Some breakups are utterly devastating. You feel you will never be able to face the world again, never really enjoy another day. You marvel at people going through the day with a smile on their face.
But time has its own schedule. One day you wake up and you realize you’re not so miserable anymore – you haven’t thought of him or her for a day or two and life is livable again.
As biological anthropologist Helen Fisher told Business Insider, “The day will come when that person who’s been camping in your head is out. And you wake up in the morning and you realize that yesterday you never thought about them at all.”
In fact, research suggests that we tend to overestimate how long it will take us to feel better after a breakup or lost love. We are much stronger than we believe ourselves to be. We can’t help but think of the reasons for the breakup.
When all is said and done, the only way to really get over a breakup is to give it time. And until that fateful day arrives, there are strategies you can apply to help you get there quicker, according to experts.
1) Don’t Facebook-stalk your ex
Research has found that continuing offline contact with a former romantic partner following a breakup is detrimental to emotional recovery.
A 2012 study published in the journal Cyberpsychology found that if you continue to expose yourself to information about your ex online, you may prevent yourself from recovery from the breakup and also limit your personal growth.
“Notably, frequent monitoring of an ex-partner’s Facebook page and list of friends, even when one was not a Facebook friend of the ex-partner, was associated with greater current distress over the breakup, negative feelings, sexual desire, longing for the ex-partner, and lower personal growth,” write the researchers.
It’s best to resist the urge to “just check” what your ex has been up to since the breakup.
2) Don’t pretend your ex was perfect
One way to get around this is to list five ‘must-haves’ and five ‘can’t-stands’ in a potential partner. That’s a tip from Andrea Syrtash, dating expert and author of He’s Just Not Your Type (And That’s a Good Thing): How to Find Love Where You Least Expect It.
Syrtash told Business Insider she recommends going deeper with each value — so instead of “must have brown hair and brown eyes,” try “I must be attracted to this person.”
This exercise will help you to analyze what it is that you really need in a partner, and you might find that you have been involved with people who lack that quality all along. This knowledge will be to your benefit the next time you consider getting involved with someone.
3) Don’t assume the breakup means something is wrong with you
This is a very important point. For most people, it’s almost impossible not to interpret a breakup as a failure on their part. The one thing that’s worse than ending a relationship with someone you love is considering yourself a failure for it. That only make matters worse and won’t help recovery.
Stanford psychologists found that people carry a heavier burden from rejection when they view it as revealing something about “who they really are” as a person.
The research, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, examines the link between rejection and a person’s sense of self.
“Few things in life are more traumatic than being rejected by someone who knows you well and then, with this insight, decides that she or he no longer cares for you or wants to be with you,” Carol Dweck, co-author of the paper said, adding that romantic rejection, in particular, poses a tremendous threat to the self.
Howe said, “Those who see rejections as revealing a core truth about themselves as a person, something about who they really are, may be more likely to struggle with recovery and carry rejection with them into the future.”
If this mind set can be changed to be more flexible it can help to make better sense of the situation, which will bring a more balanced perspective and make it easier to cope.
4) Don’t focus on how bad you feel
The benefits of journaling during times of torment are widely documented. Writing down your thoughts and feeling about the breakup can help you to come to terms with the unhappy event and can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
A study published in the journal Social and Personal Relationships found redemptive narrative — a form of narrative focused on positive outcomes in negative situations — particularly helpful in reducing stress.
The study looked at participants who wrote their redemptive narratives for four days and found the activity reduced stress for them, but it’s unclear how long the effects would have lasted.
Here’s the thing though — if you did indeed turn the breakup into something positive, the positive effects of writing about it are bound to last simply because you are writing about something that’s real for you.
5) Don’t refuse to talk about the break-up
A study by Northwestern University psychologists Grace M. Larson and David A. Sbarra, published in the journal, Social Psychological and Personality Science, found that simply participating in research on breakups can help people get over them as it give them an opportunity to evaluate the experience.
The researchers suspect positive outcomes for participants may be due to thinking about their breakups from a distanced perspective. Or, says Larson, “it might be simply the effect of repeatedly reflecting on one’s experience and crafting a narrative – especially a narrative that includes the part of the story where one recovers.”
At any rate, don’t clamp up. Talk about the experience, it may help you to gain better perspective and speed up recovery.