How to Handle Getting Dumped Like a Pro
Oh God, I feel your pain. I really do. Chances are if you are reading this, it's because you have recently experienced a breakup, and holy hell it sucks. Hi, I'm Emily, and I have a background in Psychology and Human Development. I am also currently experiencing the aftermath of getting dumped. Boo.
A long time ago, the reddit community helped me through one of the most painful break ups of my life, and I am forever grateful for the kind words and support I received after the fact. Since then, I have gained more experience and knowledge of the dating world, and been able to add to my ever expanding pool of perspective....not to mention reading every breakup self-help book there is. By the time this breakup happened, I already knew what to do, and it has made this tough process that much easier. I'd like to share it with you.
1. No contact. Immediately. I mean it.
No matter what kind of advice you receive on this subject, online, in books, from therapists, you will find that the one thing they ALL agree on is no contact, starting right from the moment you hear the words "I can't do this." That means no texts, no phone calls, no drunken phone calls, no facebook messages, no status commentary, No snapchats of you crying, NOTHING. I can't stress how important this is, and unfortunately it is the hardest part of all.
When somebody breaks up with you, no matter what bullshit reason they offered, it is because they don't want to be with you anymore. That means they don't want to hear from you either. Breaking up is a difficult, and anxiety-producing action for the person doing the dumping no matter what the remaining feelings, and afterwards you can bet they are going to want their space from you...plus some pretty solid reassurance that you aren't going to become a crazy psycho-stalker afterwards. That means not harassing him with your heartfelt paragraphs of what you are feeling at this very raw time, not "checking up on him", and not sending him sad face emoticons (I learned that never elicits a pleasing response a longggg time ago). He needs time to process, you need time to process, and every time you make a fool of yourself texting things you will most definitely regret later, the response you receive (or don't receive) will be like getting dumped all over again. You only need to hear it once, ok? You are at the beginning stages of removing what you thought was a permanent fixture from your life, and it now serves you no purpose to keep putting yourself in a position to get continuously rejected. If he wants to get in touch again, he will, and you can decide from there how to respond, but don't ever chase a man. Preserve your dignity and take some baby steps towards "out of sight, out of mind." It helps a lot in time.
In addition to saving yourself some unnecessary grief, you will also instantly become more mysterious, more powerful, in an area in which you feel like you have none. He broke up with you, he expects you to be upset. Why aren't you showing it? Why aren't you openly pining for him? What are you doing with your now open schedule? He may not ever say these things to you directly, but you can bet he will think them at some point. If nothing else, it makes you seem a little bit more attractive to your now ex, and gives him a nice little poke to the ego WHILE accelerating your healing. Please don't contact your ex. Do not give him the satisfaction of knowing that you are still openly available to him while he carries on doing whatever he wants. You are stronger than that.
2. Do not Stalk your Ex on Social Media
This is another one everybody involved with the subject agrees on, and for good, good reasons. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat...all of these things are small, fake little cutouts of the big picture, but you will fail to see it that way when you're crying over his status update about how freaking happy he is with his bros at the bar. And you'll invent things in your mind based on what you're seeing, and that will make it suck so much harder.
Why on earth would you want to torture yourself looking at the old pictures, while watching him virtually move on? Delete the pictures, do not give him the chance to untag them all (he will. It will suck.) Unfollow his friends and family so you don't get to accidentally see him in a photo. Unfollow him. Obviously. I'd say unfriend, everybody says unfriend, but if you have enough self control to not look at his page, I say don't bother. If you are doing a good job at no contact he WILL get curious. He will look at your page eventually. Make sure it's full of you being positive, and you looking reallllll good....you want him to be able to see that. So quick....delete that sad song lyric off your status...nobody ever completely regretting dumping someone because the girl posted part of 'wrecking ball' with a crying face and a heart. You are a fabulous person with a great attitude....at least in the face of the general online public. And to him.
3. Give Up the Ghost
In order for this process to go as quickly as possible, (which could be weeks or months, it's different for everyone), and while doing all of your non-stalking and no-contacting, you need to accept that it is over. Some people reconcile, yes, but very,very few, and you must always view your situation as the rule, not the exception. You will seriously hinder your process if you cannot accept that what you had is finished. You will keep hope somewhere in your heart, in a place where it doesn't belong, and it is going to hurt just as bad, if not more, when that gets crushed too. It is so difficult to face yourself and your reality, to stand there in the mirror and say "He is not coming back. My life has changed. My future is undetermined." But the clearer you are with yourself, even in the throws of unrelenting grief, the faster your mind will begin to help you adjust to the new change, and the faster you will be able to get out of bed in the morning without being pissed that you woke up. You are strong, you are capable, you have the strength to be honest with yourself and begin your path to healing. Remove all hope, ye who yearns for reconciliation. Put all your hope into the thoughts of good things to come instead.
4. Understand What's Happening Inside your Mind
When healing a physical illness, the doctor must first understand what is happening inside your body to know how to fix it. In the case of a breakup, you are your own doctor, and I think it is imperative that you be aware of what's happening physically inside your mind to better help you understand your feelings and behaviors and begin to heal.
When we are in love or infatuation (the difference between the two is a whole different article) your brain is producing oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. These chemicals create those bonding, loving, and butterfly feelings you have when you're really into somebody...ESPECIALLY when you are physically intimate with them over a period of time. We are hard-wired to operate this way. Evolution theory says that the purpose of this is to keep partners together when inevitably raising children...it was easier to protect the young from predators and raise them to adulthood with two able-bodied humans on the same team. These primitive feelings and chemical releases are basic functions of our brains, and holy hell are they hard to remove once somebody bails.
The important thing to remember is that the production of these powerful chemicals, the resulting feelings of which you are projecting onto your former partner, will absolutely fade over time if given the appropriate chance. Every profile pic you stare at re-releases them in trace amounts, and every text you send to him couples those chemicals with adrenaline, a dangerous and hindering combination. So don't.do.it.
The really really tough part is that they play some pretty hardcore tricks on you when you are grieving. The oxytocin will make you crave the physical intimacy from him like a drug, and the dopamine will idealize the person in your mind....it will ask you to recall only the happy memories, only the things you loved about them, only the things that made you PERFECT for each other and what the hell is wrong with him, I just need to make him see how good we are together. Stop. Your own mind is trying to sabotage you. Force yourself to write down all the things you DON'T like about him, and make sure to review that list frequently. As the dopamine starts to loosen it's grip on you, that list will seem more and more valid. And guess what, it is.
So just remember, when you're in the middle of a really hard moment that you're not sure how to get through, it's just those pesky chemicals acting up again, and your body cannot physically maintain that level of escalation forever. They will begin to fade, it's basic science. I promise you.
5. He is Not the One, the Universe is Trying to Help You
"Ohhh but yes he is." Says your heart to me. "He is and we are perfect for each other and he just doesn't see it yet." No. Again, stop it. It's the chemicals talking, trying to make you miserable. He is not the one. The one will stay. You will never have to say "he just doesn't see it yet" about the one. The one always sees. The one would never make you feel the way you do right now. You couldn't see that, You couldn't stop idealizing him enough to recognize what the relationship lacked, but the one who dumped you saw for you, thank god. Painful as it is, hard as it may be to live in the wide open and undetermined future, you are being slowly moved along to what should be. You must get through and past this to get to the greater good. And you can. And you will. It is not a choice. And one day, you will wake up next to the person who will stay, who will think it's absolutely mind blowing that this idiot gave you up, and who could have never come to you if you didn't take every step necessary to begin again. Remind yourself through this process that he was not right for you, because otherwise, you would still be together. This debilitating heartache will one day become a distant memory, and you will be happy again. You can do it.
6. A Public Run In
I sincerely hope you are not trying to run into him purposefully, because that violates all no contact, no stalking rules, but if you do happen to see him at the bar, at a restaurant, on the street, etc., you say "hi how are you" (as a statement, not a question), and you reply "great thanks" when he says the same, and then you get the hell out of there. I have had a few occasions in the now very distant past, where I ran into an ex, drunk and sad, and made an absolute ass of myself because I just couldn't tear myself away. We get these fantasy thoughts in our head, like, well he saw me and I look fabulous and he must feel the same way I do about seeing him because all my feelings came flooding back when I looked at his face and he'll come over and confess his undying love soon blah blah blah. But of the times this has happened to me, this fantasy scenario has never occured. Because this person broke up with me and he doesn't feel that way. And men don't operate that way in public anyway, even if they do have leftover feelings. So, I'd get drunker, and more desperate, and at the end of the night would be crying and hanging off of him while his friends tried to pry me off. True story, horrifyingly embarrassing. Not cute at all....please don't let it happen to you. It is not attractive or classy. If you want to do this like a pro, you've got to be real casual, and then you've got to disappear. You are a mysterious enigma...you don't stroke his dumper ego by sticking around and waiting for his attention. The time I finally gained enough experience to do this, I got a text an hour later, "seeing you blew my mind. You look amazing. Where did you go?" It was such a challenge to drag myself right out the door when I saw him there...it's all I thought about. But I'm glad I did, because you know what? I win. You can too.
7. You Are Awesome. Even if You Can't See it Now
Just the fact that you are reading this article, feeling how you are feeling, already proves that you are a caring person, capable of love and affection for another. That is an amazing thing! You gave your heart and your all to somebody, and those untangible items don't just return to you overnight. It takes time, it takes a little bit of self control (ok, alot to not stalk facebook), and it takes letting the grief flow through and out of you until it's gone, no matter how long that takes. Allow yourself your sadness when you feel it, tears release stress hormones and it is emotionally cleansing. It's ok to have these moments, it's ok to feel sad for awhile. You are releasing someone's grip from your heart. It hurts! Say to it, hello sadness. Here you are again. Come do what you must, but please don't stay too long.
Getting dumped is unarguably one of the most difficult human experiences one can have. Along with mourning the loss of physical and emotional intimacy with someone you saw a future with, your self-worth and esteem get wiped out. Your ego is bruised and your heart is so broken that you don't feel like you'll ever be yourself again. It's lonely, and it's exhausting. But it is something pretty much all of us go through at one time or another, and you are not alone. At any given time, there are millions out there who are going through exactly what you are at this time, and can relate to you better than you could ever imagine. I'm one of them. But it's up to you how you deal with this, what steps you take.
You are open now to learn how to fully and completely find ways to love yourself, so that the next person doesn't complete you or fill your voids, but instead positively adds his whole self to your whole self. You don't need no man, you need to heal, and then you need to love you so somebody else can. It is all part of the roller coaster human experience. You.Can.Get.Through.This.