Dealing with the emotional turmoil of a breakup is the worst, especially when you’re in college. Add a breakup to an already hectic schedule, final exams, group presentations (ugh), and you have a recipe for disaster. Not all breakups are created equal but college breakups rank pretty high in my book. Before you pull out the Ben & Jerry’s here are a few healthy ways to bounce back from a breakup.
Are You Suffering From Heartbreak?
Everyone handles breakups differently. Some people are back in action within a week while others will not start datings someone new until months later. Heartbreak can disguise itself as many things, binge drinking, workaholism, anxiety, but the first step toward healing is acknowledgment. How do you know that you’re suffering from heartbreak? Here are a few signs that you aren’t over it:
- You can’t stop thinking about your ex
- You are checking their social media feeds
- You talk about them obsessively with your friends
- Or, you refuse to talk about your breakup with your friends
- You may be overdoing the partying
- You neglect your responsibilities
- You have a loss of appetite
- Or, you are eating more than usual
- You can’t stop crying
- You keep analyzing your breakup
- You feel tired, or lethargic all of the time
Breakups really do suck, don’t they? You can bounce back from a breakup with the following tips:
1. Start Dating (Yourself) Immediately
Who says you have to wait for Mr/Mrs. right? Part of bouncing back from a breakup is relearning how to be single…again. While it’s fun to learn interesting quirks about a potential suitor, rediscovering all of the amazing things you set aside during your relationship is a foolproof plan for getting yourself out of an emotional rut. By redirecting your focus to the positive (“I’ve been meaning to do this for months!”) rather than the negative (“I failed at love again”), you will completely change your perspective and train yourself to look toward the positive.
2. Be Honest
At One Love, we focus on honesty as the cornerstone of a healthy relationship but what about honesty in your relationship with yourself? Experts say when people remember the past there is a natural tendency to reimagine their experience by overlooking the things that made them uncomfortable. That means you’ll remember very clearly that time your ex surprised you with those tickets to Coachella that you really wanted. What you won’t recall so easily are all of the times they gaslit you. Our natural inclination to romanticize the past is not inherently dishonest, however, holding this morphed version of the past as the absolute truth is not fair to you.
When this happens, try not to judge yourself. The key is to be aware of your tendency to overlook or rationalize your partner’s unhealthy behaviors.
To understand why we romanticise the past, check out this video by the School of Life:
3. Don’t Suggest to Stay Friends
Suggesting that you and your ex remain friends after a breakup might seem like the “adult” thing to do, especially if you’re worried about awkward encounters in your campus coffee shop, however, this is not always realistic. It’s normal to feel attached to your ex immediately following a breakup. The healthier thing to do whether you were in an unhealthy relationship or not is to give yourself space to heal until you’ve completely moved on.
If you’re recovering from an unhealthy relationship, staying involved on any level can cause emotional turmoil that ultimately does way more harm than good. Take stock of how your ex effects you emotionally. There are no hard and fast rules that say you have to communicate with someone that stirs up feelings of unworthiness, anxiety, and fear.
4. Take a Social Media Timeout
There are two camps in the should you or shouldn’t you follow your ex on social media debate. Some people see unfollowing their ex as a sign of immaturity and hurt feelings. Other people feel like there is absolutely no reason to keep tabs on someone you are no longer dating. No matter where you fall in this debate it’s safe to say that following your ex on social media could have some major effects on your ability to move on. Why? Because social media reveals parts of their lives that you would never be exposed to otherwise. Seeing your ex happier without you can intensify heartbreak and your natural tendency to reimagine the past.
Avoid the urge to post those passive aggressive memes you stored over the weekend, stop scrolling through the sea of (seemingly) happy couples on Instagram and take your breakup as a sign to rekindle your friendships IRL. Being around a lot of laughing, smiling people may be the last thing you want to do when you’re dealing with heartbreak, however, surrounding yourself with friends can help you feel supported and cared for. Don’t brush off that hiking trip or plans to see a movie after class.
And if the temptation to scroll gets too strong, delete the apps from your phone for a week or two and focus on a new hobby. One of my own personal coping skills for staying away from social media for a while is creating playlists that make me happy and then organizing a happy dance party with friends. Nothing better than some spontaneous physical exercise to help lift the weight of heavy emotions!
5. Avoid Partying The Pain Away
I know, a good dorm party often seems like the best way to clear your head. It could also be a good way to meet new people if you are ready for that. There is a difference between indulging in a night out and partying to avoid dealing with your breakup. A healthier way to process your emotions following your breakup is to speak to a friend. Sometimes a good conversation with someone you trust.
I remember a breakup of mine where I thought I had things handled emotionally, but every time I went out the night ended in tears. Luckily, I had a great group of supportive friends who helped me understand that I wasn’t handling anything very well. Partying became my way of escaping from it all. With their help and patient conversation, I was able to work through it.
6. Trust Your Gut
Unhealthy relationships can make you question your judgment and lose confidence in your decision making. After you’ve ended a relationship you’ll likely have some variation of “Should I have ended things?” or “My ex really wasn’t that bad,” running in your mind. That’s totally normal. Trust your gut, and trust that you ended things for good reason.