Just when you feel like you’ve started to heal and recover from that awful breakup, just when you feel like your life is back on track, just when things are going well, you suddenly learn that your ex is dating someone new. Whammo! Your life turns upside down again and everything hurts just as much all over again. It seems like all your healing and hard work to move forward has been undone in an instant. What should you do?
As always after a breakup, the best advice is to focus on yourself, not on your ex. When a relationship ends painfully (and they so rarely end any other way), you should cut off all unnecessary contact with your ex. And by “unnecessary” I mean everything, all contact except perhaps some true life-or-death emergency. And even then you should think twice.
Turn the focus on yourself after a breakup, and keep it there for a while. Your goals are to heal, to let go of your ex, to put a toxic situation behind you, and to look forward to a brighter and better future to come.
Despite your best efforts, however – unfriending your ex on social media, blocking their phone number so you receive neither calls nor texts, entering their email address into your spam protection system, avoiding the places they typically hang out – you’ve somehow nevertheless learned that they are dating someone new. Perhaps it wasn’t your fault and you just saw them walking arm in arm down the street with someone new.
Here are four good ways to handle this unpleasant situation by taking better care of yourself.
Go to the gym
Don’t just go there – go there and work out, hard! Exercise is good for you in so many, many ways that I can’t count them all here. It keeps you healthy and fit, so you can enjoy your life more. Working out makes you more attractive to potential dates and romantic partners because it makes you physically better looking and also psychologically more confident. Ever met a professional or Olympic athlete and noticed they have a kind of healthy glow? You get something like that when you work out, too.
But the main advantage of going to the gym in this painful situation is psychological. A tough workout dumps endorphins and other “happy brain” chemicals into your system. Exercise creates your own internal antidepressants, which automatically give you a more positive outlook on life.
Depending on the exercise you choose, you may also experience other benefits. Pull on a pair of boxing gloves and hit a heavy bag for twenty minutes or half an hour. There are few problems that a punching workout like that can’t change your perspective on. Hitting a heavy bag is a great way to release toxic anger and resentment. Imagine whatever you like, even punching your ex in the face over and over. Actually punching your ex in the face is unkind, unhealthy, and illegal, but pretending to do it on a heavy bag is a great way to release tension.
If you’re feeling lonely and isolated, choose a different kind of workout. Sign up for a group exercise class, perhaps hip hop dance, or yoga, or indoor cycling. Then you’ll get to exercise and sweat in the company of other people who are suffering together with you. Exercise in a group is a great way to build stronger friendships and group bonds, which is why the military emphasises group workouts in basic training.
Change your appearance
Buy some new clothes, or get a new hairstyle. That old expression, “The clothes make the man,” isn’t wrong. Spend a little time or money on yourself. Changing your outward appearance will change how you feel on the inside.
Spending money and time on yourself is also a good way of telling yourself that you are worthy and important, that you deserve to feel better. Focusing a little attention on yourself is a good way to prevent you from wallowing in self-pity and victimhood. Feeling sorry for yourself is not a very helpful way to heal after a breakup or when you learn your ex is in a new relationship.
Keep your response in moderation – don’t go off binge shopping and max out your credit cards or drain your savings account. But do celebrate yourself with some new clothes and a new appearance. Even a symbolic change in yourself will help you subconsciously adjust to your new situation – your relationship is over and you need to move forward.
Spend time with friends
People are social beings, and need social interaction to be healthy and happy. A good way to keep your spirits up is to spend time with friends who support you and value you, people who like having you around. Avoid dating or being set up by your friends for a while. Just spend time in groups doing fun things together without the tension of looking for a hook up or romantic partner.
You can make new friends by joining some sort of club or activity group, from a bowling team to a hiking club or even by sitting down with the people playing chess in the public park. Whatever your interests are, there are groups of active, friendly people out there pursuing those same interests. Find them and get to know them.
Surrounding yourself with friends, with people who value you in other ways than as a sexual or romantic partner, will remind you that you are a fun, interesting person who is able to enjoy life whether you are in a romantic relationship or single.
Use your mind
Another way to snap yourself out of self-pity is to learn something new. Read that novel you’ve always wanted to read, or the book you’ve always thought you should read. Don’t want to read alone? Look for a book club and read an interesting book that you discuss with other people. Can’t find a book club? Start one.
Make a list of subjects you’ve always wanted to know more about, and sign up for some classes. You can find lists of available courses at a local university or college, and also at community centres. Try painting or music (either doing them or learning to appreciate them), or take history or math or literature or physics. Take a foreign language. If you’d prefer an outdoor type class, consider learning to sail or ski.
Some classes are, by their nature, more social than others. Cooking classes are usually lively, hands on experiences, and they have the benefit of teaching you a skill you can use and enjoy at home again and again. Most cities have restaurants that offer culinary classes of some sort. You will meet people while having fun and learning a new, practical skill.
The upshot of all these activities is that they will give you double benefits – they’ll help you put the painful past behind you while making you a more interesting and attractive person for your future relationships.