1. Rebuild your self-esteem
If your partner initiated the break-up, it’s perfectly normal to start picking apart your physical appearance and personality traits, questioning what’s wrong with you that would cause someone to fall out of love. Instead, reverse that thougspeakingan what qualities you don’t possess,” Winch advises. “Write a list and think of traits that speak to your character, emotional strengths, skillsets, abilities and any other quality that has value in a relationship.” If you’re having a hard time coming up with ideas, tap your closest friends and family, who would jump at the chance to share all the reasons they feel fortunate to have you in their lives.
2. Try three new places
“Once a week, find a coffee shop or a restaurant you’ve never been to, and invite at least one friend to go with you,” says Mary Jo Rapini, a psychotherapist and author ofRe-Coupling: A Couple’s 4 Step Guide to Greater Intimacy and Better Sex, who gives this assignment to all of her clients who are working on healing from heartbreak. That helps you break up your usual routine and get away from the places that you’d always go to with your former partner. Bonus: You’re less likely to get bowled over by painful memories and it’s also an opportunity to spend quality time with good friends you may not have seen as much while you were paired off.
3. Avoid going after a rebound
There’s a reason why they’re a cliche: rebounds offer a quick boost that’ll make you feel sexy or worthwhile, temporarily. But once that high wears off, you may just feel guilty, according to Rapini. “A lot of my clients express remorse after a rebound because their investment was superficial while other people put their feelings on the line,” she says. When you make impulsive decisions, like jumping headfirst into another relationship, it means you’re trying to find a way to avoid feeling those painful emotions that come with losing someone you loved. “Acknowledge the hurt and understand that being a responsible person means dealing with it,” Rapini says. “Be willing to go into the pain.”
4. Take a realistic walk down memory lane
When your mind eventually wanders and you start reminiscing about all the good times you two had, you’re likely forgetting to factor in the bad parts. (You know, the petty fights, lifestyle differences and pointless squabbles that characterize every relationship). “Your first thought may be ‘Oh, that vacation was so perfect.’ Remind yourself of how you two didn’t speak for 24 hours because you had an argument on the plane ride there,” says Winch. “Remind yourself that you would start every trip so anxious because your partner never got to the airport on time. In other words, make it a point to introduce the negative stuff, because your mind will only reinforce the positive. Keep the picture real.” Remembering what the whole relationship was really like can help you seek a new situation that doesn’t have the same downsides.
5. Write down all of their negative qualities
Mom told you if you don’t have anything nice to say then … well, you know the rest. But we know she’d make an exception just this one time. Go ahead, indulge your inner mean kid for a minute. “Compile a list of all the ways this person wasn’t good for you,” recommends Winch. “Think of every annoying quality they possessed as well as all the compromises you had to make in the relationship. Keep that list on your phone so you can refer back to it whenever you start thinking they were so perfect. It’s natural to idealize both the person and the relationship.” Keeping the qualities that drive you batty will help you take off rose-colored glasses when seeking a new beau, too.
6. Do a social media detox
When you share a lot of mutual friends, unfollowing your former partner isn’t enough to cleanse the timeline of their presence. If you don’t want to be bombarded by their face whenever you log on, limit your social media use until the wound heals a bit. Of course, that doesn’t mean the urge to peek at their profile will go away completely. “Think of things you can ‘check up’ on whenever you have the compulsion to scope out their online activity,” suggests Rapini. “Check on your friend who is overwhelmed with a new baby or call your parents.” While you’re doing everything you can to create distance, your well-meaning friends may be tempted to pass along any juicy gossip they come across. So be proactive and let them know you’re struggling to move on and it’s best if they keep it to themselves.
7. Let go of the idea of “closure”
You know real life doesn’t play out like a rom-com, yet you may find yourself wishing you experienced a dramatic break-up, like a “He cheated on me” or “She was secretly in love with her best friend” scenario in order to move on. Unfortunately what tends to happen more often IRL is that two people slowly drift apart, and after the split, one of you is left wondering, why?? It may be that underneath the desperate need for closure is a desire to get back together. “There’s this fantasy that if you just keep asking, you’ll discover something that will allow you to undo what happened and get back together with that person,” offers Winch. It’s healthier (and better for your long-term mental health) to realize and accept that you just weren’t the perfect match for each other. If the other person isn’t able to articulate why they no longer want to be with you, tell yourself that the fact that your former partner couldn’t go the distance is all the explanation you need to properly close that chapter. “The subtext of those explanations are “I deserve someone who can commit,’ ‘I deserve someone who can love me enough’ and ‘I deserve somebody who appreciates everything about me.'”
8. Focus on things that help you feel grounded
So maybe you can’t bear to go to that spin class where everyone knows you as half of “Amy and John,” but that doesn’t mean everything healthy you did together has to go out the window. If you two loved a particular fitness class, activity or h0bby, you can still take solace in it solo (but maybe switch times so you don’t run into your ex at the gym or studio). “I find that some people give up activities like attending church or volunteering because it was something they did with their partner,” says Rapini. “What you really should be doing is trying new experiences as well as continuing the activities that support your core values. It’s all about balance.”