1. Hanging on to old memories.
You don't have to remove every single trace of your ex if you're not ready, but it's not helpful to stare longingly at old movie tickets, photos, and little notes you once left in their work bag. Appreciate that there were good times, but if it's over, it's over.
2. Airing out your grievances online.
If your ex is of the asshole variety, it may seem tempting to go on Facebook and have a good old rant about it, but it's better not to. Unless you're a famous performance artist and this is totally your thing, don't publish a ton of teary selfies either. You're better than that. Keep a diary, write to a friend, scribble angsty poetry onto your bed frame – just keep it offline so you don't end up regretting anything.
3. Hiding your true feelings.
As much as you shouldn't spill your guts online, don't bottle your feelings. If you need to cry, turn up the gloomy music and bawl your eyes out. If you're angry, punch the crap out of your pillow (sorry, pillow), because if you don't process your emotions as they come, they'll bite your butt later on.
4. Putting yourself into painful situations.
When your heart's been trampled on, you have to look after yourself – don't put yourself into situations that will add extra stress. Example: When I had to do the dreaded Exchanging of the Things with my ex, I thought of two scenarios.
1. I was going to look SHIT HOT, hand a box of his things over in a "bend and snap" kinda way, and he'd be all, Whoa, I've made a mistake.
2. I was going to look SHIT HOT and it wouldn't make smidgen of a difference and I'd just be left alone in my room wearing an unnecessarily tight dress.
Because No. 2 seemed far more likely, I went for a third and far easier option: total absence. I was lucky to have an awesome flatmate who did the exchanging for me whilst I was at work. Bonus: She excels at terrifying bitch looks.
5. Not talking.
When you've experienced something pretty shocking, like a breakup, it's good to retell the story to someone, just so you can make sense of it yourself. The downside of this is that you start to feel a bit like a broken record: "Surely people are sick of my tragic tale of heartbreak?" Choose someone you trust. The flatmate I mentioned earlier with the bitchy looks was an absolutely blessing, the type of person who'll let you barge into her room at midnight just because you've just had a major epiphany, and together we'd jump up and down on her bed like orangutans and get some of the rage out. Everyone needs someone they can vent to, whether it's a flatmate, relative, co-worker, or cat. Vent away.
6. Following your ex’s every move online.
Breakups are even more difficult to process when people leave a trail of themselves all over the internet. It's incredibly hard to block them out, BUT just as you know that dipping your finger into boiling water is going to hurt like hell, you should know that looking at your ex having a great time at a bar with their arm tightly wrapped around a stranger's waist is going to hurt pretty bad too. Don't do it.
7. Forcing yourself out when you just need some downtime.
I've been guilty of doing the whole I'm-not-going-to-allow-myself-to-be-sad about-this, so I dragged my tired and weary body to parties and coffee shops and friends' stand-up gigs. I probably enjoyed half of those experiences, but mainly I was just trying really hard to not cry because that tiny crack in the pavement reminded me why the whole of humanity is DOOMED. My bed would have been a better option.
This may seem to contradict the above point, but there's a line between resting in bed and wallowing for days and days. You can wallow for a while, of course – listen to sad songs, watch breakup movies, read books about heartbreak, allow yourself to eat chocolate for dinner – but give yourself a time limit: Don't let the days of wallowing stretch out for so long you haven't showered or gone to work in weeks and your whole life has come to a standstill.
9. Isolating yourself.
When you've been hurt, you might think: Screw it, I'm going to stay at home with myself because I can't trust ANYONE else. You can, and the plus side of a breakup is that you learn who and what really matters and that friends are everything. Lean on your pals, cry in front of them, and let them take you out.
10. Holding off on dating for too long.
I'm not going to suggest you have to get back on the ol' horse real quick – you can't sex your way out of a broken heart, unfortunately. But if someone does ask you for a drink, don't dismiss it straightaway. Don't develop a dating phobia, because eventually someone awesome will come along.
11. Forcing a friendship with your ex.
Some exes will magically just fall into a great friendship and chat about new lovers and nothing seems painful, but this doesn't happen very often. Maybe you and your ex had tickets to a gig and it seems a waste not to go, so you decide to go as "pals". Don't. It'll feel weird and messy; let them have that ticket.
12. Forcing closure.
Closure is a strange word – people aren't books, and neither are relationships. You can't close a person, put them on a shelf, and move on. Meeting up with your ex just ONE more time won't allow you to get any closer to achieving that. Closure is a stupid concept. Ignore it.
13. Drinking yourself into a stupor.
Drinking can be great – I definitely needed a drink to get my self-pitying couch potato body into the club – BUT there is a limit. Look after your body, let yourself heal, and then commit to taking charge of your life.
14. Sleeping with someone for revenge.
Revenge is best served in a Quentin Tarantino movie, not real life. If you revenge-sleep with one of your ex's friends, you'll just feel shitty about yourself.
15. Making a drastic life decision.
Thoughts I had during my breakup:
1. I'm going to move back home and live in a box in my dad's attic.
2. I'm going to Costa Rica to work in a sloth sanctuary.
3. I'm going to become a teacher and teach young girls to trust NO ONE.
I ended up doing none of these. I continued on with my life as normal, and I'll always be grateful for that because now I have a job I love and a very awesome boyfriend who I would not have met in Costa Rica (although the sloth plan does still seem very ideal).
16. Not letting go.
Letting go is difficult, but this is where you have to be a little tough with yourself. You know that scene in Love Actually when Mark kisses his BFF's wife Juliet and then says to himself, "Enough", and you're certain from that moment on he's just going to get on with his life? All right, that scene is a pretty problematic and not a great example, but you get the idea. You have to say "Enough", stop fretting about your past relationship, stop searching for answers: Just ~breathe~ and move on.
17. Becoming super cynical.
Don't shut yourself off from the possibility of new relationships, even though it seems super tempting. You just fell in love with the wrong person, so think how great it'll be when you fall in love with the right person.