How to Ease a Painful Breakup (and other advice you don’t want to hear)

gotAfter hearing about a fourth friend’s undeserving agony from a partner, I had to write something to shed light on the situation.

We’ve all heard of the “steps”. Denial, anger, sadness, yadda yadda. What I want to share are a few solutions that will ease your pain and get you on the right track after a breakup. I am not going to CURE you, because emotions will run their course regardless. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sit there and watch them ruin your life.

I have been through my share of breakups, both painful and not-so-much (I am still waiting to have that “break up cry” from one ex in 2010). I have also done all of these steps I’m about to suggest to you. Therefore, I am personally aware of their success rate. DISCLAIMER: IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW THROUGH WITH THESE TIPS, YOU ARE GOING TO BE MISERABLE. It’s all or nothing, so you can’t back out or go “halfsies”. You are obviously reading this because you want to make your temporarily-crappy life easier. Let me shorten your time on the toilet.


Before your breakup, you had a nice routine with your ex (let’s call him Russell). You were excited when Russell’s freeway exit came up, you knew what food to make when Russell came over, and you even created a mental schedule that prioritized this glorious time with Russell. Now I’m asking you to “forgettaboutit”. I don’t care if Russell shares the same cubicle with you, you need to find a different route to your computer. If you would get coffee with him in the morning, go to a different Starbucks. Order a different drink. Take another exit home. Rearrange your room. This did WONDERS for me as I was lucky enough to be blessed with the New Year when I did it (if you have that kind of timing, you’ll be sleeping easy). Once you change your routine, there is little to be reminded of Russell. Don’t even play your favorite song until you’ve moved on. As an obsessive song-player, trust me, it will be listenable again (just not anytime soon). If your friends ask why you’re taking Magnolia Blvd instead of the 101 freeway, tell them your heart is broken and quote “Smile Like You Mean It” by The Killers*. They should get it.


This one is the hardest, so I’m attacking it early. Block Russell from Facebook. From Twitter. From Instagram. I won’t say delete his number in case you ever want his recipe for homemade salsa, but delete his text history. But I still care for Russell! I want us to be friends! Let me respond by quoting the oh-so charming and clever Matthew McConaughey in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, “Buuuullllshit”. You want to be FRIENDS with the guy who broke your heart? What makes you think that’s even remotely possible in the same year? Unless you are the exception (which you’re not, thanks Greg Behrendt), this doesn’t happen. If it does, it certainly isn’t going to be during the worst moment of your life. So let this “what if I lose him forever” mentality go. YOU’VE ALREADY LOST HIM and now you’re on the track of losing your identity as you spend wasted minutes focusing on him. Even if Russell cares about your well-being, it’s only because he isn’t a monster. He is still remaining your ex-boyfriend. Treat him as an ex and let the guy live his life. The more you let Zuckerberg poke your neurosis with a sharp needle, the more pain will surface and your survival process will diminish. I want you to survive!


This concept is also something we are taught by counselors, therapists, and even mentors. It’s okay if you need to send him a long email, as long as YOU get closure. I’m sorry, but closure is overrated. Unless Russell hit your dog on the way out of your apartment after he told you it was over, you don’t need to discuss ANYTHING that wasn’t mentioned. Russell believed, for whatever reason, it wasn’t working between you two. What more is there to say? If Russell didn’t want to “fix it” or go to therapy, there is nothing you can do to change his mind (I’m not even going to indulge the possibility of “guys coming back” because it’s a moot point). Cut out this “I need closure” nonsense. You’re just making excuses to contact Russell when nothing good ever comes from a rambling message or a blubbering voicemail. Believe me when I say you will get your closure; it comes after you’ve passed your crazy stage in the breakup process and your issues have become less significant. Every time you “must” say something to Russell, say it to yourself. Type it out. He doesn’t need to see those words, you just need to let them out. There’s a difference.


I know what you’re thinking. I’m not ready! Did it ever occur to you the reason why you’re not ready is because you haven’t met someone “better” than Russell? No one can be better than Russell! He had everything I wanted! This is where your thinking is flawed. Say I introduced you to an attractive gentleman who shared your morals and had a great job…would you really say no? Go at your own pace (online lets you do this), but my point is you are naturally going to think Russell is the only guy for you because YOU ARE NOT MEETING OTHER GUYS! You are in your room. With Carrie Bradshaw Lena Dunham (I’m aging myself). Dating sites can also be a great ego-booster when someone compliments you or mentions a similar interest because he wants to try. I can guarantee the possibilities of meeting a person who treats you as well as Russell did are in your favor. I’m not asking you to give up your emotional or physical boundaries. I’m asking you to do as the Romans do, and try. You’ll be surprised, refreshed, and more importantly…less miserable.

* “And someone will drive her around / Down the same streets that I did.”

1 Comment
  • weszor
    April 12, 2013

    Finally, someone who understands that being friends after a break-up is usually just leading to more pain than is really necessary. It’s amazing how many people think that is entirely a good idea. Maybe it’s slightly easier for some people more than others, but it’s certainly not the norm, and my experience with said people is that they’ve been around a while in the first place. Good write up, Nina. 😀

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