Surviving the Break Up

So the worst has happened. Maybe you knew deep in your gut that it was coming. Maybe it came out of the blue and took you by such surprise that you literally can’t speak. She sat you down on the couch and broke the news to you. She told you in a restaurant to make sure you wouldn’t freak out on her. She didn’t want to face you so she sent you an e-mail. She was so cold and callous that she sent you a fucking text message.

You’ve been dumped.

“It’s ok, we can still be friends while I’m boning people who aren’t you.”

Hey, we’ve all been there. You know you’re not alone in this. You know there are others out there who’ve got it worse than you. But knowing that doesn’t really help, does it? In fact, in some ways it makes it worse; sure, in the abstract, your life is pretty fucking good. But the pain feels worse because, goddamn it, it’s yours.

So right about then you’re feeling at your absolute lowest. You’re going through the motions, haunting your own life like someone who doesn’t know it’s time to check out. And despite everything, you just can’t seem to manage to move on, which makes you feel even more pathetic, which makes you feel worse, which makes it harder to move on… and so the cycle continues.

Well it’s time to snap the fuck out of it, son. You’re a pathetic sniveling wretch right now and though they’re not going to want to say it, even your friends are getting tired of hearing you whine about it. It’s time to man the fuck up and get your life back. Oh, I know you’ve been doing your best. But how’s that working out for you huh? Yeah, about what I thought.

Fortunately for you, the doctor’s here with his prescription for getting over that breakup and getting on with your life.

Prep Work

Heartbreak sucks. In fact, scientists have found that it’s literally physically painful, so it’s not as though I’m unsympathetic. But at the same time, your sitting around and wallowing in your own misery is only making things worse.

A lot of people subscribe to the half-life theory of break-ups; that is, that it takes approximately half of the time you were together to get over someone. Frankly, I disagree with this theory but even if it were true, that will be entirely too much time of sitting around and waiting for life to quit sucking and kicking your ass. If you want to get over her, you can’t let yourself be passive; you have to grab life by the balls, embrace the pain and fight your way through it. So you have two weeks. Two weeks from the date she dumped you to cry about it, whine to your friends, bitch about her on your blog, write all that bad poetry and generally feel sorry for your self. After that, you’re cut off. You’re done.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  You’ll still hurt. You’re still going to feel like shit. But you will be right at the point where everyone around you will be running out of sympathy. So get off your couch and start making your post-break up playlist. I recommend a mix of angry punk, Meat Loaf, Henry Rollins and Ronnie James Dio, because you’re going to want to channel that energy and rage – yes, rage – to move you forward.

So now it’s time to get started.

Step One: Take the Nuclear Option

Your first step, if you haven’t done this already, is to cut off all contact with your ex. You need to unfriend her on Facebook, quit following her on Twitter, trash her e-mails, delete all of her contact information from your phone. Take down the photos and momentos you have of her; if you can’t bring yourself to get rid of them, then you need to lock them away and give the key to a trusted friend who is under strict orders not to give it back until you can prove you are well and truly over her… and this will be when you don’t want those photos back.

Yes, yes, I know what you’re going to say already. “But we said that we could stil be friends!” ” But what if we get back together?” But, but, but, what if , what if, what if… nerds can what-if themselves into an almost infinite number of  scenarios, and all of them are about as likely as your winning the PowerBall tomorrow. The cold hard truth of the matter is that all you’re going to end up doing is picking at your own scabs. You’re going to be scanning her Facebook profile for the day that she announces that she’s in a relationship. You’re going to have moments when you’re going to get drunk and try to call her and beg her to take you back.

You may think that no, you really do just want to be friends. You’re both mature adults; you can make this happen.

You’re lying to yourself. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re really just hoping to back-door your way back into a relationship. And deep down you know just how this is going to end… in tears.

You don’t have the self-awareness or perspective to ward this off. You’re too close to it and your pain is too raw.

All of this is going to throw you off your path to recovery. The only answer is to cut all ties and not look back. If the two of you are really meant to be, then then Universe will arrange for the two of you to come back in contact again.

Step Two: Exercise

You can’t get her out of your head. You’re too busy re-examining every little thing that happened, trying to pinpoint exactly where things went wrong. You’re driving yourself crazy, imagining her with her new boyfriend, doing all the things that she never let you do and loving every minute of it. It’s almost enough to drive you mad, and you can’t seem to stop.

There is an answer: exercise. There’s nothing better for blanking out your conscious mind than getting lost in your own physicality. When you’re in the middle of running a 5k or doing 20 minutes of jump rope, or you’re on your third set of reps on the bench press you’re not thinking about her, you’re thinking about the burning in your muscles. You’re feeling your heart pound and your lungs gasp and you’re fighting for the will and strength to make it to the end. You’re entirely in the now, and your Now is all about your body.

Exercise drowns out the endless playback of what happened and the ultimately futile roleplaying of what you could do to get her back. Exercise releases the endorphins that make you realize that you may feel like pounded shit but by god, it’s the kind of pain that makes you realize that you feel more ALIVE than you’ve felt in a long goddamn time.

And the best part are all the side benefits. Yeah, your health is going to improve, but you’re going to start looking better too. A leaner torso, a flat stomach, more defined shoulders and arms… yeah, you’ll be looking good. And people are going to notice. And you’ll notice them noticing. And that, my friend, is going to make you feel better about yourself, way more than ordering another pizza and marathoning Veronica Mars on Netflix.

“No, really. This is a totally rewarding alternative.”

Step Three: Get Busy

It’s time to take everything you feel, that anger, that hopelessness, that feeling that you’ll never do any better and turn it into productivity. You’re going to be diving head first into all the shit you’ve been neglecting while you were too busy feeling sorry for yourself. Work isn’t necessarily a cure for a broken heart, but it will give you plenty of things to occupy your mind as you work your way through my prescription.

Oh, but it’s not all about work, you know. All work and no play make Jack kill people with a fucking axe. So you’re going to be getting back into your own life too. It’s time that you get the fuck out of your house and start getting involved with stuff. It’s time to work on a new hobby, volunteer at the local ASPCA, take some extra classes, join a kickball league with your friends or find a new part-time job. You’re going to be filling those empty hours until you’re staggering home and passing out into a dreamless sleep and waking up the next day eager to take life on again.

You can’t stand your life, so it’s time to build a new one. You want new experiences, stuff that’ll take you out of your comfort zone and show you aspects of both the world and yourself that you didn’t know were there. It’s time to go expand your horizons past those artificial limits you’ve set for yourself. You think you aren’t good at sports, but things have changed… maybe it’s time to take another shot at it. You want  to take chances and explore your own life in ways you didn’t expect. You want to collect stories; this will make you a more interesting person.

You’ll be too busy to think about how shitty your ex treated you, and besides, you’ve executed the nuclear option, so there’s nothing there to remind you of her and even less to tempt you into drunkenly calling her up and crying about what happened, which will only make you feel worse in the morning.

Step Four: Fuck The Pain Away

Now that you’re getting busy, it’s time to get busy. I am a firm believer that one of the best ways to get over someone is to get under someone else.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean you need to join your local Pick-Up Artist’s lair and start talking about negs and debating whether you want to learn Mystery Method or Natural Game or Social Circle Game or whatever the hell else is out there. But it does mean that it’s time to start getting some perspective on this whole “woman” business.

Y’see, during this break-up you’re probably focusing too much on what you’ve lost and that you’re never going to do any better. You’re feeling like you’re destined to be alone for the rest of your life.

You need to force yourself to get out of that headspace and to start looking around a little. Walk to any mall and look around. Women. Go to a restaurant. Women. Go to your local college campus. More women. And you know what? A lot of ’em are pretty damn hot.

So you need to be willing to realize that not only are there other women out there in the world, but you’re pretty sure you want to fuck a few of ’em. So whether you decide to log into OKCupid  hit the bars, or start spending more time in bookstores, it’s time to dip your toes (and other bodily parts) back into the dating scene.

And as contrary as this may sound to you right now, you should consider lowering your standards a bit. You’re not looking to trade up. Right now, all you really need is to know that there are, in fact, other women in the world that find you attractive and desirable and that you can get balls deep in ’em when you feel the need. You’re DECIDEDLY not looking for a relationship right now, especially after old whats-her-name… not that you can remember much, seeing as how you’ve deleted all of her texts and all the photos you had on your computer. You’re just enjoying being single and free.

Step Five: Be Awesome

Living an amazing life is the best revenge. If you’ve been following these steps, then you’ve got more experience under your belt, you’re in better shape (time to consider getting some new clothes) and you’ve had some post-break-up action too. So now, you’re feeling more confident, you have more stories and interests and you’re a little more sure of what you’re looking for out of life. So you’re feeling pretty good.

Now, imagine how good it’s going to feel when you realize that the person you’ve become is someone she would be crazy to have ever let go of in the first place.

At some point when old whats-her-face will bored with her current and looks you up on Facebook, she’s going to see how goddamn incredible your life is right now and will be kicking herself. She’s going to wonder why the hell she was dumb enough to ever think that she wanted to break up with you at all. And if she gets up the guts to try and reach out to you again…


“You had your chance, honey.”


Well, you ignore that shit, because your life is too full for looking back at past mistakes.

And that is how you win the break up, my friends.