Dear Miss Lonely Hearts,
My girlfriend from home just broke up with me over spring break and I can't stop thinking about it. I really loved her and thought we would be together for much longer, but she didn't want to do long distance anymore. While I respect her decision, it's still shitty to deal with, especially being back on the Reed grind. I can barely focus on my readings. What should I do?
Dear Million Pieces,
Let me put this eloquently: breakups suck. Dealing with the healing process away from home (and while you have a million assignments to focus on) is painful and difficult, but know that, ultimately, it’s for the best. Because long distance also sucks. Breaking up now will probably save you so much heartache in the long run, no matter how dejected you feel at the moment.
But I’m sure you’ve heard all of that before, and, while you understand your ex’s intentions, like you said, it’s still shitty to deal with. There’s not much I can really say that will take the weight of your past relationship off your mind or make the breakup aftermath less shitty. Instead, I’ll give you a list of tangible tasks you can perform to encourage the healing process so you can try to get over your ex as best you can.
One cliché about what to do after a breakup does, surprisingly, work wonders: make a breakup box. Shove everything that reminds you of your ex in there (you can even go so far as the put the photos you have of the two of you together on a flash drive and tuck that in there as well). While some would suggest nixing the box altogether in favor of chucking everything related to the relationship in the trash, you’ll most likely regret that move later. Plus, your stash of breakup-related goodies will come in handy for number five on the list.
Create a virtual breakup-box. (I’m not sure if that metaphor works, but bear with me.) Delete your ex from Snapchat, unfollow their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds. If you get hung up on checking to see if they’ve watched your stories, block them on social media outlets so you don’t feel like you’re constantly trying to prove to them that you’re doing okay. Just make sure to leave at least one window of communication open: don’t block their number, because maybe in a few months you’ll be able to talk again (but don’t call them).
Every time you find yourself wanting to text or call your ex, message a friend instead. Know that if you’re having a particularly hard day, it’s okay to ask a friend to come over and sit with you while you complain about the breakup or while you cry and watch Dirty Dancing. Let yourself lean on the people around you.
Lean into your emotions and, if need be, let yourself wallow. This may seem like strange advice, but you need to give yourself the time and space to grieve for your relationship. When a wave of sadness (or anger) washes over you, don’t push those feelings away. Let yourself cry. Give yourself permission to experience those emotions whenever they hit you (take it from someone who has cried over an ex in a grocery store, lived to tell the tale, and even felt better after that impromptu sob sesh). This is not to say that you should exhaust all of your mental and emotional energy thinking about your ex (please don’t), but allow yourself to spend some time grieving.
After you spend a bit of time on working through your emotions, take a break from wallowing. Distract yourself (in healthy ways). Hug your friends. Get really into reading that article for your Thursday class. Dive deep into a hole of YouTube videos about space. Watch the clip of Rihanna walking down the Victoria Secret runway and channel that energy when you’re feeling low. Take a walk in the canyon and admire the spring blossoms. (Move to Philly. Buy a loft. Start a noise band. Get six or seven roommates. Eat hummus with them. Book some gigs. Burn down an Applebee’s. Listen to Animal Collective. Start some kind of salsa company...)
Know that it is going to take some time to move on from your ex, and make peace with that.
And, Million Pieces? You can and will get over this breakup, no matter how heartbroken you’re feeling at the moment. Best of luck.
Miss Lonely Hearts