There are few experiences as demoralizing as a being dumped. Heartbreak is bad enough without feeling a little stupid for loving someone who has decided that he’s better off without you. The worst thing about being broken up with is knowing that the other person has already imagined a whole other life. And now that he’s gone, you’ll be forced to do the same while he’s already miles ahead emotionally.
Thankfully, it’s possible to emerge from a breakup feeling triumphant, despite being the one broken up with. Here’s how to walk out of the experience with your dignity intact.
1. Don’t post mean or passive-aggressive remarks about him on social media
If you’ve been keeping up with local gossip, you’ll know that infamous Malaysian sex blogger couple “Alvivi” (Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee) apparently split up after Alvin posted on Facebook that Vivian had cheated on him. He also posted a picture of himself with another woman, captioning it “replacement found.” A few days later, Vivian pleaded on her Facebook page that he take her back. While Alvin and Vivian’s openness about their sex life might suggest that they’ve moved beyond caring about normal standards of dignity, they’ve since received tons of criticism from netizens asking why anyone cares. The principle stands with the rest of us: no matter how badly he treated you, or how sad you feel, posting bitter statuses about it will only make you look cowardly, immature, and deprived of attention.
Dignified alternative: Imagine how you’ll feel five years from now while reading the passive-aggressive status that you’re about to post. Will you feel justified in your venting? Or will you feel embarrassed? If you’ve got a problem with the other person, say it to him directly.
2. On the other hand, don’t post lovey-dovey statuses about your ex online in hope that he’ll feel nostalgic and take you back
“It’s been 8 months, but watching the Oscars will always remind me of you <3”
“No matter how hard I try, no matter how many people I meet, no one will replace the one I just lost.”
“I can’t tell my mind to stop loving you when my heart still does.”
Sorry guys, these remarks not only make you look delusional, but they’re not very effective. Neediness isn’t attractive. Confidence is. While it’s tempting to post statuses like these so that your ex knows you’re still available should he ever change his mind, you’re going to feel even worse if he finds someone new before you do.
Dignified alternative: It’s sad, and a little scary, to get over someone we love. Without that person around, our memories are all we have. But there’s a thin line between tragic and pathetic, and we draw it at romanticizing someone who committed the awful act of breaking your heart. So instead of posting about how much you miss him, post things that show you’re better off. You don’t have to be mean about it, but replacing an “I’m so sad” status with photos of yourself windsurfing or brunching with friends will do wonders for your confidence (and attractiveness!).
3. Don’t stalk him
Driving around outside his house, haunting his favourite restaurants, and obsessing over the girls in his Facebook photos makes you look psychotic and clingy. What’s the point, anyway? He’s more likely to freak out than feel happy to see you. When someone breaks up with you, you should fight for yourself, not fight for a relationship that’s pretty much one-sided.
Dignified alternative: Defriend him on Facebook and unfollow him on Instagram to minimize the temptation to stalk.
4. Don’t write him “the post-breakup letter” or have continuous “post-breakup closure talks”
The sad truth about breakups is that there’s always going to be something left unsaid. You’ll have all these questions after he breaks up with you. You’ll have thoughts about why things fell apart a month after he’s said he’s done talking with you. Lots of people write a post-breakup letter as a final stab to get the last word. Others initiate post-breakup talks just for closure or peace of mind. But the more you talk, and the more information you fish out of him, the more hurt you’ll feel that he kept all these thoughts from you while you were dating.
Dignified alternative: Close that chapter of your life. You can demand closure from another person, but it’s really only something you can find within yourself. By prolonging your breakup talk, you’re showing that he’s the one in control of your recovery. You don’t need his answers to move on. What you really need is the courage and endurance to spend the next few months learning to live with those uncertainties.
5. Don’t rebound date someone who looks exactly like him
On the one hand, maybe you have a physical type. On the other hand, you might still be so in love with your ex, that you date alternate versions of him because it’s the closest you’ll get to the real thing. Doing so might feel romantic, but to others (and your ex, if he ever finds out), it just seems creepy.
Dignified alternative: We know one too many people who decided that they only date people of a certain race just because that’s what their ex was. We’re not saying that you need go completely out of the box, or reject guys who look like your ex, but don’t put his physical attributes on a pedestal. While it might be easier to stick with what’s familiar – or even to purposely date the same type of guy to rectify what went wrong with the previous one – you’re letting your previous relationship determine who you date.
6. Don’t continue to email and SMS him even after he’s told you to stop
No means no. He’s said that he needs a clean break, but you insist on emailing him every few months to ask how he is – and when he doesn’t reply, you feel hurt. You’re heartbroken when he ignores your Christmas greeting, you’re crushed when he’s silent on your birthday, and yet you continue contacting him, asking that you keep in touch with the “big things” in each other’s lives.
Dignified alternative: This one’s pretty easy: do what he says and stop writing him! Why would you want to keep in touch with someone who’s flat out said that he wants you out of his life? Our time on earth is short as it is. Make room for the people who can really commit. For all you know, the poor guy’s trying to get over you, so you might as well let him try.
7. Don’t drunk dial or text him
On a related note, it’s far too easy to lose control of your phone in a moment of weakness. One “I miss u, plz take me back” SMS can undo months of hard work when you’re trying to move on or show that you’re better off without him.
Dignified alternative: Either delete his number from your phone, or give your phone to a friend when you go out drinking.
8. Don’t act like the victim
It’s easy to act like the victim when someone breaks up with you. You feel sorry for yourself, you blame him for ruining your life, and you cry because it seems like the universe is against you. You’re unlovable, you’re bad at relationships, and you’re going to die alone.
Dignified alternative: Take responsibility for the parts where you were wrong, and then forgive the other person for his misdeeds. As the old adage goes, forgiveness releases him AND you from all that suffering. Take note of how you talk about the breakup as well. Instead of saying “I was dumped,” keep it to “we went our separate ways” or “he wasn’t right for me.” You have as much agency in the relationship, and in this life, as he did.