Whether it is the month of love or not, break ups are no bunch of roses. Far away from home it can be daunting going through PBT (post-breakup-trauma) on your own, without some mummy TLC and some homey meals to put the warmth back in your smile and your belly. The initial reaction is to rebound, and try getting over your ex by getting under someone else. Whilst this may seem a good idea at the time, a better approach might be to use this time to reinforce your individuality and spend some quality time with those who love you no matter what: your friends. Having someone to laugh with and really depend upon can be a huge comfort in the initial struggle, and they can eventually help you back on your feet again.
However, whilst spending time with your mates will surely offer a great bit of support, if you’re not over the relationship yet then you have to deal with the internal stuff first. First, you need to get some space. Don’t talk to your ex partner until you are ready to talk on a totally platonic level. That means no texting, no FaceBook messaging, no Skyping or casually meeting up for coffee with friends. Fully break it off. You will find time heals everything.
The next tricky part is getting past the hate stage. It is easy to resent a partner after a break up: for wasting your time; for something they might have done to cause the break up; for the lack of good reasoning behind them ending your relationship. This is normal and very understandable, but it is only ever a waste of time and energy. Instead, try to laugh about the bad stuff, the “turn-offs”. Appreciating the things you didn’t like about the other person will make you feel much better about the relationship being over. Maybe they never did anything spontaneous, or his room used to smell, or she had an annoying laugh. Remind yourself of their bad characteristics, and be glad that you are free of them, without hating them.
Some people end up hating themselves, over what they might have done wrong or what they could have done differently. It is self-destructive and a useless exercise to worry over something you can’t change, and could be detrimental to your self-esteem. It is okay to feel a sense of responsibility where things may have gone wrong, but don’t let it eat you up. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. It doesn’t mean that you’re not a good person; it’s just the way of the world.
It is also very common to romanticize the relationship and remember more good than bad, so be aware that your judgment may be impaired by this. It is dangerous to re-think or over-think what has happened after the decision to end it has been made, so try to be accepting and be happy with the choice made by either you or your partner. It’s okay to remember the good things, just don’t forget, if it was all good, it wouldn’t have ended.
There are also some other little things you can do to help the process along. For one, stay active. Staying indoors all the time will make you feel down and sluggish. So get out and do some things! Break ups are also the chance for a new beginning: a fresh start. Have a tidy up. Breaking up is stressful so clear the clutter from your life to give you a clean break. This involves getting rid of memorabilia that will remind you of your partner – you don’t have to throw it away, just pack it up so you don’t have to see it and upset yourself. Even items associated with good memories should be packed away until some time has passed and you feel more collected.
You could also try writing down your feelings. Be honest with yourself. Writing makes you clarify your thoughts and helps you to understand them, often bringing new insights you hadn’t thought of before. As the pain lessens, continuing to write may help you to understand what you have learnt from the experience and illuminate some valuable life lessons.
No relationship is ever a waste, even if it doesn’t work: each one is part of the journey that forms who you are, and you will always find you understand yourself better as a result of them.