That dumb trope of “women eating ice cream in bed crying after a breakup” is out. (And sexist.) In fact, there’s no better time than after a huge heartbreak for a total life renovation.
1. Either block or unfriend him on Facebook, because that stuff will be the death of you. Maybe you assume you are a reasonable and mature lady-human who can handle seeing the occasional reminder of him on your Facebook timeline. You’re both grown-ups, right?! What’s a little “David’s Birthday Bar Crawl!” action popping up on your feed? Noooo. There will be a really pretty redhead in his arms in every picture, and you will feel like you want to jump into Buffalo Bill’s abandoned well girl-trap in The Silence of The Lambs.
2. Don’t immediately suggest to “stay friends”—and if he does, tell him you need to think about it. This is an impulse because you don’t want to seem like you care too much about the breakup. Because you’re so chill. You’re so chill that your heart isn’t beating. Aaand, you’re dead. But truthfully, during this stilted, awkward breaking-up period, it’s hard to tell whether you’ll be able to be friends or not. Generally, one person wants to be friends and the other wants to be more. Gotta work that shit out before it can be a healthy friendship … if it ever can be. You’re not admitting defeat by not staying friends with him.
3. If you feel an impulse to get drunk alone, call some friends instead. It’s the worst being alone and sad and drunk. When you’ve just broken up with someone, you get all nihilistic, and because there is probably not a Hot Topic near you to get some KoRn CDs, you get too hammered to see and wind up hooking up with a 50-year-old married man with a ponytail in a bar bathroom. At least be sad with people you love! We’ve all been heartbroken: It’s not like they’ll judge you for drinking wine with dirty hair in Family Guy pajamas.
4. If you want to drunk-text, get your friend to take your phone away or throw it in a volcano. Oh, the number of times I have drunk-texted something cryptic to an ex at 2 A.M. and assumed if he texts back, he still has feelings for me. Drunk-texting an ex is a two-steps-forward-one-step-back slide down the rabbit hole. Him replying, “nothing,” to your booze-fueled, “sup,” does not mean you’ll have a spring wedding.
5. Begin some kind of intense, rage-based workout routine. Maybe this isn’t a good time for yoga! Maybe it’s a good time for something new, like kickboxing. Really get some of that negative stuff out.
6. Spend a lot of time outside. It’s a cliché, but fresh air really does clear your head. So does, you know, seeing the sun every once in a while. Take at least two hours from each day just to leave your Cave of Forgotten Dreams and interact with The Outside.
7. Rebound with one incredibly hot guy, if that’s what you want, and then give yourself some time to decompress and remember who you are. Go out and get yourself something strange from a guy who is either a King of Leon or just has dirty hair. It’s hard to tell the difference. But then slow down and be low-key for a while. If you’ve had one rebound, you’ve had them all, in this woman’s opinion.
8. If you start dating someone else, take it really slow. Dude. You just ended a relationship and your heart flipped over and exploded like a tanker in a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. If you take it step by step and enjoy it as a casual thing for a while, that’ll give you some time to evaluate whether you’re actually ready to be with someone again or if you’re just ready to have really hot sex with them in an elevator once in a while.
9. Allow yourself to cry when you need to. Thus preventing a giant tidal wave of #feels to wash over you in the workplace, or the DMV, or anywhere else inappropriate. If you don’t, you’ll repress your feelings until you break down in the office pantry while you’re microwaving your pasta and that passive-aggressive asshole Susan comes over and takes you to the women’s bathroom and murmurs a bunch of vaguely religious-sounding proverbs like, “This too shall pass.” And then every time you and Susan make contact afterward, it will be weird.
10. If you get a Facebook invite to his best friend’s party…stay home, put a face mask on, eat Chinese, and watch House of Cards. There is always a strong temptation to show up with a fresh blow out and a low-cut J.Lo Grammys dress, and grind with his friend that you hate just to make him jealous. Eat your heart out, you think to yourself as you do a nasty seventh grade dance grind with the guy you once referred to as a “dicksnack tool moron.” Actually, assuming his best friend is some guy you don’t really care about, going to that party still makes it all about him—not your emotional well-being. And seeing him will just pick the scab open.
11. Don’t scheme to get him back: Scheme to get yourself back. Get some solid book recs, join a pickup sports game, go on a trip somewhere with a girlfriend. Paint your bathroom; I don’t care. Just do something for yourself.
12. Write him heartbroken letters and never send them. Get it all out, on paper, so as to avoid accidentally sending them. (E is for the “extremely messed up way you treated me.” R is for “the rage I feel.” I is for “I will never love again.” C is for “I HATE YOU, HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME.” Sent from email@example.com.) I bet that’s how Alanis Morissette wrote “You Oughta Know.”
13. Avoid posting the details on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Instagram. Or Tumblr. Live ya life! Airing your grievances on social media is not good for anyone, and it’ll be embarrassing later. Who’s gonna read it, anyway? Aunt Maggie? That girl you met during Welcome Week?
14. Take baths. Baths are half wallowing and half cleansing/pampering, and thus are perfect for breakups. When’s the last time you really filled up your tub (clean it first, please) and had a good soak with a glass (bottle) of wine? Showers are not for the recently dumped.
15. Stop blaming yourself and thinking things like, “If only I’d watched more ‘Bourne’ movies/dyed my hair blonde/was cooler.” It takes two to break up: The problem wasn’t just you, it was you two as a couple. It’s almost reverse-narcissistic to blame yourself that much! If you try to look at the relationship from the outside, maybe you’ll have an easier time seeing how you both contributed to the breakup. “If only” killed the dinosaurs. (Actually an asteroid did, but let’s not quibble.)