My ex and I broke up in the car, five hours from home, right after we said “I love you” for the first time—with only the new Taylor Swift album to break up our awkward silences. (Coincidence? I think not.) It was definitely not how I envisioned ending our road trip, let alone our relationship.
The next thirty or so days are what my friends and I affectionately refer to as “Breakup Month.” Which, it turned out, was four weeks of trial by fire in what not to do after a breakup.
I know we all have our “never go back to that place” reminders, but as a helpful guide—and hopefully for a laugh—here are ten post-breakup habits you’re better off quitting:
01. Hasty (Read: Unflattering) Haircut Decisions
Let's get this one out of the way right now. Post-breakup bangs? Shorter locks just because I'm single? I’ve made better decisions in my life. I’ve officially learned I’m not the type who can rock a spunky or feisty hairdo. While it’s tempting to want to reinvent yourself and go for a “new” you, it might be worth pushing pause before you chop your locks. Post-breakup is a great time to get comfortable in your own skin and a hasty hack job might not be the best self-confidence booster.
02. Social Media Stalking
First and foremost: unfollow, unfriend, do whatever it takes. If comparison is the thief of joy then his Snapchat stories and Instagram posts will rob you of your ability to move on. Insecurities about how much fun he’s having without you or who he’s hanging out with will only make matters worse. Drop the phone and delete his page. Out of sight, out of mind.
03. Ice Cream Pint Night
Look, I love a pint of Tonight Dough just as much as the next girl. But my Ben & Jerry’s was a cold comfort in the face of so many emotions. When my freezer started to look more like the novelties section of the grocery store than an actual freezer, I did some re-evaluating. Plus, if I’m being honest, my pint nights only escalated my insecurities about feeling undesirable or rejected rather than eased them. Enjoy a scoop or two, but let’s not go crazy.
04. Calling a Dating Fast
I believe there was a time when I swore off the entire male species for good. I called it my dating “sabbatical” and refused to even entertain the option of moving forward. On paper it seemed like a noble and righteous quest to take time for myself, but deep down I was really just bitter about my breakup. It’s definitely worth taking some time to yourself post breakup but studies actually show that moving on and putting yourself back out there could dramatically improve your next relationship.
05. All Things Nicholas Sparks
The Notebook, Dear John, The Last Song...need I say more? Turn off the TV tearjerkers! Just think of the damage you’re doing to your Netflix queue and you’ll thank me later. Plus, if you’re anything like me you might share an account with your roommates or family—or even worse, your ex—and no one wants to see your Nicholas Netflix binge in their suggestions.
06. Trying to Stay Friends
I know, this is a hotly contested subject. At some point during a breakup we've all suggested a post-breakup friendship to help ease the transition. But here’s the deal: guys and girls can’t be best friends, especially when they just got through breaking each other’s hearts. Plus, every co-ed relationship has a time stamp that usually ends when the other person starts dating again. While a friendship might be great in theory it’s complicated in practice and keeps you from fully moving forward and pursuing other options. Plus, it could send mixed signals to any potential suitors.
07. Ex-Boyfriend Bashing
OK, OK, out of all of these suggestions this one is definitely the hardest. I’m not proud of it, but I did give my ex quite the nickname after our breakup. While it does roll off the tongue and communicated exactly how I felt about him, it certainly wasn’t kind or uplifting. It’s so tempting to want to tell everyone our side of the story, but that’s just a temporary Band-Aid on a much deeper hurt we might be feeling (not to mention the fact that your breakup could be temporary). While it’s not the best idea to hold out hope that you could eventually reunite, it would definitely be harder to rekindle your relationship if you’ve spent the past however many months convincing your friends and family of what a terrible person he is.
Be open, honest and vulnerable about your feelings with your closest friends (aka not all over social media), but talk about him the way you would want to be talked about rather than drag him through the mud. There’s already enough hurt and pain going around, so no need to add fuel to the fire.
08. Playing Those Really Depressing Songs on Repeat
If Adele and Alanis Morissette are frequent features on your "recently played" list, then it’s time to switch it up. To this day I still tear up when I belt out Rihanna’s "Stay," but I knew I was too far gone when my DJ privileges were revoked on a road trip with some friends post-breakup. Trust me, it’s tough to earn those privileges back, so if you still need to sing at the top of your lungs, allow me to suggest Beyoncé or Mariah Carey as safe crowd-pleasing options.
09. Indulging in Retail (or Puppy) Therapy
When all of my friends got married in the few months following my breakup I decided to do the next best thing. They all got husbands, I got a puppy. While I don’t regret Winston now, I can say it probably wasn’t the best timing. If you’re lucky, a dog is a 10+ year commitment and not some casual fling you can return when another relationship rolls around. Really do your research and make sure you’re physically, emotionally and financially in a place where you can invest in properly caring for a pet.
This also applies to retail therapy. Put the credit card down and just imaginary shop on Pinterest instead. Filling your closet won’t fill the void and will actually just leave you really broke (but hopefully broke and cute, right?).
10. Putting Up Walls
Probably the most dangerous post-breakup habit is shutting down and not letting anyone in. In the midst of rejection, loneliness, heartache and pain it’s really easy to want to emotionally shut down and shut ourselves in (see pint nights, Netflix and sappy songs for reference).
Though it’s painful, the bravest thing we can do is open ourselves up despite the fear we feel. You are worth being known and chosen and loved whether that’s by a close group of friends or in a future relationship. Stay open and receptive to the people around you.
Photo Credit: Taylor McCutchan