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How to get over a breakup Elle Woods-style

No matter what the circumstance is, breakups suck. They just do. Whether you’re initiating it, you’re being broken up with, or even if the breakup is mutual, they are painful. Mourning lost love is no easy feat, and how to get over a breakup actually looks different for everyone. You may feel depressed, rejected, broken, guilty, and insecure. And worst of all, you may have lost complete and total faith in love. But, we’re here to tell you that, in time, you’ll be ok (and don’t worry, love still exists). 

There is no right way to get over a breakup. It is a hard, individual, personal experience that no one can help you with but yourself. Truthfully, you are the only one reminded of their smell. You are the only one reminded of them when you see their favorite food on the menu. You are the only one reminded of them when a song you used to listen to together plays in the car. You are the only one who feels this, and with that, you are the only one who can do the healing. 

So, we’re here to discuss the stages of a breakup, teach you how to get over a breakup, and ensure you radiate Elle Woods energy whilst overcoming your heartbreak.

The stages of a breakup

There are five stages of grief you may experience when getting over a breakup: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Understanding how your heart heals will (hopefully) make this just a little bit easier. Although you can’t fast-forward through the process, taking care of yourself will help the healing feel a little bit lighter. 


Denial is the stage in which you are having a hard time accepting that the relationship is over. It is your brain’s automatic response to unwanted news. In this phase, you deny the news, and you may think that there is still potential for the relationship. Denial is a natural human instinct, as you want to protect yourself from hurtful emotions. There is no timeline for this phase, but prioritizing connection with family, friends, and yourself is important during this time. 


The next stage of getting over a breakup is anger. This is the stage when you have accepted that the relationship is over, and you get angry at your former partner. “Why did that happen?” “Why did they do that?” “Why did they say that?” Why did they act like that?” are some common questions that may arise. During this phase, let yourself feel angry. Scream in an empty car, punch a pillow, take a boxing class, and do whatever you need to do to get that anger outside of your heart and body. 


The next phase is bargaining. In this phase, you might try and get your partner back, or you might wonder what could have happened differently to change the circumstances. Restoring what is no longer there and undoing what has already been done is a frequent train of thought. In this phase, it is best to keep your distance from your ex and remember that the pain will only be worse with contact. 


Next is the depression phase. You are no longer angry, you know you aren’t getting them back, and now you’re just freaking depressed. Don’t worry, it’s not as pathetic as it sounds. This is totally normal. You have come to terms with the situation, and in this phase, it is important to let yourself feel all your emotions. Lean on your friends and family. Not only are you mourning a person, but you are also mourning the loss of a future and aspirations you had with that person. During this phase, treat yourself with care. What you are going through is hard, and there is no denying that. 


The last stage of getting through a breakup is acceptance. While heartache may still be present, you have accepted the outcome. You are able to look back on this relationship, learn from it, and acknowledge the lessons. If there is one thing that lasts forever, it is the fact that this person was, at one point in time, important to you—don’t forget that. It is natural to flow through these phases. You may stay in some longer than others, and you may alternate between some, but don’t worry, this is normal. In time, you will heal. 

Here’s how to get over a breakup.

1. Give yourself permission to feel, guilt-free.

You may decide that now is the opportune time to renovate your entire apartment, paint your living room, learn French, or whatever else you gravitate toward to keep yourself busy. While distracting yourself has its time and place, it is also necessary to give yourself permission to grieve. As Loreli said to Rory in Gilmore Girls, “sometimes you need to wallow.” Take some time to just be sad, to not distract yourself, and to just wallow. You’re losing a big part of your life, and that’s hard. Feeling all your feels now will help you long-term – and make sure to feel them judgement-free. It just plain sucks! So why even try to sugarcoat it?

2. Unfollow/unfriend them and their family members on social media (yes, even Mom).

One of the best ways to get over a breakup is to cut off the comms. As sad as it may be, removing all communication will help a lot when getting over a breakup. And in time, maybe you will be able to add them back. But for now, space is necessary – even from your favorite cousin of theirs, their sibling, or their mom. Protecting your heart first will help you heal. And if you can’t unfollow or unfriend them, mute their posts. 

Research has shown that deleting your ex can help your brain move on from the relationship. Our brains form neural pathways which are linked to memories we've had with that person, so when posts pop up, it reminds our brains of that loss. By removing them from social media, our brains can take a break and create new neural pathways (a fancy way of saying that you won’t think of them every other second). 

3. Get bangs if you want to.

Nothing says ‘new you’ like a haircut does. Could this be extreme? Probably. But is it necessary? Also probably. Switching your look helps you not only mentally enter a new era, but physically it helps, too. When your emotions are high, your judgement may be ~slightly~ impaired, so we recommend waiting some time before you make this decision. That said, we’re all for the post break-up haircut, so you do you! Maybe you could even go blonde (legally)?

4. Pick up old hobbies.

Now that you have more time back, picking up old hobbies could help you feel more positive feelings. In Gary Lewandowski’s TED talk “Break Ups Don’t Have to Leave You Broken,” he says it is important to remember who you are as a person separate from this relationship. Reconnecting with your past self and the activities you used to love (that your ex-partner might not have) will help you move on. Remember, breakups don't need to break you. 

So, this is your invitation to listen to the music they didn’t like, order the food they hated, and watch the shows they trashed! 

5. Don’t text them, write a letter. 

Don’t drink and text. Whenever you get the urge to text your ex, write them a letter instead. Write it on your phone, in your journal, on a receipt, or even on a wall. Just don’t text them. You’re better than that. You’re strong, you’re amazing, you’re independent, and you keep the promises you make to yourself. Write to your heart’s content — as long as it’s not over text with your ex as the recipient. 

6. Book an adventure.

Nothing says ‘break up’ like a post-heartbreak adventure. Kathleen Hendrik Ebbitt, a New York City-based therapist said, “After a breakup, you're going through withdrawal—the dopamine, the oxytocin, the serotonin, all those hormones that love produces for you are no longer there.” Stimulating your brain and forming new connections with your cerebral matter is one reason why travel is great when getting through a breakup. It offers not only a distraction but also an exciting escape. Go wherever the hell you want with whoever the hell you want (just not your ex!). 

7. No lurking (friends included).

Do NOT–we repeat DO NOT–stalk your ex. If you currently have a guilty conscience, go back and read tip #2. Do not zoom in on their post and try to psychoanalyze their body language. Do not look at their tagged photos. Do not rewatch their story 18 billion times. Do not go and see if they deleted photos of you. Just don’t. You’re hurting nobody but yourself. 

And while we’re on the topic, don’t ask your friends to lurk, either. Don’t ask how your ex looked at the party, who they were talking to, or what they were up to. It’s not going to help you, it's only going to hurt you. 

 8. Make a keep (or keep away) box.

Putting old photos, sweatshirts, letters, and memorabilia into a box to put away is a good way to get closure post-breakup. However, it is up to you if you want to keep this box, throw it straight in the trash or burn it Tai-from-Clueless-style. Our advice is to resist the urge to throw everything away, even if it feels good at the time. Keepsakes serve as a reminder of a love that existed, and even if that love is over, it may eventually be a fond memory. Include all items that slightly remind you of them.

9. Take up space for yourself.

One of the most important steps to take in getting over a breakup is taking space for yourself. Whether you want to interpret this as starfishing in a bed that you once shared (and claiming it as all yours now), or whether you want to interpret this as only ‘you’ time from here on out, do what serves you. Either one of these options (or both) is great. 

Ask yourself what you need and honor it. Remember that you don’t need to explain yourself because your healing can look a lot different than your friends. It’s not supposed to be an identical path; there is no one right way, so respect that and slowly learn how to hold your own heart. Your relationship with yourself is the most important one – that’s not going anywhere.

10. Make a playlist and a Pinterest board.

According to music therapist Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW creating a break up playlist can be an effective coping strategy when getting over a breakup. "Songs help process important life experiences because they give words to what we think and feel. Because of the way music acts upon the brain, it immediately takes us to memories and images associated with the song, and this can be uniquely helpful when working through a breakup." Here are the best songs to heal heartbreak. 

Pinterest has hundreds of breakup quotes that can get you in your feels or out of your feels. Use them to your advantage. 

11. Take a break from social media–but no revenge posting, ok?

We all know about the post break up flex photo. Trina Leckie from the Breakup Boost podcast says, "Flexing on an ex means to make an effort to prove you are better off without them, (whether that is true or not).” Although this might feel satisfying in the moment, it may be smart to flex on your ex by taking some much-needed time for yourself. After all, bettering yourself is the ultimate flex. 

12. Make plans with friends and say yes to invitations.

It’s ok to have fun post-breakup, and it's okay to let yourself have it, too! It is totally normal to go from crying on your couch to partying on tables (totally normal, ok). But in all seriousness, sometimes you might feel amazing, and other times you might feel like, to quote our queen Taylor Swift, “a monster on a hill.” Saying yes to invitations will provide some stability, structure, and secureness in your life. Saying yes could mean having a girls' night at home, having a long, leisurely lunch, or having a fun night out. Surrounding yourself with people who support you after a breakup is a necessity.

13. Accept that you might not get closure.

Sometimes break-ups happen in the worst possible way. And by the worst possible way, we mean that the relationship ends without you getting closure. Why is this so bad, you ask? Well, it’s bad because you just *might* keep going back to your ex to try and get some sort of explanation, ending, or resolution. Here are six things you need to know about closure. Just know – closure is something that you can give yourself, not that someone gives to you. You are in control of closing this chapter.

14. Don’t get back with them (not even for one second).

Well, well, well. The dreaded ‘don’t get back with them’ advice. But please, do not—not even for one second—get back with your ex. Getting back with an ex is like a slipper – it's comfortable, it's easy, it's natural. However, these are not good reasons to get back with them. Here are 6 reasons why getting back together with your ex is a truly terrible idea. 

Maybe you believe that this person is meant for you and the time just wasn’t right—remember that whatever is meant to be will find a way. Here is some advice if you met the right person at the wrong time, and here are some signs if you are with the right person at the wrong time. 

15. Move your body!

As much as you might want to stay in your bed forever, moving your body is scientifically proven to raise your mood, which is why it is one of the best ways to get over a breakup. Even after 20 minutes of exercise, your body releases endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine – all mood-enhancing chemicals. So, this is your invitation to do some yoga or go on the infamous hot girl walk

16. Forgive yourself–and forgive them, too.

Forgiveness after a breakup is a part of the healing process. Forgiveness, of both yourself and your ex, is something that benefits you. You do not need to forgive your ex directly, but rather, come to terms with the fact that you have forgiven them. After all, forgiveness is about you, and not about them. You forgive so that you can move on and be free. Here are 18 things you didn’t know about forgiveness and why you should forgive them even when you don’t want to. 

17. Take time and reflect.

Google “how to get through a breakup” and we’ll bet you a Legally Blonde cocktail that time will pop up. After all, time heals all wounds. Time teaches you a lot of things, but it really teaches you to see — to see what matters, and what doesn’t, to see what you want to keep, and what you want to leave, to see what you want to bring with you to your next phase, and what you want to let go of. Write these down in a list - “bring with me” and “leave in the past”. Take the best things with you.

And don’t forget the memories–even when getting over a breakup. Keep the honest moments close to your heart. The ones that made your stomach have butterflies. Those don’t need to disappear just because the relationship did.

18. Make your own heart race.

You don’t need anyone but yourself to make your heart race. Do something random, memorable, and extraordinary – ride a horse, run a half marathon, pick up boxing lessons. Doing something to make your heart race will allow you to create new memories that take precedence over the break-up ones – do something to shake yourself up. We’re not saying skydiving, but we’re not not saying skydiving. 

Get comfortable doing things by yourself and for yourself. This could also mean taking a full spa day (if you’re not an adrenaline junkie, you can join the average human and relax in the steam room or sauna. That’s enough heart-racing for us). Masburbation gets your heart racing, too–especially when you want to get over a breakup. Just saying!

19. Understand that grief comes in waves.

Take it day by day when overcoming heartbreak. Some days are harder than others. It’s up and down and up and down. And truly, you never know what kind of day(s) you’re going to get. Be gentle with yourself. Do more of what you enjoy. Catch up on self-care. Read, breathe, dance, cry, laugh, meditate, orgasm, flirt, smile, and redecorate. Here is a list of 99 things to do after a breakup. Work your way through this list, and we hope you feel better afterward. Remember, you are grieving because you lost something, and that is totally natural. 

20. It's ok to move on (and it’s ok if it takes you a long time to move on).

We all know that the “moving on” process of getting over a breakup is essential, but we forget that this takes time–and sometimes, a lot of it. Whether it takes you seven days, seven months, or seven years, time heals all. Science tells us that a brain experiencing heartbreak is similar to one experiencing physical pain. 

Your hurt is valid, it’s real, and it’s hard, and we’re so sorry. But in time, your heart will heal and so will you. It’s ok to grieve a relationship, and in fact, it’s a lot healthier than not grieving it at all. And when you’re ready, here are some tips on how to start dating again. 

As much as break-ups hurt, they are a part of the human experience. Know that while you are responsible for your own healing, you do not have to carry all of it alone. Hopefully we’ve helped you to learn how to get over a breakup–or, at the very least, understand the stages you will most certainly go through when experiencing heartbreak and know that they are very normal. Here’s to getting over a breakup Elle Woods-style and coming out on the other side, stronger (and maybe platinum blonde with a law degree).