How to survive a break-up

A bit of self-awareness goes a long way.

How to survive a break-up
Photo by Kyle Broad / Unsplash

Breakups are tough. If you've been dumped, it's devastating. Even if you're the one who called time on the relationship, it's still an exhausting emotional roller-coaster that you have to try and navigate.

Trying to bring some self-awareness to what you're going through is a fairly effective coping mechanism - here's what to look out for.


Often, our first response is to pretend that it's not really happening. You're just taking a break - you need some time apart to figure out what you both want but you're still in love and the relationship is still what binds you together.

Delusion is a form of self-protection - if you can avoid facing the reality of what's going on then you can avoid the emotional pain that you know is coming at you like a train.


Getting angry and upset is perfectly natural - you're going to feel like you've been wronged, that you've invested everything in a relationship that hasn't lasted as long as you hoped it would.

Don't try and repress the anger - it's healthy to be able to unleash all of the hurt that you're feeling.

Rather than setting her house on fire or taking her grandmother hostage, try and channel your anger into a more positive outlet. This is the time to sign up to a boxing class, or learn how to knead bread - anything that gets you physical and sweaty and shouty, in a good way.


This is tricky - it's generally the "let's be friends" conversation where you try and figure out if there's a way to minimise the hurt of the breakup by finding some sort of compromise where you can still be in each other's lives.

Obviously, you can still be friends with people that you've relationships with, but in the immediate aftermath of a breakup what you need is space from each other.

Try to set yourself some boundaries - for example, the boundary might be that you're not going to contact her for three months. If possible, communicate those boundaries to her so she's aware that you need some space - for example, "Do you mind if we don't communicate for a bit? I just need a bit of time to process everything."


It's totally natural to feel sadness - the end of a relationship is a big deal, you're effective grieving the loss of what you had.

The sadness can be a bit unpredictable - you're totally fine for weeks and then something will trigger a memory or an emotion and you'll be sobbing uncontrollably.

It's okay to feel sad.

Try to have some support or coping mechanisms ready to go for when the sadness unexpectedly hits. It could be something simple like go for a run or go to the gym, or it could be a bit more elaborate such as book a massage or buy yourself flowers.


There will come a point, eventually, when you'll be okay and able to acknowledge that the relationship is over and that it's in your past.

This is when you can run into each other at the farmers' market and it's fine. This is when you're friends can reveal that they didn't think you were right for each other. This is when you can delete the photos and throw out the gifts that she bought you.


The ultimate stage of the break-up journey is when you are moving on with your life. You're trying new things, you're making new memories, you're meeting new people - all without your ex.

The relationship that you're getting over becomes something in your past that you have moved on from. You can look back fondly at it, but it's no longer who you are and it no longer defines you.

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