The Break-Up Rules

227234_10150189647514153_1184052_nLet’s say the bottom has fallen out of yet another meaningful relationship. How do you handle the heartbreak? There is no way to sugar-coat it. Getting your heart broken sucks. It hurts. Hell, it hurts a lot. It feels like someone managed to rip your heart out with a set of rusty garden tools, leaving its carnage inside of you, begging to be mended.

Even if deep down you think it’s for the best, your bruised heart and ego take much longer to get the message. All it absorbs right now is, “he doesn’t want to be with me anymore.” One of the worst things you can do is believe that it won’t affect you. Of course it does; you’re human. I see, too often this reaction, hence why I’ve established the Break-Up Rules.

1. Whether it’s anger, disappointment, regret, fear, or even embarrassment, they are all valid. The first step toward healing is to own these reactions – even the irrational ones – or else you’re eventually headed for a meltdown. One minute you’re Mr. Rational, analyzing the relationship to death, then the next moment, you hear a shared song, a familiar phrase, a scent or a laugh, and you’re bawling your eyes out. Remember, you may not get over it, but you have to get on with it. By “it,” I mean your life; bringing me to my next point.

2. Don’t get cynical. I truly believe we have more than one soul mate. You will get emotional. You will get irrational. You may feel like a failure. You will survive this – even when it feels so unlikely.

You will discover reminders of him everywhere. Even the cheesiest love songs will uncannily speak directly to you. You’ll think to yourself, who came up with such crap? And are they still alive so I can strangle them? But seriously, don’t abandon your romantic nature. That means you’ve given up hope, and with hope goes possibilities. Regret is a place you don’t want to call home.

3. You should take time after a break-up. Time for yourself. Time for your emotions to recoup. Some people jump right back into dating, ending up with some dreadful rebound guy; balding, bad teeth, bad sense of humor, bad personality – you know the ones. I have a statue of limitations for the time until I start dating again after a break-up. I read somewhere that it should take half the time of the relationship to be able to move on. Like, if you dated someone for a year, you’ll need six months to regroup.

4. Until emotionally stable, enter no stores. And in the event you skip Rule #3, don’t become a piggy bank for your next beau. (Admit it, sometimes if we feel needed, we will shell out money, dinners and gifts to prove how worthy we are of someone’s love.) I, myself, have slipped up on this one a few times. Just remember, you’re trying to find stability, not screw up you’re credit and end up with buyer’s remorse.

Since shopping is therapeutic for me, especially when I’m stressed, I try to limit myself to like one pair of shoes or one outfit. It’s kind of a treat to myself. Trust me, setting spending limits will reward you later, when you get your credit card statement and you don’t have to eat Ramen noodles for the next month.

5. You’ll never get through it without your friends. Another reason to follow the other rules – being honest with yourself, keeping genuine and taking some time will ensure you still have friends when you’re ready to emerge from your break-up cave.