You met him at a school football game. He was sweet, thoughtful and adorable and after a few flirty texts you accepted his invitation to go on a date. After dozens of late nights in the library, gym dates and trips to the movies, you decide you might really be falling for this guy. You stay together almost the entire school year, but it just doesn’t work out. After meeting his family, friends and building an entire life with a boyfriend, how can you ever prepare for a break up or what comes next? Can you ever get used to not having the one most important person in your life suddenly absent? Though it’s never an easy process, HC is here to lift your spirits and help you move on!
Now we’ve all heard of the five stages of grief, or what’s known as the Kübler-Ross model, but can anyone actually recite them? It’s important to know and understand that each of these stages may be affecting you shortly after a break-up. These stages are:
- Shock/Denial — The feeling that this can’t be happening to you
- Anger/ Resentment — Blaming the other person for leaving you, asking “why me?”
- Bargaining — Doing anything to have that person come back to you
- Depression/Loneliness — Having trouble coping with the pain
- Acceptance/Hope — Understanding that it’s really over
These stages were created by Elisbath Kübler-Ross who wrote the book On Death and Dying, but her stages of grief apply to loss in general from losing a job to losing a loved one. In her book, Ms. Kübler-Ross makes it clear that the final stage (acceptance) does not mean being ok with what’s happened or even liking the situation. Instead it’s about beginning the process of finding peace with what has happened to you.
According to Jennifer Heetderks, M.A. of counseling.ucr.edu, these stages aren’t always pleasant; they come with baggage. Sometimes you can have severe mood fluctuations or changes in your eating or sleeping patterns. They can also make you distance yourself from your family and friends.
You have to recognize that healing and grieving take time and make sure that everyone who is important to you knows what you’re going through. They’ll be more understanding if they know why you’re so moody all of a sudden!
Dos and Don’ts
Alan Entin, a PH.D in psychology, who has a practice in Richmond, Va., says it’s a bad idea to jump into a relationship right after getting out of one. Instead of searching at a local bar for the next catch he recommends looking into a hobby or interest you’ve never pursued. Dr. Entin thinks it’s important to see the relationship for what it was. He gave an example of one of his clients who has been married for 21 years to a man whose actions she constantly defends.
“She was constantly thinking of her husband as a savior and this good guy until enough of us would say ‘No, that’s not true,’ ” Dr. Entin said. “She didn’t have a realistic picture of their relationship and now’s she’s getting it because he’s just been so nasty to her.”
He also suggests asking yourself a series of questions that include: “Summer’s coming; what do I want to do? Do I want to go on vacation? Why can’t I go to the movies alone? Why do I have to have some guy with me?”
“[After a break up] you have to keep busy and find comfort in the things you like, like music and books and spending time with your friends,” said John Tyler Community College sophomore Aggie Morris.
Most importantly, Heetderks says it’s important not to give up on relationships. James Madison University junior Elizabeth Baugh agrees.
“I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I’d given up on guys and dating [after my break up],” Baugh said. “My experiences with difficult break ups have helped me to improve my current relationship. I now know and can admit to some of my weaknesses and faults in a relationship.”
HC writer Gabriela Szewcow recommends reading the book It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt.
The book focuses on the fact that even though it’s a tough time, you should realize that whatever jerk dumped you is not worth your time. It gives you helpful tips or “commandments” for the days, weeks and months following a break-up.
Dr. Entin recommends movies of female empowerment to his clients, such as Meryl Streep’s Music of the Heart and the recent film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
We also want to offer you some helpful tips for healing. Accepting this tough situation isn’t always easy. You can make the process easier by:
- Talking to someone — Bottling up your emotions never helps, so try to get some help either from your loved ones for from a trained professional. Internalizing your feelings is never a healthy solution.
- Filling the void — While some believe this can lead to addiction and the desire to perfect one thing, that doesn’t have to be the case. Join a book club, volunteer at a local pet shelter or help out around your community, anything that can help you better yourself in a positive way.
- Letting out the anger — Join a local gym and let out your frustrations in a fat burning way! Set goals for yourself and even work with a personal trainer. By the time you’ve moved on, you’ll be looking hotter and feeling great. In the words of the great Elle Woods “Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands [in this case boyfriends], they just don’t.”
- Moving up — Put the time and effort you once put into your relationship into your career. Allow yourself to work those extra hours and focus more on your job. It’ll pay off in the end.
- Keeping an open mind — Allow yourself to consider the possibility of a new relationship, when you’re ready. Don’t close yourself up! You’re a young, vibrant woman with your whole life ahead of you. Don’t let this one break up determine the decisions you make for the rest of your life.
So girls, go forth, knowing that you’re better off and much wiser now. Understand that the healing process won’t happen overnight and won’t happen without you helping yourself. Good luck!
Aggie Morris, Class of 2012, John Tyler Community College
Elizabeth Baugh, Class of 2011, James Madison University
Gabriela Szewcow, Her Campus Writer and student at Elon University
Jennifer Heetderks, M.A. http://counseling.ucr.edu
Dr. Alan Entin PH.D, Richmond, Va.
It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s BrokenBy Greg and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt
On Death and DyingBy Elisabeth Kubler-Ross