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Dumped? How To Deal


You could just wait and let time heal your broken heart…or you could try these 7 tactics from dumpees who share the real ways to get over it and move on.

By Caitlin Ascolese

hether it’s been two minutes, two days, or two years since you’ve been unceremoniously dumped by the so-called love of your life, one thing is certain: It sure isn’t easy to get them out of your mind and move on. Will you ever stop feeling those painful twinges when you hear their name in passing or stumble across an old photo from when you two were together? Well, in an effort of heal your wounds, we surveyed lovelorn folks who found themselves suddenly single about what helped them through the tough times. Here are seven real-life tactics that helped heal some broken hearts.

Tactic #1: Court your career

What It Is: Post-dumpage, you’re going to find yourself with a lot of time—time that’s often spent getting misty over the past and brooding over what went
Going to the gym fills the time you would otherwise spend sulking at home.
wrong. Of course, you could also dedicate that time to another person who’d be happy to have it: your boss. Work keeps you feeling busy and important, and it doesn’t hurt that the added praise and success will boost an ego that’s been battered by a breakup.

Proof It Works: Ben Morrison, an education administrator from Toledo, OH, found comfort in his cubicle after the demise of a three-year relationship. “Talking about my ex only made me dwell on her, so I purposely threw myself into my job,” he says. “I got incredibly productive at work right after that breakup,” says Morrison, who wound up with a promotion.

Tactic #2: Focus on the negative

What It Is: No matter what happened between you and your ex, you can spend a lot of timing thinking about giving things another (ill-advised) shot. So whether it’s an old-fashioned pro and con list that you read when you want to ask your ex out again or a print-out of a blistering e-mail your were sent during a fight, seeing the pain in black and white can keep you from going back to a bad situation.

Proof It Works: When Heather Andrews, an attorney from Leawood, KS, had yet another horrible fight with her boyfriend, she vowed not to break down and call him, which was how they’d reunited in the past. “I knew that to stay single, I had to stay off the phone,” she says. “So I put notes by my phones both at work and home with reminders of truly awful things he’d done or said. Whenever I felt the urge to call him, I was reminded of all the reasons I chose to get out of the relationship. It worked wonders!”

Tactic #3: Make out and move on

What It Is: Ask your friends what you should do to get over an ex-boyfriend, and you're likely to hear, “You’ve got to go out and meet a new guy!” (If you’re a male seeking advice, it’s something more like, “Let’s go drinking and get you some ACTION!”) But simplistic as it sounds, getting back on the market ASAP has helped dozens of single people recover from a bad breakup. A new date won’t ever replace your ex—and you wouldn’t want to, after all, since that relationship didn’t work! But diving into the dating pool can make you feel attractive to the opposite sex again, give you new things to think about, and — ideally — eventually land you a new partner.

Proof It Works: Scott Harrower, an advertising assistant from Arlington, VA, spent years in an on-again, off-again relationship until he finally cut the cord. “As usual, the ‘guy advice’ worked—I went out, met people, and hooked up,” says Scott. “A new crush gives you something to worry about instead of re-analyzing every detail of the old girlfriend.”

Tactic #4: Shush yourself

What It Is: When your heart is bruised, it’s cathartic to complain about it to your friends, whose very job it is to pump you back up. But this chatty habit can become a hindrance if it keeps you from moving on—often, just talking about your ex is a way of feeling some emotional connection to the person, even if that feeling is a negative one. If you think you’re guilty of too much talking about your past love, put an embargo on this kind of moping: You can keep a rubber band around your wrist and snap it every time you’re about to bring your ex up. Or train yourself to see a mental stop sign when you’re about to stroll down memory lane, or ask your friends to not indulge you in nostalgia talk.

Proof It Works: To get herself to stop pining over her ex, Sarah Clark, a writer from Port Washington, NY, put her money where her mouth was. “I told a friend I’d give her a dollar every time I said my ex’s name for one month—and $50 if I said I missed him,” she explains. Three dollars and two weeks later, Sarah was neither talking nor thinking about her past amour.

Tactic #5: Pump yourself up

What It Is: Turning your rage into fuel for a workout is better for your body than eating Häagen-Dazs, and
Getting back on the market ASAP has helped dozens of single people recover from a bad breakup.
better for your criminal record than slashing your ex’s tires when you see his or her car parked outside a new date’s place. The pluses are plenty: Going to the gym fills the time you would otherwise spend sulking at home, exercise releases chemicals that will actually help you feel less depressed, and you’ll boost your confidence because you’ll find yourself looking hot to trot.

Proof It Works: After being burned by her ex, Brittney Cason of Harrisonburg, VA, couldn’t get away from him. “It’s a small town and he’s the local DJ, so I’d hear him all over, even having my teeth cleaned,” says Brittney, a creative director. “Not a lot helped me, even diving into my old hobbies, because I just kept thinking of how we used to share them. But working out finally gave me the perfect way to burn energy, and it was insurance that next time we ran into each other, I’d look great and make him regret what he did.” Good for the heart, indeed!

Tactic #6: Go all natural

What It Is: No matter how this-is-the-end-of-my-life-as-I-know-it your single-hood might feel at first, spending a bit of time outdoors—whether it’s a regular hour-long walk or a week-long destination retreat—can help you put things back in perspective. It’s hard to feel hopeless when you’re admiring natural beauty, and standing next to the ocean/a lake/a mountain reminds you that there are bigger things out there than that last fight about your laundry habits. Plus, being alone with your thoughts makes you focus on you as a person, ridding you of the temptation to relive your past as part of a not-going-anywhere couple. In nature, your body tends to reach a more peaceful, stress-free state—and ideally, your mind will follow.

Proof It Works: “The more you just sit around at home, the more you run things through your head, which results in your idolizing this person you’re hoping to forget,” says Adam Durham, 23, a civil engineer from Durham, CT. “The one thing that always clears my mind is getting back to nature. It gives me a whole different—better—perspective on life.”

Tactic #7: Trash it

What It Is: Getting rid of old reminders of your ex can seem heartbreaking—like if you throw away that shirt your ex left in your closet, you also risk throwing away all the good memories. But hoarding too many souvenirs can just keep you tied to the bad feelings you have, and trashing them tells you that it’s okay to start forgetting and forge ahead with your life.

Proof It Works: John DeVore, a 30-year-old playwright from Austin, TX, has tried post-breakup rituals from strip clubs to pepperoni-pizza therapy. But when his girlfriend moved out, even those didn’t work. “She’d left behind the gifts I’d given her and poems and letters I’d written,” he says. “I realized that she left them behind on purpose as a jab at me, so I took it all to the roof of his apartment building and burned it. It was nice ritual to show I was ready to let her go.” P.S.: If a bonfire suits you better than standard just-throw-it-out response, make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy.


Caitlin Ascolese once got over an ex by sending his mother an itemized invoice for the money he owed her.
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