September 25th, 2008 Jamie
Back in August reader Sangeeta suggested that I write an article about coping with a breakup in college. I thought it was a great idea, especially because I still remember how much my own first breakup hurt
This is my personal advice (basically, this is what I tell my closest friends) about what helped me get through, so take it with a grain of salt and feel free to add your own thoughts & ideas in the comments.
Take Some Time Off.
Making the “just friends” thing work without taking a break from each other in between can be painful-and it can really mess with your head. After my first boyfriend and I broke up, we kept in touch by email for quite a while-and both of us kept feeling like maybe we would get back together. We never did, and it really prolonged the pain of the breakup to keep talking and hoping. Also-take off your promise ring or whatever little memento you keep on you all the time, and give back the box of his or her stuff you’ve got scattered around your place.
My Tip: Even if you plan to be friends, let them know you’re going to take some time-a GOOD amount of time, not just a couple days-in which you don’t interact with each other. If you have to, ignore your ex’s calls, block him or her from your IM, and filter his or her emails to go to your spam inbox-and don’t feel guilty about it. You need this time to let yourself start healing. (P.S. The “just friends” thing is REALLY hard.)
Keep Your Brain Busy.
Why is it that just when you’re feeling okay the most random thing-a paperclip, the smell of a banana muffin, or commercial-suddenly reminds you of your ex? Well, if you were together (or on the phone/IMing/emailing with each other) day in, day out, for months or years, your brain has naturally formed a lot of ties with him or her. And every time you remember that you can’t share the best joke or a story about your mom with your ex, it feels like you got sucker punched.
My Tip: To keep your mind from wandering back to painful places, try to keep as busy as possible. Go out with friends, really dive in to your school work, and/or take on more hours at your job. Join a club. Meet new people. Explore your college town! There are still going to be things that trigger that memory switch, but the distraction will help you in the long run.
Vent, but Don’t Wallow.
The first few days are really hard. You probably want to just crawl under the covers and mope. Feeling like that is okay, but wallowing in that feeling-basically sitting around feeling sorry for yourself-isn’t going to help. Also, if all you talk to your friends (or dates) about is your ex boyfriend or girlfriend, you might notice that people don’t want to hang around you as much.
My Tip: Check in with friends about how you’re feeling-especially if you’re feeling particularly depressed-and let them help you out of it, but don’t let yourself go off on a rant or throw a pity party every time your BFF is around. If you’re having a lot of trouble coping, consider talking to a counselor about it. Most colleges offer free psychological services to their students, from a psychologist to support groups, and they can be really helpful (and more anonymous, which often makes things more comfortable).
Wait it Out (and Be Open-minded)
Breakups are hard-there’s just no way around that-and the hardest part is that it takes a while to feel better. Wait it out, and be open to new experiences. Go on dates, hang out with friends, and try new things (in a healthy way). Don’t sit around hoping you’ll get a phone call or an IM from your ex-after a while you really will start to feel better.
Entry Filed under: dating