The Right (and Wrong) Ways to Handle a Breakup

a sad man

An upset man | iStock.com

Ending a relationship is hard. Unfortunately, there are certain behaviors that can complicate matters even more. The Cheat Sheet chatted with Colin Tate, relationship expert and author of Is This Your Man to get the details on how you should act once all is said and done. Spoiler alert: Don’t act like a crazy ex. Here’s a peek into our conversation.

The Cheat Sheet: What are some of the things you should never do after a break up?

Colin Tate: One thing you should never do after a breakup is constantly look at your ex partner’s social media accounts and old emails or listen to old voicemails. Once it’s over, let it be over. Try to learn something from the breakup. Sometimes people feel a breakup is one-sided, but this isn’t true. Take for example when someone cheats on you or does something to lose your trust. In almost every case, the person always shows signs during the relationship or you noticed little red flags. The problem is that most people just ignore it. So try to learn what your contribution was to the breakup so that you can keep from making the same mistake twice.

It’s also important to forgive and let go of the anger. There is an old saying: “what angers you will control you.” If you haven’t learned to forgive your ex (or in some cases, yourself) you will bring that toxic baggage in every relationship and find yourself single and unhappy.

Unhappy couple

Unhappy couple | iStock.com

CS: If you want to get back with your ex, what are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to reconciliation?

CT: The answers could be different depending on the situation. Let me put it this way, 99% of the time, the reason you initially broke up with someone usually rears its ugly head shortly after you reunite. And you’ll find yourself saying, “so that’s why we broke up again.” Also, if a fair amount of time like a year or so hasn’t passed since the breakup, chances are that the issues you initially had are going to still be there. A four- to six-month break is usually not enough time for your partner to have rectified the issues you once had with him or her.

CS: If your partner doesn’t want to get back together, should you keep trying or leave it alone?

CT: The short answer is to leave it alone and move on. If you were the one that was responsible for the relationship ending by your actions, then you must examine what caused you to take those actions in the first place. Because if you don’t address that underlying issue, chances are you will end up hurting that person all over again. However, if it is a situation where your partner left you, I again say move on. Think about it this way. Let’s say you had a job that you absolutely loved. You came in early, stayed late, and worked weekends. However, over time that same job started to make you feel unappreciated. They would not pay you on time, they gave you a hard time when you wanted to take vacations, and they didn’t appreciate your work. Now let’s say this job one day out of the blue just fired you. Would you be initially sad and hurt? Yes. But would you go back weeks later asking and begging that job to take you back? Of course not. Why? Because you know you can get another job that will treat you the way you deserve. You should think about your love life the same way.

CS: How can you rebuild your self-esteem after a break up?

a fighting couple worried about their relationship

A couple breaking up | iStock.com

CT: The key is to take the time necessary to go through your mix of emotions. And then once you have yelled, cried, and screamed, again it’s time to move on. But if it’s been a year and you are still stuck with the same hurt and pain, then that’s not your ex’s fault. That is all on you. And if you are so “gun shy” to get back out there and take another swing at love, again, that’s not your ex’s fault. That’s all on you.

See, there is no guarantee that the next person you meet won’t hurt or disappoint you again. The problem most people have is that they don’t trust themselves that they are able to handle it if it were to happen. Let’s say you were in a car accident. At first when you get back into the car and drive by the scene again, you are a little nervous and overly cautious. But over time you start to get more and more comfortable. Why? You trust yourself that if another accident happened you can handle it. Would it hurt again? Yes, but at least you are confident that you will walk away. However, if you didn’t trust yourself, every time you got in a car you would jump and scream anytime it looked like a car was getting too close. Think of dating again the same way.

CS: Anything else to add?

Couple arguing while driving

Couple arguing while driving | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

CT: Finding love is one of the most difficult things for most of us to do. Only God knows how many emails, text messages, phone calls, and dates you must go on before you get it right. But every date is just a learning experience to prepare yourself for who you are meant to be with. Last, always remember this. It is not another person’s or a relationships job to create your happiness. It’s their job to only add to the happiness that already exists. Your happiness must come from God and yourself.

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