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How Can I Cope with a Breakup?

By: Danielle Bertini, LPC

Breakups can be incredibly painful. Although it can seem impossible in the moment, there are some strategies that can help make the process a little easier, and potentially help you to be better prepared to make good, healthy choices when you’re ready to date again. Carmichael (2020) offers some tips to help cope.

  • Don’t grieve alone.

Losing a relationship can almost feel like a death of the relationship. If you view it through the lens of grief, it’s important to remember that we aren’t meant to grieve alone. Consider making sure that you have a supportive friend or family member during the first week or so after the breakup to help support you. Although this person won’t fill the void, at the very least it can be helpful to surround yourself with support during a loss.

  • Experience healthy touch.

After a breakup, you might experience struggles related to a sudden loss of touch and affection. We lose emotional support and a dramatic decrease in the amount of physical affection we receive at the same time during a breakup. Some ways to counteract this could be to book yourself a massage. Although a massage certainly isn’t the same, it can help your body and mind to at least experience positive touch. Massages can also help to reduce cortisol (stress) levels.

  • Open your eyes.

It can be useful to make a list of the top times when your ex hurt or disappointed you, or any other negative points that might help you realize that they were by no means perfect. We can sometimes view our exes with rose-colored lenses after a breakup, making it harder to move on. You can also ask a friend to help you recall the problems or issues from your relationship if you are feeling stuck in the “but they were perfect” mindset. It can be hard to move on if you are constantly putting your ex on a pedestal. 

  • Don’t be afraid.

On some occasions, we obsess about the past as a way to avoid reentering the dating world because it’s scary to do so and because we can be afraid of repeating whatever potential mistakes led to the current situation. However, it’s important to learn from our past relationships and have support as you explore dating again. This can be things like different podcasts, self-help books, blogs, and so on that resonate with you.

  • Fill your brain with new experiences.

After a breakup, there can be many things in our current environment and daily routine that remind us of our ex: whether it’s being home alone and thinking about how you used to spend time together there or going to work and thinking about how they used to meet you for lunch, and so on. A way to work through this is to make new experiences for yourself to help replace those old memories. This can be traveling somewhere new, or even trying something you’ve always wanted to try. It’s useful to give yourself new and positive experiences that are independent of your ex.

  • Get your rest, but also get out.

Sleep can sometimes be useful after a breakup, as your brain is trying to process what happened and that can take up a lot of mental energy. A little hibernation can be restorative. Although it’s good to get rest, it’s also helpful to sometimes take a walk in the fresh air, or chat with a friend. Make sure to know the limits between restorative rest, and avoidance.

  • Look out for loneliness.

One of the hardest parts about a breakup is that you often lose the person you used to go to for emotional support. And coincidentally, you need that emotional support during the breakup. It’s like being very hungry yet being blocked from your kitchen at the exact moment you need to eat. It’s useful to identify other sources of support that you have in your life. Surround yourself with supportive friends who can help boost your self-esteem, or who can even just be there when you need a pep talk or some perspective.

  • Remember your last ex.

It can sometimes feel like you’ll “never get over” your current breakup. When this happens, it’s important to remember previous breakups where you may have felt similar, and remember how intense those feelings were at the time, and then realize the fact that you went on to meet someone new and were eventually able to move forward. This can help to put things into perspective and remind yourself that you’ve gotten over breakups before.

If you find yourself struggling with coping with a breakup, you may find it helpful to talk with one of our therapists at Symmetry Counseling. You can contact Symmetry today by calling 312-578-9990 to get matched with one of our licensed counselors. 


Carmichael, C. (2020, August 21). The Ultimate Guide to Breakups. Psychology Today. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from 

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