Nobody likes getting dumped. It hurts like hell, is often a surprise, and immediately throws your self-image into question. The trauma only grows as your head begins to spin with the fragments of relationships past: I always miss the signs—what happened this time? Why does no one love me? What did I do wrong? This isn’t fair!
But the hard truth is that failed relationships are often the best road map to finding the truly great ones. Mistakes, and even pain, can have positive effects going forward…but only if you make the right decisions and avoid the wrong ones.
HOW TO GET IT RIGHT
Objectivity in the face of personal pain can be difficult, especially when all you really want to see is the other person hit by a midtown bus. But the reality is that it takes two to tango, and you weren’t always perfect either. In fact, there may have been plenty of things you did that were just as mean, ugly, or thoughtless as the jerk who dumped you. Being objective allows for perspective, and that is what will ultimately make it possible for you to move on.
After a dumping, the first fear is almost always of being alone forever. Images of frozen dinners for one, muttering cat ladies, and childless strolls through busy playgrounds flood our brains. Fight that nonsense. Being alone can be a great thing: It allows you time to reflect and to heal. The noise and fog of a relationship can be wonderful, but it can also obscure a lot of compromise and pain. Now that you are single, you can better take stock of who you are and what you want. Enjoy this newfound time with yourself. It’s far more useful than you know.
BE THE BIGGER PERSON
A reality of modern life is that you are going to run into this person at some point down the road. It might be at a party, a show, a gathering, or even at work. Obviously things will be uncomfortable, especially if you still harbor fantasies of planting a shrimp fork deep inside their left ventricle. Ditch that daydream. Real strength comes from release. If you can let it go and truly smile the next time you see them, it will prove that you can handle whatever life throws at you.
When you’re at your lowest this is the most important. All signs point negative right now, with your feelings and self-image shooting downhill fast. So you have to decide early on to view the situation with a positive eye instead of a negative one. It’s the old “glass half full or half empty” metaphor: The amount of liquid is the same; it’s how you choose to see it that matters. We always have a choice, but only positivity will set the stage for actual personal growth and genuine happiness.
REPLAY THE GOOD AND THE BAD
Obviously, a dumping will trigger the traditional stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, etc.), which can lead to the irrational fear of all good times being gone forever. That’s fine. Grieving is important, and the death of any significant relationship deserves time and consideration. Just don’t forget the bad parts, too. There were lots of things you tolerated that you no longer have to. Remind yourself that the relationship was not always sunshine and roses. It will help soften the blow and lead you to a better place.
HOW TO GET IT WRONG
TRY TO FIX IT
Don’t ever do this. It’s desperate, needy, and absolutely doomed to failure. Consider: Even if you were to succeed at “fixing things” or “winning them back,” what did you actually win? A few extra innings in a relationship already lost? Remember, they dumped you. How can you have anything even resembling an equal partnership now? The only sensible thing is to walk away and determine what happened on your own. Any effort you spend trying to piece the relationship back together only delays the inevitable.
BECOME A STALKER
Here’s a horrible idea: Decide that the best way to get them back is by following them obsessively and noting each and every person they are now spending time with. Aside from laying the groundwork for a future restraining order, what exactly is being accomplished here? Give it up. This kind of behavior is creepy and sad. Preserve your sanity, and avoid feeding the green-eyed monster at all costs.
THROW A PITY PARTY
It is one thing to feel sad and wallow a little when a relationship ends, but it’s something else entirely when you descend into a depressive funk, obsessing on your flaws. I’m too fat. I’m too skinny! I talk too much. I talk too little! Blah, blah, blah. Add in ridiculous helpings of sugar or baked goods and you’ve got a recipe for literal madness. Sure, identifying your faults can help you improve, but marinating in them is no way to go. Stop feeling sorry for yourself; it’s not helpful or attractive. Cancel the pity party now.
GO ON HOUSE ARREST
After a dumping, the desire to hide at home can be very strong. Sequestering yourself from the prying (and judgmental) eyes of others seems like a smart play, but it isn’t. Now is the most important time for you to get out there and see other people, places, and things. Prison is punishment. Don’t sentence yourself to it. Yes, your relationship is over and it hurts, but you are also free— so act like it. Get out of the house and explore your new reality.
HAVE A REBOUND RELATIONSHIP
This has got to be one of the worst, yet most often utilized ways to get over a dumping. Yes, you are feeling ugly, unloved, and awful—which is why you want to attach yourself to another person ASAP. The ugly truth? Hearts on the rebound are way less choosy than they should be. Resist the urge to jump into another relationship—or bed—too soon. You’ll be glad you did.