Breakups are a messy business. From the discarded chocolate wrappers under your bed to the emotional carnage, the end of a meaningful relationship can turn your life upside down.
His song comes on the radio and suddenly you’re back at his apartment, slow dancing in the kitchen. His favorite sports team is on Monday Night Football and you find yourself watching it because you know somewhere he is too. It can feel like everything you do is tied back to your ex and you’re worried your constant thoughts about him are borderline obsessive.
You know you’re obsessed with your ex when you frequently …
Check your old Facebook message thread to see if he’s online
Make excuses to bump into him
Stalk the girls who like his social media posts
Read through his old texts
Walk/drive by his apartment
Refresh his Snapchat best friends
Listen to music that reminds you of him
Stop yourself from texting him
Life moves on, including your ex, but you find yourself stuck in the past. If you’ve realized you’re in a bad emotional state, don’t despair. Things will get better if you’re willing to take the time and have the self-control to finally move on.
Step 1: Grieve
Give yourself time to grieve. Coming to terms with the end of a relationship is difficult. It’s natural to feel sad about a breakup, no matter how long or serious it may have been.
“It’s natural to feel sad because you’re mourning a real loss,” said Macie Bayer, a senior studying sociology. “Whether or not you were talking about marriage, you were thinking about the future and you’re mourning a future that no longer exists.”
Utilize your coping mechanism for a little while, be it running, eating ice cream, watching romantic comedies or spending time with friends and family.
Take the time to process your emotions and don’t try to brush the hard and uncomfortable feelings under the table by moving on too quickly. Doing this won’t allow you to properly confront the hurt, thus you will never fully heal, Bayer said.
While sorting through your feelings, it can also be helpful to recognize you will not always feel like this.
“Acknowledge you are not your emotions: you’re not sad, you’re feeling sad,” Bayer said. “To say you’re sad invalidates all of your other feelings, especially the good ones. You’re feeling sad today, but (eventually) that will pass.”
Step 2: Get busy
While you do need to take time to sort through your feelings, you also don’t want to let yourself slip into a state of endless wallowing.
Whether it’s throwing yourself into schoolwork, joining a club or intramural team or learning a new skill, commit to something that will take your mind off of your ex. While you don’t want to overschedule yourself, it will be easier to move on if you have other people and activities to occupy your thoughts.
Freshman Mackenzie Wagner, a neuropsychology major, said getting busy helps you move on because it gives you less time to dwell on the past.
“When you’re busy you have less time to sit at home and think about him,” Wagner said.
Now that you’re unattached you have time to go do the things you might not have been able to while in a relationship. Change your look, go on a study abroad, apply for a new job or earn your black belt. The sooner you start filling your life with positive activities and habits, the sooner you will start to feel positive again.
Step 3: Recognize
It can be tempting to take the breakup personally. Don’t give into those thoughts, don’t Facebook stalk his new girlfriend and compare yourself and don’t read through your old texts and beat yourself up over what you should’ve said.
“If someone breaks up with you, don’t get too worked up about it and just remember things are going to work out,” said Nick Smith, a junior studying business. “Be optimistic and get back in the social circle and put yourself out there.”
As time passes, you will also slowly but surely be able to look back on your relationship and realize things weren’t perfect like you might have thought at the time.
“When you’re fresh after breakup, you feel really emotional,” said Justine Carre, a sophomore who is undecided on her major. “But after some time away from it, you can look back and see your mistakes and their mistakes more clearly.”
Recognize these mistakes, write them down and learn from them for your future relationships. People tend to either be blessings or lessons in your life. Your ex can be both if you use your experience with him to grow and prepare for your next better, healthier relationship.
Step 4: Accept
Just because you and your ex didn’t work out doesn’t mean things won’t work out with someone else later on. Dean Busby, the director of the School of Family Life, said breakups are a natural and necessary part of the dating process.
“Dating is supposed to be a challenging process with failures and difficulties because you’re getting to the one person you’re eventually going to marry,” Busby said.
Once you understand that the end of this relationship, while painful, is an important step on the road to your eternal companion, it will be easier to accept the breakup.
Stay strong and know you are going to be fine. Have faith in yourself and in Heavenly Father’s plan for you. By going through the healing process, you are moving your ex out of your heart and making room for someone new. If you never let go of the past you will never be open to the future. You deserve the joy that’s coming, you just have to let go and move on so it can.
It’s important to remember these steps are not all-inclusive and may not fit the exact pattern of your personal healing process. You also may experience the steps in a different order or multiple times; many people heal in a cyclical way.
For example, you may have a really great day or week or month and then something may happen that leaves you feeling sad again.
Returning to those feelings doesn’t make you weak, nor does it mean you’ve lost progress in getting over him.
“You might think you’re over someone then something hits you and you’re sad,” Bayer said. “You don’t have to grieve all over again but you can acknowledge you’re sad and that that’s okay.”
When those rough days come, don’t cave. Don’t call him, don’t text him and don’t go over to his house and beg him to try again. Call a friend to come over then turn off your phone. Re-read the lessons you wrote down in step three. TWO maintains a Heartbreak Therapy Pinterest board with relevant quotes. Visit two.byu.edu for the link.
By Miranda Facer
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