Woman Journaling After a Breakup

Dos and Don’ts During Breakup Recovery

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

By Dr. Janine Furdella

Most of us have gone through at least one break up or two over the course of our lives. And we’ve likely had family or friends who’ve also experienced a break up. In 2023, an estimated 41% of first marriages ended in divorce (Wlkinson & Finkbeiner, 2020), and that doesn’t include break-ups of those living together, dating, life-partners, and other committed relationships. 

One article from 2016 suggested that 70% of straight, unmarried couples break up within the first year. Whether it was a mutual decision, initiated by you, or your partner, and even when you may know it’s the right decision, break ups are life changing and often very painful.

As a psychologist, I’ve worked with many men and women who’ve gone through break ups. As a mom, I’ve supported my now adult children through break ups, and I like to think I’ve learned some things about what to do and not to do.

Saying goodbye to a relationship you’ve invested time, energy, and your heart in impacts all areas of your life. The circumstances of the break-up, the history of the relationship, present lifestyle and plans for the future may all feel so uncertain.

In addition to feelings of loss related to the relationship, you may have lots of questions about where to begin recreating your life without your partner.  

Helpful tips for coping with a breakup (Dos)

  • Do identify your primary support people, it may be family or good friends. Whoever it is, spend lots of time with them, and not too much time alone. Choose loved ones you feel comfortable with, able to be yourself, and express your emotions. Avoid friends and family that may want to “tell you what to do.” It’s okay to clearly communicate what you need.
  • Treat yourself to a new journal and write in it at least once a day. It’s a safe place to express your emotions and reflect on the past, present and future.
  • Get involved in an activity you used to enjoy or learn something new. This could be exercise, something spiritual, art, or maybe even learning a new language. 
  • Create a playlist of empowering songs, maybe include Miley Cyrus’ song “Flowers.”
  • Take a trip with good friends or family. It could be an overnight staycation or maybe somewhere you’ve always wanted to go!
  • Make some changes in your home. The changes can be small like adding a new pillow or two, rearranging the furniture, or getting a new comforter in your bedroom. Or all of the above!
  • Set and maintain really good boundaries and limits with your ex. Know, your behavior often communicates more than your words.
  • Allow for a range of emotions, and most importantly, be patient with yourself and the grief process. 

Don’ts during breakup recovery

Here are a few things that should be avoided because it may interfere or keep you stuck when healing from the end of a relationship.

  • Don’t let yourself re-read text messages. If you do, you may be tempted to overanalyze and consider multiple interpretations of the messages. Consider blocking your ex partner’s number if that helps. 
  • Don’t follow (unfollow) your ex on social media accounts. It’s not helpful to know what they’re doing or who they’re seeing, and in the absence of complete information, we often create stories that are not accurate.
  • Although it’s so tempting–unless it’s absolutely necessary–avoid reaching out to your previous partner and his/her/their family too! Staying in communication tends to confuse everyone even if it provides some short-lived emotional soothing. In the long term, it’s like a pause button on the inevitable separation and untangling of lives. 
  • Do not compare yourself to others who are in relationships. What you see on the outside (e.g., a happy couple on a dream vacation) is not always reality. Similarly, watching movies that make you feel like you’re the only person in the world that’s single is not helpful. Instead, find something that celebrates independence and learning through experiences.
  • Resist the urge to jump into a new relationship. When you meet someone new, it may be very appealing to bypass past hurt into the intoxication of new love. Slow down and allow yourself to experience your emotions and learn from the past relationship experiences before starting something new.

Although most of us have gone through a breakup or two, every individual experiences them differently.

A breakup is a loss, it comes with lots of emotions and significant change. Allow yourself to experience all of the emotions without judgment and choose how you want to respond to those feelings.

Some of the tips above will help you create a structure that promotes healthy healing from an ended relationship.

If it all feels like too much, you feel stuck, or can’t find the right support, please reach out to me, one of my colleagues or another mental health professional to give you the support you need.

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Eating Disorder Therapist in Fort Lauderdale, FL - Dr. Janine Furdella
License: PY11170

Dr. Janine Furdella is a licensed psychologist and is an expert in Eating Disorder TherapyAnxiety TherapyDepression TherapyPTSD & Trauma Therapy, Family Therapy, Life Transitions, Grief Therapy and age groups from teens to older adults.

Call 954-488-2933 or email today to discuss how our services can help you.

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