Break ups. They are an unfortunate rites of passage in life and even the most amicable of parting ways can sting.
Whether it was traumatic or you ended on good terms, sometimes the aftermath of a break up can cause even more heartache and bitterness in the long run.
So if you’re mourning the end of a relationship, be sure to avoid the cardinal sins of break up etiquette by following the list of break up “don’ts” below.
Resentment, as they say, is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy dies: never productive. “If you gave it your best shot and you know it’s over, don’t waste time in resentment and anger,” Dr. Romance tells Bustle, which she calls self-destructive behavior. These uncomfortable pangs are distractions from feeling the real emotions associated with grief that can be hard to face, but worth it. Don’t avoid your grief, she says. “It will hold you back from finding a more fulfilling relationship.” Talk about it with friends, cry, write, exercise, find a good shrink — just don’t indulge in anger.
If there was only one thing we could tell you about what not to do after a break-up this would be it. Staying friends with your ex post break-up is a terrible idea. If it’s because you feel guilty, then all you’re doing is leading them on. And if it’s because you think you have a chance of getting back together then you’re just setting yourself up for more hurt.
Potentially, you might salvage a friendship from the wreckage some time down the line, but when you’re emotionally raw you need time apart from the source of your hurt. If you burnt your hand on a fire, you wouldn’t return to the fire to try and soothe your burn would you?
Chances are you friends will want to take you out for cocktails to vent, chat, and celebrate your singledom. One happy hour is fine, but not a week of tequila-induced sloppy nights. You’ll just feel worse once you sober up. Plus, a broken heart and a hangover don’t mix well.
“If you blame your ex, you’ll eventually turn that blame on yourself,” says Dr. Romance. This is all about reframing, she says: “Instead of blaming, find some more neutral things to say.” On that list? “We saw things differently,” she suggests, or, “We had some good years, then things changed.” Regardless of who did what, blame is never cute on anyone. Even if your ex is with someone new — and even if that new someone had something to do with your decision to end the relationship — don’t blame them. “Everyone’s just trying to survive this difficult situation, including you and including your ex and everyone else.”
There are times for stiffening your upper lip but this isn’t one of them. Let it all out on your nearest and dearest, and don’t feel ashamed about it. You need to grieve the loss of the relationship – if you don’t you’ll find it even harder to move on. This process might seem embarrassing but ultimately showing your emotions will help you grow emotionally. Plus, sometimes there’s nothing more cathartic than a good old cry.
Random hookups are always a little risky, but when you’re hot on the heels of a breakup, you’re even more likely to wake up feeling worse. Plus, who is this guy? You are way too hot for him! At least wait it out a little!
While the thought of keying his his car, kidnapping his cat, or destroying his stuff may sound like a good idea in your head, don’t do anything malicious or that could land you in legal trouble.
You may have been deeply wronged, but “getting even” won’t heal any wounds. Choose to take the high road and forgive and move on.
Don’t second-guess your decision. As Dr. Romance puts it, “Understand that there were problems already.” Trust the person you were in the moment when you made the decision to end it. That doesn’t make it any easier, she cautions: “It’s never easy to find out that your relationship, long or short, is over.” But it does make it easier to accept. As she points out, “Once bonded, even if the relationship is terrible, both men and women have trouble breaking away.” If you took the uber-difficult action of ending it, you actually did want out, she says. Now that you’re out, keep going.
We know; you’ve spent months or even years knowing almost every detail of your partner’s life and now, nothing. You’ve been totally cut off. But whatever you do, try to resist the temptation to keep a foothold in their life by checking up on them. This is especially important if you have mutual friends; asking your friends to let you know how he or she is doing or whether they’ve been spotted with anyone else is just asking for trouble and delaying your recovery. Instead, ask your friends to respect your break-up and keep the conversation away from your ex. Focus on your own life and try to stop thinking about what they may or may not be doing without you.
Begging isn’t a great look for dogs, but in humans it’s just desperate. You might be thinking ‘What have I got to lose?’ but in this situation, keeping your dignity is essential. Your ex’s reaction will most likely be one of revulsion and then you’ll be in an even deeper despair than before. It might not feel like it right now, but being alone is far better than being in a bad relationship.