Often after a breakup (usually around the 1 month mark), you begin getting the mostly unsolicited advice from friends and family that you just need to move on. And while people’s intentions are often good and kind-hearted, this advice really sucks. The truth is that there is no moving on after a breakup. There is only moving through!

The idea of moving on gives you the impression that there are specific steps you can take and that if followed precisely, one day you’ll be all better. Moving through allows you the space to go two steps forward and ten steps back, because honestly that’s often what happens after a breakup. Moving through does not force you to rush and feel better. It allows for the days that are not so bad and the days that are terrible. It would be great if you could move on from the pain but the only way to heal from a breakup is to move through the pain until it’s done. Need some help moving through? Try this:

1. Allow yourself to really feel all of the emotions that surface. When we try to rush or avoid feelings, it only makes them more intense. Cry for as long as you need to. I promise the tears will eventually stop. After a significant loss, it’s perfectly normal to experience a range of emotions. It’s also important to not compare the way you experience your breakup with the ways others have experienced theirs. Again, well-meaning friends may be quick to offer solutions that worked for them. This does not mean they will work for you. Also, don’t get caught up in an arbitrary timeline of when you think you should be done grieving. Sometimes it’s easier to take things on a day by day, even hour by hour basis.

2. Get physical. Try something that really gets your blood pumping like kickboxing or crossfit. Not only will it help you to lift your mood and look great in your jeans, completing a task like this also boosts your confidence and makes you feel accomplished. Inside tip: An activity like kickboxing can also help you to work through any anger you may feel towards your ex. You’d be amazed at how gratifying it might be to visualize yourself pounding your ex with a swift right hook (but remember this is only a visualization exercise)!

3. Start something new. Is there a hobby or interest you’ve been longing to try and hadn’t found the time? Now is the time to try it. If there’s nothing that comes to mind easily, try browsing meetup.com to see if there are any interesting groups in your area, search for a community kickball league, take a dance class at a local recreation center. Any new skills and interests you can cultivate right now also add to your confidence and also allow you to meet others with similar interests.

4. Do not remain in contact with your ex. This is often the most difficult step for people to take. I know that it is incredibly painful and frustrating to not have the person who is best at comforting you, not be there to comfort you when you need it most, but it simply cannot happen. Your ex cannot be both your cheerleader and your opponent in this game! I know you feel like if you can just talk with them it will make the pain a little easier but I promise you it will not! Sure, in the short run it may feel a little easier, but in the long run, every time you resume contact with your ex you are resetting your recovery clock. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of posts to help you with disconnecting later. I promise I won’t leave you hanging.

Are there other things that have helped you to move through the pain of a breakup? Or things that didn’t work for you at all?  Share with us in the comments.

If you’re struggling with a breakup and need some support, I got you! Book a Breakup Support Session with me and let’s get you on the track to feeling better!

Dr. Joy