The Real Girl’s Guide to Getting Through And Over A Break Up (Part 1 of 2)

(If I have a choice, I would prefer to use the phrase “not a girl, not yet a woman” from the brilliant Britney Spears song to describe myself here, but alas, it is too long)

As reminded by all the marketing efforts, Valentine’s Day is just a few days away. As a single person, I’m mildly irritated at most (Um, no, saleslady. I am not buying these red heels for a romantic dinner with my boyfriend, geez! Can’t I just like ‘em?), but then I started thinking about how horrible it would be to go through a breakup around this holiday.

I remember Googling “how to get over a breakup” when I had my first one ever, but couldn’t find anything that helped me that much. I wanted concrete, practical advice from preferably someone similar to me, but mostly only came across vague guidelines. That was quite some years ago, so I’m sure better articles have been published now, but I still want to write this.

I am by no means an expert, and I am only turning 24 in a few days. I am also not a very saintly person, either. Yet it is precisely because I’m an imperfect regular young person that I wanted to share. Have you never wondered about how other “real girls” around your age deal with situations that you’re going through? Aha!

I know that everyone’s different, everyone’s situation is different, and people deal with things differently, but even if I help just one person (who thinks a lot like me, probably) a tiny bit, then this is totally worth it.

I’m splitting my guide into two sections. The first one “Getting Through a Breakup” is for when the incident just occurred and even doing every day things becomes difficult, so you just want to go through each day without having a public breakdown. Everyone does this. Ain’t no shame in it.

The second one “Getting Over A Breakup” is for when you start to feel a lot better and coming back to your normal self again, but you’re still really hurt deep inside. This step is most likely going to take longer.


Delete their contact information: First thing first, cut off communications with your ex and delete him or her on your phone, Facebook, Twitter, instant message buddy list, everything. You don’t want to be tempted to get a last word in or stalk your ex. No, they have nothing to do with you now. Maybe one day in the distant future, you both will feel OK about being friends again, but not now. There’s always a way for you to reach each other somehow in the future.

What to do about mutual friends: Delete them too if you feel like you weren’t going to be friends with them without your ex anyway. If they seem like they could be friends with just you, keep them for later, but do not make them pick sides or stalk them for any traces of your ex.

Tell people close to you: You don’t have to tell them all the details. All that is required is just say that the breakup happened and you’re hoping to have their support during the upcoming difficult time. This is to signal to your friends that you’re going to be a bit off for a short while, and to prevent unpleasant awkwardness resulting from not knowing. For example, when your friend asks you when you want to go on a double date with her boyfriend, and you reply back “The answer is NEVER!”

Get rid of their stuff: Belongings AND gifts. It’s for the best. Mail them. Arrange for a way to give the items without seeing or communicating with your ex. Or throw it away. Sell it. Donate it. Give it to a friend, and just tell her to not use it in front of you. Whatever that works. NOTE: I don’t know what you’d do if you were living together since I haven’t experienced it myself. Sincere apologies.

Deal with one day at a time and focus on completing everything as individual tasks:

  • Remember that every day’s a new day! And with each passing day, you’re one step ahead in the journey to feel better again.
  • Reward yourself with at least internal compliments for finishing the most common endeavors. Like “Good job, you! You didn’t tear up on the way to work today!” Everyone knows that breakups are tough. Seriously, plenty of other people deal with it worse than you.

Distract yourself: There is a time and place for everything, but unfortunately, crying it out is inappropriate at many places and occasions. Don’t let your mind rest because chances are you’re going to think about what happened and big emotions will come up. For example, why not blast some non-upsetting music on your headphones when you’re walking or driving somewhere? This brings me to my next point.

Know what to avoid:

  • Music- Avoid listening to breakup ballads unless you want it to help you let it all out (see right below about that). Like Drew from Rocket Shoes once said to me “Listening to Adele when you’re going through a breakup is like giving a cutter a knife.”
  • Movies & TV Shows- Stay far, far away from romantic, even the comedy ones, because only two possibilities will occur: (1) you get sad (2) you get angry.
  • Reading Materials- Again, no romance. Skip through the sections in women’s magazines about relationship advice and tips on “how to get/please a man,” so you won’t want to hurl. I highly suggest reading instead some novels with strong female protagonists or biographies of women whom you look up to.
  • People and social gatherings- If you know seeing or talking with certain people will make you feel bad about the breakup, why would you do it? For instance, you may love them, but your taken friends might start to annoy you with all that PDA and sweet talk. Just explain to them that you will catch up when you feel comfortable again. Don’t go to any party or event that’s “couple-ly.” Avoid even family occasions if you think some relatives will be asking you about your ex.
  • Places- You know where he hangs out often- Don’t go there for just now. You can totally reclaim that super cute coffee shop or whatever later when you are stronger. And if you guys had favorite spots, try some other places for a while.
  • Drinking and other substances- A “girls’ night out” sure sounds fun right now but not when you realize you have done something you really regret the next day. Anything that impairs your judgment when your brain has been through a lot lately already is a risk. I’ve seen so many of my friends, both female and male, get drunk too soon after a breakup and end up calling the Ex, do something equally embarrassing, or worse.

Only let the emotions out in a safe setting: Whatever feelings you’re experiencing- anger, hate, sadness, frustration, let it all out but just do it in a place that you can find refuge in. If you need to have your daily cry or self-pity session after work or after class, by all means go for it in your bedroom, the shower, your backyard, etc. It’s good to release these emotions because by suppressing them and trying to pretend like everything’s ok, you’ll only be bottling up these emotions, and oh boy is it awkward if that volcano suddenly erupts at the most inopportune time later! (Please see below on talking to others about it)

Treat your body well: There is a wide range of how people react to breakups physically. Some lose their appetite and can’t sleep. Some stuff their faces with unhealthy food and rarely leave the bed. Some work out like crazy all of the sudden. All are totally OK for a little while but just know that you gotta snap out of it soon. Your body has done nothing wrong, so don’t punish it.

Write things down: When you think in your head, incomplete thoughts are flying around chaotically, but there’s something about holding a pen to paper that forces you to focus and organize your thoughts. Not to say that you have to write an outline! Let things just come to out of your pen naturally. This works because:

  • Even to your closest, bestest friends, there are certain things that are too personal to share with them about the breakup, such as thoughts that you know will sound crazy. Finally being able to have an outlet for these unsaid thoughts means that you recognize why you were hiding them, and that you’re getting ready to let them go.
  • If you want, you can pretend like it is addressed to your ex, a higher being, or to yourself. This is a great way to see what you would want to say without actually doing it.
  • After you write it down, you can read it as if it is from somebody else to assess its rationality. It’s a great way to stay logical and clear-headed.
  • When you’re done with the papers, you can crumble them up and throw them away. If it’s safe to do it, sure, go ahead and burn them! Symbolically you’re dismissing these thoughts and feelings away.

The Buddy System: One time when I was going through a breakup, I learned that a friend of a friend was doing the same. We weren’t that close before but I texted her asking how she’s hanging in there and she was so happy that I did. The idea is that you can help each other out with mutual support because she can sympathize. She doesn’t have to be going through the exact same thing as you or even a breakup. It can just be someone who’s also going through something difficult.

Do whatever makes you happy within responsible and reasonable bounds:

  • Treat and pamper yourself, but don’t go overboard. Don’t add any unnecessary stress to yourself with the credit card bill.
  • Be lazy and anti-social if you want, since you most likely have low energy and don’t feel like putting together an outfit or drawing eyeliner on. So what if all you did today was watch Hulu by yourself in sweatpants? This is totally allowed for emergency cases like this.

Be prepared that people will definitely ask if you’re OK:

  • If it’s someone you’re not close to, feel free to lie and say that you’re just having a small cold. If they ask when you seem so down, say that your family pet passed away of old age or something like that. I’m sorry that I’m telling you to lie. I think lying is horrible, but telling the truth in this situation might make you have a meltdown in front of someone whom you do not want to see it happen.
  • If it’s someone you can and want to talk to, yay! It does really help talking about it with somebody because each time you say it out loud, it makes the situation more real and true so you can be more ready to accept it. Just don’t worry or scare your friends too much with certain details.
  • If you tell someone, “I don’t want to talk about it,” this will only make them curious or worried, so instead say “I’ll tell you when I’m ready.”

Don’t feel embarrassed or weak:

  • Everyone goes through this. It’s just a matter of when.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for any sort of help. They’re your friends and that’s what they’re for, especially when you know you would do the same for them. Also remember that they WANT to help you. It makes them feel bad too knowing that you feel bad.
  • I know that you want to be strong, but consider this: Even the mightiest warrior needs time to heal when she’s injured. Pretending to be OK to go out and battle on the field again will only make the wound worse, and it’ll take longer to fully recover.

Overall, please keep in mind that all of this is short term. I promise that very soon you’ll look back at this period and think “Well, that wasn’t so bad.”

I will be back with Part 2 in a few days.

I really do promise,



One response

  1. Pingback: The Real Girl’s Guide’s to Getting Through And Over A Break Up (Part 2 of 2) | Daily Chin Ups by Chin Lu

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