I've never been into the overly-cliché version of love found in the movies, but one thing Hollywood got right is heartbreak. Suddenly, the person you know everything about and did everything with is now a complete stranger and out of your life. The realization of loss causes havoc on your mind and body, and your heart breaks in a bunch of tiny little pieces.
OK, so your heart doesn't literally break, but studies prove the pain of a breakup is tangibly real. Research shows that emotional pain lights up the same centers in your brain as physical pain. Another study concluded that some heartsick individuals have similar symptoms to those experiencing cocaine withdrawal.
Your body physically reacts against the emotional pain that your mind is enduring, which can help explain those uncontrollable sob sessions.
To make it worse, the classic clichés we hear from our auntie, parents, a friend who heard the news, ourselves (or even the person who did the heart-breaking!) prolong that pain instead of ease us out of it. Don't buy into these five clichés; you are only going to make your break-up worse.
Eat your feelings
Oh, the Ben & Jerry's breakup. All too often breaking up is accompanied with chocolate ice cream binges and hours of Netflix by your side. The alone time is welcomed, but breaking up already wrecks havoc on your body. Couples in long-term relationships tend to sync together, and breaking up can really mess up your physiology: your sleep, appetite, body temperature and heart rate can get all out of whack when you break up.
Take some time to decompress and do something for you, but it's best to put yourself back on a schedule to help you heal: find the motivation to get up, reinvent your goal list and accomplish something big or small. The key to breaking up is reinventing your sense of self—doing this early on will help you heal.
Truth be told, closure doesn't help you move on. Feeling the need for closure puts power in your former partner's hands, and doesn't allow you to realize your control over the situation. Plus, how does seeing them one last time to find out the exact details as to why you didn't work out will help you really move forward?
Find peace in knowing that you can be happy without knowing all the answers. It's a skill you'll use throughout life.
Time heals all wounds
This overused maxim has a grain of truth, but doesn't do much to comfort. Yes, time will pass, and yes, you will get through this. But buying into this belief tricks you into thinking that after a time, things will be the same—which couldn't be further from the truth. You won't be the same person you were before you broke up, but that's a good thing.
Relationship expert Dr. Lewandowski commonly talks about the benefits of breaking up, and said that most people realize how resilient and goal-oriented they were after they broke up. You'll need to ride out the emotion, but find hope knowing that you have the power to get through this (and will probably be better for it).
Get rid of all traces
A purge of all mementos usually follows a breakup, and for good reason. Leaving around reminders doesn't help the healing process and only encourages you to dwell on your pain. But be realistic about getting rid of everything tied to that relationship. You can't eliminate all reminders unless you plan to toss your whole wardrobe, singlehandedly stop the sales of several colognes and perfumes and wipe various ice cream parlors off the face of the planet.
Certain triggers are just inescapable, but know you may end up with regrets if you trash the entire album of that trip you took together that one time. Those are photos you can't just get back if you recklessly throw them out in your breakup rage.
Write an unsent letter
This cliché is a popular one. It's meant to help you move on, to focus on the negative aspects of your relationship and to feel better that it's all over. While reflecting on the relationship does help you move on, focusing so much to write an exhaustive letter means you are dwelling, and that hurts the healing process.
It's going to be healthier for you to instead write a letter to yourself where you focus on the positive. Write down all the attributes you love about yourself, and mail it to yourself (or just keep it where you see it often). It will give you confidence and self-esteem is situation where those qualities tend to disappear.
They say breaking up is hard to do. I happen to think the breakup is the easy part. It's the healing afterward that requires the work. By avoiding these cliches, you will be on your way to a hopeful future filled with healthier and happier relationships.
Emily is putting her English and Humanities degree to use editing and writing all over the world. Trying to see all 7 world wonders (while visiting as many countries as she can in between), Emily loves wandering alleyways, beautifully photographed food, stumbling upon impromptu flea and food markets. She can usually be found camera in hand, munching on a street food and never has her headphones out of reach.