Breakups: most of us have been through one. Some breakups are quick and painless, others gut-wrenching and destabilizing. But what should you do after? When you can’t stop thinking about the person who broke your heart, how do you actually move on? Below, anonymous New Yorkers offer advice on how to get over a breakup and the strategies that worked for them.
1. Talk about it with people you trust — or strangers you’ll never see again
My relationship of almost four years ended very recently. What has helped me get through it is talking to everyone about it. My parents, friends, co-workers, bartenders, anyone willing to listen really. When the people who love you know you’re hurting, they really do rally around you. Reaching out to people resulted in more frequent invites to yoga classes, home-cooked meals, movie nights, and day trips. Spending significant time with more people who I’d neglected over the years reminds me that I’m independent and I have everyone I need. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out my new routine as a single person.
Read more about how to get through a breakup without losing friends.
2. Make plans
I had a shitty, 3.5-year relationship with an emotionally abusive heroin addict (I was young and stupid). When it ended, I was devastated at first (again, stupid) but after spending that summer focusing on me — traveling, spending tons of time with friends and family — I ended up being really grateful for the breakup. Everything is a learning experience, and you grow from everything. Spending time traveling and surrounding myself with friends and family and exciting experiences helped. Keeping busy helps. And living YOUR life, entirely for you, helps.
Read more about traveling with friends.
3. Get a hobby
My relationship ended due to it being long-distance. Things that have helped me are getting a dog, going out and trying new things (a new dance class), meeting more people, and taking on new creative projects to throw my energy into. (Of course, I did this after the sadness/crying phase ended, which took a few months.)
Read more about how to find satisfying hobbies.
4. Make a breakup playlist
After five months of dating someone who seemed (truthfully) not that into me, he broke up with me over the phone. I was SO ANGRY. I exclusively listened to Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry” all day, every day, at work. I liked her lyrics about an ex one day seeing me “glow up.” It felt cathartic — I was going to glow up and get even more successful and beautiful and famous while he simply would get more and more wrinkled (the guy needed to learn about sunscreen and skin care).
Read more about the best love songs to listen to during a breakup.
5. Sign up for a few dating apps — or try dating without them
I dated someone for a little over four years, on and off. I think what helped me get over him was first the sense of relief that I had from not feeling controlled and second, pushing myself to go on dates with various types of people. Ultimately what helped me move on was realizing there are other people in this city who are far more compatible for me, who offer many of the same positive qualities he had, just better.
6. Work through it with a therapist
I was married for nine years. It ended in separation and finally divorce. Ultimately I did three months of relationship therapy and learned more than I could imagine about myself and relationships. Today I am married almost ten years to an amazing woman and we have yet to ever raise our voices at each other. In my case, I took the mentality that I needed to learn from the experience to better myself. The payoff is finding and being with a true soulmate. I see so many people who cannot point a finger at themselves and work to improve, and I just shake my head.
Read more about how to find the right therapist.
7. Stop texting your ex
My ex knew he messed up by not treating me as well as he should have. After the breakup he’d text me sporadically, in a friendly manner, and one day — some six months after we broke up — I told him he needed to stop texting me. I told him explicitly that he had hurt me, and his texts just reminded me of that pain and shame and all of that. He apologized for everything and agreed to stay out of my life. Just laying it all out there, really, was the key point. I’m not normally one to be so direct, but I felt like I couldn’t move on unless I did (especially if he’d keep texting). And that was that.
Read more about why all of our exes live in texts until we make them go away.
8. Know that it takes time to move on
My one-year relationship ended after Valentine’s Day, when I found him sending the same gifts to his ex-girlfriend. It took a long time to get over it, and we did the whole still talking/hooking up deal for another year. At this point, time is the main thing that helped me move on. Over time you forget about the good memories that were keeping you tied to that person. After a while, you just stop having feelings for them because you are occupied with other things and meeting new people. That person isn’t active in your life anymore.
Read more about how to let go of self-inflected mental pain.
9. Write about it in a journal
I’ve always kept a journal. After breaking up with my first serious boyfriend of one year, I flipped back to an entry I wrote three months into the relationship and saw that I had written something like, Am I even attracted to him? Three months in! Such a red flag. Right then I decided to reread my journal entries more often. Journaling continues to help when I date other people now, and with a lot of other things in my life. I like to turn back to what I’ve written and try to notice patterns. For example: With the person I’m currently dating, one time I saw that I had written the same kinds of sentences I previously wrote about my ex, complaining about the way we were texting. It helped me realize that often if I’m journaling about a “problem,” I’m usually just afraid to communicate what I need from someone. Journaling helps me know when to speak up.
Read more about how to start keeping a journal.