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.

  • This sounds like work… 😛

  • Macabre Mirth

    Excellent LIFE advice, not just dating advice, as per usual.

  • Beadle

    Now we need an article on how to break up with somebody.

    • Dr. NerdLove

      Believe it or not, that's coming soon.

  • DazzOne

    Thanks. This sounds like it will work. It even really reflects how I feel on the parts you describe wanting drunk text her or whatever. I think my two weeks is almost over.

  • Nova

    I knew the last part was coming. They weren't that awesome person when they were broken up with. Take this advice, live an interesting and personally fulfilling life NOW. Or at least don't do all of this good advice just for revenge, don't do it just so that the person will come crawling back, wishing they were still with you. Invest in yourself cause damnit you're worth it.

    Unless of course, the dumper was legitimately a terrible person, then I'd go ahead and enjoy the shit out of your life being better with them gone 🙂

    P.S. must go exercise some more

  • Janna

    … I was up with until the fuck part… Do you know how many guys has used me for this purpose? They talk to you and make you believe you have something, then bam! Sorry I don't see a future with you! In reality, they wre using you instead of healing themselves and being open for new love. They got better and I was left in pieces. That's fucked up. If you do that to a girl you deserve all the bad thing life has to offer and you being a douche bag was probably the reason she dumbed you to begin with!

    • Milk and Cookies

      Definitely agree with this. What a horrible thing to suggest. Fuck the pain away? Seriously? And ruin that girl's life until she's sunk into the same sort of funk that you're trying to get out of. I agree with a lot of things on here, but I've seen too much stuff like this. Use her to make yourself feel better all the while pushing her into the same situation. Terrible, terrible advice that I hope no one follows.

      • Dr. NerdLove

        Apparently we have a difference in ideas about what's actually in the article. I'm not talking about tricking another woman into a rebound relationship, I'm talking about no-strings attached bangin', pure and simple.

        I have no idea whether both you Janna and you Milk and Cookies believe in sex outside of a committed relationship. I can, however, assure you that there are plenty of women who *do*, and just as many who enjoy NSA sex.

        I will fully agree with you: tricking someone into a relationship just so one can get their rocks off is a shitty, shitty thing to do to someone. You may want to notice that that is not even remotely what I wrote.

        • Milk and Cookies

          I don't see a clear message that they should seek out girls who want no strings attached. I see 'get your dick wet' mentality suggesting they even lower their standards.

          • Guest

            My God, do you need it spelling out to you not to be a dick in the process?? Do you complain when apple pies burn your mouth if there's no "Caution: contents may be hot" warning?

            Love and sex are two different things. The good Dr said that you shouldn't look for a relationship. He didn't say "lie to get some tail / stick", he said lower standards in order to achieve and to take pressure off of Approach Anxiety. There's nothing stopping you from making sure that you're both approaching The Act knowing the consequences, in fact, it's compulsory. Two people can still be mature and discuss before getting naked where they want this to go, and as a result, either or both can walk away.

    • Cat

      So, you're saying that I, as a girl, can't have sex without getting emotionally involved and having my life ruined if it turns out that it's not a relationship? What century is this again?

      I'm sorry, I have to agree with Dr. NerdLove on this one. He's not saying that you should get over a breakup by luring someone into bed with the promise of a relationship and then dumping that person. He's saying that sometimes, having some casual, non-committal sex with someone can help you realize that there are far more fish in the sea.

      I've been there and done that, and I can say (from a girl's point of view) that it can be really refreshing to say, "That was awesome. I'll see myself out." then go home, shower, and sleep in my own bed by myself and not have to wonder "is he going to call tomorrow?" because I didn't care if he did.

      As long as everyone is up-front about there being no strings attached, and no expectations of a relationship, then by all means, go for it!

      • Milk and Cookies

        The problem is there's no mention of being upfront about it. It says find someone to sleep with and, unfortunately, some will do that any way they can. It's your choice to do those things, but it's no fun to be on the other end of something you thought was turning into more. That part needs to be addressed if this is supposed to be advice about dating and a improving your love life not just screwing around.

        • Celticdm

          Well, in a way, that is addressed…by the articles on this site about seduction. If someone is looking to this article for post-break up advice, and they get to the "time to get laid" part, they either A), already know how and will use whatever awesome OR bullshit tactics to accomplish that, or B) they will look to the other articles which I feel are pretty upfront in the "Don't Be an Asshole" department.

      • Hollywood Chick

        Until someone does it to her.

        In 3… 2… 1.. 🙂

    • Cathy

      I agree Jenna. That is horrible advice. Just because someone is hurting doesn’t give them the right to hurt and use someone else. Honesty and treating others with respect is key. If that means you have to be alone for a bit then so be it. Personally I’ve learned to wait at least 3 months of courtship for anything physical. If they are just using you or not ready they will move on. It is a shame to have to have rules like this but with people giving advice to just fuck anyone willing you have to protect yourself.

  • Pingback: Haunting Me « The New Adventures of Professor Fearless()

  • JRR

    Yes but what about those of us who have almost zero chance of hooking up or dating someone else after the breakup. Some of us found it almost impossible to get even one woman to be interested in us and are not sure how to make it happen ever again. And not everyone's into things like hookups and one-night stands.

    • surfguy

      actually it took One girl to make everything better for me! It was NSA awesome sex and she totally helped me get over a girl I was thinking about previous to that for almost 2 years non-stop. I think about the most recent girl now and not as much as my ex who I could care less about at this point. Men are built to love sex and at a young age a man cant see clearly because hes blinded by the beauty of a woman.

  • Oneitus

    But I'm mad about my oneitus.The thought of not ever being with her is too hard to contemplate.

  • kevin

    Wow. All I have to say is thank you. Great advice.

  • Pingback: Should You Get Back Together WIth Your Ex? — The Good Men Project()

  • Michael

    Awesome advice column. Firmly based in reality, straightforward amd sensible. Well played. The process still sucks balls. But keeping this stuff in mind helps

  • All about the ginger

    Is that you Michael? LOL!
    Well fuckers let's try this shit out! Day one of two weeks…

  • Laila

    So—her existence in your Universe is based upon her willingness to continue fucking you. I mean, who could fault you? After all, you even adopted some superficial feminastic position on Madonna's and Whores to get at this ho. Hell, you evolved yourself for this biatch and she dare shut your pussy down(nevermind why)?? Sure, your relationship was based upon bizarre notions of equality and friendship, but this tramp tried you. After all you've done for her! She owes you her life. You own that pussy, right?? You've been hitting it for 5-months, nevermind that you genuinely enjoy her as another human being. Nevermind that you have mutual friends and like each other's families. Find a new pussy object to replace that trick and go nuclear. Cause a bitch that stops fucking is a bitch you never knew.

  • LOST

    wow. I am a hard case. A real f hard case. It's not been two weeks but almost 4 months of selfdestruction while she has moved on. Yeah thats right and im still stuck in the same place. But not by will but energyloss. To many f-up moments in last 3 years have burn me out for good. Im still finding the way to pick my self up. But it's hard. The main problem is that i've had to many relationships and what i can say the world is one hell of a f-up place. Im talking about old stuff and new stuff. There is no more morality going on or loyalty. So even if i pick my self up and be f awesome. There will always be a dark thought and that is what a f am i doing here and who the f is she. Trust. Yeah right. Never gonna happen. And what is left. "Drifting" that is no good. Whats the future if i can trust again. To see once again woman a,b,c,d or e from past like behaviour or similarity or even worse. To trust again and be awesome and come across woman who willo f me up for good . havenig aometnih new to f me up. a,b,c,d,e at the same time. HEEEEELLLL no. it would be prison for me. So whats the plane. Solitude. Be evil, I am lost case

  • Anonymous

    Well, whatever works for you.

  • Erika

    I am old. In my life there were probably only six people who, in an emergency would have donated a body part to save my life. Four of these were my boyfriends, no not all at the same time. To take any of these relationships and end them with this so called nuclear option debases humanity to the lowest order of cretinous idiocy. It hurts to break up and so it should, it is what makes us human and not just robotic consumers of others. Treat your loved ones with care, part generously, agree periods of silence but write at an agreed interval to show you have cared and not just taken advantage. Someone may love you for the rest of their lives but rest assured, when the time comes they will have a place for you in their heart alongside their future partner and you may have someone you can trust more than anyone in return. Shame on you for publishing such selfish tripe.

  • robertsundead

    2: To be done with the utmost care. I was already into rock climbing and running before we stopped talking, but I started doing more to get away from the pain. I shredded two tendons, and according to my orthopedist was at risk of damaging my ACL. Now I'm swimming almost every day.
    4: For people who don't require sex to involve huge amounts of emotion, this is fine I guess. If you are that cold, fine, but that kind of thing is not for me.
    1: This is already being done more or less.
    3: I'm buys constantly, this is my first day of nothing in almost 2 months. I'm in school full time, I work in software development at a friend's start up, and I have gone to a party nearly every weekend for the past 5 months, talked with innumerable new people, most of them quite dull to be honest, had girls follow me out to my car even.
    5: I'm doing all this, I was never insecure, never thought "I will be alone for ever" alone, I know I am attractive, and that people like me.

    So given all this, why 6 months on, 4 since I removed everything I owned that reminded me of her, Am I still absolutely miserable? I hide it now pretty well, nobody sees how I'm feeling, I put a good mask on. And here I have yet to go an hour without thinking about her. I'm honestly considering killing myself. I know I will "get happy eventually" but I don't want some arbitrary time in the future I will be happy, I want now! I want my best friend back! and I'm sick of wearing this mask!

    • Sid

      Don't kill yourself. This might or might not help you, but I find it has changed my perspective completely I'm beginning to wonder whether in modern society (maybe this has been true in every society) people are just scared of the idea of love, actual love, not just cosy convenient emotion. Maybe that's the reason? Maybe you just love her? Maybe that's OK? And that might not help you be happy, or get her back, or bring about any particular outcome. You might need to let go of all that, of any outcome happening that involves her. But I'm not sure you need to let go of her herself. I'm not convinced that you need to pretend she doesn't exist. She exists! She is a great person. And so are you – you seem to know that. You might need to stop being in love with her, but you don't need to stop loving her. You might always love her. But you might also fall in love with someone else. And that will be new and different.

  • Pingback: macys promo code august 2012()

  • Pingback: macys coupon code april 2014()

  • Pingback: target coupon codes()

  • Selkiechick

    Brilliant. I could. Have used this advice when I was 19! This is good advice for anyone regardless of gender.