I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been the Ralph Wiggum in this situation:
Lisa: What do you say to a boy to let him know you're not interested?
Homer: Let me handle this, Marge. I've heard them all: "I like you as a friend," "I think we should see other people," "I no speak English"...
Lisa: I get the idea...
Homer: "I'm married to the sea," "I don't want to kill you, but I will"... And if that doesn't work, six simple words: "I'm not gay, but I'll learn."
However the news (along with your heart, soul, and will to live) was broken, you’ve been dumped. If you haven’t, well...fuck you and the sparkly breakup-resistant unicorn you rode in on. This post is for all the single Debras and Jeremys out there who are trying to get over someone and move on with their lives, or at least stop choke-sobbing on the bathroom floor for a while. To be clear: I’m talking about the big ones here, kids. Not the “we stopped texting after two weeks of hooking up” cases. Rather, the “we dated for a long time and I’m seriously contemplating murder-suicide” kind of breakups.
First, a little background on why I consider myself an expert in this field: Back in 2008, I was dumped** for the first time ever at the not-so-tender age of 26. I’d always been the dumpER my entire life, because, obviously. [**Editor’s note: I was actually the one who had to initiate the breakup after several months of being treated like a neglected house plant, because he was too much of a crotch goblin to do it himself.]
Going through a bad breakup for the first time after 9 years of active dating was horrifying. I was like a sad tribute from one of the shitty Districts in the Hunger Games: I had zero previous experience or coping skills to help me survive. I lost weight (not in a good way). I started smoking (Jesus). I had to take sleeping pills to quiet my over-analyzing-everything brain at night. I tortured myself looking at his Facebook wall for months. I avoided people, places and things that reminded me of him (so, everything). I thought that I would never meet anyone as perfect as he was, or as perfect for me. My confidence went from a 10 to a negative 50 and I convinced myself that I was ugly / stupid / dumb, and that no one would ever love me again.
And then I moved to New York.
Since “Move to New York” is pretty much the most annoying advice anyone could ever give (though I highly, highly recommend it), I came up with a list of slightly less obnoxious options. And so, without further delay, may I present:
M’s Guide to Surviving a Breakup Like a Boss
1. No, but seriously, move to New York: Or at least just get the FUCK out of dodge, STAT. Now is the time for a road trip with your best friends or a weekend trip to Vegas or a month long trip to ANYWHERE. Anywhere at all. Pack a suitcase full of condoms and twinkies and run like the wind, my sad friend. You’ve just been stabbed in the heart. This trip is the equivalent of stopping the bleeding. It’s temporary, but completely necessary. When you’re back from your (hopefully slutty) getaway, you can move on to Step 2.
2. Be depressed for a really long time: Sorry kids, but you can’t skip over this one. Well, that’s not entirely true. You CAN if you are either (a) a robot, or (b) never planning on being in a successful relationship again. Anyone who says “I’m fine” sometime in the 3-months-to-2-year period after a bad breakup is lying. You are not fine. You are devastated. Every day is excruciatingly painful and miserable. This is probably one of the worst things that you will ever experience in your (privileged, first world) life, and experience it you must. Cry in your sweatpants while watching Oprah reruns. Sob into a towel in the shower a la Tobias Fünke. Listen to Bon Iver on repeat. There is a direct correlation between how much you let yourself feel the pain of a breakup and how soon you stop being sad.
3. Talk that shit out: You’ll probably go through periods where you don’t want to talk about it, and that’s fine. Sometimes it’s because you don’t even know where to fucking begin. Other times it’s because saying it out loud means that it’s real. Or maybe you’re just not a “let’s share our emotions” kind of guy/gal in general. That’s ok for a while, but at some point you are going to have to verbalize that you feel like a rotting, reanimated corpse roaming aimlessly in a cloud of despair.
A lot of the same reasons set out in Step 2 apply here as well: bottling shit up = sad party forever. While crying makes you feel momentarily better, talking shit out can help you feel better for longer periods of time - sometimes a full hour! The reason is simple: you are not alone. In other words, you’re not the first person who has gone through this (even though no other human being dead or alive has EVER felt as bad as you are feeling right now), and your friends / family / local bartender will be able to reassure you that things will get better. Of course, at the time, you won’t believe a word of these vicious LIES. But the more you open up, the more your friends’ words (“You are amazing! We love you! He sucked at going down on you anyway!”) will fill your head, leaving less and less room for your own abusive thoughts.
4. Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll: Except replace “Rock ‘n Roll” with BOOOOOZE! You’re probably going to make a lot of bad decisions when it comes to what I like to call the “Holy Trinity of Breakups”. Do what you need to do, son. Just remember: nothing that involves needles or spoons; no hard alcohol if you’re going out in public (vodka at home with your roommates is obviously acceptable), and use a condom (or four). Real talk though: The Holy Trinity will feel good for a hot minute, but anything beyond that and you’ll feel ten times worse than when you got your sorry ass dumped in the first place.
5. Delete, delete, delete: Repeat after me: I WILL DELETE HIM FROM FACEBOOK. I WILL REMOVE HER NUMBER FROM MY PHONE. I WILL UNFOLLOW THAT MOTHERFUCKER’S INSTAGRAM. You are 100% going to ignore this advice for a long, long time. Because you NEEEEEED to know what they’re up to! Right? Wrong. As long as you have your Ex at your fingertips, you will never get over them. This is just science, everyone. It will feel like you are being skinned alive when you send a “friendly text” to your Ex and she doesn’t write back. And girl, Facebook is a million times worse. You think you’re going to log on and go to your Ex’s page and it will be filled with pictures of him looking sad and fat, with posts on his wall that say “Man, I can’t believe how sad you are about your breakup, dude!” No. The only pictures will be of him beaming, which you will interpret as him being ten times happier than he ever was with you, which of course means that he was never into you in the first place and no one else will be either. The only posts on his wall will be from girls named Jessica that say something bland and innocent like “Great seeing you last night!”, but which you will interpret as him having had sex with Jessica, who is way hotter than you and they are probably in love and getting married and she’s probably already pregnant (even though, as it turns out, Jessica is his cousin).
It is incredibly hard to stop stalking someone after a breakup, I get it. But I will bet you a million blow jobs that the SECOND you delete them, you will start to get over them that very day. DO IT NOW.
6. Sweet, sweet revenge: Is revenge productive? Definitely not. Is it deliciously fun? Hells yes! I say go for it if you think it will make you feel better (it absolutely won’t, but you don’t care right now, so fine.). I generally recommend avoiding physical violence as well as rumour spreading - you’re better than that. Think more along the lines of destroying her favourite possession that she happened to forget at your house (“no, I haven’t seen your silk dress anywhere?”), or sleeping with his best friend.
Real talk Part II: this step only feels good for a short period of time, like MDMA. When it’s over, you’ll feel more terrible than ever because now you’re an asshole, too. The best revenge, of course, is moving on with your life and not caring about your shit waffle of an Ex anymore, but it will take you a long time to get there. Be patient. And try not to get arrested in the meantime.
7. Make a list, check it twice (and then 237 more times): There will be dark moments, even if you’re going through all of the above Steps like a regular breakup hero. This is why you’ll need an emergency kit in the form of The List: a detailed lexicon of all the reasons he/she is a dirt pig. Keep The List in a place you will see every day (taped to your computer / bathroom mirror / bottle of Gin) or carry it around in your man purse for easy access. If you can’t think of anything at all that was bad about your Ex (please), enlist the help of your friends - they’ve hated him for a while now. Highlights of some Lists I’ve encountered or made myself: terrible kisser, listens to Coldplay, cheap ass bitch, yells at servers, not funny, balls taste like a sock, all of her friends are idiots, definitely an alcoholic, can’t cook, breath always smells like an open sore, only cares about shit that’s not important, doesn’t know where my clit is, never wants to hang with my friends, refuses to shave his back, always picks fights, constantly complaining, never compliments me, molests my friends when drunk.
8. Old Friends, New Friends, Red Friends, Blue Friends: You need them all. This is not a time for being alone. You can, nay - MUST make plans every sucking night and ESPECIALLY every weekend. Eventually you will get to a place where you want to be alone again, but for the next 6 months you are going to be Captain Social. Go to the ballet. Host a clambake. Party with your sibling’s friends. Play indoor soccer. Go to a gallery opening. Visit your drunken aunt, whatever. Every. Night. This will help you to remember that there is a world beyond your former relationship - a world where a bunch of awesome and possibly attractive people are hanging out. You might even consider going on a couple of dates during this phase. Tread lightly though - you don’t want to jump into something else right away (see Step 2 again Re: what happens when you skip over the pain), and if you end up going on a bad date, god forbid, this may result in you convincing yourself that OMG THERE IS ACTUALLY NO ONE ELSE OUT THERE FOR ME EVERYONE’S TAKEN I AM FUCKED AND GOING TO DIE ALONE. If this happens, take a deep breath and a stiff drink, and say to yourself: “Well, that was butt-sex-without-lube horrible. The Lord is testing me, nothing more.” Then go order an extra-large pizza and watch Season 1 of GIRLS.
9. Do all of that jazz you always said you would do: Start a blog (heyo!). Go for a fucking run. Miley your hair. Take a dog grooming class. Find new music. Perfect your kegel exercises. Read Anna Karenina. You know - all of those things you wanted to do, but haven’t done because you spent the last two years on a couch with your Ex watching Boardwalk Empire every night like a couple of burrito-inhaling piles of failure. Now is the time for self-improvement! This will help you rebuild some of your shattered confidence, keep your mind suitably distracted, and transform you into an even cooler person. Soon you’ll be so talented, awesome and in demand that you won’t even have time to think about what’s-his-dick.
10. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Yay! You’re almost human again! The last stage in this 10 Step program is to take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror. Feel free to take this in the literal sense and allow yourself to actually see how damn attractive and boner-inspiring you are. But more importantly, you need to look at yourself in the mirror in the figurative, Justin Timberlake-y sense, and try to figure out what happened. This isn’t about trying to find a REASON why you broke up (hint: he/she wasn’t feeling you anymore. This is the reason. Every time.). Nor is it about blaming yourself. In the words of the wise and heavily made up Dita Von Tease “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and [he’s] still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” It’s about understanding what was going on in your head and in your heart during those final wretched months as you crawled towards the finish line. What kind of person did you become in this relationship? Did you like the way you acted / behaved? How did you treat your Ex? How were you treated, and why did you put up with it? How did you treat your friends and family while you were in that relationship? Did the relationship / your Ex always bring out the best in you, or was it sometimes the worst? Figure out just what it was that made you feel and act the way you did so that you can own it, learn from it, and try not to let it happen again the next time. It’s called GROWING AS A PERSON, you guys. And it feels fantastic.
After my car-accident-level breakup, I suffered, puked, or ran topless through all 10 of these Steps, and I came out alive on the other side. In fact [cue Full House wholesome-moment music], I came out an even more confident, funny, level-headed and optimistic person than I was before. It’s true, y’all. Plus I looked super hot from all the Not Eating.
In conclusion, I know it hurts the MOST right now. But you WILL find the light again, I promise. And if all else fails, you can always move to New York.