Change is always hard, particularly when it involves leaving a person that we care about and sometimes even love. Our romantic relationships often provide us with companionship, excitement, fun, affection, and attention – and then suddenly, all that is gone, with little notice. Often we did not even see the signs. So this is a hard one to absorb. We may feel shocked that we invested so much and did our best, only to receive such shabby treatment.

Obviously, a very high number of dating relationships end in a breakup of some kind because we typically choose to marry just one person. Since most of us will have to deal with a breakup at one point or another, here are 10 tips for surviving a breakup:

1. Remember, You’re Not Alone

I mean this in two ways. First, just because you do not have a boyfriend right now does not mean that you are alone in the world. Remember, there are a lot of people who love you. Also, you are not the only one who has experienced a breakup and it does not mean something is wrong with you. Breakups are a normal part of having relationships and they are something we need to learn how to work through.

2. Find Closure

Sometimes daters blow each other off without having a final conversation for closure. At least one partner may feel confused about what happened in these instances and this can create baggage going forward. If possible, have a conversation letting the other person know the truth (in a kind way) about why the relationship needs to end. Let them know what you liked about them, and what you have learned. If there is something really important that you were upset about, discuss that too. It may be hard, but then it will be over and you can close that door without wondering about it in the future. Also, do not leave anything at your ex’s house, and don’t leave the relationship open-ended. This is how singles fail to move on. Commit to getting clear about the status of your relationship. Work on accepting it and walking your talk so that you can move on.

3. Create Distance

In order to have a real ending, there needs to be a period of distance to process this transition, mourn and move on. This also allows you to create a space in your life for a new romantic partner to fill, when you are ready. Often singles want to keep their ex around to fill the void and say they will remain friends. It may be possible to remain friends in the future, but it is often good to take a break and let things settle for awhile. Otherwise, seeing that person regularly may make it difficult to heal.

4. Validate Yourself

A breakup is a loss of attention, affection, and love – so it’s important to try and give yourself those things now. Spring for a massage if you can or buy yourself roses. Remind yourself of all the great things about you.

5. Get Support

You cannot replace your ex, but you don’t have to go through this period alone either. Spend time with family and friends. They can listen, make you smile, and help distract you. Being around other people who love you and aren’t going anywhere can help.

6. Learn the Love Lessons

Maybe this one can take a few weeks, but it can help you master how to take stock and learn from a situation. Look at your relationship with some perspective and see what relationship wisdom you can take with you for future romances. Pain is more meaningful when we can learn something of value from it. Perhaps you can glean something important about yourself as well as understand something new about the opposite sex.

7. Mourn

It is important to let yourself cry if you need to so those feelings do not get stuck in your body. A breakup is a loss and an ending; it is appropriate to feel sad. Do not berate yourself for having feelings. This just means that you have a tender heart and you need to express yourself in order to heal.

8. Keep Busy

This one is not a rule, but it can be helpful. If you are anxious it sometimes helps to have positive activities to focus on for a bit. If you know that today you are going to work and practice yoga, you can focus on this schedule instead of obsessing about your ex, speed dialing him, or snooping around on his Facebook page. Giving yourself constructive things to do can be the glue that holds you together in the short-term wake of a breakup.

9. Visualize the Future

Use your positive imagination to visualize a wonderful future, each and every day. Remind yourself that in the book of your life, this is one chapter, not the whole thing. As the writer, you can create whatever you want next. You can create an even better romance now that you have more freedom and time for self-reflection. Make the most of the present and future by thinking positive and choosing an image of what you will create next.

10. Talk Back to Your Gremlin

I call that negative voice in your head your gremlin. Your gremlin will inevitably kick you when you’re down, saying things like, “He left you because you deserve it” or “Every man will probably leave you.” The truth is that you would NEVER speak to a friend this way; you’d be far more loving and compassionate. So, learn to challenge your gremlin, saying things like, “The right guy will stick around” or “I am a wonderful person and everyone experiences breakups because it is a normal part of having relationships.” Do not reject yourself in the process. Take this opportunity to reaffirm your worth as a partner and person.

You will get through this experience and continue to love in your life. I wish you much courage and insight as you go through this transition.

Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman is a psychologist and the author of “Dating from the Inside Out” and “When Mars Women Date.” She also works as a love coach and runs groups on dating and relationship issues in Manhattan. Learn more at:
One Comment
  1. Cry if you want to. It’s OK to cry over a loss. Don’t hold back, let the tears roll just do it in a safe and private place where it is unlikely to get back to your ex. You don’t want your tears to be used as a guilt trip. Their purpose is to cleanse you of any pain not make your lover come back.

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