07/10/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

7 Ways to Survive a Break-Up

There are many different reasons.

It's just not working for me.
I want to date other people.
I'm not ready to settle down.
I need some space.
I don't want a commitment.
We have different lifestyles.
We have different needs.
You're too needy.
It's not you. It's me.
It is you.
I moving away and want a fresh start.
I don't think I love you.
I love you but not in that way.
I'm going back to her.
I'm leaving you for her.
I'm leaving you for him.

I could go on forever. But no matter what the reason, the outcome is the same. You two are no longer together. And that feels like someone let loose a rabid dog and pinned a rare steak on your poor, defenseless, little heart.

I know. I've been there. Everyone I know has been there. In fact if you've never been there, your time will come, babe. It's just life. But if you're reading this, the chances are you're there right now and you feel like jumping off the Empire State Building and then jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. But that would mean you'd have to leave the ball that you've become on the couch and that ain't happening anytime soon.

So have no fear. I'm going to get you back into the world, walking, talking, hell even laughing!

And soon you'll forget old what's his name. (Well, maybe not forget him, but you will GET OVER HIM, I guarantee that.)

Here are a few things you must know and must do to get among the living as soon as humanly possible.


I thought I'd get the bad news out of the way first. Here it goes. Sorry to have to break it to you, lady, you're not going to escape feeling pain. Yeah, yeah, that sucks exponentially.

I know if I thought athlete's foot fungal powder would take away the pain, I'd snort a whole case of it. But it won't. And no amount of wine, scotch, ripple, ny-quil, Old Spice cologne, prescription pills that belong to your dog, illicit drugs, or liquid detergent will make that pain go away.

Sure, it will the delay the pain for a bit while you're passed out, but at some point, you're going to have to come to and chances are, you're going to a.) feel a hell of a lot worse physically and b.) you're still going to have to feel the pain.

It's like hitting a pause button, then pressing play and hangover at the same time. What good will that do you?

What will do you good is to do what you're trying not to do. Cry yourself a river. I don't care if it's the Mississippi flowing down your hall, no one's ever died from crying. And the truth is, about half way through a really god sob fest, you actually feel some relief.

Let it all out, babe. Know that the first week is just icepack week. That means, your face will be so red and swollen from crying so much that you'll need an ice pack. The plus side is that good cries release this sadness out of you and when you're done, you feel so tired and then you can rest. So a good cry is actually really helpful.


OK. Now the good news. This pain and heartache you are feeling has a beginning, a middle and an END!!!! That means at some point, the heart in a blender feeling will go away.

Let me share one of the best pieces of advice I once got about this exact issue. I was going through a break-up from "The ONE" (one of many, is more like it, but I digress). I went to go see a very wise friend of mine who has been miraculously married happily for years, so by default, my relationship god.

While I wailed about how I would never recover, I was destined to die alone and how my womb would be barren forever, I tearfully explained to her that I had lost my only chance at happiness, to which she coolly asked, "Was he your soul mate?"

Huh? Well, I thought long and hard about it. He was an amazing boyfriend but did I really believe that he was the end all be all for me? Probably not.

"Good," she said, "then it will only take you three months to get over him. If it was your soul'll take six."

She made a really important point. There would be a finish line that I would cross and when I did, my pain would be on one side and I would be on the other. That gave me immense comfort to know that this pain was going away.


That brings me to my next point. A friend helped me see this very important bit of information. And that's just what you need. Friends. One really good one, a few good ones, lots of them, family members, whatever, but you need a support system. You really shouldn't go through this alone.

I remember when my friend Julie went through a really horrendous break-up. She came straight over to my house and basically didn't leave my couch for a week. Did I mind? No way. She's my friend. So when the world swallowed me up then spit me up, I went to Julie's house and camped out on her couch.

That's what friends do. They hold you, they let you cry and smell if you haven't taken a shower in three days, they poke pins in your ex's voodoo doll and they make little "there, there" cooing noises while you rock spastically. Bottom line, friends help you get through the bad times, and this is one of them. Take advantage of that and let people help you.


Even after the break-up, there's always a feeling of wanting to say one last thing. Or a feeling that comes up that you wish you had chance to express. Or that perfect comeback you had wished you had said while the two of you were fighting.

Well, my darling, here's your chance. You get to write him a letter. And you can write any and every little thing you've wanted to say. If you want to tell him how much you miss him, write it. If you want to tell him he's a lying ungrateful two-timing skankass lover, write it. If you want to tell him he's a lousy lay and you faked it every time, write it. If you want to tell him, despite all that, you wish he was spooning you right now, write it.

The catch it, you ain't sending it, lady! That letter is for you only, to get all that mental and emotional vomit out. And then you can rip it up, clog the toilets with it, burn it, but DON'T SEND IT. It's for your healing only. So say what you gotta say.


This one's hard. But you're not going to move on if you're still in it. In other words, you cannot accept the fact that a relationship has gone its course and heal if you keep going back to the source of pain.

Plus you run the risk of getting your hopes up each time and that only makes it worse when yet again you come to the realization that life will not be walking hand in hand with this particular guy.

And yeah, we all, in a perfect world where Mozart comes out of my butt, would like to stay friends with our exes. And maybe, one day you will. Just not now, or tomorrow, or even next month.

Rule of thumb? A serious relationship needs about a 6 month healing time, give or take. That means no calling, no one last night of loving, no drink and emailing. Don't derail yourself. It's like you're this pretty, little, delicate, wounded paper clip and your ex is this ginormous, overwhelming, all encompassing magnet. Just keep your distance so you can stand on you own two paper clippy feet again.


Alright. A few days go by and you're ready for another day of a "The Facts of Life" marathon and any Lifetime movie. So what do you do? You get that pretty little butt of yours out of bed, that's what! Whatever you want to do right now is probably the worst action. So take opposite action. TAKE ACTION!

You need to force, and I mean Force yourself to get outside and take a walk. You need to take a shower and put on something that makes you feel pretty. You need to meet a friend for lunch. You need to take on an extra shift at work or an extra project. You need to go to the gym, or a yoga class or ride a bike. You need to get active.

You get that blood flowing and physically, you will feel better. You know how they say about hospitals, "The longer you stay, the longer you stay," meaning the longer you are in a place where there is illness, the greater chance you have of getting sicker.

It's the same principle here. The longer you stay mopey, alone and depressed, the more likely you are to get even more depressed and isolated.


After some time has gone by, remember this one thing. The sweetest revenge is being happy. Once you start getting out of the house and seeing friends again, you make a little deal with yourself. No one is in charge of your happiness but you. So take the reigns.

Make a list of those things you put off while you were in the relationship that you didn't do, your friends and family you haven't seen, and start investing in them. Reexamine your goals in life (yeah, we know find "the one"...besides that). If you've always wanted to go on a hiking trip, but he didn't, now's the time to go. Or you can start small. Take a evening class in something that has always interested you.

Treat yourself like you are your own girlfriend and court yourself. Treat yourself to something you would ordinarily do, whether it be a facial, or a language course.

Soon you'll find the time between the thoughts of him gets longer and longer. You'll be waking up and the first thought isn't him, but something about you. You'll start to look at other guys and think, "Hmm, interesting." You'll begin to date. You'll smile.

You will have moments of contentment and hope for your future will be restored.

And tomorrow is going to be a little bit easier.