Going through heartbreak is one of those “if you know, you know” life events, and until two months ago, I had no idea what it was like despite having watched many romantic dramas and comedies in my lifetime.
In general, my family doesn’t talk a lot about relationships. As far as I know, many of my aunts and uncles ended up marrying the first person they dated (and even if that’s not the case, I don’t know much about anyone’s dating history). Fortunately, I have extremely supportive friends and a few close family members who helped me get through the whole endeavor. Two months later, I’m still not 100% back to my old self, but I’m doing so much better than I was the first week and first month.
I recently read Catherine Gray’s , and while I couldn’t relate to everything in the book, I really loved the part where she wrote a letter to her niece and nephew for when they turn 18 years old. In the letter, she gives them advice about romantic relationships. I wanted to write something similar that I could share with my younger loved ones if they ever experience heartbreak. Who knows, maybe it will come in handy for me later on if my heart gets broken again 😭 Here goes nothing…
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably just gone through a breakup. I am so, so sorry to hear that, and I know it’s not going to make the pain go away, but I want you to know that there are so many people in your life that love you and will support you through your heartbreak. You will be okay. It might not feel like it right now, but trust me, you will absolutely be okay.
Here’s some advice that helped me get through my first breakup. I hope it helps you get through yours.
The first few days
It’s going to hurt like hell during the first few days and even weeks. Your brain processes the emotional pain of heartbreak similar to the way it registers physical pain. If you need to cry, let yourself cry. As someone wise once told me, crying releases endorphins, which can help ease both the emotional and physical pain.
It’s very likely you’ll lose your appetite and have trouble sleeping, but please do your best to get some food into your stomach and get some sleep. I know it’s hard, but try to take care of your body even through your heartbreak.
I wish there was a magical incantation to make the pain go away, but unfortunately there’s no trick to heal instantly. Go eat some ice cream or whichever comfort food you prefer. You’re going to be okay. *sending you a virtual hug*
If you can spend time with a friend or family member, do that. We’ll be here for you. You’re going to be okay.
The next phase
As time goes by, you’ll think of the breakup less frequently, and you will gradually feel better. I’m not going to lie—some days you’ll feel worse than the day before (e.g. something triggers memories of the breakup), and you’ll feel like you’re regressing, but that’s okay. The overall trend will be upward.
For those days you don’t feel well, let yourself cry if you need to. Time-box your crying session and then try to focus your attention on something else.
Don’t be afraid to lean on your friends and family for support. If you’re tired of talking or thinking about the breakup, talk to us about something else.
You’re going to be okay. I know in your head, you might not feel like things are ever going to be okay, but I promise you, one of these days, you’ll believe me.
Sorry, I wasn’t sure how to structure the rest of this, so I’m just going to laundry list my other pieces of advice/recommendations.
Stages of breakup grief
In case it’s helpful for you, here are the 6 stages of breakup grief. You might not go through them in this exact order, and that’s okay. You might go through certain stages multiple times in a loop, and that’s okay, too.
You may have imagined an entire future with your ex, and having that taken away can be extremely painful. Let yourself grieve the future you had planned, but also know that your future is still full of possibilities. You are 100% going to be okay.
Give yourself some space from your ex
You might be like me and desperately want to stay friends with your ex. That’s okay, but before you can do that, you need to temporarily suspend communication with them until you’ve completely accepted the breakup. If your ex starts dating someone else, will you be genuinely happy for them? If the answer is no, you’re not ready to be friends yet.
I made the mistake of continuing to talk to my ex thinking that they were the solution to my unhappiness. It was only natural because for a very long time, they were the person I would turn to when I was feeling down and upset. Eventually, I realized that continuing to talk to them was like prodding an open wound. When we talked, sometimes I would feel happy because it was almost as if we were still together, but then I would quickly come crashing back down when I came back to reality. In the end, our conversations made me feel worse, not better.
You don’t have to cut your ex out of your life forever if you don’t want to, but trust me, taking that break will help you heal.
You are not alone
It might feel like no one understands the pain you’re going through, but trust me, you’re not alone. I recommend listening to if you haven’t already. Her songs meant so much more to me after having gone through my own breakup. I recommend reading by Lori Gottlieb. The author, who is a therapist, goes through a breakup that motivates her to see a therapist herself. I gleaned lots of life advice from this book, and it made me feel less alone. Watch this video, . I watched it about a month after my breakup. After watching it, I finally felt for the first time that I was going to be okay.
My top takeaways were:
All the closure you need is that your ex left you. They’re not your soulmate. No one dreams about a soulmate who leaves them, so that was not your soulmate. “If you can love the wrong person for you so deeply, then imagine how it would be to love the right person for you.” There’s a to the video that I also found helpful, but part of me wishes she didn’t include 27:00-28:09, so maybe skip over that section until you’re in a better place 😅
Be kind to yourself
I’m leaving this one last, but I think it’s the most important. If you’re like me, you’re probably replaying all the times you could have done things differently and wondering if things would have turned out differently if only you had [fill in the blank]. I’m giving you permission not to punish yourself with that line of thinking. You did the best you could given the information you had at that time. You can’t change the past, so instead, treat it like a learning experience. Note down (1) what you learned about yourself from this relationship and (2) anything you’d want to do differently in the future (if any), and keep your head focused on the present and the future.
I know all of this is easier said than done, but I’ll say it anyway just so that you know.
Breakups can be hard on your self-esteem, so I want you to know that you are perfect just the way you are. You deserve to be with someone who wants to be with you just the way you are. It really sucks that it wasn’t the person you once thought it would be, but you are going to be okay.
You are whole even when you’re single. It’s nice to have a partner, but you don’t need another person to complete you. I’d even argue that you are most yourself when you are single. We that it truly is worthwhile to spend your single time investing in yourself and getting to know who you are as an individual before seeking another relationship.
It might feel like the world is ending, but trust me when I say that you will come out of this stronger than ever. I am here for you. You are so loved—never forget that.
Lots of love,