“He broke up with you?! Jerk. Come on, let’s eat ice cream and watch The Notebook and cry.”
We’re all familiar with the girl-world methods of getting over a breakup, and we’ve used them over and over again. Unfortunately, these tactics only numb the hurt for a brief period of time instead of helping us get past the relationship for good. It’s time to introduce some new ways to cope (since we don’t think eating piles of junk food or finding a rebound right away are always the best ways to go)!
1. Make a List About What Went Wrong
Dr. D Ivan Young, a couples counselor and author of Break Up, Don’t Break Down, suggests that after you break up, you write a list about what went wrong in the relationship. “When you write it down… you have a chance to compare things without letting your feelings be a filter,” he says.
As opposed to getting caught up with the feelings inside your head, jotting them down will let you literally look at them and work through them.
2. Eat Healthier
Ice cream, chips, candy and fries all taste good when you’re eating them, but they’ll most likely make you feel pretty crappy afterwards. The day of a breakup may warrant some comfort food, but try not to make a habit out of it.
Jessie*, a junior at the University of Kansas, says that after a particularly horrible breakup she let herself fall into bad eating patterns because it was convenient. “I wasn’t eating healthy, because I honestly didn’t have the energy to make food for myself,” she says. “I would just get takeout from fast-food places all the time.”
Caroline*, a freshman at the University of Southern California, decided that post-breakup, she was going to make an effort to eat food that was good for her. “Not only did grocery shopping and going through the process of making food provide me with a distraction from the breakup, but in the long run it made me feel healthier and look better,” she says. So, collegiettes, instead of grabbing a burger for the sixth time this week, scrounge up some recipes and fine-tune your culinary skills!
3. Cut Off Your Hair
Okay, you don’t actually have to cut off all of your hair. But maybe you’ve wanted to for a while and haven’t found the time, or your ex loved your long hair or you’ve just been wondering what it would look like. The point is, if you’ve always wanted to change up your look but the relationship was holding you back, now’s the perfect opportunity to make that change.
Lindsay*, a sophomore at the University of Virginia, said that once she broke up with her boyfriend, she felt like she needed a change in her physical appearance. “I’d wanted to dye and cut my hair for a long time,” Lindsay says. “So the week after I broke up with him I went to the salon and came out looking like a totally different person, and it was awesome.”
Will just having a new haircut (or new makeup or a new wardrobe) magically make you get over someone? Probably not right away, but in the long run, it serves as a reminder of your independence!
4. Go on a Trip With Your Friends
It doesn’t have to be a trip across the globe or even across the country—it might even be a city a couple miles away from campus—but it’s one of the best ways to deal with a breakup. No one wants to be hanging out at all the same places they used to go to with their exes, so treat yourself to a change of scene.
“I’m planning on going on birthright this summer,” says Rachael, a sophomore at Cornell University who recently went through a breakup. Rachael thinks a change of scene and the new people she will meet will help her move past her ex. “Having that experience… will be a great way to come to terms with things,” she says.
The planning and the fun time you’ll have with your girls will momentarily put the relationship out of your mind and remind you of all the different, beautiful things left to discover in life (as cheesy as we know it sounds).
5. Be More Generous With Your Love
Showing love and compassion for someone is an incredibly gratifying feeling, so it can definitely be awful when you no longer have an outlet for those emotions.
“I’ve always been a nurturing person, and having a boyfriend was wonderful for me in that I could really express how I felt about him through nice things I did,” says Sarah*, a sophomore at McGill University. “It made me feel really lost right after the breakup, not having someone to dote on.”
Giving is always better than receiving, and one of the quickest ways to feel like yourself again after a breakup is to do nice things for others. Spreading generosity around in even very small ways—volunteering at a pet shelter, buying your friend her favorite candy bar after a long day, making sure to call your mom back, writing your sick friend a silly poem—can have a huge, positive effect on others and, in turn, on you.
6. Get Out Into Nature
Maybe taking walks is already a part of your daily routine (and we don’t mean walking to class—that doesn’t count), but if it’s not, we suggest adding it to your busy schedule. And while walks with friends might seem comforting, taking walks alone is what will really give you the catharsis you need.
Young urges us to remember that despite whatever sadness or anger is in our own lives, the world is a beautiful place and that we should be in touch with it. “If you sit in a room, what you’re doing is imprisoning yourself with negative thoughts,” he says. “When you take the time to get outside of yourself, you can appreciate the beauty around you… and think about all the things that are right with your life.”
7. Hang Out With a (Platonic) Guy Friend
A lot of us run to our girlfriends to bad-mouth our exes, but Young suggests that you hang out with a guy friend from time to time as well as with your girls.
Because we miss having that male energy around us after a guy breaks up with us, we should make an effort to connect with friends we have completely platonic feelings about. “[Nurture] a platonic relationship with someone you know has your best interests at heart,” he says. “[It] gives you the masculine relationship you are missing, but in a healthy way.”
Marissa*, a junior at the University of Maryland, didn’t realize how much hanging out with her closest guy friend would help her after her breakup. “I was with a bunch of my friends, and they all left except for Josh,” she says. “And we just chilled and talked about random things, and it was so lovely to have the male companionship.”
Be careful, though; this companionship shouldn’t end up in any sort of a rebound relationship. Not only would it make you feel even worse about your recent breakup, but it would also absolutely affect your friendship with your guy friend, something you might regret later.
Breakups suck—there’s no way around that. But there are ways to make them suck less, and they don’t all include heaps of junk food or jumping on the first guy you see! Taking care of yourself and the people you love will lay the fundamental groundwork to help you move past your relationship and get back on your feet again.
*Names have been changed.