drug withdrawal, so it’s understandable that many people try to stay friends with exes to try to soothe that horrible physical feeling,” says Weiss. “It’s essentially a way to resupply dopamine in the brain.”
However, keeping the lines blurred can only prolong your pain.
As Aditya Kashyap Mishra, relationship expert and co-founder of MoodFresherpoints out, it can be nearly impossible to maintain a platonic relationship with someone you’re still in love with.
Be honest with yourself: are you still “friends” in hopes of getting back together? Or can you really see them moving forward with someone else?
“When you’re tempted to reach out to your ex, reach out to another friend,” advises Weiss.
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And if your goal is really to have some kind of friendship with your ex, Weiss says you’ll have a much better shot if you cut off contact while the wounds are still fresh and then find your way back to each other. when romantic feelings. they have faded
2. Beating yourself up for what you did “wrong”
Breakups can be confusing. So, you might be wondering what went wrong? Things would have turned out differently if I hadn’t [XYZ]? We would still be together if he hadn’t said it [XYZ]?
“People often fall into the trap of thinking they did something wrong or caused the relationship to end when in fact it wasn’t going to work out in the first place,” Weiss explains.
“For example, you might think: if I hadn’t come so hard, she wouldn’t have been scared. But in reality, maybe she was scared because she wasn’t emotionally available. And do you want someone who freaks out when you express your emotions freely?
If you did something that you truly believe contributed to the end of the relationship, such as lying or cheating on your partner or speaking harshly to them, then it’s okay to own up to your role in how things ended. After all, reflecting on your own behavior in this way can help ensure you make better decisions in the future.
That said, while it’s normal to have regrets, it’s not helpful to start obsessing over all the so-called “mistakes” you make in the relationship. As the odds are, with the right person, these actions would not be considered mistakes at all. And remember: you can’t be blamed for everything – it takes two people for a relationship to dissolve.
“Breakups can make you feel like a failure,” she adds Brandon Scharf truce, a certified dating and relationship coach. “It’s crucial to get over any self-hatred or negative beliefs about yourself. Meditation, journaling, and working with a good coach or therapist will help you recalibrate, regain clarity, and find your power again.”
3. Drink or smoke the pain
“When faced with uncomfortable feelings, it’s common to want to anesthetize that emotional pain with various types of intoxications,” says Michael Mongno, psychotherapist and relationship counselor and founder of Therapies focused on the present. “While this might feel better in the moment, it is simply delaying the healing process.”
Valentina Bolívar, a mental health and physical wellness officer at Hot Frameworks, also notes that using substances to drown out your emotions can lead to addiction. And let’s be real: heartache is already a problem on its own without adding substance dependence to the picture.
“Definitely avoid using substances to cope with a breakup,” adds Dr. Jay Serle, licensed marriage and family therapist and clinical director of The Ohana Luxury Alcohol Rehab. “Alcohol can put you at risk for depression and other mental and physical health problems.”
So instead of reaching for that third or fourth beer, Mongno advises filling that void with more self-driving habits like exercise, quality time with loved ones, and positive self-talk.
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4. Monitor your ex’s social media
There’s almost nothing more masochistic than continuing to creep on your ex’s Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or Facebook.
Social media is one of the highlights of someone’s life, so chances are you’ll never see the moment when they’re going through a breakup too: struggling to get out of bed in the morning, openly crying over a pint of ice burn, or isolate yourself on a Friday night.
Instead, you’ll be privy to agonizing photos of them having a blast on their trip to Barbados, crushing it at the gym, or looking good with their friends at a concert. How will that make you feel?
“This can be very damaging, because it keeps you tied to your ex and prevents you from moving on,” says Bolívar.
Not to mention, once your ex inevitably starts dating someone new, that will only add salt to your still-open wound. You might find yourself comparing yourself to their new love interest, or even going down a rabbit hole or stalking their social media.
The thing is, keeping tabs on what your ex is almost guaranteed to make you feel worse. And what’s more, what you’re seeing on social media isn’t really an accurate representation of how they’re doing.
So, to eliminate the temptation to monitor what your ex is doing, experts recommend unfollowing or muting their accounts.
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5. Discriminate your ex
Of course, it can be tempting to lash out at your ex by, say, texting them to let them know how heartless (insert expletive) they are.
But according to Weiss, trying to get the last word is another breakup mistake to avoid. It might feel good for about 5 seconds, but you might regret what you said later. The last thing you need right now is a shame spiral.
“It’s natural to want to let them know how much they hurt you,” says Weiss. “The best way to let them know, though, is to just walk away. You have nothing to gain by telling them their faults. You also don’t have to prove that you were right. If you know you were, there’s nothing to prove.” .
One way to eliminate this temptation, says Scharf, is to delete your contact information from your phone.
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But if that seems too extreme, here’s another tactic to try: Whenever you feel like ranting about what your ex did, write it without sending it. This way, you get the cathartic experience of releasing whatever is making you angry, but without the potentially negative consequences.
6. Talking bad about your ex to mutual friends
Talking bad about your ex to your mutual friends is never a good idea, says Mishra. In all likelihood, it will come back to your ex, making you seem bitter and vindictive. It certainly doesn’t look good.
And by the way, you may or may not want space from these mutual friends, says Scharf. If you find yourself trying to dig up information on them about what your ex is up to, being around them serves as a painful reminder of your ex, or you worry that you’ll run into your ex when you’re around them, that’s totally okay. take a step back from these friendships, even temporarily, while your heart heals.
7. Rushing into another relationship
“Another tendency to relieve anxiety or depression is to rush into another relationship or start sliding in search of a connection,” says Mongno.
While you may assume that finding someone new will fill the void and distract you from the loneliness or emotional pain of losing your ex, there are several reasons why dating again too quickly is a bad idea.
“That instant gratification may feel great in the moment, but it will only postpone the inevitable, which is taking the time needed to go through the grieving process,” says Mongno.
For one thing, it’s not fair to let other people get feelings for you while you’re still hung up on your ex. Also, since you’re emotionally unavailable, this rebound relationship is unlikely to work, meaning you’ll be facing a second breakup to deal with.
“Be patient with yourself and give yourself time to cry,” adds Mishra. “There’s no set time frame for grief, and this isn’t a race, there’s no finish line. So don’t try to force yourself to move on before you’re ready.”
8. Try to get revenge on your ex
When someone hurts you, it’s natural to want to hurt them back. But before you start your plotting, consider this: getting back with your ex will probably only make you feel worse in the long run.
“Getting revenge won’t make you feel better, and it could actually damage your reputation,” says Mishra. “It’s best to let go of anger and resentment and focus on healing your own heart.”
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Allowing your anger to get the best of you and drain your energy and focus on other things that will benefit you only gives your ex power over you. The best way to reclaim your power is to work on forgiveness.
9. Bottle up your emotions instead of reaching out for support
“People who don’t try to distract themselves or ignore their feelings tend to get over the breakup faster,” she says. Angela Sitka, a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. “It’s important to identify and validate your emotions during this time of heartbreak, including the anger, sadness and resentment you might feel.”
Acknowledging your feelings, whether by talking to a close friend, journaling, or in therapy, is a crucial component of the grieving process.
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And if you find you’re having trouble recognizing or dealing with your emotions, Mongno strongly recommends seeking professional support from a licensed mental health provider, who can help you process your feelings in a healthy and productive way.
“A therapist can also offer practical advice for dealing with the day-to-day challenges of life after a breakup,” adds Mishra. “If you feel lost, alone or overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask for help.”
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