Ten Rules for Breaking Up

We have all been through them. Breaking up, getting dumped, someone walking all over our heart and leaving us feeling empty and used up. And we have all seen movies where the main character has suffered a break up as well. They enviably do three things.

  1. They drink, 2) they stay in bed for days at a time, and 3) they watch sappy romantic movies.

Eventually their friends intervene and pull them out of their slump and, if it is a romantic comedy, they go out dancing, meet the love of their life, and live happily ever after.

Well real life doesn’t work that way. At least mine hasn’t.

I am in my 30s and I am somewhat of a serial relationship-er. I tend to get into long term relationships and I get into them fast, never spending more then a month or so single. This co-dependent combination means I have quite a bit of experience with hard break ups.

girl looking away-photo-322819
You have to grieve that loss… 

When you are with someone for three years or more, it isn’t as easy as having a good cry and then forgetting all about them. There is time and trust and effort that you put into building a life with this person, that is now, suddenly just gone. And you have to grieve that loss, the loss of your partner, as well as the loss of the future that you thought you were going to have with that person.

Over the years as my heart was broken and relationships ended, I began to develop my own list of rules to help me through the grieving process. With trial and error, I discovered exactly which of these movie “break up rules” were useful and which were actually harmful.

And as I went on I discovered some new rules that worked, rules of my own.

So here are the rules that I use …

Ten Rules for Breaking Up

(they don’t teach you in the movies).

Rule #1: Do not watch anything romantic.

Not your favorite TV shows, movies, books, anything. You will picture your ex as the leading man, and he is oh so perfect and wonderful and quirky and you will forget all the chaos and horribleness that ended your relationship.

All of that stuff will start to look like just the “tough times” or just a “rough patch” like the couple in the story had to get over. And look how happy they are now.

IT IS NOT TRUE. So don’t watch it.

Rule # 2: Do watch movies in which the heroine ends up single and happy.

One of my guilty pleasures is a coming-of-age movie that came out in the ’90s, Girl. It follows the path of a senior in high school who falls for the local band-lead-singer-hottie. She goes from clueless and rejected, to mega-cool and gets the guy, and then back down to earth when she realizes that she doesn’t need him to be awesome person. She sheds her teenage crush (just as he confides he truly needs her), and she heads off to college, freer and wiser from the experience. It is silly and fun and if you have ever been a girl with a crush (as I have been, repeatedly) I recommend it.

Rule #3: Throw yourself into work.

This could mean a lot of things, and while some might warn against loosing yourself in your job as a coping skill, this could be the time that you catch up on all the things that you have been neglecting in your life.

The work that it takes to keep a relationship going, especially one that is failing, is not only time consuming, it is also exhausting. And I bet the other areas of your life have suffered for it. Well now is the perfect time to pick up that slack. Forget all about Mr. Not-Right and focus on… whatever your passion might be.

Which leads me to…

Rule #4: Hang out with your girl friends.

Okay, this rule they kind of do teach you in movies, but it is an important one, so I feel it deserves a place on the list anyway.

The chances are you have been neglecting all those important women in your life.

A good laugh is much needed medicine.

You remember them, the women that are always there for you, before and after a guy. Spend some much needed quality time with these lovely ladies.

Chances are they will be more than happy to hear all about what a jerk your ex has been and will be sure to put a smile back on your face.

And having them will be important when you get the urge to go back to him. Good friends will be more than willing to remind you of all the crap he put you through, before you make that unwarranted late night text.

 Rule #5: Don’t drink.


Drinking is not as good a break up coping tool as most movies portray it. Drinking may temporarily numb you, but that pain will be right there waiting for you when you sober up, only now you have to feel the grief along with a hangover. Also you are much more likely, once your inhibitions are lowered, to do something you regret.

Drunk texting is never cute.

And I always found that if I drank, I would end up breaking all the other rules.

 Rule #6: Do NOT act out of spite.

I know in the moment it seems like a perfectly good idea to spread a nasty rumor about him, or set up a website called johnisaduchbag.com, or ask out his best friend, but before you do, stop and think.

These are actions you will have to live with, at least with the memory of, long after the relationship and your feelings aren’t so intense.

Trust me. I hadn’t smoked a cigarette in four years. Then I found out my boyfriend was cheating on me. The very first thing I did was run out and buy a pack of cigarettes because I knew he despised the habit. Well now the cheater is gone, but I am still trying to put the cigarettes back down again.

So when that feeling comes over you that you are going to “show him” just remember that in the light of day, and as you move on with your new fulfilling single life, or new love, you will wish you hadn’t acted so immature.

Rule #7: BLOCK HIM.

You are probably on several social media sites. FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. my advice is to block him from every avenue.

cell-phone-791365_960_720Don’t leave a gap for him to weasel his way back in or pretty soon you’ll be getting “I’m sorry / l love you / I can’t live with out you” posts on your time line.

And if you are at all like me, once he can start pulling on those heart strings… it’s only a matter of time before you let him all the way back in.

Also, don’t accept any new friend requests from people you don’t recognize directly after you block him. I made that mistake once and was back messaging him within a week and we were back together by the end of the month.

Don’t forget to block his number on your phone as well. There are apps you can download to do this, or you can call your phone company and get them to do it. Trust me, it’s worth it.

This handy little trick will also help you break the compulsive habit of checking your phone every 30 seconds to see if he has messaged you. Taking the possibility away goes a long way to help you move forward and forget about him.

Rule #8: Exercise.

run-1290022_960_720It releases endorphins and gives you that nice ‘look what he is missing’ feeling.

Give yourself time to grieve at first. I always spend some quality time indulging in ice cream, my personal weakness. But after a pint or two I know it is time to get up, put the spoon down and put the running shoes back on.

Believe me your body will feel better and your self-esteem will bounce back much faster.



Rule #9: Find a good break-up song… And use it like an anthem.

I pick a new one for each break up, having different resentments for every one.

I sing them loud and I sing them often. For at least the first month (sometimes longer). It is cathartic and empowering. Some examples of my break up theme songs are;

Since You’ve Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson
Hope It Gives You Hell by American Rejects
Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye
Lips Are Movin by Meghan Trainor
We Are Never Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift.

(What are your favorite break up songs? Leave your answer in the comments…)

Rule #10: Do NOT have the last word.

I know this one is hard. Especially when he throws out that final jab that digs right under your skin and all you want is to scream at him and make him understand that he is wrong!

Giving into that urge only serves to keep the conversation/argument/relationship going. He will not hear whatever you have to say. If he could have heard it, you guys probably wouldn’t have broken up. So be strong and stay silent. You can comfort yourself with the knowledge that he probably only said what he did in order to get a reaction out of you. So don’t give him one! Your non-reaction will probably go a lot farther to irritate him then actually telling him off would.

So I hope you have found this list helpful, whether you are going through a break up, or if you have a close friend going through one. Ending a relationship is hard, it is messy, and 99% of the time, no one gets out without getting hurt. People say things they don’t mean and they do things they can never take back. But remember, there are 7 billion people in this world. Whatever pain you are going through, it is not the end for you. There is more to your story.

Pick yourself back up, and it will be your new beginning.


Every new beginning
Is some other beginning’s end
– Chumbawumba

Do you have any break up rules of your own?  Leave your answer in the comments section. I would love to hear what you do to get over a break up.

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