How to distract yourself from heartache

Lindsay Montgomery

By: Ellie M., Sex and Relationships Columnist

 

First, I recommend chocolate.

 

LOL JK, it’s almost bikini season. Even if you’re more the type to finish off a half-pound of baby carrots in one sitting and still be lustily eyeing the bag, resist. Eating for comfort is never a good habit to cultivate.

 

If you’ve read my earlier columns, you know I’m in a long-distance relationship. My boyfriend was in town this past weekend, but yet again, we had to say goodbye all too soon. And let me tell you, it gets harder every time.

 

I walked into my apartment yesterday afternoon, saw the bath towel he’d been using all weekend and started crying. Because, you know, now I have to shower all alone.

 

So though my relationship is still going strong, I realized I’m usually not this weepy unless I’m getting over the end of one — and any traces of your lover’s existence when you’re taking a break or freshly single are unforgiving and often unexpected.

 

The simplest things can set you off after a breakup. “Oh, a pizza cutter? My ex and I used make pizza together … sniff …”

 

For that reason, getting rid of the stuff that blatantly relates to your ex — pictures, trinkets he gave you, his clothing — is key.

 

If you can’t bring yourself to throw away the gifts from your ex-girlfriend, at least shove them into a box and stow it somewhere dark and difficult to reach. There’s a good chance you won’t mind tossing that junk the next time you come across it. Hopefully, you’ll be months down the road and feeling less sentimental.

 

The next step is making a change. Join a club, take a class, start going to yoga. Get involved in something that gets you out of your place and a little out of your comfort zone. It’s a bonus if you meet new people, too.

 

If you stick to the same routine, it will be painfully obvious how absent from it your ex is. That new activity will allow you to form new memories that have nothing to do with your old partner and potentially help you meet new friends.

 

When you have to be at your place — where your ex-lover most likely spent a fair amount of his time — combat old memories by doing something that helps you vent.

 

Write pages about how angry or miserable you are. Don’t worry about how it sounds; you don’t have to let anyone read it. Rearrange the furniture in your room. Swear freely at the heavy desk.

 

Whatever makes you feel that I’m-getting-over-you catharsis will work. Even if you’re only on a break, regaining some sense of independence will fortify you for the work your relationship needs or the aftermath of an eventual breakup.

 

Lean on your friends and family a little if you have to. Let them know you’re struggling a bit, and they’ll likely rise to the occasion. It may be a good time to regain touch with people you lost touch with when you were spending every minute with your ex.

 

There’s one thing you absolutely must not do: stalk your ex. Unsubscribe from him on Facebook, or don’t look at her Tumblr. You may be yearning to somehow feel close to him again, but you need to cut those ties sooner rather than later.

 

If you have to see each other in a class or at work, just be polite. Don’t make any special effort to avoid or engage her. You have more important things to focus on.

 

The most important thing you can do is to constantly nudge your mind into a healthy place. Relax, take deep breaths when you need them, and keep pressing forward. You can and will shake off those stale feelings and make room for new love.

 

Email Ellie M. at [email protected]