I don’t know who needs to hear this but: don’t. text. your. ex.
We’ve all been there: post-breakup, wondering where things went wrong, wanting to dig up the dirt with hopes of uncovering that one piece of artifact that might give you an ounce of closure. Rejection in any form hurts, but feeling rejected by someone you love dearly hits differently.
Navigating the post-relationship dating scene after experiencing a breakup is hard enough as it is, but, I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that adding a global pandemic to the situation makes things exponentially more complicated. So it’s no surprise if you’ve been considering reaching out to revisit the idea of familiar past relationships.
Heidi McBain, a Texas-based counselor for women, moms, and moms-to-be, has had her fair share of experience helping women who have struggled through breakups and divorces. “[Texting your previous partner] may be a default response,” she said. “When you were together, they were your go-to person when times were hard. When you’re going through a period of transition, it can be easy to fall back into old patterns, especially if you don’t yet have a good social support system in place that doesn’t include your ex.”
Speaking from personal experience, I’ve found that nothing good has ever come out of texting my ex after we uncoupled. Time after time, I looked for closure and comfort from him and was often left feeling unsettled, as he didn’t have the answers I was seeking. After too many times of extending the olive branch and being left with feelings of defeat, I learned that, in my case, I couldn’t look for happiness in the place that I lost it. I started to heal once I stopped looking back.
Texting your ex can be tempting, but I promise you, you’ll feel better if you don’t. Instead, McBain suggested identifying your support system and practicing self-care. What exactly does that look like? We’ve got you covered:
1. Call or FaceTime a friend
McBain advised redirecting your impulse to reach out to that certain someone, and instead, reaching out to a friend or family member you love. Whether you want to vent or be distracted, talking to someone you love can help you to feel connected if you’re feeling isolated.
2. Watch a comedy
Sometimes, when life is hard, you might find yourself in need of a good laugh. I’m not sure if watching a comedy series counts as self-care, but binge-watching The Office post-breakup was my personal saving grace. If you’re looking for a new comedy to watch, check out these 11 comedies that are sure to help you look on the brighter side of things.
3. Clean out your closet
Yes, that includes that hoodie of theirs that you (previously) love(d) to snuggle up with. It’s dead to us now and simply must go. Cleaning out your closet can be a great metaphor for a fresh start and will give you an opportunity to donate old clothes to someone who needs them more than you. Also, an obvious bonus, you’ll have more space for all of the Anthropologie goodies you have in your online shopping cart.
4. Volunteer at an animal shelter
Get in on a little bit of puppy/kitty lovin’ by volunteering at your local animal shelter. If you’re a person who can be cured by animal snuggles, reaching out to see how you can help and getting some playtime with some furry friends (without the commitment) can be a great and wholesome distraction. Pups would never leave you on read, sis. If you reach out to your local shelter, please be mindful of their quarantine precautions and protect yourself, fellow volunteers, and staff. Never go to a public place if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or know someone close to you who has it. If they’re closed to the public at this time, fostering or adopting a furry friend could be a lovely alternative to look in to.
5. Print out pictures of your friends and family, and switch out old pictures of your ex-S.O.
Switch out old photos in your current frames to better reflect your current social circle. Being surrounded by pictures of wonderful memories and others that you love can be a great way to remind yourself of how loved you are and of all the goodness you have experienced.
OK, let me make this clear. Do not, I repeat, do not cut your bangs in a frenzy post-breakup. While I don’t condone cutting your own hair, I am a firm believer that a professionally-crafted, fresh cut or color can be a great way to revive your style, and can give you that pep in your step you’ve been missing. While it’s important to pick a stylist based on Yelp reviews and before and after results on their personal page, it’s now equally as important to ask the salon what precautions they will be following to prioritize infection control so that you can leave with fresh hair and fresh hair only.
7. Make a list of the things you’re grateful for
Good things are all around us, but when you’re feeling low or are fixated on finding closure after a breakup, it can be easy to lose sight of the positives. If you’re reaching for the phone to text your ex, divert your attention to your Notes app, a journal, or a nearby sticky note. I challenge you to reflect on five things you’re grateful for. According to Harvard Health Publishing, practicing gratitude can make you a happier person. So let’s get to writing, ladies.
Getting up and moving is always a good idea (bonus: McBain approved this activity too). If you’re feeling down, going on a small walk or going all out at an online scheduled workout class can be a great way to get your endorphins pumping, which can have a positive effect on your mood. And that’s a self-care activity we can get behind.
Journaling is another McBain-endorsed activity to channel your emotions into if you’re struggling with a breakup. Allowing yourself the space to reflect on your feelings and put them on paper can help you sort through a mess of thoughts. Get yourself a pen and a notebook, and you’re set.
If you’re looking for another therapeutic, hands-on activity to help fill a void after a breakup, try a hand at baking. Pick out a recipe you’ve been dying to try, put on some feel-good music, and get to cooking. Relieving stress and having a yummy treat as the end reward? Sounds like a win-win situation to me.
11. Research therapists in your area and consider making an appointment
As great as it is to have support from friends and family during a rough time, it can be helpful to consider speaking to a therapist if you’re having trouble cutting ties with your ex, McBain noted. Transitioning out of a relationship and assuming a single identity is no easy feat. You may find yourself ruminating on the past and therapists can be a wonderful resource to helping you develop cognitive tools to help you to reframe your thoughts and move forward. Right now, many therapists are offering online therapy sessions which are a great option to seek professional care amidst the pandemic.
12. Download a dating app to see what’s out there
If you’re a dating app skeptic like I was, hear me out: downloading a dating app can be a new way for you see what’s out there and to remind you that you’ve still got it. The idea of swiping seems superficial (and let’s be candid, it kind of is), but the connections that people make on the app can be very real. Downloading a dating app can be a low commitment way to dip your toes in the water if you’re looking to get back out there. If you’re not ready yet, that’s fine too! Save this one for when you are.
When I was experiencing my first breakup, I was pretty self-centered. Not in a bad way … during the heartbreak, I needed to focus my energy on myself to keep it together and to figure out exactly what I needed to heal. After a while of being in my own head, one of the things that I found brought me joy was reaching out to others and helping them where I could. PSA: I don’t mean taking on a laundry list of someone else’s problems, because that won’t be helpful to you. Rather, partake in a simple, random act of kindness to spread some positivity. A good place to start? Send a love letter to a friend.
14. Rearrange your furniture
You mean all those years of shamelessly watching hours of HGTV might actually pay off? Rearranging your furniture can be an easy way to switch up your design aesthetic and can be a great project to tackle while you’re looking to move forward and create a new reality for yourself.
If you need to cry, do it. If you want to scream, open your window and let it out. Experiencing a breakup is a loss, and grieving loss looks different in each of us. Be gentle with yourself. Be patient. We know you’re worth it. We’re here for you, girlfriend.