Getting your ex back is all you can think about after hearing a few deadly words: “It’s over” or “This isn’t working for me.” Everything you’ve counted on and known until now is suddenly gone after a breakup. Your life plans, your hopes, your dreams, and a part of yourself feel utterly lost.
You are left with a broken heart and a huge, great, gaping hole in your life, struggling to learn how to move on and how to get over a breakup that’s incredibly painful. Getting through the next 60 seconds after hearing those fateful words feels like an eternity and you are sure you know what dying really feels like.
When you are heartbroken, hurting, angry, confused, feeling lonely and vulnerable, you desperately want things to go back to what they were. At this point, anything feels better than the pain you are experiencing from the breakup and you would do anything to get your ex back.
But sometimes, that pain can turn into an obsession, leading you to do any of the following things:
- You try to find any excuse to contact your ex: you want to get that sweater you left at his house or you want to return something he left at your place.
- You can’t resist the urge to text or call your ex.
- Parking outside his workplace is a daily occurrence.
- You drive by his house at night.
- You turn up at his best friend’s to find out what he is up to.
- Your thoughts and actions become focused more and more on him, and less and less on you.
What you need to understand and appreciate is that getting through a breakup is like getting through the withdrawal of drug dependency.
Research suggests the trauma from breaking up seems severe because love rejection affects primitive areas of the brain associated with motivation, reward and addiction craving. This research helps explain the anguished feelings that can accompany a breakup, as well as the extreme behaviors that can occur as a result, such as stalking, homicide and suicide.
But when you feel like you can’t go on, can’t move on, and are stuck dwelling and obsessing over your ex, there are some things you can do to speed up the healing process.
1. Accept whatever you feel.
Feelings aren’t good or bad, they just are. Realize that the “withdrawal” you are going through is akin to withdrawal from cocaine addiction. Practice kindness, empathy, and compassion with yourself.
2. Don’t isolate yourself.
Start getting in touch with your family and friends who you think will understand what you are going through.
3. Get your diary out.
And fill it in with different activities, especially on the weekend. Initially, you may not enjoy it, but now is the time to keep busy and be with your friends.
4. Get rid of the relationship reminders.
That includes pictures, cards and letters, gifts. If you don’t want to throw them out, give it to a friend to hold for you.
5. Break away completely.
This means not seeing each other, not being around his/her family members, no phone calls, no emails, no text messages, no Facebook and no DMs. Just until you feel that you can converse with him/her on a purely platonic level, without an ulterior motive (like getting back together).
6. Stay away from the places you used to go to.
And don’t listen to “your love songs.” Listen to songs about surviving and feeling strong.
7. Keep a journal.
Write down all the things that were wrong with the relationship and the things that used to irritate you, especially when it is tempting to remember the relationship with rose-tinted glasses.
8. Keep reminding yourself that happiness isn’t dependent on your ex.
Focus on finding happiness in other areas of your life. Whether that means spending time with your friends and family or signing up for that class you’ve always wanted to take, try new adventures. Do things you couldn’t do while you were in the relationship.
9. Try to view the breakup as a chance for a new beginning.
Clean, clear and organize your personal space. As you let go of the old, you are creating space for the new things to come.
10. Focus on being in the present.
Every time you start obsessing about your ex, stop, ground yourself in the present by feeling your feet on the ground, listen to your breathing, be aware of the sights, smells and sounds around you. Start off doing this for 30 seconds and gradually build up the amount of time you can do this. You will start feeling more in control of your life, and then you can take control of your thoughts.
You know that you are healing when your thoughts, behaviors and actions become more focused on you and less on him, and when you are living more in the present and less in the past. As you move on with your life as a single individual, look for the best in people and you’ll find it. Fall in love with life and you will find that it will love you back.