Sometimes you feel like diving into a deep, dark hole after a break up. You feel you’ll never meet anyone again, and actually, you have no desire to meet someone. You just feel pretty much done. The idea of dating again is not desirable, and if it is, it’s totally overwhelming.
Keeping going after a breakup isn’t easy, but there are some ways to manage the pain.
Managing the pain does not mean deadening it. Drowning yourself in too many negative behaviors like drinking, binge watching Netflix, or having lots of anonymous sex actively works to prevent you from doing the thing you need to do. Feel it.
I know, it sucks. But you’re going to keep avoiding and avoiding and avoiding—and then end up letting it all out at a very inopportune moment.
Why not take charge of your stuff?
I’m not saying a night on the town is a bad thing, but be aware of your impulse to squelch all of that all the time. The impulse to regularly numb yourself.
You’re going to feel it sometime. If you begin to let it out now you have a better chance of it not taking control of you later.
Reconnect With People
You’re out of a relationship, but it’s time to remember that you have other people in your life who love you. They won’t know what to do, they won’t know whether to call or not, to text you to hang out or not.
Tell them. Even if it’s to go to a buddy’s house and playing video games, just do something so you’re with other people.
Sometimes friendships get lost in the shuffle or seem to be less prioritized during a relationship. Reach out to those people and check in. Apologize if there’s been a breakdown in your communication and let them know you want to work on that now.
Let people know you need them.
And if you find yourself in a place where you’ve let all those friendships go or that your friends were your ex’s friends, then it’s time to make new ones. Get on MeetUp, go to a pub quiz night, join a softball team.
In the words of E.M. Forster, “Only Connect.”
Reconnect With Yourself After a Break Up
And while you’re making sure you’re taking time to be with friends, also make time to be alone.
You need to connect with yourself. Remember that you–you on your own–are worth it. Go for a walk on your own, even a movie on your own. Spend some time journaling or drawing if that’s your thing.
When you’re coming out of a break up it’s easy to forget that there was a “you” that wasn’t part of a couple. It’s easy to forget all that you have to offer.
Take this time to get to know yourself so when you’re ready to date again you have a better idea of who you’re looking for—and are braver at showing who you are to the next lucky person.
Don’t let anyone tell you to just “buck up” after a break up. Ending a relationship, whether it was your idea or your ex’s, is hard. It hurts. It causes you to question so much and it’s a huge life shift. Take care of yourself by not losing yourself in mindless anesthesia. Reach out to people who you care about and who care about you. And take the opportunity to re-get to know yourself.
It’s ok to take some time to grieve. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
If you’re struggling with moving through these steps after a break up or if you want to talk through your situation to see if some counseling may help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me to schedule a FREE 15-minute phone consultation.
Justin Lioi, LCSW is a men’s mental health and relationship expert based in Brooklyn, NY (and online throughout New York State and internationally.) He received his degree from New York University and has been providing counseling for men and their families for over 10 years. Justin is on the Board of the National Association of Social Workers and writes a weekly column for the Good Men Project called Unmasking Masculinity. He can be found on local and national podcasts talking about assertiveness, anger, self-compassion, all with the goal of becoming the man you want to be.