Breaking up is never easy; it’s not supposed to be. Whether you’re the dumpee or the one breaking things off, both people experience pain. Navigating high emotions, memories, and questions about the future in the wake of a split is challenging, but this time can also be a springboard for the great plans God has promised you.
How to Thrive After a Break Up
Here are some practical tips for how to thrive after a break up.
Make a Clean Break
Cutting off communication is the hardest part of breaking up—no question about it. But, this is also the best thing you can do for yourself. Feelings of loneliness and wondering if breaking up was the best decision are completely normal. Still, it can be tempting to reach out.
While talking to your ex can bring comfort in the moment, it prolongs time you both need to heal. Get ahead of the temptation to text or check in on their social media accounts (yes, all of them) by blocking their number and unfollowing them. Sound too drastic? Making a clean break seems jarring, but with it comes peace of mind. You won’t worry about checking your phone to see if they called, and you can breathe a sigh of relief when scrolling through Instagram. Allow yourself the gift of a quieter heart and mind in the weeks following a breakup.
Remember, it’s not rude to set boundaries for yourself. In this situation, unfriending, muting and blocking are done out of necessity, not out of spite. If friends or family ask why you’re taking a seemingly drastic measure (or if you need a good reminder yourself), remind them this is a healthy way to create the space you need to heal.
Create Your New Normal
After spending weeks, months, or even years with someone at your side, it can feel like there’s a gaping hole in your routine. This is expected and totally normal. Rather than fixating on the void, create your new normal by returning to activities you love or trying something new. That pottery class that coincided with date night? Sign up! The animal shelter that’s looking for dog walkers? Give them a ring!
This doesn’t mean you need to overhaul your day-to-day, but it’s amazing how one new activity can breathe new life into your week. It’s also ok to feel uncomfortable, especially the first couple weeks of a new routine. Be gentle with yourself and allow time to adjust.
Above all else, make sure you’re taking care of yourself. That means getting enough sleep (7-8 hours a night), working exercise into your schedule, and eating well. Caring for our bodies does wonders for our heart and spirit!
Frequent the Sacraments
Caring for our soul is just as important as caring for our physical body. How wonderful that the tangible signs of God’s love and grace—the Sacraments—are available to us! The Sacraments not only equip us with graces for healing, but they also allow us to encounter the Healer Himself.
Breaking up leaves wounds, and there might even be wounds from the past that you carried through your relationship. Resentment, broken trust, the sting of rejection, and disappointment are natural responses. The hurt means the hope and joy you felt at the beginning of the relationship were real. Indeed, hope and joy are real, sister!
Bring your wounds to the Father. Receive His grace at the sacrifice of the Mass in the Eucharist, before the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration, and at Reconciliation. He’s waiting for you with open arms, eager to transform your aching heart with His mercy. Go to Him. He’s not afraid of your hurt or mistakes.
Find Your Tribe
God also gives us the gift of each other to accompany us in times of difficulty. As you get into the swing of a new routine, reach out to friends you haven’t seen in a while. Get together for coffee or catch up over a movie night. No matter what you do, sisterhood is always good for the soul.
Now is also a great time to meet new people, but you don’t need to go out of your way to find your tribe. In fact, your future friends might be sitting around you every Sunday. Check the bulletin or ask your parish if there’s a young adult group that meets regularly. Catholic community can be a catalyst for spiritual growth and expanding your circle of friends.
Speaking of holy friendships, look to our friends the saints for encouragement. Ask for their intercession and guidance here and now, and take a look at their life back then for inspiration. Luckily, we have thousands of holy men and women to reach out to in prayer. Not sure where to start? Here’s a short list of saint friends eager to help you:
- St. Raphael the Archangel, patron Saint of healing
- St. John Paul the Great, author of Theology of the Body
- St. Jude, patron Saint of impossible causes
- St. Augustine of Hippo, author of Confessions and famous for his struggle with lust
- Our Blessed Mother, she intimately knows the wounds of the human heart and consoles us like only a mother can
Talk to Someone (Seek Counseling)
Sometimes, relationships can leave us with more hurt and questions than we can handle on our own, and that’s ok! It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to ask for help. Whether you need tips for moving forward from a breakup or counsel to identify and heal past wounds, talking with a licensed mental health professional can be an incredibly fruitful experience.
While a Catholic or Christian psychologist is ideal, don’t be afraid to meet with a secular mental health professional. He or she is there to listen and help you understand yourself and life experiences better. Rarely (if ever) will they offer advice. Counseling is a personal journey, and a good counselor is there to help you navigate the road when it gets rough.
Be Gentle With Yourself
C.S. Lewis wrote, “To love at all is to be vulnerable.” Vulnerability is an act of bravery. Relationships require a leap of faith. Both of these are good. These are the things that make us human and keep our hearts alive, redeemable. Rejoice in the glorious design of the human heart—from the depths of emotion to the heights of bravery.
This doesn’t negate the fact that your pain is real. Pain is a signal that we live in a broken world; this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. That’s why Christ came into the world, to feel our broken hearts and mend them. Rest in this great truth, sister. Our Lord is patient and of great kindness. He desires the same for you. Be gentle and kind to yourself.
Remember, Your Journey is Yours
There’s no timeline for healing, and it’s not always a linear journey. Some days you might feel happy and whole, and other days you might find yourself missing the good times in your relationship. Again, completely normal and expected. Highs and lows are part of the journey.
Remember that your journey is yours, and it’s ok that it looks different from others’. That’s why it’s important to take care to avoid comparison in this season. Relationship status does not determine your worth or success in life. Neither does being single mean there’s something wrong with you. You are unconditionally loved by a Man who died so He could spend eternity with you. We’re already part of the greatest love story of all time.
Whenever you feel tempted to compare yourself to another sister’s season of life (single, dating, or married), call upon the Holy Spirit to console your heart and give you strength. If they’re dating or married, pray for their relationship. Ask the Holy Spirit to bless them, as well as the plans He has for them. This prayer pours grace over your friends and helps loosen the bonds of resentment and insecurity.
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Emily Conklin is a writer and digital strategist living in Cincinnati, Ohio. Passionate about building authentic Catholic community for young adults, she enjoys volunteering with the archdiocese to support marketing efforts and create events. She’s also an editor and board member at The Catholic Woman.