Crowdsourcing: Breakup Blues Busters

Have you been through a breakup? Maybe more than one? If you have, you know how awful it can be, and how incredibly rough, especially when you're new to romantic or sexual relationships. Breakups between friends can be just as awful, too.

You probably also know that learning to deal with and get through a breakup is just as much of a learning process as learning to be in relationships is. Sometimes we'll have dealt with loss before breakups, so we have some clues and tools already when it comes to taking care of ourselves. But for plenty of young people, a breakup is a first major loss, and figuring out how to get through feeling so gutted while you're feeling so gutted can be seriously overwhelming.

Friends can be great sometimes, but not so great other times, even when they really are trying to do their best. Plenty of us know that quips like, "You deserved better than her, anyway," "His loss, seriously, you're so much better off," "Now you can go have some fun!" or "Oh, it was only puppy love," are often not exactly comforting.

And a person truly can only eat so much ice cream, only get lost in video games for so many days and only watch so many tearjerkers, despite the seemingly infinite supply of them Netflix streaming may offer. On top of all of that, some people's post-breakup behavior can be very unhealthy, resulting in harm to others, like stalking, harassment, or assault, or in self-harm. Getting help with coping well is really important for a whole lot of people.

So, can you help some of our readers out?

When you've been through a breakup -- whether you're 16 or 46 -- how have you dealt with it? What are the things that you found made you feel better?

How did you give yourself the time you needed to grieve over your loss, and how did you get other people to give you that space, rather than pushing you to move forward before you were ready? What were the things that got you from your grief space into a space where you could start to move forward?

What were the great things your friends or family did to help you, or, for that matter, the things they did that were utterly unhelpful?

In a word, can you step up, leave a comment, and be a shoulder for some of our readers who need one to lean on? We'll bring the ice cream if you bring the wisdom.


Personally, I eschew the sad music and overeating routine, and instead put on my earbuds, get on the el or go someplace where there are lots of people, crank Zep II on my iPod, and bounce around town reminding myself what a bad-ass catch I am.

This is the most awesome response ever!

In no particular order:

Clear out the reminders: Take a look around. See something that reminds you how wrenched you are? Put it in a box. Once you've cleared out everything, put the box in a seldom-used closet, or somewhere else where you won't see it unless you go looking. At the same time, clean, and, if possible, reorganize/rearrange your personal space. Likewise, emails, texts and FB posts. Either delete them, or bundle them all into a a folder, and archive the folder. Change the wallpapers on your phone/computer.

Get busy: Once you've had your fill of wallowing in the pain (and you will, eventually), get yourself out of your usual routines in some way. Take a dance or a language class. Volunteer at a crisis hotline or a soup kitchen or helping kids learn to read. Arrange to be *somewhere* on a regular basis where you can't focus on your pain. An additional plus is that you're likely to find some new social circles to interact with at the same time. Personally, I've found regular, intense, physical activity to be one of the most helpful ways to do this. Physical activity not only brings your focus out of your pain, it gives you all of those lovely endorphins, too. Work up a sweat!

Be kind to yourself: Do nice things for yourself for a while - just like you'd do for a friend convalescing from an illness. Get a massage. A mani/pedi. Spend time on activities that give you joy, however small. Buy yourself some flowers to cheer up your environment. Cook your favorite, healthy meals. If you can, take a trip somewhere distant for a week or two. Have some fun that is all yours.

Try taking a break from being social, even if it's only for a week or two. Do your own thing, be in your own space. Write about your pain (but don't post your writings on social sites or public journals). You may feel more alone/lonely while you're doing this, but trust me, it's better than feeling alone/lonely while you're actually in a group of friends.

Acknowledge: Don't let anyone tell you to just "get over it"'ve sustained a real loss, and trying to diminish that will only make the emotional damage worse. Let yourself grieve the loss. Know that you can get through this.

I'm happy to add in some of mine, too.

One thing I remember from high school that a friend did with and for me that was so awesome was this: she came with me so I could tell my ex the things I needed to to get resolution. I had had some things just kind of left in my lap that would not go away, and having a friend be there with me to a) be a witness to be sure I got heard and things didn't go haywire, b) kind of make sure I said what I needed to in a way that was not outer limits and c) be there to hang out with afterward was rad.

As a creative person, I often dig deep into making some kind of art when I'm heartbroken, be it music, creative writing or visual art. That tortured artist thing didn't come out of nowhere, after all: intense emotions can make for intense art. When it doesn't and it just makes for really embarrassing art that you're pretty sure is utter crap, you can always toss it away. Either way, you get the process, which can be a great way to both be in and work through some of your feelings, without having to control them. Art always likes when they run wild.

Giving MYSELF permission to be sad and pathetic for a while has always been tougher for me than getting permission from other people. So, finding ways to just remind myself that it really is okay, and healthy, to be sad when I feel sad, to not get out of bed when I could really use to stay in it, has always been a biggie. It sometimes requires a LOT of repetition.

When friends have said things that were unhelpful in a way that involved them kind of trying to get me further down the line in my process than where I was -- to "moved on" when I was still getting over "moved out," for instance -- asking them to put a pin in it has worked sometimes. In other words, something like, "Hey, I'm totally not there yet, and I know you mean to be helpful, but what you're saying right now really isn't. How about in a couple of weeks we revisit your feelings about this. I might be in a better space for them then." You can then follow that up with letting them know how they CAN help you now. A lot of the time, friends just hate to see us hurting, and want to make it better, but don't know how. So when we don't tell them, they can make some guesses that aren't so great. If we can actually tell them what we think we want and need, they can often support us better.

Also? Baking. You can even use that as a way to dig into your creative side like you would with art or music. But baking bread can be especially awesome because of the part where you smack loaves down in their rising process, which is needed for the bread and often hella cathartic, too.

Editor & Founder, Scarleteen: Sex Ed for the Real World
Author, S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and Col

My best advice is to physically move. When I'm sad or depressed I often don't want to do anything, but if I force myself to take a walk, play Just Dance (or dance by myself in my room), or move my body somehow, it always helps improve my mood.

I know sometimes people want to stay friends after a romantic or sexual relationship ends, but I've found that I need at least some time (could be a couple of weeks to several months) of not talking to or seeing my ex (if possible) for a while so that I can get back into doing my own thing and have a chance to heal.

I also love watching my favorite movies and spending more time with my friends -- that helped me recover from breakups in the past. And don't be afraid to ask a close friend to just listen and not give advice...