HOW TO MOVE ON AFTER A BREAKUP: A Comprehensive List
Of all the relationship-related blog posts I’d have to write, this could be the most emotionally exhausting because I know I have to dig deep into my bag of emotions again and relive what I could for the sake of having you relate to my story.
I told myself I will make it a goal to write a substantial blog post before this week ends. I’m beginning to long for quality again and I want to ditch my random and spontaneous self, for now, to offer you something else.. deeper. I even consulted a good friend and she assured me that this would make a good content because a lot of readers would surely relate to this. Even if you’re not fresh off of a relationship like I am, we’ve had our fair share of heartbreaks and breakups, whether the relationship was official or not. I also believe men would also benefit from this, maybe they just handle breakups in a quieter manner. But we’re all human – we are all hurting inside one way or another.
Once again and for the last time, let’s embrace the pain and put on the table what we’ve learned from our past relationships and help each other mend our hearts. Here’s my story.
I’m ready when you are.
(Otherwise, feel free to bookmark this blog post and read it later. I want your full attention and perhaps a good 20 minutes for me to share my piece on this topic. You know me, I love writing, sometimes a little bit too much. But nothing is ever a waste, especially on this one.)
To give you an idea of my previous relationships, I’ve already had four boyfriends, the first one when I was 13, the second when I was in 4th-year high school to my 2nd year in college, the third when I was in 4th-year college, and the fourth just recently. I know you won’t go beyond knowing who’s who so let’s not pretend as if I have to hide their names.
I don’t really have to, but I feel the need to give you a background of my previous relationships just so you know where I’m coming from. I hope you don’t mind. As I mentioned, I want this to be substantial. And for me, substance means details. I can’t leave you hanging or feed you riddles and let you figure out the rest of the story. So let’s start with my exes, focus on Shane, and then proceed to the moving on part.
If you’d rather skip the hoopla, feel free to read the rest of my blog post after the (-) line. 🙂
Brent: At 13, I had Brent as my first boyfriend. Being that young, I naturally hid it from my parents. I was forced into it because he kind of threatened me. I was naive enough to believe that if I wouldn’t have him then, I never will. It was a platonic relationship. He broke up with me and although I didn’t really have anything to move on from, it took me a year before he was finally out of my head.
Marvin: Marvin was the best boyfriend I had, I’ll give him that. I was just too young then and I was too clingy that I grew tired of “understanding” when we couldn’t meet for a few weeks because he was busy with college. I was also in college then, but I made school my priority when we broke up. My grades went up, I socialized more, and overall I was just a fun friend. I broke up with him.
Jan: Let’s just say I intentionally change my text into “dyan” instead of “jan” when referring to “there” because I don’t want to associate him with anything I do even if I’m not really referring to him. Anyway, I broke up with him.
Shane: You should know the story by now if you’ve been reading my blog for about a year now or you’ve recently discovered my sad-emotional-depressed phase on Twitter a few months back. I want to say that the breakup was mutual, but he completely decided on it and I wasn’t aware that a normal quarrel for me would lead to a breakup for him. So to cut it short, he broke up with me.
If you’re wondering, yes, I put down all my blog posts relating to him (unless I overlooked some) so that would explain the broken links if there are any. I just don’t want people to read my blog and think that we’re still in a relationship and since I don’t think I’d ever be comfortable sharing the details, which I don’t really need to, I just decided to silence the whole situation.
However, ever since Shane, I found myself wondering if I still had love to offer to the world and if I’m still deserving of love. If I had given almost my everything to someone who still managed to leave me, do I even deserve someone’s time, let alone love, if I had less to give? I know everything happens for a reason, and Shane and I have talked long and hard about why it was a better decision to be apart. But still, I cannot get over the fact that I was the one who got left behind. I think that’s the major part that puts me off – that I was the one who was left behind instead of me leaving that person. Egotistical, I know.
It makes me feel unworthy especially knowing that I was already pretty sure of him then. Apparently, he wasn’t of me.
After everything that happened, I found it hard to pick my pieces again. I’m okay now. I am better. But I remember feeling dead inside then. I never knew it was that hard until I found someone I truly loved. It was like walking on broken glass, like being punched in the heart with a knife, like a bad hand shaking my inner core and leaving me lifeless. My head was full of why’s. Too many questions, too little answers. I was so shattered I couldn’t eat for days that my meal consisted of half a rice and meat, which lasted the entire day.
I was passionless – I couldn’t write on my blog, I couldn’t go to the gym, I couldn’t cook any of my typical dishes. I was longing, desperate, and illogical. I was a mess inside and out. Let’s not even go to the panic attacks I would have every now and then, and the random outbursts I would have in the middle of the day such as the one I had while working in a coffee shop. On top of all that, I had a blank space on my face all the time and I didn’t care how I looked – I wouldn’t fix myself when we go out, I’d wear whatever I want, and I was deadpan.
“When you’re dreaming with a broken heart, the waking up is the hardest part.” I found myself struggling to wake up each day and deal with things. Working was the last thing I wanted to do but I needed to soldier on. It’s simply illogical to not work just because my boyfriend broke up with me. I had to force-feed myself the majority of the time, I had to remind myself again and again of the things I needed to do because I was starting to be forgetful.
Maybe this is long enough to give you a glimpse of my past failed relationships and we can now move on to how to actually move on.
TL; DR 2/4 ex-boyfriends broke up with me, 2/4 I broke up with. After Shane, I was like Joanna from Overboard when she fell off the yacht and got amnesia. Watch that film, it’s hilarious.
I didn’t make a list for myself to follow for when someone breaks up with me, no. But I found myself doing all these things little by little until I came up with this comprehensive list.
#1: Let someone know
The hard part about break ups is when no one understands your pain because no one knows about it. We have different reasons for keeping mum about our breakup situations, maybe some of our are ashamed for being left behind, some of us do not want to talk about it because the pain is still raw, some of us may want to distract ourselves and focus on other matters, but whichever your reason is, it’s better to let someone know, even if it’s just a friend or two. This is the time when you need someone the most to hear you out and just let you cry a river. It’s also to let someone know what’s going on with you lately, so they’d understand your situation.
Swallow your pride and let others help you, but don’t go overboard with it. Understand that we have different lives and people can only do so much – the rest is up to you. It can be as simple as messaging them on Facebook and asking them to be more patient when you turn batshit crazy out of the blue. *coughs*
#2: Take it one day at a time
The year is short but the days are long. At least that’s what they say, and coming from a break up you will feel this all the way from the moment you wake up to the time you have to sleep. And then you have to deal with it all over again the next day. The hours turn into days, the days into weeks. It’s hard but you have to suck it up. They say time heals all wounds, but it’s also the most dragging element in your life when you are in pain. Sometimes you feel that it’s just there, mocking you, laughing at you, teasing you, even intimidating you.
But keep reminding yourself that if you braved yesterday, you will brave today as well. Soon it will be noon, and then 6 PM, and the next thing you know you’re preparing for bed. Just take it one hour at a time, one day at a time.
#3: Realize that it’s okay to be not yourself again overnight
This is complementary to #2. While in the process of healing, I found myself asking why I would still cry every single day. It got really bad for me to the point that I would talk to myself every morning while I shower and convince myself that it’s going to be okay soon enough, that no pain lasts forever. You may think that once you find the logic behind the breakup, it’s reasonable for you to move on immediately, but more often than not, that’s not even the case.
Sometimes you would not be able to help but ask why, what, how even though all your questions have already been answered. This makes us dwell on the past and it turns out to be favorite past time even though it can also be the most harmful. My point is, it’s okay to be confused, it’s okay to keep asking even though you know you won’t get answers soon or ever. It’s all part of the process. You have to embrace the pain and after you got it over and done with, move on and close that chapter. Better yet, finish that book, and open a new one.
#4: Find an outlet
We all react differently to pain, thus, we have different coping strategies. Some of us like to just cry it out, some like to go out and party in hopes of forgetting the pain temporarily. Some of us start forming vices, some of us accept the truth and strive to just move on like nothing happened. But my best tip to dust yourself off and start fresh again is to find an outlet – a healthy outlet – and let that consume your energy, your time, your attention.
Whatever floats your boat, do it. For me, I turned to fitness. Whenever I found myself reliving the past and dwelling on my mistakes, our mistakes, I made it a point to fit “gym” in my schedule after work even if it’s spontaneous and release all my pent up energy there. Going to the gym is my therapy. But it also helps me gain my dream body one day at a time and it clears my head by letting me dump all my negative energy there and go home with a fresher perspective. The way I see it, it’s a win-win for me.
#5: Watch really nice films
I’m not talking about just a-okay films. I’m talking about films that make you laugh, smile, and feel good about yourself. Of course, it’s also logical to stay away from the sappy films that will only remind you of your past relationship. The point is to move on, not move back. It’s better to stick with comical films. Of course, the Sex And The City franchise was at the top of my list, and it should be in yours, too.
You can also try Bride Wars, Eat Pray Love, Love (Netflix Original Series), and Crazy Stupid Love (just to give you different angles of heartaches). There are a bunch of feel-good films you can watch. You can even opt for animated films if that floats your boat. I may or may not have watched How To Train Your Dragon 2 and cried thereafter several times.
#6: Check up on that person
This is entirely optional unless you know in your heart that you can talk to that person in a composed manner and you will not go crazy when he says something you don’t like or you don’t get the answers you expect from him. Yes, Shane and I checked up on each other then and it was also to clear some muddy parts of our breakup. Chances are, and if your ex-boyfriend has a heart, he is in pain, too. He just chooses not to show it or be as verbal as you are. If you’re really friends and you look after each other, you’d at least think of checking up on that person. It would also give you one less reason to stalk him on his social media accounts and squeeze your brains out from trying to figure out what he’s been up to lately. So just go ahead and talk to him.
However, don’t do it out of pity or desperation. Check on that person because you care and not because you want to get back together or you think he’s hurting so bad you need to be there for him even if you have your own moving on to do. Keep the conversation at a minimum and when you see he’s doing fine, go back to what you’re doing.
#7: Remove the emotion drivers
Once you find yourself calm enough, find the time to delete everything that links you to your ex. And I mean everything – text, photos, albums, blog posts. If you can get rid of some material things that you don’t really need and can just give someone else, do it. Other unnecessary things like letters, receipts (yes, some girls do that), amusement park souvenirs (true story, bro), just throw away. You don’t want to rummage in your bag a few years from now and see his love letter tucked in the hidden pocket.
If you can, find a time that you’re distracted or grumpy enough to look at your (couple) photos without being emotional. When I scroll through my photo gallery, I can look straight at my ex’s photos without cringing or crying, but one time around 2 AM when our Internet connection was down and my adrenaline was up, I resolved to finally delete all his solo photos and all our couple photos. I still have the albums on Facebook, but that’s easier to delete. I’m just glad I returned all his shirts that I stole, on his second visit. He left some bottoms but it’s not like I can wear them, so they’re just in my closet right now. He gave me a lot of useful stuff so I’m not going to get rid of them, like my Colourpop lipsticks and my iPhone because I waited too long for them and, hello, Colourpop? iPhone? Ugh.
#8: Value yourself all over again
I can’t speak for every woman out there who had to endure a breakup, but here are my two cents in it. After the breakup, I kind of felt worthless. I kept doubting myself and I’d question if I still had love to give to the world and if I was also deserving of it. It was hard for me to pick myself up again after what happened and find my worth. I know there were people comforting me and telling me that if I didn’t have a partner, at least I had them, but as much as they were there for me, the negative thoughts kept coming back to my head. They always find a comfortable spot come what may.
This results to random chat with guys online and giving in to their sweet words only to be disappointed that they were not who you thought they were. Then you’d feel cheap and taken for granted and you’re back to square one. One thing is for sure, though, expectation leads to disappointment. That, and you will never be genuinely happy and fulfilled if you keep looking for those from other people.
It has to start with you. You have to keep reminding yourself that you are not worth any less just because you don’t have a partner and you’re also not worth any more if you do. You shouldn’t let other people validate your existence or you will forever be disappointed. Relationships are not about “you plus me”; it’s about “you and me”. You are not each other’s halves; you are two individual people who are whole and complement – not complete – each other. I say this because once you find yourself down in the dumps, you better know how to pick yourself up and not expect anyone else to help you.
As I always say, be your own best friend. Be your own warrior. Be that one person who will save you in every sticky situation because when you have no one else, you have you. For your disposal, here’s a blog post entirely dedicated to self-love. Here’s the link.
#9: Seek help from family and friends
As I said before, you don’t have to be alone in this battle. It doesn’t have to be internal and solitary. Share your situation with someone else and ask for help. You know you need it. You also know that people do not have to do grand gestures to make you feel better. I’m pretty sure you know your worth no matter how much in denial you are, and you know in yourself that a heartache is never a reason for you to let your world crumble.
Some people can easily shrug off you being emotional and we know that’s the last thing you need. So surround yourself with people you trust and who understand your situation. Stick with rational people who know you best or who have been in your situation because they will end up giving you the best advice you will ever receive. They can shed some light and help you understand why things had to happen by showing you their own perspective.
#10: Strive to be the person you want to date
I consider it pure serendipity when I made a new friend online who happened to understand my situation and sprinkled some life realness on me from his own shitty experiences. The best piece of advice he gave me was not to be myself, but to be better than who I am today, so I can be the person I would want to date. The goal is to focus on yourself, re-evaluate your goals, and start anew with a fresh plan and carry it with you and keep it in mind wherever you go.
At this point, the least I need are dating tips. I need to rehash my goals and focus on my life, on the things I have to do, and not on scoring dates with random men. When you start focusing on yourself and turn your attention to the things you love, whether people praise you for it or not, you will receive the vibe you radiate. Love will come to you when you least expect it. It can happen at the most random place, time, and with the most random person. Neither rush it nor force it. Don’t even look for it. Focus on being a better version of yourself and it will become apparent soon enough.
Come to think of it, if you were the guy, you wouldn’t want to go out with a girl who’s insecure, desperate, and emotionally unstable, right? You would want her to be confident about herself, you would want to enjoy her company and see her enjoy herself as well. Overall, you’d want to have a good time and you can’t have that if one of you is a mess inside and out.
As the woman, you also wouldn’t be able to put something on the table if you have nothing to share. And our stories come from our experiences, from the things we do. It’s better to invest your time pleasing yourself than waste your time trying to please people who will never notice you. You can be in your teen years, in your 20’s, in your 30’s. Even if you were already in your 40’s, it’s never too late to fall in love with yourself first before you fall in love with someone else.
If you think that this is all too much, then try to imagine being your best self and pretend to be that. You can be someone you’re not and eventually become that person. What you believe in affects other people if you have conviction. Have you ever heard of the saying, “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have”? Yeah, the same goes with your personality. Be the person you want to be, act on it every single day, and little you know, you’re starting to be her.
At the end of the day, it’s always a better choice to be your own best friend, don’t you think?
- Whenever you feel the urge to jump into a relationship or even consider just looking around, ask yourself, “Am I worth it?”
- Men do not care if you are generous, loving, kind, polite, and all that jazz. He cares if you know how to keep up with conversations, if you can talk about anything under the sun, if you have passions, if you have strong opinions yet are argumentative, and if you know how to dress well, talk, and mingle.
- Learn how to sacrifice your social life. Just focus on yourself. It will be hard at first but you’ll get used to it. Your 20’s should be when self-improvement takes place. It’s the perfect time to mold yourself. If you put too much effort in your social life now, you’re wasting time and energy that you won’t have in your 30’s or 40’s. So sacrifice your social life to learn more about yourself.
- Social glamor is nothing if you have nothing to show off. As much as you have the itch to socialize, people will not talk to you when you have nothing interesting to offer.
- You’ve been given time to embrace yourself and singlehood. Use it wisely.
- If you fail, pick yourself up and do a catwalk like nothing happened. But take that brick you broke on your fall to remind yourself not to do it again.
- Always be open-minded. Your life choices and principles will always change.
- Be formless. Be logical rather than emotional. Learn to be fluid, for when you have no shape, you can be anything.
Always remember, in love, there is healing.
Bae is a 20-something passion blogger from Manila. She likes hoarding hobbies and trying out new stuff, blogging about her mundane adventures, and tweeting about random realizations and musings.