How to Get Over a Breakup Without Falling into a Dark Pit of Despair

You may now crawl out of your fetal position.

Breakups feel like a sudden death. One moment you go from being blissfully happy, to losing both a partner and a friend—seemingly in the blink of an eye. How do you avoid becoming cynical after you've finally opened your heart up to love, only to have it blow up in your face? Here are five (admittedly hard AF) steps to help you move on.

Give yourself permission to grieve.

Cry as much and as often as you feel you need to. Scream into a pillow. Wallow in your sadness if you need to. We put far too much pressure on ourselves to be okay right after a breakup. This may feel like the conventionally strong thing to do, but you may be setting yourself back.

Kristie Overstreet, PhD, psychotherapist and clinical sexologist, tells that in order to heal, we need to treat ourselves with kindness. “Be gentle with yourself by giving yourself permission to be in the space of grief and sadness. Don’t waste your emotional energy by telling yourself that you shouldn’t feel this way or that you should just get over it.”

Instead of hurrying off to party or hooking up with the next person you see, take some time for self-love and self-care, as cliche as that may sound. Regain your sense of self—or better, become the best version of yourself—by finding what gives you joy and pursuing those things. “[This experience] is valid, real, and horrible at this time in your life, but you know that it will pass,” Overstreet adds.

Accept that people change and that’s okay.

When you’re going through a terrible breakup it’s easier to be angry than it is to see the bigger picture. We hide in our feelings of rage instead of accepting that people grow and change. It’s frustrating to find that someone you love has not evolved in the same ways you have, but the first step in moving on from a breakup is accepting that we have only a modicum of control over the future.

“It's important to understand that even healthy relationships can end," says Nikki Goldstein, MD, sexologist and relationships expert. "We are not all meant to be with each other and it might just come down to different interests in life and not enough of a connection.”

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Honor what you had.

If it was a healthy relationship, appreciate it for what it was. “Often people want to try and put a person down or say the relationship was rubbish to justify the ending,” says Goldstein. Choose to focus on the positive lessons you glean from heartbreak instead of dwelling on the terrible parts. A breakup will show you how resilient you are and remind you that you can truly survive anything.

Honoring what you had also means not disrespecting the other person intentionally. You might need to create distance between yourself and your ex (for good reason), but going the extra step during a breakup means not going out of your way to hurt their feelings after part ways. After all, the best revenge is to just go on living your fabulous, successful life.

Write yourself a letter.

Don’t hesitate to write down everything you are feeling during this time. Will you cry through the whole thing? Probably. But it will be a cathartic experience to put it down on paper and let it go.

Overstreet suggests that you also write yourself a note to remind yourself of your blessings, how amazing you are (seriously, truly, don't forget it), and every good thing you have in store. “Writing this letter to self will help you process what you are currently experiencing and give the opportunity to identify positives in the future,” she says.

Remember that you are a badass queen.

Forgive yourself. There is no shame in a breakup, even if you weren't the one doing the breaking up. When you’re trying to be an empowered woman, rejection is the one thing that can knock you down off your pedestal. It’s a kick in the stomach, but don't let it break you. Surround yourself with the people who love you instead of giving in to the urge to self-isolate.

We’re conditioned to believe that we are only truly worthy if we have a romantic partner. And it’s bullshit. You are a magical, fantastic, incredible person all by yourself. A relationship worthy of you, goddess, will be one you don’t have to question or worry about.


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Gigi Engle

Gigi Engle is a writer, certified sexologist, sex coach, and sex educator. Her work regularly appears in many publications including Brides, Marie Claire, Elle Magazine, Teen Vogue, Glamour and Women's Health.