How to Get Over Your Ex

Jessica Martin’s step-by-step guide to dealing with a bad break-up.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Jessica Martin’s step-by-step guide to dealing with a bad break-up.
Images TPG/Click Photos
Images TPG/Click Photos

Some break-ups are easy. Once, after being dumped via e-mail by a guy I was going to move to Canada for, I debriefed with a friend over a couple of vodkas, cried some crocodile tears and promptly moved on. Just like that. It was a surprise, even to me, how well I handled it because, let’s be real, most break-ups aren’t that simple. Most involve hours of wailing “whyyy?” to sympathetic friends who never let your glass run dry or, worse, falling into a deep depression that has you questioning your very existence. The latter has been me the past couple of months after I found out I’d been cheated on and, let me tell you, it hasn’t been nice. Or easy. But it does get better, eventually. You just have to go through all of these first…

1 Lock yourself away for a few days. Eat what you can and don’t skimp on water. Watch Girls without letting one episode end before clicking on the next.

2 Call your best friend. Sob. Barely get any words out because you’re crying so much. Feel the pain of betrayal afresh. And again. And again.

3 Have dinner with people who love you. Don’t check your phone. Walk home alone.

4 Join the gym. Be surprised by how exercise alleviates your sorrow for an hour or two.

5 Reblog inspirational quotes on Tumblr. Try to block out thoughts of him from your mind. Hug your pillow at night.

6 File and paint your nails and pretend that the most important thing right now is to be very, very kind to yourself. Because it is.

7 Drink red wine by yourself and feel all your feelings. Stop. Smile at your dramatics.

8 Think about the time when you made out with that boy in the club that you’d been obsessed with for months. Remember, at least for a moment, that there are other men in the world – and ones who kiss really well to boot.

9 Delete his old texts from your phone without rereading them for the hundredth time.

10 Think about all the things you still want to achieve. Soak in the possibilities. Get excited about your dreams coming true.

11 In between the hurt and sadness and pain, feel sorry for him for a second. Realise hurt people hurt people. Forgive him a little.

12 Keep going. Remember that you are the most important person in your life. Even if your break-up doesn’t have the same particulars as mine, they’re pretty universal, and it’s the “keep going” bit you have to remind yourself of when things seem too bleak to bear

Even if you’re taking two steps forward only to then take one step back, you’re still moving, and that’s not a bad thing. I’ve been through break-ups I thought I would never get over. But I did. And I’ll get over this one too. And so will you.