Ending a relationship that you'd hoped would work out for the best often comes with a mix of conflicting emotions: grief, loss, anger, confusion. There is plenty of online advice on how to get over a breakup, but the truth is that everyone experiences breakups differently. Time, energy, support networks, and personality all come into play. But if there's one thing that most people can agree on, it's that getting over a broken heart is probably one of the most difficult challenges in life. In fact, some people have such a severe broken heart that they experience "broken heart syndrome," or symptoms similar to what a heart attack feels like.
The first time I had my heart broken was in college, when my high school boyfriend of nearly five years and I had decided to call it quits after drifting apart for quite some time. I sunk into a depression that lasted throughout an entire summer. For a long time, it felt like I was having an out-of-body experience in which I looked down at myself pretending to have fun and be present. In reality, I was miserable and the days seemed to float by without me even realizing it.
It wasn't until I started my sophomore year in college that I joined a leadership program, met a few acquaintances who ended up being lifelong friends, and moved on from the dark period of my life. I also met someone new. Months later, I stumbled upon my ex-boyfriend's online profile and realized that looking at his face produced zero emotional pain. I'd finally moved on.
"It's never time that heals all wounds, but mindset, action and belief."
During the entire time that I was going through post-breakup depression, I didn't have any mental health resources or wise friends to give me advice about how to deal it. I wish I had. If you're struggling to mend a broken heart, I know it can feel pretty lonely. But, as the saying goes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Here is what 11 people said about what they've done to get over a broken heart:
1. Neha, 31
"Breakups are completely normal. I have been through many breakups and, to me, it has brought me closer to clarity for what I want than ever before. One of the hardest breakups I went through was with my best friend. He and I were friends in college, and we ended up having a wonderful time in a relationship for about a year and a half. When it came down to having similar goals in our relationship, I realized that he was stalling. In the end, it didn't work out because I felt like we were going in two different directions. See, when you can't get on the same page, sometimes it just isn't meant to be — and you have to accept it and move on. In the end, the more clarity you have, the easier it is to have breakups because you are stronger in realizing what you want in a relationship and what you are not willing to tolerate. Breakups and failures are exactly the same — a way to grow, learn lessons, and to be a better version of yourself."
2. Ponch, 42
"My most recent heartbreak was with a guy I met last September. It seemed like a whirlwind romance. He was tall, dark, extremely handsome, and smart. He ghosted me. It stung because I didn't see it coming. I was depressed afterwards because this was the second time it happened to me. I was asking myself, 'What's wrong with me?' Looking back, it doesn't matter why! Whatever the reason, goodbye! I'm no longer holding on to people who aren't trying to stay. Since then, I've been on the most amazing trips by myself and learned so many great things about myself. I don't have a man, but I have me. I'm enough."
3. Jackson, 25
"As someone who has fallen really hard, I definitely am no stranger to a broken heart. [I like to] treat myself. A bad breakup is no time for restrictions and frugality! I like to eat sweets and indulge – somehow chocolate always makes things better. Instead of scarfing down a pint of ice cream and feeling like a wreck, I’d order myself one of these beautiful assortments of candies from Lolli and Pops. Treating yourself like a princess can make you feel special and, surprisingly, upbeat. Remember that it will pass – or at least fade. The only thing that heals emotional pain is time. While remembering that doesn’t have any immediate healing properties, knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel makes the current suffering more bearable."
4. Sarah, 28
"One of the best pieces of advice I got when going through a particularly tough break up was to 'feel it all.' You might be trying to keep it together, but it’s actually very healing to allow yourself to go through all the emotions. Cry your heart out, listen to the sad songs, eat that cookie dough — but only up to one week (maximum). Once you’ve given yourself time to really let it out, it makes it easier to reel in your emotions. After one tough break up – 'No Tears after Tuesday' became my mantra and helped motivate me to keep my emotions in check. Of course, you will be sad after that week is over, but this can help you snap out of it – physically and emotionally."
5. Barbara, 59
"It is not simply the ache of a broken heart, rather it is about the shattered pieces that surround it. To get over a broken heart is to find meaning in what happened and experience post traumatic growth in spite of it. Hearts are resilient! They may be broken but they do not have to shatter your view of the world."
6. Michael, 26
"The best way to mend a broken heart is to get out of your own head. We have this tendency to glorify our relationships more once they've ended. Sure, you get annoyed every time you find yourself staring at your phone waiting for him to text you back (only to get forgotten about for the entire evening), or find it absolutely disgusting to spoon with her because she sweats an inhuman amount when she sleeps. But as soon as we break up, our brains start screaming how much we want that person back. I think the best way to get over that is to recognize that good relationships don't end — bad ones do. And then channel your inner Taylor Swift. Remember how awesome brownies and cake frosting taste, how fun it is to scream breakup songs in your car, and how much joy you can get from getting wine drunk with your friends. From there, it's just a matter of working through the stages of grief. Assign blame, reflect on all the things you learned the hard way over the course of the relationship, and hopefully by then you'll be ready to move on stronger and smarter than before."
7. Cherlyn, 29
"My ex broke my heart a total of four times, and when he left the final time, I just about had enough. I was determined to be done, and so I made a very big decision to be happy. And then with all that I had, I followed through with this decision, never allowing myself to wallow in self-pity for too long. Surprisingly during this time, I found that helping other people through their own heartbreaks was a great way to take the focus off your own. In fact, it was so effective that I got over that breakup in about a month! My advice on the best way to get over a breakup: It's never time that heals all wounds, but mindset, action and belief. Once you have all these three key things, and play things full out, your breakup will be so insignificant to you so fast that it might just astonish you!"
8. Mica, 46
"I think people have different vices to get over anything from job loss to bad breakups. Personally throughout the years, when a relationship went south for me I did and still find myself doing the same things. I have stayed in bed or pajamas for days with the blinds drawn, especially if I'm on vacation or in between jobs. I usually have multiple jobs so I would just paste on a smile, look alive at work, and return to my same habit once [I'm at] home. I have gone from no appetite to binge eating. Neither are good for you but seems to satisfy you at the time. If all the bills are paid or if I had a second job, I would treat myself to a shopping spree. These are the vices that I have used. I have recently tried to do more positive things like cardio and writing in my journal. I have since become a self-published author."
9. Robin, 48
"I remember the day I realized my marriage was over and divorce was certain, I felt like my heart had been ran over by a bulldozer. When your heart is broken, a normal response is to communicate with as many people possible, friends, family, etc. about how you feel. However, I knew that wasn’t the best course of action for me. Therefore, I wrote about it!
I believe the best way to heal a heartbreak is by sharing your experiences through journaling or writing a physical book. It definitely worked for me! The action not only tells the reader how you felt, but [also] when you go back and read what you wrote, you will see how much you've healed, grown, and evolved. Now, you have the ability to help someone else mend their broken heart."
10. Rosalind, 57
"I was devastated by a breakup in my first serious relationship following my divorce. I was heartbroken and felt like giving up on men. I realized that behind the pain was a deep need to be wanted and desired. So I kept staying in the relationship longer than I should, hoping my guy would behave differently toward me. Once I identified my neediness and did the inner work to boost my self-esteem, I found I didn't even want to be in that relationship any more. The guy came back months later with an engagement ring, and I turned him down. I had much greater insight into my value and who I truly deserved as a partner. Ultimately, I did find my Mr. Right and have been happily married for the second time for 12 years."
11. Bekka, 44
"The daunting task of healing my broken heart became easier once I attended to my spirit. I adjusted my surroundings and removed any lingering reminders of the pain. And then I began challenging my mind to conquer obstacles I had previously feared. With nothing left to lose, I became laser-focused on achieving these goals and celebrated each accomplishment along the way. My reinvention led to a discovery of strengths and I learned that the love I lavished upon myself healed my heart faster than if I had focused on the broken pieces."
Ultimately, there is no special formula for moving on from a romance that was never meant to be. What's most important is that you do what's best for yourself in the end.