Anyone who says their breakup was a piece of cake is either not being totally transparent, or just got very, very lucky. For everyone else, the process typically involves at least a fair amount of heartbreak, grief, frustration, and often times a blow to your self-esteem. And the fact is, it's not always possible to get around those inevitable feelings. That said, experts do agree that there are some common breakup mistakes that, if avoided, could minimize how much you're torturing yourself, and how quickly you can move on in a healthy way.
No matter what form of break you're dealing with — amicable or contentious, a romantic relationship or a friendship — you're likely going to face some challenges along the way. And while ultimately you can learn some very valuable lessons about yourself and what you're looking for in a partner (or friend) during this time, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you're seriously stuck in a cycle of behaviors that aren't serving you emotionally.
In fact, some of the most harmful post-breakup behaviors are ones you might not even realize you're doing. But thanks to experts like Rachel Thomasian, a therapist at Playa Vista Counseling and breakup specialist/co-author of Breakup & Breakout, you might be able to identify them and stop them in their tracks — and as a result, get you moving in a more positive direction. Ahead, find out what she believes to be the five biggest breakup mistakes, plus why they're probably not working for you.
It's understandable that you might feel like a breakup is a personal attack, and may lead you to over-examine your imagined flaws. But Thomasian suggests that taking on the full responsibility of what happened between the two of you — or even seeking answers you might not ever get — is just holding you back. "Don't beat yourself up over guesses of what you did wrong," she says. "People ghosting, cheating, or breaking up with a partner often has more to do with them than it does with you."
Playing The Blame Game
On the other hand, it may be a benefit to reflect on what the successes and challenges were and how that can lead to healthier relationships in the future — instead of spending all your time blaming the other person. "It's easy to place all the blame on your ex to feel better, but it does take two to tango," Thomasian explains. "Without going too far in the other direction, step back and examine where you fell short in the relationship and what you'd like to improve for yourself and future relationships."
Not Allowing Yourself To Feel Your Feelings
Not letting yourself mourn, grieve, cry, or get angry won't make those feelings go away, "We have emotions for a reason, and ignoring them does more harm in the long run," the therapist explains. Instead, she recommends letting them out by journaling or talking to a friend or therapist to help the healing process.
Yes, you should feel your feelings — but there comes a point when you can get stuck. "Breakups are a loss and require a grieving process, but we always caution people to limit how much of their time they spend stuck in their grief," says Thomasian. "Even if you're feeling sad or anxious, push yourself to engage in activities that bring you joy and take a break from the grief."
Social Media Snooping
This one's probably the hardest to tackle, especially when social media makes it so easy to not only look, but to give an illusion that may or may not even be the truth. "I often ask clients, 'What exactly do you think your ex could post that would make you feel better?'," Thomasian says. "Let's be honest, they're not going to dedicate a post to how terrible their life is since you broke up and how you were the best thing that ever happened to them (even if that's true). Stop checking, you're likely not going to see anything that helps with your own healing."