Heartbroken? Here's How to Survive a Breakup

GETTY IMAGES/FIZKES

GETTY IMAGES/FIZKES

No matter how long you've been in a relationship with someone, breakups are never easy. After all, you entered the partnership for a reason, you made yourself vulnerable, and you formed strong bonds together. These things can all make it hard to let go. Most importantly, remember that you exited the relationship for a reason, too—and how you move on from heartbreak can have an influence on what the future holds.

Sure, it may be tempting to lean into those hard feelings, and hole yourself up with a tub of Ben & Jerry's and the entire Adele discography (and it's okay to do that…just not for a month). But when you're heartbroken, the sooner you heal, the better.

The silver lining of breakups is the learning experience you have along the way. Healing is aided by the knowledge that better things are yet to come. Whatever issues you faced in the relationship—arguments, broken trust, jealousy, or toxic emotional behaviors—can be put in the past to make space for better things. We asked psychology coach Lisa Cypers Kamen about the best ways to move on.

Below, read on to learn Kamen's tips for how to survive a breakup.

Meet the Expert

Lisa Cypers Kamen is a psychology coach, happiness expert, and author of the book Are We Happy Yet?

Allow Yourself to Cry

"Give yourself permission to feel," says Cypers Kamen. "Crying is cathartic." In the first moments following a breakup, it's normal (and healthy) to let out all emotions. While you don't want to keep holding on forever, it's important not to bottle those feelings up. By letting them flow, you can prevent them from resurfacing in future relationships. In this initial grieving period, we often lack the foresight to understand why this breakup was for the best. Instead, dedicate an amount of time to set your emotions free.

In other words, allow yourself a few days of crying and listening to Adele. Then try to pull yourself together and think of reasons you're excited about what comes next.

Stop Denying

It's hard to accept that your number one person won't be a part of your life anymore—and your brain is even hard-wired to think about them for some time. But that doesn't mean you'll be stuck with these emotions forever. By coming to terms with your new day-to-day, you'll be able to move further away from feelings of attachment to your ex.

"Acknowledge what's happening," says Cypers Kamen. "Denial is not a river in Egypt." If your breakup came as a complete shock, it's easy to spiral into thoughts of getting back together. Remind yourself that the breakup happened for a reason.

During this stage, you might gloss over the negative aspects of your relationship and think of the rosy good times—so be aware of those unproductive thoughts. Remember to trust your gut. If your relationship felt wrong in any way, it probably was.

Embrace Change

Once you're no longer lost in the memories of your ex every day, you can begin better parts of the healing process. As much as we may want to live in the past, it prevents us from shaping our futures. This is a time for self-exploration.

"Embrace change," Cypers Kamen says. "What we resist persists." Find the silver lining in being single. Lean into your friends, family, and even acquaintances that you can build new (and stronger) relationships with. It's also a great time to explore your personal interests that may have been neglected during a serious relationship: Plan a trip you weren't able to go on before. Decorate the way you want. Sign up for a new workout class. Get a haircut.

Whatever makes you look forward to the future is what you should focus on: When you've filled your days with new and exciting things, you'll find that eventually, your life with your ex isn't one you'd want to return to.

GETTY IMAGES/URBAZON
GETTY IMAGES/URBAZON

Ask for Help

Post-breakup, we all have good days and bad days. You know you're strong, but you don't have to face the storm alone. When you're feeling vulnerable, rely on your support network. "Ask for help," says Cypers Karmen. "Connection and support are essential in challenging times." Friends, family, spiritual, or therapeutic support can all be beneficial to healing in a healthy way. 

Talk it over with friends or family for reassurance that you're not alone—and you'll likely find that those you love have felt this way, too. "Recognize vulnerability," says Cypers Kamen. "Allowing ourselves to be raw, tender, and exposed is a real human statement." Take note of people you find inspiring and the hardships they've faced in the past. Most importantly, know that any emptiness you feel right now is temporary, and it's part of the healing process.

Focus on Self-Care

"Self-care is key," Cypers Kamen says. "Get rest, exercise, sunshine, good nutrition, proper sleep, and make time for simple, pleasurable distractions." Take care to build a new routine—you may be surprised at how much better you'll feel with a simple, healthy lifestyle.

Remember to focus on your work/life balance. Now is not the time to bury yourself in work (no matter how tempting). Instead, make a point to leave work early sometimes. Make an exercise schedule. Go for walks on the weekend. Take a trip with a friend. Pay attention to how you're eating. The more balanced you are, the better you'll feel. 

Get rest, exercise, sunshine, good nutrition, proper sleep, and make time for simple, pleasurable distractions.

Review and Reframe

This is a crucial step in moving on from past relationships: "Review and reframe the lessons and opportunities that the relationship has taught," Cypers Kamen says. This is an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, but also to forgive the other's wrongdoings so that, in time, you can be open to love again.

It can be hard to see the big picture when we're hurting. As you move past the initial shock of a breakup, you'll find that it gets easier to reflect on its role in your life. The psychology coach suggests trying this exercise: "I'm sad, hurting, and upset, but I'm grateful for this relationship because it taught me X, Y, and Z about myself and about life." Write this down and keep it somewhere safe as a reminder for future relationships.

Embrace Hope

"Embrace hope, optimism, and faith for the future," Cypers Kamen says. "Grieving does not feel good, but it is a necessary experience. If we cannot weather the disappointment and hardships of life, we never fully learn to celebrate and appreciate the joy of life. Contrast heightens awareness." Be thankful for the lessons this relationship has taught you, and focus on hopes for the future. Saying goodbye to one person, no matter how hard, will open up opportunities to embrace something new.

Know that there are better things to come, and welcome every new experience that comes your way with open arms—they may just exceed your expectations.

"Are We Happy Yet?" by Lisa Cypers Kamen
Lisa Cypers Kamen Are We Happy Yet? $6
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