This is the sound of my mother, a few champagnes in at my cousin’s wedding, learning about my friend Nadia’s recent breakup. I giggled as people around us turned to see what had happened to make my mother gasp. My mother was outraged to hear about how Nadia’s ex had treated her in the dying days of their four-year relationship.
I was outraged too. But as a writer, every heartbreak strewn across my path is an opportunity. And this was a juicy one.
THE GOSS: Nadia’s long-term boyfriend had been coy about moving in together. She was more than ready for it, he was not. Then, Nadia got one of those messages no-one wants to see ping into their inbox. Hey Nadia, I’m really sorry to tell you this…
The Bastard had been talking to someone else. The Bastard had been on a date with someone else.
It was over. Well and truly. And though Nadia knew that it was for the best, she couldn’t help but feel entirely broken and lost in the wake of the breakup.
I caught up with Nadia earlier this week to chat heartbreak, healing, and how to put yourself back together in five steps.
Understand Why Heartbreak Hurts
This first tip is my own. In the wake of my very first breakup, I watched a 12-minute TedTalk called How to Fix a Broken Heart. It might sound cheesy, but it was methodical and logical and exactly what I needed to understand what I was going through.
In the talk, psychologist Guy Winch explains that to your brain, being in love is like being on drugs. It activates similar pathways and produces similar chemicals. So, a breakup is a withdrawal from a drug, and reminiscing on happier days with your ex is just your brain trying to get its fix.
Something that helped both Nadia and me after our breakups was making a list of all the reasons our previous partners weren’t right for us. Mine included small things like the fact that he slept with no doona cover (gross) and bigger things, like the fact that our moral compasses didn’t really align.
Nadia made her list mentally. I wrote mine down, took a picture of it, and carried it with me wherever I went. Whenever I started to feel a bit sad and reminisce about the sweet parts of the failed relationship, I would get out the list and remind myself what it was really like to sleep with no doona cover night after night.
I even read out the list to my friends. It was cathartic on so many levels to talk candidly about the relationship and laugh about it with people who loved me.
Change Their Name on Your Phone
During my most recent breakup, my friend Ash turned to me and said, ‘Ciaran, that man has the emotional maturity of a pair of kitchen scissors.’
I decided this would be a perfect moniker for the said man and promptly changed his name in my phone to ‘Kitchen Scissors’, complete with a scissor emoji. It worked exactly as intended – each time he texted me, or I went to text him, I would be reminded of exactly why we weren’t right for each other.
I’ve also seen people on TikTok doing this in a different way – each time you end things with someone, you ‘add them to the graveyard’ in your contacts by changing their name to a solitary headstone emoji.
This tip works best if you primarily message someone through text messages. You could also do this through messenger, but the person will be able to see that you’ve changed their name. Which could be a good thing or a bad thing. Up to you, Glassies.
Keep Busy, Biatch
Keeping yourself occupied is important on so many levels. This was one of Nadia’s key strategies in the wake of her breakup. She mentioned how so much of the pain of a breakup is manifested in a really sudden shift in routine – you’re no longer texting that special someone when you wake up or before you go to bed. Your weekends look different, your bed might be colder.
Nadia used all of her extra time to read. She read and read like she’d never done before. She spent time with the friends she’d neglected while in the relationship. She daydreamed about her future.
I think the key here is to add things to your life (‘fill the void’, as Nadia said). Breakups can leave a gaping hole, but holes can be filled pretty darn easily with a bit of creativity and imagination.
Give Yourself a Little Grace
Heartbreak hurts. It really does. Let yourself fall in a heap occasionally, if that’s what you need. Give yourself grace. Maybe even share your heartbreak with someone – I can almost guarantee you the person you share your story with will understand, and will likely have experienced that same thing.
My friend Nadia is doing well. She’s moving to London in June (!), looking hot AF, and even managed to pick up a cute new guy at Maya Mexican a few weekends ago. She’ll be more than fine. I know it. And you will too, Glassies.
This article was first shared by Glass on 22 April 2022.