Updated 04 June 2010

10 tips on break-up survival

Your partner's hit the road and frankly, you feel absolutely terrible. But all is not lost, even if it feels like it right now.

Few things are as devastating as a messy break-up. Your self-image has been ground into the dust, you feel ugly and unwanted and you're sure people are talking about you behind your back. Or even worse, they feel sorry for you.

And there's this ache somewhere between your stomach and your ribs that just won't go away. Especially after you saw your ex with the new partner outside the bank this morning. But all is not lost, even though it feels like it right now.

Take heart. This happens to most people a couple of times in your life. You are not alone. You will not always feel this way, even though it feels at the moment as if the sun is never going to come up again. You feel like crawling in under your bed – and staying there. But even if it is difficult to imagine right now, there will come a time again when you will laugh, enjoy doing things, meeting new people and going places.

Life is not over. It may feel like it is over, but there's more to life than the partner you've just lost. You cannot base your entire sense of self-esteem on the reaction you elicited from this one person. It's a bit like never applying for another job if you don't get the first one for which you applied. There is life after a relationship has ended. Just keep doing the right things and you will feel better after a while.

Other people will find you attractive again. It happened before and it's going to happen again. The way you look may also have had nothing to do with the break-up – many other factors may have been involved. Right, you're not getting any younger, but neither are your contemporaries. So even if you're 65, the new neighbour next door might be 67 and find you very interesting. And vice versa.

The awful feeling of sadness will not last forever. The end of a relationship is a very serious thing – it is a bit like a death. An enormous portion of your life has changed. This includes your social patterns, possibly your financial position, maybe even your address. You need to give yourself time to mourn the relationship that has been. If you allow yourself to do this properly, you will not feel like this forever.

You could be better off without this person. It might not feel like it right now, but the departure of this person from your life may be the best thing that has happened to you. Especially if you've been cheated on, or abused in any way, or even just made to feel bad about yourself. Maybe it's an idea now to spend some time alone, in which you can pamper yourself, or, after some time, find someone who does make you feel good about yourself.

Your finances will recover. Dealing with a changed financial status after a relationship is always an added burden. Very few people find themselves in the same position as before the break-up. If you shared household expenses, owned a house together, or even just shared things like electrical appliances, it's going to cost a lot of money to get your own place, and replace all these things. Then of course, there's always the problem of still being owed money. Unless it's a huge amount, write it off and start again.

You can learn from this mistake. See this grim experience as a learning curve. Maybe there were errors of judgement on your side and you got yourself into a bad space with someone who might not have been very good for you. Or you let this person treat you in an increasingly poor manner. But, at least now, you are out of it. And there are different choices to make in the future.

You'll have more time now to spend with friends. When you fall in love, time with friends is usually the first casualty. But these people are important in your life – in fact they are the very people to get you through these difficult times. They deserve some time and attention from you – and let's face it, recently they have not been getting it. And what's more, for the three months before the break-up, you'd been so miserable that you have neglected them all terribly. Now it's time to make up for it.

You don't have to account for your movements. You can go where you want to, when you want and with whom – and you never have to account for your movements to anyone. This is one of the nicest things about being single. You can change plans at the last minute – and there's no one else to consider, or to phone, or who is waiting at home for supper. Footloose and fancy-free – that's what you are, for the time being anyway.

A cheat is going to do it again. Not all relationships end with being cheated on, but if yours has, it could add fuel to the fire of resentment you are feeling. But, in many cases, the reality is that a leopard does not change its spots. A year or two down the line, you might very well hear through the grapevine that your ex has either cheated again or has been cheated on by the person you were left for. A saying that has often been proved to be true is, "If someone will cheat with you, they will cheat on you".

The best revenge is looking good and being happy.
Spend some time mourning the relationship that is over, but by no means spend weeks gnashing your teeth. There is no point in it, and you're only going to damage your general state of well-being and your looks. Take care of yourself, treat yourself, get some sleep and stay away from the booze and the cigarettes. Remember, the best revenge is feeling happy and looking good.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated June 2010)

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