How To Get Over A Breakup – The Ultimate Guide

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Couple with fading love intensity
Photo: ALAMY Via The Telegraph

How to get over a breakup?

If you ever drive a car in India, an accident is bound to happen. If you are one of the few people that never got into accidents in India, write to us. We will nominate you for the Nobel prize. If you are ever in a relationship, there is good chance that you will break up. Even married couples separate and divorce. Divorce rates even among couples married through arranged marriage are increasing in India. Irrespective of how you break up (before or after marriage), the million Dollar question is how to get over a breakup and pick up the pieces. This blogs post attempts to do a deep dive on this topic. Wear your oxygen mask and let’s plunge into it.

Why do we break up?

Before we dive into answering the question – How to get over a breakup, it’s important to recognize why we break up? Let’s look at some of the reasons people have used to break up. You won’t believe how inventive or paranoid people are when it comes to a breakup. Way back in 2012, Information designers David McCandless and Lee Byron have created easy to read charts based on data from Facebook, Twitter, Durex global sex survey and census data. Here is one of the charts that give us more information on why we break up.

Why we breakup - Infograhics

As you can see the key reasons given by people for breaking up are: Incompatible Personalities, Cheating, Lost Interest, Moved Away, Bad Sex, Divorce, and Death!

People share personal stories on their break-up

We scoured the Internet to find out why people broke up. Here are some first-hand accounts of why people broke up.

Nikita Krishnan: Divorced parents, fat, and dusky skin color

  1. My first boyfriend broke up with me because my parents are divorced. Apparently his mom told him that, I would divorce him because that’s what my family does.
  2. The second boyfriend, he wanted me to straighten my hair, when I had beautiful curls. He wanted me to permanently straighten it! He wanted me to thin down. And get fairer! He didn’t like my dusky tone.

Tatania Vaz Pereira: Too much love

Apparently I said I love you too much. I texted too much. I thought of him too much.

Udayaditya Dwivedi: Boneless chicken only

It was the birthday of my girlfriend of 2 months. We went to a restaurant and she started ordering. Fish finger chips and paneer tikka as a starter, then kadhai chicken with butter naan as the main course. I calculated the cost in my mind, more or less I could have paid for it. We ate the starters in silence, me contemplating the dire state of my finances and she happily munching the tikkas and finger chips. When she looked at the main course, she exclaimed, “But I only eat boneless chicken. Order me another”. I tried reasoning with her, went to the extent of pleading her, but in vain. She ordered another kadhai chicken, this time boneless. Finally, the bill came. I told her I am a little short on cash, but she just shrugged and said OK. I was a little confused in the beginning with the OK (still hoping for some help), but none came. Exasperated, I told her that I need to visit an ATM. I came out of the restaurant and blocked her from contacting me ever.

Christopher ReissCat poop!

This was a woman getting a graduate degree from a world-famous university with notoriously fickle admissions. One day, her cat pooped on her luggage. She asked me, “Did you get into a fight with my cat last night?”
My response, “I can’t even imagine what a fight between a human and a cat looks like. Besides, I love animals.”
But she persevered, trying to psychoanalyze the cat, to uncover the root cause of this feline evacuation so that I was somehow to blame.
This conversation went on for several days.
Day 6: She calls. “I know it sounds ridiculous, but …” again with the cat poop. I spoke into the mouthpiece only long enough to break up, turned off my phone, and put it in my pocket. Never saw her again.

Sanket SatpathyPoetic divorce

She was beautiful I wasn’t
she was rich I was not
she wanted a better life I couldn’t provide.
When I realized my mistakes.
All she said was I wish you had taken some effort and it’s too late

Why we break up according to science

How to get over a breakupDr. Sean M Horan is an expert in communication studies with a specific focus on dating! He is one of the most widely published scholars between 2007 to 2011. According to Sean, there are seven reasons why couples break up. Let’s look at all the seven reasons.

  1. One reason couples break up is sudden death, which occurs when “new, negatively charged information is discovered about [one’s] partner.” In other words, couples lose trust in each other. It usually involves one party hanging on while the other party actively seeks to end the relationship or both the parties decide to call it quits.
  2. Couples break up because of mechanical failure where “partners have incompatible goals or values.” This is further compounded by a complete failure of communication between the couple.
  3. Pre-existing doom may be the reason; simply “partners are inherently incompatible.” Be it arranged marriage or love marriage, incompatibilities shine brighter when the initial glow of the relationship fades away.
  4. Process loss may be to blame where the “relationship does not reach full potential because…partners [do] not make use of all available resources.” It is also attributed to changes in lifestyle.
  5. Network can be the breakup culprit, occurring when “friends and/or family do not support [the] partner or the relationship.” This is certainly the case with love marriages or intercaste marriages in India.
  6. Loss of personal freedom occurs when one feels his/her “partner is controlling” or the “feeling that the relationship has become too restrictive.” Personal insecurities and lack of trust are key reasons for this type of a breakup.
  7. Distance may be the reason for terminating a relationship; that is, the relationship is long distance or a partner moved.

No matter what the reason is for a breakup, not all breakups are bad after all. In fact, if the relationship involves abuse, breaking up can lead to a positive change for at least one of the partners! Some people use breakups to introspect and come out on the other side of the breakup with more maturity and a better outlook to life in general.

Good news! Breakups can be predicted

The great news is that break ups can be predicted. Researchers and experts have created models that allow them to predict breakups and suggest ways and means to save the relationships.

Photo of Dr. John GottmanJohn Gottman is a world-renowned psychologist and an expert on marriages and divorce. His pioneering research on married couples is eye opening. As we had written earlier, Gottman and his team predicted whether a couple was going to get divorced with a 90% accuracy. he found that couples that got into a spiral of negativity usually ended up separating eventually. Gottman then teamed up with a mathematical, James Murray, to create mathematical equations that predicted how the wife or husband is going to respond based on their observed behavior data. You can read more about Gottman’s “Love Lab” here.

Gottman also came with the “The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse” (1. Criticism, 2. Contempt, 3. Defensiveness, and 4. Stonewalling) model to predict if the relationship can survive. In fact, by observing how a couple handles the four horsemen, you can predict with a reasonable accuracy about the success or a failure of a relationship. Watch this interesting video that explains these issues and how to overcome them.

The best way to handle criticism is to avoid focussing on a specific behavior and instead talk about your feelings followed by a positive solution for the issue. Contempt (rolling your eyes, name-calling) according to Gottman, poses the biggest challenge to a relationship. In order to avoid showing contempt for each other, couples must build a culture of appreciation where it is genuinely required. The antidote for defensiveness (playing the victim) is to develop the maturity to accept responsibility instead of deflecting the blame. Stonewalling (withdrawing completely) from an issue can be avoided by making sure you get back to the conversation after a brief pause and not stay silent forever as it builds resentment. You can read more by clicking on the image below.How do we get over a breakup

Breakups do happen. How to get over a breakup?

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You gave a relationship your best shot, but it did not work out. Sounds like your story? There is absolutely no need to feel guilty or mop about it. We once again decided to look at both real life lessons from people like you and us as well as expert tips to help you cope with a breakup.

People share personal stories on how they handled their breakup

We picked three different accounts from real people on how they overcame the post-breakup flunk.

Ashley Beurkett: Do’s and Don’ts

I think there are several ways to do this, and they may not work for everyone and they also may not work immediately, but they worked for me!

  • Have a good cry over it: Get it out of your system. Go through your old photos for the last time, remember the good times and the good things about the person. It sounds backwards, but I’ve found it’s necessary and natural.
  • Purge: Get mad, get angry! Get rid of all the photos you just moped over! Get rid of everything that reminds you of the person, the things they gave you, the ticket stubs, everything! If it’s something actually valuable, don’t trash it, just stow it away for a bit until you’re over the person.
  • Be with people you love: Hang out with friends and family and people that genuinely make you feel good. Talk to them about the situation and get it out of your system, but at the same time, make sure you let yourself enjoy their company too!
  • Enjoy being single and treat yourself: Go out to bars, be flirty, spend money on yourself that you would’ve normally had to spend on your partner. Do everything that you wanted to do when you were taken and start up that hobby you’ve always died to do. Also, workout and eat better, you’ll be amazed at how good you actually feel!
  • Learn from it: When you are starting feeling a bit more stable and more objective, look back and try and learn what went wrong so you can grow as a person. Think about your ex’s qualities and if they were really what you wanted in a significant other. Re-evaluate that relationship and you may even realize it wasn’t taking you in a direction you wanted your life to go.

Whatever you do, DO NOT do the following:

  • Try to “get back” at them: If it’s over. It’s over. It’s only going to put you in a bad light if you show up with some guy and try to use him to get back at your ex. And please, don’t try and spy and be a creep! Mind games are not healthy, grow up!
  • Sleep with anyone and everyone you can get your hands on: No. No. And no! This is definitely not going to help you get over them in the long run. You’ve got to clear your head before you can start bringing other people into your life.
  • Keep trying to get with that person: Like I said, if it’s over, it’s over. No sense wasting your energy on someone who doesn’t deserve it. Plus, if there really WAS any chance of getting back together, you’ll probably ruin it if you look desperate.
  • Immediately start looking for a new relationship: This is different than just sleeping with everyone. I simply mean don’t be a chronic long-term dater! Give yourself a breather from relationships, period. You learn a lot about yourself and they are essential to growing as a person!

Jay Walker: It’s oxytocin stupid!

Time is the only thing that heal. From personal experience, it takes 3 to 6 months before you’ll feel better, maybe sooner if you’re lucky. From a biological point of view, that terrible anxiety that you’re feeling is withdrawal from oxytocin, which is the hormone that appears to be responsible for pair-wise bonding in mammals. The similarities between love and drugs are not accidental http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxy.

Arik Beremzon: Well, you can’t!

You can’t. And you shouldn’t have to. Regardless of what happened afterward, you had a good time. Why would you want to forget something that was good? You laughed, you lived, you loved, and you learned. You will continue to laugh, live, love, and learn. Remember and cherish the moments rather than the person you spent those moments with. As hard as that sounds, as time passes and you meet more people you will recognize to value experiences as a whole rather than the components or people who make them up. While it’s true that some experiences – such as the birth of a child – hinge around the presence of a particular person, “having a good time” isn’t one of those.

Now that you have read “street wisdom” on how to handle breakups, it’s time to listen to experts.

Expert opinion on how to cope with breakups

We have rounded up 4 research-based findings to help you devise a strategy for getting over your breakup.

1. It’s healthy to dwell on your breakup

According to this study with a rather difficult to understand the title, “Participating in Research on Romantic Breakups Promotes Emotional Recovery via Changes in Self-Concept Clarity, dwelling on the breakup is actually helpful! That’s great news if you have had to go through a breakup recently. Most of us cope with breakups by thinking about the person and what went right or wrong.

Grace Larson and David Sbarra from the Northwestern University and the University of Arizona, interviewed 210 young men and women that recently went through breakups. A group of them went through in-depth 9-week interview sessions to discuss their relationship. Another group of men and women just had a brief interview. The results were startling. People that went through extensive interviews on their failed relationship actually recovered better when compared to people that had short interviews!

2. Stop stalking your ex on Facebook

In a 2012 study by Veronika Lukacs (University of Western Ontario), titled “It’s Complicated: Romantic Breakups and Their Aftermath on Facebook“, it was found that 9 out of 10 people that were surveyed kept a tab on their execs through Facebook. The study concluded that content on Facebook can be a source of distress for individuals who have recently experienced a romantic breakup. People who engaged in high levels of snooping on Facebook experienced more breakup distress than people who chose not to stalk. The study also recommended some tips on what to do with Facebook after a breakup. These tips are:


  • Change your Facebook password.
  • Remove relationship status from your Facebook wall.
  • Remove tagged photographs with your ex-partner.
  • Delete message histories so that you don’t read them again!
  • Un-friend or block your ex.

3. Tylenol might help!

In a unique study titled “Social rejection shares somatosensory representation with physical pain” (don’t worry, it’s not that complicated), researchers unearthed a simple solution to the problem of coping up with a bad breakup. They showed pictures of people’s exes and scanned their brains as they were looking at the pictures! The researchers then analyzed brain activity on the MRI. They found that areas of the brain that support the sensory components of physical pain become active. In other words, romantic pain produced the same effect as physical pain. Participants of the study that had taken Tylenol (Crocin in India) saw lesser activity in the areas of the brain associated with physical pain.

4. Breaking up is good for you

Dr. Gary W. Lewandowski, Jr. is a professor and Department Chair at Monmouth University, Director of the Relationship Science Lab, and co-editor/co-creator of www.ScienceOfRelationships.com. He firmly believes that breaking up actually helps you learn and grow and he has research data to prove it. According to this article, “a 2007 study by Lewandowski his colleagues was one of the first to focus on the plus side of breakups. Most of the young adults who the researchers interviewed said the breakup had helped them learn and grow and that they felt more goal-oriented after splitting up.” Check out his explanation in this video.

That’s all folks! In order to get you in a better mood, check out this flowchart from Imgur.

How to get over a breakupOther scientifically proven, awesome posts!

How to Find and Keep Your Perfect Match – A Mathematician Explains

The Science of Staying In Love For a Lifetime

Love at First Sight – The Power of First Impression

Research has also shown that sharing and liking this post can help you cope with your breakup!

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