If you’ve been going out with someone for more than just a few months, breaking up can be tough. If you’ve been with someone for more than a year or two, it can be one of the most painful experiences any man can go through.
But there are ways to make it easier and come out of the other end a better, wiser man – breaking up, without breaking down. Here are 10 steps to help you get over the break-up blues, how to get over her and get on.
Put down the phone…
Is it really over? Maybe she’s testing you? Maybe you’re testing her? Maybe this is the 10th time you’ve ‘broken up’ in as many months?
Only you know if this really is the end, but if it is, take your fingers off the keypad. “You need to talk about it,” says Kate Taylor, relationship expert at match.com. “But not to her. Repeat, not to her.”
Talk to girls…
But not like that. At least, not yet. “Instead of spending hours crafting the perfect ‘casual, yet meaningful…’ text message to your ex, spend the time talking it out with your friends instead,” says Taylor. “Female friends are perfect, as they’ll be sympathetic and supportive and will encourage you to get everything emotional out in the open.”
That’s a good thing, apparently.
Clean her out…
We don’t mean financially. We mean, clean her out of your life, or if that’s impossible, at least get rid of reminders of her from your home. It will be painful, and there’ll always be the temptation to stare mournfully at old photos wondering about what might have been. But it’s for the best, because from now on it’s your space again.
“If the whole place reminds you of her, move some furniture around, redecorate, or make small changes like covering the sofa in a new throw,” says Taylor. “Ask your female friends what a ‘throw’ is,” she adds, unhelpfully.
This won’t just stop you being surrounded by memories. Apparently, novelty helps boost your brain’s dopamine stores, which will lift your mood.
Work her out…
Breaking up is not just one long dark night of the soul, even if sometimes it feels like it. There are opportunities for self-improvement too, and one of them is to get fit, which will make you feel better about yourself, your body and life in general.
In fact, a good idea is to hit the gym on those occasions when you used to see her, which can be the most maudlin times of all.
“Channel your misery into physical activity – running, cross-training, rowing, swimming… anything where you can challenge yourself,” says Taylor. “It will release naturally anti-depressant endorphins, distract your mind from repetitive ex-thoughts, and put you in an environment filled with fit, attractive women.”
This last point is important. You might not feel like dating right now, but seeing those hard-bodied babes will at least make you realise that – wonderful though she was… is…. whatever – she isn’t the only girl in the world.
Do new stuff…
Play chess, learn to cook, join the work squash league, start collecting model trains…anything. Apparently, we can only hold seven thoughts at one time. If you fill your brain up with other stuff, you’ll slowly squeeze out thoughts of your ex.
And of course during one or two of those activities you might meet other women… not that you’re interested in any of that. Yet.
One way to squeeze thoughts of her out of your head is to ask for new tasks at work, which has the added bonus of making you look conscientious and hard working and putting you in line for a promotion. Throwing yourself into work, like hitting the gym, is one way to get positives out of what at first looks like a wholly negative event.
“Not only will new challenges break up your daily routine, but it will be a positive distraction,” says Taylor. “It doesn’t matter if it’s driven by wanting to impress your ex at the start – ‘If I get a brilliant new job, she’ll want me back’ – this will be short lived.
“As time passes, you’ll enjoy the new challenge for itself and success at work will boost your self-esteem.”
Take an evening class
Take an evening class to boost your career skills, or a weekend course to learn a new language. Again, it’s a good idea to schedule this kind of stuff for the times you used to see her, to emphasise the psychological boost of squeezing positive benefits from a bad situation.
Do things she hates…
No, not ringing her repeatedly at four in the morning and threatening her goldfish – these things will get you a court order.
Instead, do all the stuff that you really like doing but she hated, just to prove that life without her won’t be all bad. For example, if she loved beach holidays, book a city break with a mate. That way you won’t be tempted to spend the whole time wondering what you’d be doing if she was with you.
In the same vein, watch favourite films you know she didn’t like, go to old man pubs rather than the swanky bars she preferred, and wear the jeans you love but she turned her nose up at.
Talk to boys…
In fact, talk to The Boys. Once you’re over the initial shock of the break-up, your male friends become an invaluable resource for fun and forgetting (not so much straight away, when female friends may be more useful – see above).
“Later on, your male mates will come into their own, teasing you to cheer you up and taking you back out on the town,” says Taylor.
And by confiding in them, bantering with them and being out with them, you reinforce the bonds of your friendship. Even blokes can get a bit distracted in a heavy relationship. Another positive of your break-up may be the opportunity to reconnect with the friends who will be with you as girlfriends come and go.
Slowly but surely, get back in the game…
Only you’ll know when it’s the right time to date again, and there’s nothing wrong in taking it very slowly indeed. As long as you’re honest and up front, it’s OK to look for no-strings arrangements, too.
“It’s alright to take things slow for a while and allow a bit of time to regain your confidence. Online dating can be a great way of doing this as it gives you the chance to connect with new people even when you’re perhaps not quite up to that first date just yet,” says Taylor.
Breathe a sigh of relief
And by the time you’re thinking about other women, however tentatively, you can breathe a huge sigh of relief. You’re over the worst, and you’ve broken up without breaking down. You’ve even made yourself a better catch in the process. It’s been a long road, but you’ve come a long way baby!