Every breakup—whether contentious or amicable—forces us to hop on a veritable rollercoaster ride of visceral emotions that seem to toss us this way and that. One minute, you'll be feeling lost, sad, and heartbroken, convinced you'll never find someone as good as the one you just had, and the next (look out!), you find yourself rip-roaring mad, stressed to the max, and ready to lash out. (PS: It's natural.)
And although it's tempting to act on every impulse you feel at the exact moment you feel it—calling an ex to profess your sudden undying love or dragging them on Insta to punish them for their cheating ways—you'll need to resist the urge, turn the page, and start the healing process for the sake of your own mental health (if not for the sanity of close friends and loved ones). And while you may think a breakup gives you license to engage in an emotional—and behavioral—free-for-all, trust us, there are a few things you just shouldn't ever do after the fact. Here, six post-breakup don'ts that will only trip you up, cause even more heartache than the breakup itself, and (at the very least) impede the healing process.
Don't Dwell On The Past
If you've just gone through a breakup (or if it's been a minute since the initial separation), it's important to realize that whatever transpired between the two of you happened in the past. (So if you're currently in "broken-record mode," snap out of it.) It's completely understandable to want to figure out exactly what went wrong, when things changed, and how you both got to this point. Engaging in a healthy bit of self-reflection is okay, but continually obsessing over every little detail of your broken relationship in the weeks and months after you've called it quits only intensifies your misery—especially if you haven't gotten proper closure (PS: you might never get it)—and keeps you stuck in a vicious cycle of repetitive thought in which you become unable to distinguish real life from all the crazy scenarios playing out in your head.
Step back, honestly assess the situation, and try your hardest to accept and come to terms with what occurred. Focusing on the future, rather than the past, is just one of the healthy ways to move on after a hard breakup.
Don't Stalk Via Social Media
While it may be agonizingly tempting to check in with, low-key shade, or stealthily stalk your ex on social media, don't do it. Just don't. There’s no point in watching your ex live it up at someone's birthday party, look great in a bathing suit on some faraway beach, or scarf down a meal in the buzzy new restaurant you two were supposed to try together. And what happens when you see them living their life with (gasp) someone else? Do you really want to subject yourself to the anger and hurt you'll feel upon seeing your ex has moved on while you're still gagging over what once was?
Even if it's painful at first, unfollowing, blocking, and/or hiding your ex on the social media channels you frequent is really the best course of action. Once that's done, shift the time and energy spent fixating on all the great things your ex appears to be doing, and use it to improve your own life.
Don't Go It Alone
Leaning on friends and family for support after a breakup won't make them see you as a crybaby weakling. Rather, it shows that you're a temporarily vulnerable human being (who isn't?) who just needs kind words and some time to heal—breakups are hard! Even though your first inclination is to shut everyone out and wallow, all alone, in your grief and disappointment, it isn't a healthy choice.
In fact, the post-breakup period is actually a perfect time to reach out to the people who care most about you—they'll understand because they, too, have undoubtedly been in your shoes. And if friends and family try, but can't help you out of your funk, and/or you feel like your breakup depression is spiraling out of control, then seek the help of a therapist or other medical professional. Even though you’re no longer with your partner, you never have to go it alone.
Don't Beat Yourself Up
Okay, so you feel you could’ve done things differently. Perhaps you're even at fault for the breakup. No matter: You must still have love and respect for yourself. Our indiscretions don't define us—and they don't determine our self-worth. When we suffer, it's everyone's natural inclination to want to numb the pain (and fast).
Although it's perfectly fine to occasionally reach for a social drink or smoke, avoid a spate of unhealthy behavior in the name of self-medication. Binge-drinking, drug use, and emotional eating may temporarily keep you from feeling your feelings, but they'll never completely eradicate painful emotions like anger, emptiness, and regret. (Unfortunately, you need to process all the negative stuff, too.) Turn the hurt on its head by purposefully engaging in healthier acts such as meditation (for stress relief), exercise (to channel your emotions), and the practice of self-care.
Don't Contact Your Ex
While every fiber in your being may be telling you to text, call, or meet with your ex to "talk things through," it can be a grave mistake. Engaging in conversations (no matter how innocuous), going on "harmless" lunch dates, and even springing for some hot post-breakup sex only makes it harder to move on and envision yourself able to live life without your ex in the picture. Harboring strong feelings of friendship, love, and lust for someone you were once romantically involved with is completely natural. But the continual push to find a way to keep an ex in your life (even if it’s just for one more night) is self-destructive and just prolongs the agony. By keeping the ex in your life—even if you think it's at a healthy arm's length—you'll fool yourself into thinking it isn't "really" over.
Don't Lose Hope
Think you'll never find someone else? Think again. As the saying goes, there's a lid for every pot. So rid yourself of hurtful, negative thoughts and sweeping generalizations. Yes, you are loveable. And no, your ex isn't the best thing that will ever happen to you. Just because you've broken up doesn't mean that you’re destined to be alone forever. (And BTW, don't hop into a rebound relationship, either. It's okay to spend some time as a singleton.)
Use this post-breakup "me time" to reflect and figure out what qualities, values, and characteristics you'd like to see in a new partner. Allow the breakup to teach you things you never knew about yourself and let it also be a quick blip. Use it as a vehicle that enables you to enjoy a better, brighter relationship down the road.