Making Up for the Break-Up: 10 Hard-And-Fast Rules

Break-ups are hard. I don’t know what it is about them that makes one question everything. Like why am I in DC? Why did I go to grad school? Why do I have so much student loan debt? Why am I still single? Why did I give up everything for a job I only semi-love?

I just went through my second hardest break-up in two years. Didn’t really know it was going to be hard until two weeks later when I spent eight hours of the day crying. Seriously, isn’t there a limit to how many waterworks one can produce?

But I guess it’s hard when you come to depend on someone for certain needs – a certain happiness so-to-speak – and then that happiness is taken out from under you and you’re left with a stark image of yourself in the mirror. Seriously how was I ever not single?

Anyway one thing I have learned from break-ups is as much as your friends and family may be tired of hearing about your failed single life, they kind of get it, and they’re totally there for you. And since I may be single for a long time now (okay just my pessimistic self speaking here), I might as well come up with some fun rules to get me back on the road to recovery and feeling excited about being free again.

So the next time I decide to end things for my own benefit (I’m being optimistic here) I’ll try to keep the following in mind:

  1. It’s okay to curl up on the couch and eat a tub of ice cream – as long as you keep your blood sugar in check and make sure a friend is in the same room.
  2. Always have a box of tissues nearby. You never know when the emotions will strike (and yeah it might be good to have an office with a door – sorry cubicle dwellers, maybe get to know the bathroom real well?).
  3. Watch your favorite movies/tv shows for a distraction. I mean let’s not get dramatic but so far my favorite go-to’s this past week have been Clue and Burn Notice (who doesn’t love a little murder mystery combined with the collateral damage of burnt spies?). And make sure you laugh… a lot.
  4. Talk to your friends – okay let’s clarify, your single friends. Oh my god I don’t know why this is so hard to remember. I guess because most of my friends aren’t single anymore, and I bet they’re tired of hearing about my dating woes. But give it a try – they may surprise you.
  5. Be among people. This seems counterintuitive. Maybe you’re not like me and you’ll actually cry sitting alone at a Barnes and Noble café… OR you’ll be so distracted by the people watching you’ll forget why you came in the first place.
  6. Stay active. Okay this seems a stretch. And I’m not one to bite when I’m feeling down but there is something to exercising for a mood boost. I once took a four-mile hike after a break-up, and I have to admit I felt a little bit more at peace with the world.
  7. Listen to upbeat music. I am the worst at this. I’m the one listening to Iron and Wine’s Trapeze Swinger or Lily Allen’s I Could Say post-break-up. But this week I was jamming out to The Beatles and House music. Didn’t make me cry any less but it did remind me that I don’t always have to be down. Just because I felt defeated didn’t mean I couldn’t dance a little (even if dancing merely encompasses tapping my toe).
  8. Hug your animals. (Stuffed animals will also do.) I have a feisty cat. He’s not one for cuddling but boy when I’m feeling him down I’ll wrap him in my arms and hug him against my chest, and he just deals with it. Sometimes the person who feeds you needs to be appeased.
  9. Don’t blame yourself. You’re not the only one who’s experienced a hard break-up. You’re not the only one who’s still single. And don’t get me wrong, we all make mistakes, but you are totally worth it. Whoever you were with is an idiot for passing you up. Or if you dumped them well then you’re the better for it. Just remember you’re you for a reason, and people love you for it.
  10. Make “single” plans. That’s right. Go out dancing. Go out with the girls. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the guts to try alone. You don’t need a partner for everything. You can still enjoy life independently. Who needs all that drama anyway?

It’s hard to take but I try to remember why I enjoy my life. I try to remember why I was happy a few months ago before this person showed up. Because I was. I had things to look forward to then that didn’t involve them. I still do. But sometimes it’s hard to get out of that headspace.

I had an amazing conversation with my dad today who reassured me above all that I was worth it, that people (himself included) are incredibly proud of me, and I just needed to remember that. It should be so simple, right? So when I got home, I danced with my cat, hung out with my friend, watched a favorite movie, and dug into a pint of pumpkin ice cream.

I’m not 100 percent yet but I know I’ll be okay.


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