zSo, you’ve been dumped. This is hard anytime, because the human psyche doesn’t respond great to rejection, but it’s even worse when it happens with someone you’d pegged as promising. Being aware of how you’re actually responding to the change on an emotional level is made harder by the fact that you may be feeling stupid for having a reaction at all, since the person who let you go seems to be totally okay with everything. You might want to pretend like you, too, are FINE, TOTALLY FINE! Or, you might find yourself thinking, “How is it possible that I could have caught feelings for someone who had not caught feelings for me but I totally thought had? Can I even trust my own perceptions of reality?”
Before you follow this line of reflection too deeply, pause. Set up some boundaries, some loose goals. Nothing too stringent! This isn’t boot camp or a pointless New Year’s Resolution. Just some general nudges in the right direction, in the hopes that you won’t find yourself three weeks out, on some weird, unintentional hookup spree with people you don’t even really want to hook up with, or eating entire boxes of cereal at midnight, or whatever it is that you do to pretend you are FINE, TOTALLY FINE.
Feel your feelings, even the ones you’re not sure you have
Chances are, if the relationship ended, you had some mixed feelings about it. Maybe you were even thinking about ending it yourself. Realizing that your significant other saw the relationship as something other than how you saw it will also make you question your feelings—whether they were real, whether they should have been there at all. You may be inclined to explain them away (“I’m just being dramatic!” “Maybe I didn’t even like him that much!”), but if you are feeling sad, that is okay. Acknowledge it as a loss, because that’s how you are experiencing it. Listen to this fun breakup playlist and cry unabashedly. Maybe you’ll look back on right now a few months from now, and you’ll think, “That person?” Maybe you won’t. But right now, you’re sad, so be sad.
Don’t be afraid to say “Adios”
Blessed and enlightened are the people who can have successful friendships with the people they used to have sex with. But not everyone is cut out for that kind of thing, and if continuing to exchange text messages with the person who didn’t want you might not be what you need at this moment, since the feeling is not mutual. If you find yourself being wistful about the continued connection, it’s time to cut it off. Delete the number! Erase! It’ll be painful at first, but you’ll feel better when it’s over. Plus, you don’t have to worry about sending a drunk text, which is almost always regrettable.
Go on other dates but not too many
You know the old adage about not getting over someone until you’re under someone else? Well, there is some truth in that. But there is another post-breakup phenomenon that looks similar but has a different outcome. The “trying to get over someone by getting under someone else but you don’t really care about the someone else so it just makes you miss the person you’re sad about even more” hookup will not make you feel good. This is not to say, necessarily, that you can’t have fun and empowering rendezvous with people unless you have feelings for them; it just means, try to be discerning about your motivations. If you’re trying to numb yourself with a constant succession of new people, take a step back. Listen to more sad songs.
Direct your energy somewhere
Of course, there are only so many times you can listen to “Hello” before you’re like, “What am I doing?” When you need to do, when you have a lot of feelings zipping around inside of you, stirring up energy, but nothing and no one to direct that energy at, put it into something. Paint something, write something, volunteer somewhere, go on a jog, sign up for a glass-blowing class. Do something to take you out of your own mind. Because there’s a lot there, outside of your mind, and it’s not all bad. Some if it’s actually pretty great.