Here at Health Central’s Sexual Health site we talk a lot about relationships and, unfortunately, when you talk about that, you also must talk about break-ups. Whether you are leaving (or being left), whether you moving on from a long-term marriage or a shorter relationship, a break-up hurts. I have read that it takes 1 year for every 5 years of a relationship to fully recover from a break-up. Never fear, though, you can recover. While there are lots of things you can do to help yourself heal (stay tuned next week for that topic) there are some things and behaviors you should avoid because they may end up causing more pain in the end.
Don’t drag out the break-up. It may be easier to simply avoid the other person, for example stop taking their calls or responding to their texts, although this isn’t possible if you are ending a marriage, but this type of behavior usually prolongs the agony for both of you. You worry every day about what you are going to say when you do see him and he spends every day wondering what happened. You don’t need to rush into the conversation, take some time to think about what you want to say and then have the difficult conversation.
Don’t be disrespectful when breaking up with someone. Your break-up may occur because of something that happened that made you angry, but trading insults with one another isn’t going to make it better. If breaking up is your best move, then what happened in the past doesn’t matter anymore. Be respectful, don’t start rumors or gossip, and move on with your life.
Don’t call your ex after the break-up. You miss him, you want to feel some type of connection or maybe you just want to know that he is as miserable as you are. Whether you did the leaving or whether you were left, don’t give in the urge to call him. Find something to keep yourself busy during the times you are tempted to call - start a new hobby, clean the house, cook a gourmet meal or simply call a friend instead, anything to stop you from calling or texting your ex.
Don’t pretend you are fine. Break-ups hurt. Many people feel physical symptoms, such as stomach-aches or headaches and emotional symptoms of depression or anxiety. These are all normal. While you don’t want to just lay around and do nothing, making your depression even worse, you do want to acknowledge the hurt and give yourself time to grieve for the future you dreamed about. Find someone you can talk to when you are feeling down.
Don’t badmouth your ex to all your friends, his friends, your relatives and anyone else who will listen. You never know what is going to happen in the future and, even if getting back together is not ever going to happen, you want to show you are the bigger person. A simple explanation that the relationship just didn’t work out is good enough. Badmouthing doesn’t do anyone any good.
Don’t try to be "friends" with your ex. Sure, there are a few (very few) couples who can remain friends after a break-up but this is rare. For most couples, emotions are too high and even if you can remain civil, chances are it is going to hurt all over again if you see your ex with a new girlfriend or boyfriend. Parting ways doesn’t have to be ugly but you also don’t need to get together over a drink or be pals.
Don’t seek revenge. Revenge may sound good and even be quite tempting, especially if you were wronged in the relationship but it usually doesn’t end up good. Vandalizing his car, locking him out of your home, destroying items or clothes are all ways that can cause you legal problems. Revenge gives your ex control over your emotions, instead, try to forgive (not for his benefit - for yours) and move on to your own life.
Don’t give in to "sex for old time’s sake." While high emotions and passions can make sex sound like a good idea, it usually isn’t. Sex brings with it more emotions and possibly more hurt. While you may want to feel that special connection one more time, remember, your time of healing will need to begin all over again. Instead, stay away, find something constructive to do and take the time to heal.
Don’t make major life decisions. Sometimes after a break-up we want to make major changes to our life or lifestyle. Don’t rashly quit your job, move away or even get a tattoo. No matter what sounds like a great idea, remember it is being fueled by high emotion. Instead, write down your ideas and put them away for a few months. Once you feel grounded again, take out your list and see if you still want to do it, then, go ahead, but do so with a plan in mind.
Don’t beg to get back together. You may be devastated or simply don’t understand why the break-up happened, you may have thought you were happy together. No matter what, keep your pride and work on letting go. If you are having a hard time, find a friend or even a therapist to help you work on your need to hang on to a relationship with someone who obviously doesn’t want to be with you.
Be assured, time does heal all wounds. Give yourself time to recover from your break-up by keeping busy, exercising, eating well and taking care of yourself. Next week, we’ll go over 10 ways you can recover from a break-up.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.