Ending a relationship is devastating in the best of circumstances. However, if you were together for a long time or wanted to stay together, it can be especially painful. When your heart is broken, you feel like you’ll never smile again. While that’s not the case, it’d be nice to know when things will get better. Here’s how to be happy again after a breakup. Trust us, you’ll get there.
Why breakups can be so emotionally devastating
- You invested a lot of time and energy into your ex. Regardless of how long you were together, you gave your relationship your all. You gave them love, affection, and attention. You put the work in to make things work and they didn’t. When things don’t work out, you feel entirely drained of energy and emotion. It’s no wonder it’s so hard to be happy after a breakup.
- You thought you would be together forever. If your relationship was long-term, you may have assumed it would never end. Maybe you talked about marriage and kids one day. Or, perhaps you were already engaged or committed to spending forever together. That obviously isn’t happening, and that realization can be gutting.
- You were blindsided. If you were dumped by your ex and there were no warning signs, it truly stings. You thought your relationship was going well. You were committed and hopeful for the future. Then, things went south and the rug was pulled out from under your feet. After a breakup like this, finding a way to be happy feels nearly impossible.
- You lost yourself in the relationship. In certain situations, we can lose our individuality as part of a couple. Maybe you drifted from your family and friends. Or, perhaps you stopped pursuing your hobbies and interests and adopted your former partner’s instead. When you’re no longer part of that relationship, you’re at a loss as to what to do with yourself. You don’t even know who you are anymore. It’s a terrible feeling.
- You feel unlovable/like you failed. You and your partner couldn’t work things out, which must mean you’re unlovable, right? Of course not, but that’s how it feels. While it’s easy to blame yourself or let your breakup take a toll on your self-esteem, don’t. You can’t personalize what happened. It will get you nowhere.
How to be happy after a breakup
- Cut off all contact with your ex. Of course you want to stay in touch with them. However, you cannot be friends right now. Hanging on to such an unhealthy dynamic will only keep you from moving on from your breakup and will prolong the process of you ever being happy again. Go no contact, at least for a while. You’ll be glad you did.
- Try journaling. You don’t have to be a writer or feel very confident expressing yourself in words to try journaling. In fact, all the better if you’re not. Grab a notebook or pick up a Moleskine at the bookstore and get writing. Put down all of your thoughts and feelings, no matter how silly, on the page. Let it all out freely, knowing no one will ever read it but you. It’s cathartic.
- Reconnect with your former self. Who were you before you were with your ex? What did you like? Where did you go? How did you spend your time? In order to be happy again after your breakup, you have to connect with the old you. The vibrant you who didn’t need a relationship to make her life worthwhile. Spend time and energy getting to know that version of yourself again. You might just fall in love with her.
- Discover new hobbies and passions. You don’t just have to go back to old routines to lift your mood. Why not explore new territory? Try something that has always intrigued you but that you were scared to do? Hop to it! You never know what you might discover if you push yourself out of your comfort zone.
- Don’t allow yourself to wallow after a certain point. There’s nothing wrong with drowning your sorrows in Ben & Jerry’s and crying to Phoebe Bridgers songs. However, you have to know when to call it a day. If you want to be happy again after your breakup, you have to draw a line under your mourning and decide that you’re not going to do it anymore. You’re going to get up, wash the dishes, do your laundry, take a shower, and go back into the world of the living.
- Spend time with your closest friends. Who knows you better than your girls (or guys)? No one. Whether you kept up with your social circle as much as you should have during your relationship or not, now’s the time to focus on those connections. They’re the true blues that will be there for you through thick and thin. They still love you even though you ditched them for your ex too many times. They’ll remind you of who you are and what you’re capable of, and that’s what you need right now.
- Give yourself a bit of grace. Try not to be too hard on yourself. If you’re struggling with feeling depressed or upset for a few weeks or even a few months after your breakup, don’t berate yourself. Instead, offer yourself a bit of grace and patience. There’s nothing wrong with you because you’re struggling.
- Don’t start dating again immediately. No, the best way to get over someone isn’t to get under someone else. As tempting as it is, stay off dating apps, and don’t go hooking up with people randomly to try and get over your ex. Your future self will be glad you didn’t do things you regretted when you were heartbroken.
- Speak to a professional if you’re really struggling. If you feel like you’re doing everything possible to be happy again (or at least feel normal) after your breakup and it’s not working, there’s no shame in speaking to a therapist. They will have insights and tools to help you through.
How long does it take to be happy again after ending a relationship?
Sadly, there’s no one answer to this question. It depends on a variety of factors, the most important of which is who you are as a person. Maybe you process things quickly and are able to move on faster than most. Maybe you’re an empath who feels everything more deeply than everyone else. Your personality will determine how quickly you get through this.
That being said, a 2017 consumer poll conducted on behalf of Yelp asked 2,000 people in the U.S. about their post-breakup behaviors. They found that it takes roughly six weeks to stop crying about the breakup, two months to stop talking about them in conversation, about three-and-a-half months to fully be over the relationship and ready to date someone new. So, make of that what you will.
It’s important that you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be happy again immediately after a breakup. Ending a partnership, especially a long one, is difficult. It’s natural that you will experience a variety of emotions in the aftermath, and it’s important that you allow yourself to experience them and process them fully. As cliche as the old saying goes, time truly does heal all wounds. That may not be comforting when you’re in the midst of heartache, but it truly will pass.