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Tips for Moving on From a Breakup

women on bench looking at man walking away

Breakups Are Scary, but They Aren’t the End of the World

When I was 16, I saw my ex-boyfriend on a date with the girl he “told me not to worry about” one week after we broke up. 

I was so upset that I threw up right then and there on the grass.

Gross, I know. Now, five years and two more breakups later, I am a strong, independent, and confident woman, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without the lessons I learned and the strength I mustered from my experience throwing up that day. 

Dating is a terrifying concept because it either ends with heartbreak or marriage, and both are terrifying. Especially when you’re young, you don’t know what you’re looking for in a partner. Maybe you just want someone who gives you attention, compliments you, or laughs at your jokes even when they’re not funny. But the reality is, you don’t know who you want to be with because you don’t know who you are by yourself. 

There’s a psychological phenomenon in which people of all ages believe that they are going to change less in the future than they did in the past. If you ask people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s how much they’ve changed as a person over the past 10 years, they will say tremendously. But if you ask them who they’re going to be in 10 years from now, they don’t see themselves growing or changing as much. It takes many trips to different coffee shops in your city to find the best coffee, and if you only ever went to Starbucks and ordered the vanilla bean frappuccino you got when you were 13, you might miss out on what other places have to offer. 

Now that I have maybe convinced you that breakups aren’t the end of the world but are actually the start of something better to come, we still have to deal with the aftermath emotionally. If you only remember one thing out of this post, it’s what I tell all my friends going through breakups and it’s what I reminded myself when I went through mine… it’s ok to not be ok. It makes sense to miss someone that was such a huge part of your daily life. Sometimes it’s not even missing the person but missing the idea of them or the role that they played in your life. Here are some tips for how to fill that hole during your journey of moving on. 

Tips for Moving On

1. For me, nighttime has always been harder for me because that’s when you cuddle and watch a movie or stay up late on the phone talking with your significant other, so I fill that void by keeping myself busy at night. Every night, my friends and I will do something together, whether that’s go grab ice cream, play games, or watch a movie together, but I make sure that I’m not physically or emotionally alone. 

2. I also miss having someone to constantly talk about every little good and bad thing that happened to me throughout the day, so I make that person my mom. I’ll text her what I’m having for lunch, how green the grass is looking today, and call her whenever I’m walking to class or work alone (pre-covid). 

3. Of course social media and the FBI agent in your phone also know about your breakup, so of course your ex partner’s posts will magically always be on the top of your feed. Consider unfollowing them on social media or at least muting their posts so that they don’t pop into your head every time you open your social media apps. Even just minimizing the amount of times that they come into your conscious thought a day helps you detach yourself more. 

4. When I was going through my first breakup, I heard this metaphor about “your inner circle” that really stuck with me. Imagine that all your friends, family, and your significant other are standing physically in a circle around you, shoulder to shoulder. When you lose your significant other, there’s now a hole in that perimeter of your inner circle. If everyone else in the circle took one step forward towards you in the middle, that would tighten the circle and get rid of the gap where that person was standing. Reaching out to the members of that circle and forming a stronger connection with them, checking in with them, and working on your relationship with each and every one of them will bring them one step closer and your circle will be whole again. 

Things Get Better

Breakups aren’t easy. They’re not supposed to be. Caring when someone leaves demonstrates that you cared about them in the first place. Loving others and caring for others so deeply that you feel you’ve given a part of yourself to them is a natural human instinct that we do for survival. Don’t regret sharing your love and a part of your life with someone. The only thing you should regret is if you don’t learn anything from the experience to carry with you to the future. The universe has a way of working out, and who are we to think we know what’s best for ourselves when we don’t even know who we are going to be in the future. 

When I was 16 I thought losing a boy was actually the end of the world. But I hadn’t even seen the world. I hadn’t taken the ACT, I hadn’t gone to UCLA, I hadn’t even held a real job, I hadn’t met most of my best friends that I have today. And I hadn’t met two other amazing boys that played a significant role in shaping who I am. I couldn’t envision any of that… all I had was the present and I thought life was over. 

So yeah breakups suck, and there will be tears, maybe screams, and maybe some of the lowest of lows, but at one point the path curves up and things get better. The sun will come out in the morning.

Hi everyone! My name is Alexis Stein, and I am currently a psychology student at UCLA. I have been working at Acacia for a year and a half as an Administrative Assistant, the Westwood Outreach Coordinator, and the Westwood Internship Program Lead. When I’m not working (which is almost never haha), I love heading to the beach with my friends, traveling (not right now #sad), and cooking!

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