Without a doubt, the breakups I've gone through have been some of the darkest punctuations in my personal history. Experiencing the end of a serious relationship is almost like experiencing the death of a loved one. A significant part of who you've become over the past however many months no longer exists in your future. While we all know breakups aren't really the end of the world and life will go on (and probably for the better), the vulnerability that accompanies breakups creates potential for doing some things you'll later regret. Try to avoid these behaviors that others have regretted once the dust of the breakup has settled.
When I asked friends what they regretted after breakups, they answered…
"Talking to his family about it…"
If this relationship was serious, you likely developed a relationship with your ex's family. You might have spent holidays and a significant amount of downtime together and perhaps even created friendships that existed independently of your relationship with your ex. As tempting as it may be to draw on those relationships to connect you to your ex or work through the why's and what if's, try to avoid those behaviors. You will be hurt if your ex's family sides with him, and hanging onto his family will also make it hard to create the space need in order to move on.
"Doing anything out of spite."
If it was a particularly rough breakup, perhaps due to infidelity, a thirst for retribution might drive some of your behavior. Whether it's destroying some of his property, sleeping with someone he hates or likes or anyone at all, or launching a smear campaign against him, your revenge may taste sweet in the moment but come back to haunt you once you've regained your wits. Besides, what if you later want to have an amicable relationship with him or even get back together? Although it requires a degree of logic that you may not be capable of while you're in the breakup haze, try to give yourself at least a week to calm down, grieve, and process things before acting out of vengeance.
"I spent all my money on going out and drinking too much."
It's easy to be tempted by the bar scene and the numbing effect of too many drinks. You can lose yourself and your problems in a drunken stupor and join the other inhibition-free (but perhaps not disease- or baggage-free) singles that crowd the dance floor. But when you wake up one morning with regained scruples, an empty bank account, and a growing gut, you will likely regret your choice. As an alternative, consider sticking with close friends, spending time with family, or taking up some new productive hobbies while you work through the breakup.
"Waiting for him to come back!"
It's called a breakup because it's broken. For some reason or other, the two of you decided to end your relationship. You wouldn't have made this decision if there weren't something wrong. I know from firsthand experience that some breakups are only temporary - usually because there is something concrete to work out. (Read my story here.) But most breakups are due to fundamental differences or unforgiveable behaviors. You're not likely to get back together, and if you do, the same problems are going to resurface. So instead, work through my twelve steps to get over a breakup, and then move on with your new and improved self toward your better-suited future partner. It might not seem it now, but a bright future awaits!
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