By Emma Raho. Staff Writer
Breaks ups absolutely suck. Whether it’s a total shock or your relationship has been rocky for a while, it still feels like a punch in the guts when it finally happens. Getting your life back on track in the highly emotionally charged aftermath can take quite a bit of effort. We’ve come up with a few pointers that will hopefully help you on your way.
Do get support from your closest, most trusted friends. I’m talking about the people who truly have your back and who know you better than you know yourself. The people who are going to in equal amounts comfort you, but also lay down the hard word when you need it. These are the good folk who bring you Ben and Jerry’s at 11pm and talk to you until the wee hours if that’s what you need. They are human gold, keep them close.
Don’t spill your soul on social media for the world to see. As tempting as it is to write a big status about how you were wronged by that bastard, or how your mama warned you about that bitch, the only result is making a fool of yourself and attracting nosy parkers like a flock of seagulls around discarded chip paper. People will be desperate for the gory details but they don’t necessarily care about you. However, that said don’t isolate yourself, fall off the grid and refuse to deal with what’s happening either. If you bottle it up too much you’ll explode like an emotional Coke n Mentos bomb. There’s a fine line to walk here and that is why we need our friends.
Do try and distract yourself with something you enjoy doing like drawing, running or anything that puts you in a positive mind frame and makes you feel accomplished. Spend time with good people, reconnecting and having fun. Sometimes the best and most cathartic thing you can do is sit around your friend’s kitchen table just talking about nothing in particular and reminiscing over old times.
Don’t sink to the bottom of a bottle. “Whooo I’m single let’s get pissed and sleep around” looks kinda fun in the movies but the execution usually leaves you feeling worse. Alcohol is a depressant plus hangovers are not conducive to working through big emotions in any kind of healthy way. The last thing you need is right now is to kayak to a deeper level of fuckery on a river of booze. Sleeping with a random can also, perversely, make you miss your ex more. There’s nothing wrong with consensually getting your rocks off with no strings attached but if you’re in an emotional state it will be awful and awkward. Don’t do it.
Do try and focus yourself. We’ve all got a billion commitments but saying yes to everything is just going to leave you stressed on top of being emotionally strung out. Don’t be afraid to put some stuff on hold and just do the things you want to do for a while.
Don’t give yourself a strict timeline. People heal at their own rate. Thinking you should be at a certain stage in the grieving process by a certain time is self sabotaging your process. Some people are already over the relationship when it ends and move on relatively quickly, others have to deal with huge feelings of shock, hurt and/or betrayal which they have to move on from. Both are perfectly valid and normal so don’t overthink it and work at your own speed.
Do create a healthy distance from your ex if you or they are struggling with the hurt. Even if you’re co parenting, boundaries should be established. Perhaps a friend or relative could help with hand overs right at the beginning. If you need to talk about dividing assets, have support during contact. Start to come around to the idea that their personal life is no longer your business and yours is none of their concern either. In the early days stick to only the interaction you have to have and keep it as efficient as you can.
Don’t obsessively stalk them on social media or have friends (or God forbid, your kids) report back to you. For some reason people will let you know if they saw them at the supermarket or in the club, try to let it go. They’re living their life, there is no point you monitoring that. You’re only torturing yourself.
Do cut ties if it’s becoming a toxic friendship. I had an ex I stayed friends with who would constantly overshare his personal life with me, ask me advice on girls and often drop little barbs about how his latest boo was so much younger or taller than I am or was studying for a “better” degree than I was. I thought I’d be upset when I cut him off but I was relieved. It was the best favour I did myself. Civil is good, friendly is fantastic, but if it’s not working, axe it. You’ll feel better, I promise
Don’t slag your ex off to mutual friends. It’s not their fault the relationship didn’t work out and if they like you both it will be awkward as they won’t want to take sides, not to mention you’ll come off like a psycho. Best thing to do is just make your ex a topic you don’t discuss. Mutual friend will be likely be relieved they don’t have to referee the fallout and you get a break from dealing with it when you hang out win/win.
Do Keep your dignity. If your ex has made it clear there is no chance for reconciliation don’t turn up at their house at 3am, pissed out of your skull, crying, and making a scene. This kind of behaviour is unlikely to change their mind and you may even end up slapped with a trespass order if they call the police. Acting sane and respectful is better for everyone, especially you.
Don’t give mixed signals if you know your ex wants you back. Agreeing to meet ups, indulging constant messages or phone calls, sleeping together or just generally acting like a part time partner gives the wrong impression if you have no intention of rekindling the relationship. It’s much kinder to send a clear and direct message even though it feels mean at the time.
If at any stage you’re having thoughts of self harm or are feeling so low you cannot function or see a way out DO see your GP and get referred to someone who can help you. Don’t suffer in silence. All kiwis are entitled to six free counselling sessions and they are there to be used. There is no shame or weakness in asking for help and we need to learn to do it more.