Love Lessons From Celeb Breakups

When it comes to bouncing back after a bust-up, you can learn loads from the stars. Check out these moving-on do’s and don’ts.

By Caitlin Ascolese

hether you were the dumper or the dumpee, there’s nothing fun about ending a relationship. The emotional overload involved can lead to some impulsive choices: think rebound hook-ups, ice-cream binges, venting marathons, hermit phases. To help you during this crazy time, we analyzed the coping mechanisms used by Hollywood’s most famous daters. Here, the ones that work… and the ones that will only extend your heartbreak. And hey, no matter how bad things get, at least — unlike the stars — you won’t have the paparazzi trying to photograph you when you hit the grocery store in your poor-me pajamas.

Do: Try a Classy New Look
After her surprise split from Ryan Phillippe last
No one ever healed a broken heart with a public tantrum.
year, Reese Witherspoon stayed off the radar for months. When she emerged at the Golden Globes, the former girl-next-door had morphed into a svelte, stylish, fashion trendsetter (remember that short yellow dress?!).

Making a drastic physical change post-heartbreak can be a cathartic way of proving that you’re now a different person—inside and out. But while some of us slob out, dress extra-sexy to make an ex jealous, or, uh, shave our heads, Reese proved how powerful it can be to put that same energy toward a positive transformation. Looking good, it seems, is truly the best revenge.

Don’t: Blog Yourself in the Butt
When Shanna Moakler and Travis Barker broke up, they didn’t just lash out—they logged on and sniped in dueling MySpace posts.

While writing angry letters is a time-honored tradition for exorcising your dumping demons, posting them on the Internet is a whole other problem. You may think you’re going public with what a bad person your ex is, but the real reflection is on you: for being a passive-aggressive gossip who doesn’t keep secrets. It can be tough to erase even a temporary posting, and a future paramour who finds your writings may worry that he or she will be your next muse. And, worst of all, if you wind up back with the person (ahem, Shanna), all your friends know every low-down rotten thing he or she ever did to you, which will make going to parties together super-fun.

Do: Get Rid of Old Reminders
After years of marriage and one daughter with Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck allegedly decided it was time to sell his Bentley—a $300,000+ gift from former flame Jennifer Lopez.

It can be tough to purge old gifts or other mementos of your time together—even the ones that
Lean on friends, as Drew did after her breakup.
didn’t cost six figures (like his old college T that’s still perfect for sleeping in or the handy money clip she got you for Christmas). And the reason to trash, sell, or donate that old baggage isn’t just because its history might freak out your next date. If any item still reminds you of your ex, ditching it shows that you’re ready to free up that mental space and use it on someone worthy.

Don’t: Melt Down in Public
After a few civil interactions — appearing on SNL together even as their relationship may have already ended, politely chatting at a few Golden Globes events — Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake supposedly had a public blowup during an afterparty in the wee hours. True: There are times when, if you shared the same friends, you’re going to run into your ex. True: It hurts like heck to smile politely and watch your former love go about his or her life while all you can do is think of how much pain you’re in. But also true: Getting into it in a public setting isn’t going to solve anything. More likely, it’s just going to wrap you right back up in the drama during a social event that’s your chance to finally have some fun for once. Not to mention that it’s uncomfortable for all the lucky witnesses. And at booze-fueled events, the more you’ve imbibed, the more likely you are to do something you wind up regretting the next day. If you can’t stomach small talk with your ex, leave the room, circle your friends around you, or change venues—no one ever healed a broken heart with a public tantrum.

Do: Lean on Your Friends
Instead of going the pity-party route after splitting from rocker Fabrizio Moretti, Drew Barrymore said she was actually enjoying her independence and planned to spend Valentine’s Day bowling with her girlfriends.

We can’t all be that sunny after a breakup, but surrounding yourself with positive people is a tactic worth trying. How great it is to just go out with people who will treat you like their cool friend—not as their Needy Friend Who Just Got Out of a Relationship? Plus, when you’re freshly single, it’s a perfect time to try new activities and engage in old rituals (besides moping) that remind you of the person you are beyond so-and-so’s significant other.

Don’t: Go Back for More of a Bad Thing
After countless reported arrests, binges, and breakups, most folks assume that Kate Moss (rehabbed herself) would get tired of the drama-go-round that is Pete Doherty. But after every new scandal, the two emerge yet again as a pair.

Nobody’s perfect, so we’re not saying you have to walk away from anyone who’s got an issue. And plenty of happy couples have histories of being off-and-on. But when the person you’re dating seems bent on self-destruction (or cheating, being mean, or any other behavior that makes you unhappy or unhealthy), you’ve got to draw the line at some point. Once a person’s proven he or she isn’t going to change, the choice is yours—move on or get taken down, too. It can be hard to say good-bye when you’ve really loved someone, but we know which path we recommend… at least to those who love themselves.

Do: Be Low-Key About Moving On
Though many speculated that her split with Chris Robinson was due to Kate Hudson’s involvement with Owen Wilson, she kept all her hangouts with Owen on the down-low for months afterward. (Even though word is that Kate and Owen are no longer together, it can be said that they never seemed to be rubbing anyone’s face in anything.)

After a rocky ending to a romance, it's tempting to take solace in your new sweetie—cuddling in public, showing him or her off to people who know your ex, telling everyone you know that this is how love should feel. But often, diving in 100 percent to a new relationship isn’t any healthier than sitting around rewatching The Notebook. While both feel good at the time, neither one actually helps you deal with what happened. Taking your time with someone new — rather than flaunting or obsessing over the rebound relationship — gives you the best chance to learn from your last experience and make sure you do it right… or at least better… this time out.

Caitlin Ascolese is a freelance writer in New York City.
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