I have been through a few awful breakups in the past couple of years. Hellooo, crying in the rain post-dumping. Then there was the time a guy introduced me to his best friends and dumped me forty-eight hours later. And I can’t forget the time I broke things off with a man with whom I’d only gone on a few dates—and who continued to call and text me for weeks afterward.
As painful as these breakups were, let me tell you, there is nothing worse than a poorly executed breakup.
Come on, you know what I'm talking about. Everybody has a breakup story they pray their ex keeps to himself—or have themselves been dumped in a breakup fit for He’s Just Not That Into You.
But, no matter how sad or annoying or uncomfortable, I can tell you honestly that I have emerged from each and every breakup a little stronger, and perhaps more importantly, a little wiser.
So, in case you haven't already learned the hard way, or maybe need a refresher, here is a list of breakup "don'ts" (and a final do, too!)
I'm talking public displays of rejection. Nothing is worse than being stranded in the middle of the street with no tissues to stem the flow of tears and snot streaming from your face—except maybe trying not to disturb the ambiance at a restaurant with your stifled squeaks as you try not to cry. Trust me, I’ve experienced both.
Sure, breaking things off in private runs the risk of being held hostage by your brand new ex in your own home (How many ways do you need me to tell you I don't see a future??), but, whether you’re the “dumper” or “dumpee,” I’ve found that the most human breakups take place in the comfort of a private space.
Don’t ghost him.
Just disappearing is the most tempting breakup solution of all. Especially if things get a little awkward toward the end. But, let's be honest, no matter how suddenly you drop off the map, your ex always knows where to find you. It's not like you have entered witness protection and nobody knows where you are. Your name is still the same, your ex still has you phone number (which he will likely use frequently to find out what you problem is), he can still see you on Facebook having fun with your friends and dating other guys.
So yeah, you're not really "ghosting," you are just ignoring someone. That doesn't sound as nice does it? It also doesn't sound like something you'd want to be on the receiving end of. Respect what you once shared and part ways without going MIA.
Don’t buy tickets for a roller coaster ride.
The only people who should have the pleasure of being along for your post-breakup emotional roller coaster ride is your best friend, your mom, and your therapist. Chances are your ex is not going to be a great one for walking you off the ledge. News flash! When you tell the heartbroken man that you are afraid you made a mistake he is going to agree with you.
Instead of calling up your ex in a panic, tell your girlfriends to smack your phone out of your hand, and spare the poor man from enduring months upon months of should-we-get-back-together-or-shouldn’t-we interactions. On the other hand, don't let your ex reel you back in if you've been dumped. Communication is fine. Mixed messages? Not good. For now, say goodbye and do yourself, and your ex, a favor and let it rest.
Don’t tell everyone all the gory details.
I know, it's a fresh, painful wound, but don't be that girl who tells anyone who will listen about what a jerk your ex is—even if he did dump you in public. They are going to be satisfyingly sympathetic, but their shock and horror and exclamations of "What a scoundrel!" (...If you are in a movie from the '50s) will only cause the wound to fester.
By all means, tell your closest friend about what happened and how you feel. But be careful not to divulge every dirty detail to everyone in your life. You’ll end up with a lot of opinions on the situation, making it harder to determine how you are really feeling and ultimately make it harder to move on.
Don’t seal the deal with a kiss.
Unfortunately, bad dating habits have programmed many of us to circumvent terribly awkward romantic moments with either alcohol or make-out sesh . . . or both. Let's be honest with ourselves here, when has either of these tactics served us well?
Resist this bad habit in the breakup setting. A post-breakup kiss is a cliché rom-com plot. In real life it's downright torture. Part ways with a hand shake or maybe even an awkward shoulder bump hug. Do not think that one last loving embrace will somehow lessen the heartache you're feeling. It won't.
Don’t stalk his every move on social media.
Good riddance, we say as we feverishly scroll through his Facebook wall or see him listening to his decidedly sad playlist on Spotify.
It's hard when our romantic addiction is all wrapped up in our digital addiction. But breaking up means choosing to let go. I for one have never been able to fully move on without taking a break from social media and by no longer following my ex. If it’s too hard to see your former boo in your newsfeed on a regular basis, then don’t. You have the power to change that.
But do . . . remember you are awesome and beautiful.
Even if your ex tells you that he isn’t capable of love and he would rather be single than date you (yep, heard that one before), remember you are worthy of love. It might not feel like it right now, but your heart will heal and you will become a stronger women because of this. This experience is shaping you and bringing you that much closer to the partner who is the right fit for you, someone who will love you for all you are.
Photo Credit: Olivia Leigh Photography