I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve been dumped (though I do describe some of my more awkward rejections here), but I can tell you that they say it takes 10 years to become an expert at something, and I have spent the last ten years moping about boys. I know absolutely nothing about relationships, but I do know a thing or two about the sudden lack thereof. And even when you weren’t feeling good about it anymore, even when it was the best thing that could have happened to both of you, it…still…sucks.
So here I present to you my comprehensive, step-by-step guide to getting through a breakup. Please note this is not a female empowerment post. This isn’t telling you to buck up and be strong, sister. This is getting down to the bottom line: you’re upset. Stop the upset. You may say many of the steps are clichés. I have never claimed to be an original thinker, and also I think clichés exist to save space in our brain. Which is helpful to me, as now the unicorn is wearing a top hat.
Step 1: Cry
So, you’ve been dumped. Nixed. 86ed. Hurts, dunnit? Doesn’t matter how much you loved or didn’t love them. Doesn’t matter what their good or bad qualities were. Doesn’t matter if you got the, “It’s not you, it’s me,” speech or the, “Nah, it’s definitely you,” speech. It just hurts. It feels like someone took your heart and squeezed it like a cow utter. Or maybe like they kicked it around during an elaborate Mexican Hat Dance. When you find this to be the case, I highly recommend getting the crying out of the way immediately. Emotions are a lot like vomit. Holding it in won’t stop it from happening. It will just come out with a vengeance.
Remember to choose your cry carefully. Sure you can let out a little sniffle with elegant tears running down your cheeks like you’re watching Sarah McLachlan talk about the ASPCA, but is that really an effective use of your crying window? That’s like taking only one bite of pizza when you’re starving and then wrapping up the rest for later. What does it solve? And also what kind of sick, self-controlling monster are you that you can only take one bite of pizza when it is hot and cheesy and immediately available to you?
The most appropriate cry would most likely be the ugly blubber. The kind that makes your roommates wonder how you got a baby elephant in your room. The kind that feels like you are trapped under something heavy. The kind that makes your face so red and your hair so messy and your eyes so puffy that when you finally get a gander in the mirror, you wonder who brought the zombie to your room and what is he having an allergic reaction to. This cry will get you off the floor and safely into Step 2.
Step 2: Get Angry
If you’re an insomniac like me, chances are you didn’t sleep a wink the night of the breakup, and instead paced around your room, tapping your fingertips together, and plotting your revenge. Plotting revenge is great. Plotting revenge is important. Executing revenge is not for the faint of heart. Truly the best revenge you can get is to not give them the satisfaction of your revenge. Real revenge takes time and careful planning and acquiring implements of destruction. I highly doubt they’re worth it. If you must do something with your hands, however, I find there’s no harm in grabbing some felt, crafting a doll, and sticking some pins in it.
It is important to address that this is most likely the phase where you’re going to want to text them. You’re going to want to tell them off, let them know what they’re missing out on, maybe bargain with them a little. I implore you, do not. DO NOT! HEY, PUT THAT PHONE DOWN! PUT IT DOWN RIGHT NOW! I WILL SLAP THAT PHONE RIGHT OUT OF YOUR HAND! There is nothing less appealing than an endless strand of nonsensical text messages sent by a grumpy zombie at 3 in the morning. Chances are they do not want to hear from you.
I do recommend breaking something. Nothing valuable. Remember, the key is to get rid of the upset. This does not mean engage in regretful behavior. If anything, that will prolong the upset. Go into the kitchen, break an old plate or an ugly mug, sweep it up to feel like you’re accomplishing something, and then pour yourself a glass of wine.
Step 3: Wallow in Self-Pity
This is my favorite step. Possibly because it is how I’d like to live my life most of the time, minus the self-pity. The clearest way to explain this is to break it down into sub-steps.
3a: Choose Your Wallow Ensemble
I find the best wallow ensemble is a soft pair of sweatpants and a hoodie just baggy and stained enough that people might wonder if you’re a vagrant. Also, commando. Always commando. Both top and bottom.
3b: Choose a Venue to Show Off Your New Look
Supermarkets work well. Especially given step 3c. They’re highly public, which gives you many chances to scowl at people who give you a condoling look. While it’s never nice to be on the receiving end, there is something so oddly cathartic about being a dick for no reason.
3c: Eat Senselessly
Use your newfound not-giving-a-shit attitude to eat the things you always crave. Here is an example a solid Wallow Meal: a) appetizers: honey mustard and onion pretzels, potato chips, onion dip; b) main course: a steak burrito with extra sour cream, cheddar bacon fries, a bottle of wine; c) dessert: 4 scoops of different kinds of ice cream over a warm brownie with the following toppings—Oreos, sprinkles, peanut butter, hot fudge, Reese’s Pieces, M&Ms, heath bar, whipped cream. A suitable alternative is a roll of raw cookie dough. Heck, have both.
3d: Watch a Romantic Movie
Whilst you feast like a starving lion, put on a nice flick. Love stories are best. Note: not love stories like 500 Days of Summer about someone getting over someone. Watch a movie about two people who are passionately and hopelessly in love. For one, it will get the rest of the crying out. Also, it’s all part of the wallowing process to watch people obtain something you want and be pissed off that you don’t have it.
3e: Take a Long Walk
Go outside and get some fresh air and take note of the fact that the world is much bigger than you. And then go back inside and stop caring.
3f: Talk to Someone
Once you haven’t washed your hair for a few days and you’ve listened to Skinny Love enough times, it may be a good time to find a confidante. What kind of confidante is up to you: could be a great listener with a lot of sympathy or someone who is going to slap you real hard across the face and tell you to get your life back. Perhaps the best solution is somewhere in between.
Step 4: Become a Productive Human
Turn your feelings into something you can use to your advantage. Write a book, learn to scuba dive, take a Improv class, turn what used to be Netflix and Chill time into Oh My God Do Something, You Useless Thing time. This will be short-lived. You will always go back to watching Scrubs in its entirety for a 8th time. But hey, maybe you’ll learn something.
Step 5: Fuhget About It
It takes time, and that’s all. A few months later, when you’re about to go on another date, the old Ex will cross your mind and you’ll think, “Oh yeah, that happened,” and then you’ll fix your hair in the mirror and not think about it again for an even longer while.