I Just Broke Up With My Ex: What to Do After a Breakup

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It doesn’t matter if a relationship lasts ten days or a decade, breakups are one of the hardest things two people can come to terms with. The end of a relationship can cause psychological pain and dissatisfaction with life. 

When you lose a partner, you lose the planned future you imagined with them, those little jokes understood by just the both of you, the easy access you permitted each other, and in some cases—you might even lose a friend.

If you’ve just experienced a breakup, it’s normal to feel a little lost at sea. Your next steps can feel unsure, and the prospect of life without your significant other by your side can feel daunting.

This guide will explore the feelings that commonly follow the end of a relationship and the next steps to take after ending a relationship.

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What to Do After a Break-Up

Relationships can be an emotional roller coaster. There is happiness at finding a person whose ideals match your values. Bliss when feelings are acknowledged, despair at every moment spent fighting, and relief when differences are put aside to make peace. 

Breakups are no different. There is uncertainty as to whether the right decision was made, pain at the loss of a partner, jealousy at the thought of other people being with your ex, or even relief at escaping a bad situation

Because emotions can be volatile after a breakup, you might feel uncertain of what to do next. You might be tempted to call up your partner to apologize or delete them from social media. Everything may seem so confusing.

To provide a little clarity, here are possible steps to take after breaking things off with a partner.

Keep Some Distance

If, after careful consideration, your gut, heart, and mind resolve to call things off with your partner, it’s probably best to stick with your decision. At this stage, it is necessary to remain apart from your ex.

Admittedly, this is easier said than done. After all, the pain caused by a breakup is enough to lead to depression. Rather than stew in this agony, an easy fix would be to simply rush into the arms of your former partner, resolving to take each day as it comes.

However, while this might sound like a plan, the reality is that this might only provide short-term comfort, and may simply be delaying the inevitable separation. 

Staying apart from your ex can provide the space and clarity to review your decision. This does not always mean cutting them off, or refusing to see them—a friendship can remain after ending things with a romantic partner. Instead, simply reducing the amount of time spent together, as well as avoiding intimate spaces when interacting can be a good start.

Depending on your temperament, you might also want to store away pictures and other reminders of time spent together. However, if you are able to tolerate the reminders, this move might be unnecessary.

Have Honest Conversations

When a relationship comes to an end, the need for further conversation might seem irrelevant. However, while maintaining a respectable distance, former partners can speak about the next steps following the break-up to smoothen the transition.

These talks can cover expectations when it comes to meeting in public, how to break the news to friends and family, or even a schedule to avoid meeting up at favorite spots. 

These conversations will help to go over the fine details of life after a partner and can help to ease the change.

Allow Some Grieving Time

As much as moving on seems to be the watchword when a relationship comes to an end, you owe it to yourself to process your feelings as you please. This might sometimes mean crying over the phone to a friend or permitting tears to mix in with your ice cream and comfort food.

Again, a breakup can be a grueling process to navigate. Charging through, and choosing to focus on distractions might be a disservice to your mental and emotional well-being.

Discard any time limits placed on how long you should mope and feel bad about the end of your relationship. Instead, allow yourself the grace to feel the loss, and eventually overcome it in your own time.

Prioritize Yourself

At the end of your relationship, one thing should be at the top of your list of concerns: you.

Now is the time to focus on self-care and development. Indulge in cheat meals and relaxing bubble baths. Take that solo trip you’ve been meaning to take. Read about the next steps following the end of a relationship, and zero in on the lessons learned from time spent together.

You come first, and a breakup is one of the best times to acknowledge and capitalize on that fact.

Make Time for Friends and Family

While one relationship may have ended, other connections in your life don’t have to suffer. Now more than ever is the time to lean on friends and family for support and comfort as you get over the loss of a partner.

Planning out playdates, partaking in bad karaoke, plotting weekend trips, crying over the phone at the constant pain, and laughing at attempts to cheer you up are just a few of the ways friends and family members can assist with getting over a breakup.

A Word From Verywell

On a scale of one to ten, the hurt from a breakup can hover somewhere around 120. Falling out with a partner can be hard, losing them entirely can be excruciating. However, while one loss can be hard to live through—there is also the prospect of discovering a person that ticks all your boxes, values your unique quirks, and is able to fluently show you an immense amount of love. If you are having a difficult time processing your breakup then it might help to speak to a mental health professional.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Rhoades GK, Kamp Dush CM, Atkins DC, Stanley SM, Markman HJ. Breaking up is hard to do: the impact of unmarried relationship dissolution on mental health and life satisfaction. J Fam Psychol. 2011;25(3):366-374. doi:10.1037/a0023627

  2. Verhallen AM, Renken RJ, Marsman JC, Ter Horst GJ. Romantic relationship breakup: An experimental model to study effects of stress on depression (-like) symptoms. PLoS One. 2019;14(5):e0217320. Published 2019 May 31. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0217320

By Elizabeth Plumptre
Elizabeth is a freelance health and wellness writer. She helps brands craft factual, yet relatable content that resonates with diverse audiences.