Breakups are tough, draining, and often very spiteful. Many men have difficulties accepting that a relationship has finished, and an even tougher time regaining some level of normality.
If two people’s personalities or ambitions don’t align, a relationship may head towards a breakup. Clear communication and mutual adjustment can help, but it may sometimes be too little, too late.
The way you approach that breakup could be the difference a prolonged split full of ill-feeling and the amicable separation of two adults, ready to face the rest of their lives.
According to a 2019 paper published in Current Opinions in Psychology, the human brain reorganises emotional attachments after the close of a relationship using the same responses through which it restructures during grief.
In short: Loss is change, and change can be tough. Handling it is the key to building your resilience and pursuing fresh connections with valuable, lived-in lessons.
If you’re having trouble separating yourself from your previous relationship, I’m here to help. Most of these tips involve you concentrating on and getting joy from different aspects of your life while you recover and grow.
Recalibrate and refocus
When you’re in a relationship, you may have found that you sacrificed some of the time you’d otherwise have invested in your hobbies, exercise, or friends.
That shouldn’t be the case, but it often transpires that men lose little parts of themselves to a relationship. It makes the breakup that much harder because you’ve fallen into the trap of co-dependency.
The critical part of recovering from a breakup is to put extra energy into what makes you happy.
Whether it’s sports, clubbing, music, gaming, or anything else that sparks curiosity or joy in you, throw yourself in the deep end (swimming, too, I suppose). This is your time now.
It might be best to focus on a hobby at which you can actively improve. Learn the guitar or get good at chess. Any interest that helps you grow can bolster your confidence while moving into the next chapter of your life.
Exercise and stay active
Make sure at least one of the hobbies you plough your post-breakup energy into involves physical activity.
Regardless of any targets that you may have for getting or staying in shape, the feel-good chemicals that flood your body during exercise can help you keep low moods at bay, according to The Journal of Physical Therapy Science.
Being active every day can help you get back into a routine, establishing an activity that you carry out solely for your own physical and mental well-being on a regular basis.
The more vibrant and more varied your life becomes on its own terms, the more likely it is that you’ll begin to frame the breakup as a platform for phenomenal growth and sky-rocketing self-esteem rather than a loss.
Get social – quickly.
Following a breakup, the temptation can strike to wallow at home, doing nothing but thumbing through your ex’s Facebook profile pics.
However, social support is a crucial building block in your psychological Renaissance after a painful breakup. For every positive romantic relationship that falls, I’ll wager you have five or six non-romantic relationships that mean a lot to you.
Lean on them.
There are over 7 billion people out there for you to meet, so spending any time neck-deep in emotional memories is time wasted. That’s not to say you shouldn’t value the time you spent together, but why deprive the world of what you have to offer?
Confide in your folks. Have them take you to places where you can meet new people. Why not tie your quest for social interaction to learning a new skill – if you attend a dancing class every week, you’ll naturally start to forge new bonds and find new opportunities to mingle.
You’ll forget why you ever opened your ex’s Facebook in the first place.
Forgive your ex, or at least share the blame.
This may seem like a big ask, especially following an ill-tempered breakup or an affair.
However, a study in Frontiers in Psychology found that feelings of injustice after a partner cheats increase the risk of vengeful behaviour and prolonged negative moods.
Relationships succeed or fail on a two-way basis. If a partner cheats, it’s because the relationship did not fulfil all of their needs. While you can rightly continue to hold them accountable, harbouring resentment hurts you in the long run.
Ask what lessons you can learn from the experience.
- Were you over-present or not around enough?
- Did you not have enough of your own hobbies or social groups?
- Did she feel uncomfortable about some of your relationships with female friends – and did you give her good reason not to be?
- Were your goals and priorities different?
- Could you have done more to build a stable foundation for the two of you as a team?
We shouldn’t blame ourselves for all the traumatic experiences that may occur in life. However, they’re for nothing if we can’t grow. Holding on to negativity about an individual will mean they continue to hold dominion over your life for a while to come.
Find it in yourself. Forgive her, and start reclaiming your life.
Act like someone who is over it
To re-establish your life as you know it, you might have to “fake it ’til you make it” for a little while.
Write a list of small things that you can do every day that resemble the life you’re after – getting out on a walk every day, putting your clothes away, getting work done, whatever shape it takes.
Try to scratch off one extra item with each passing day until your life naturally starts to resemble a world beyond your ex. You’ll get used to it faster than you think.
Don’t rush into anything else.
The worst mistake you could make is rushing into another relationship before you’re ready.
A breakup leaves wounds open and questions unanswered, and you need a period of reconciliation to bounce back.
Jumping into another relationship directly after a painful split creates a rickety foundation for lasting happiness. It also increases the risk of another breakup not too much further down the line.
When a relationship ends, it can leave a dent in your self-esteem if you don’t look after yourself. Make sure you practice some self-care before looking for a similar connection with someone else.
Talk to as many women as you can.
I spoke about not jumping into anything substantial right away. But that doesn’t mean you can’t see what’s on offer.
You needn’t escalate any interaction further than you’re comfortable with, but it’ll push your confidence through the roof to get into some positive conversations with women while you’re out socialising.
Slowly crank it up until your increased self-esteem walks you into an increasing number of intimate encounters. Your ex will be a distant memory.
Breakups can be devastating, but you can come out of them even more confident and far more resilient if you focus on other aspects of your life.
Romantic relationships are powerful, but they’re just one thread of a multi-faceting, enriching life. When things don’t go to plan, apply yourself with equal gusto to other threads. You’ll feel great and come back swinging.
Don’t worry about what your ex is doing. She’s no longer one of those threads.
For more help getting back out there, sign up for one of my virtual Impactful Connection workshops.