Any tips for coping with a broken heart?
February 10, 2005 4:57 PM   Subscribe

Any tips for coping with a broken heart? Particularly the immediate aftermath.
posted by penguin pie to Human Relations (38 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Non-self-destructive, distraction-causing, recreational activities.
posted by AlexReynolds at 5:09 PM on February 10, 2005

It's all about nature. You have to take a long walk somewhere beautiful.
posted by josh at 5:11 PM on February 10, 2005

- Time with friends. It's important to know you're not alone.
- Do things that you know will adjust your mood for the better, whether it be playing video games, going for a long walk, spending time in a place that really fills your heart with awe, or whatever.
posted by SpecialK at 5:14 PM on February 10, 2005

Continually remind yourself that you will overcome it...I went through emo periods in my life and now this rarely happens, because as corny as it sounds, I truly do realise there's no point in moping. It is fine to feel sorry for yourself/ for others/be depressed. I think the best that works for me is to go out and treat yourself to something nice. Not like, going to a Diner, depressed, but rather, treat yourself to something youve always wanted to do. Talk with friends, let your feelings out, write.

I often get through bad periods by imagining myself in a few months--"I'll have forgotten about this, or cope with it, no matter how much it hurts."

It is also important to look at it realistically...if she...or already "in love" as it were, one should not go to great lengths to ruin that relationship.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 5:18 PM on February 10, 2005

Make a mix with your favourite heartbreak songs, and walk around for a few hours listening to it. I'm sure there's a thread with appropriate songs around here somewhere.
posted by ITheCosmos at 5:20 PM on February 10, 2005

posted by pwb503 at 5:22 PM on February 10, 2005

Give yourself room to grow by learning something new. It could be something quiet and meditative, like knitting, or something more social, like, I dunno, salsa dancing? Also, the one time my heart was truly (and I thought irrevocably) broken I liked nothing better than going on long, brisk walks, often more than once a day, both alone and with close friends.
posted by katie at 5:22 PM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

Drink heavily.

Or write some music, paint something, whatever. While drinking heavily.
posted by LordSludge at 5:27 PM on February 10, 2005

Find some music that helps you wallow. Listen to it repeatedly until even you think you're being pathetic. Seriously. Might I suggest Beck's Sea Change?

Don't cut short your mourning period. It's a necessary step.
posted by pmbuko at 5:30 PM on February 10, 2005

Get out of yourself. Volunteer and get involved with others. It is amazing how different this will make you feel. It will not only help you forget, but it will also boost your self-esteem (look at me! I'm actually doing something for other people!) Boosting your self esteem-- feeling better about who you are-- after a break up is always good therapy.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:33 PM on February 10, 2005

People are different. I would find meditation and love songs unhelpful, but that's me. I would recommend distraction: silly movies, and activities -- exercise, painting, cleaning, whatever-- that make you feel good about yourself. And time. You need to get used to the idea that your life has changed.

It's tough. Don't feel bad about yourself if you find yourself moping. Hope it goes well for you!
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:34 PM on February 10, 2005

Put some really good music on a tape, CD, or your favorite music device. Not too much, only 10-20 songs. Play it over and over again while you're doing things that give you confidence and/or relax you, such as hiking, taking showers, scenic drives, strong exercise, etc, etc. Somehow the unity of the music gives you something to stand into. Pick new/unique material that has no relation to you, but is very good. Friends can help a lot with this, as they should in the related healing. Best luck.
posted by sled at 5:38 PM on February 10, 2005 [2 favorites]

Really throw yourself into this heartbreak business. Sob, mope, rant and rave, throw things — whatever you need to do. Do it right and get it out of your system. You're better off being all red-eyed and snot-nosed for a week than quietly carrying the baggage around for years.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:00 PM on February 10, 2005

Recommend you go head-on into some routines, whether physical (running/jogging/walking/bicycling), recreational (going to the movies, seeing friends regularly, going to sport events, boating), spiritual (YMMV). If there's an animal rescue or shelter organization near you, volunteer. Don't go overboard, you'll need time alone to reflect and see how well you're progressing. If you like to read, pick up Feeling Good, or even (dare I say), How To Stop Worrying and Start Living (i'm gonna get crap for that from the other AskMes). And read somewhere bright, outside (it's kinda summer in the Falklands now, right?)
posted by nj_subgenius at 6:08 PM on February 10, 2005

week 1: listen to radiohead's I Might Be Wrong live album. This is for hardcore moping. You can substitute other sad music. Wear sweatpants and a hoodie or some other leisure wear. Sit at home, watch horribly sappy movies about romance, cry, eat ice cream, write bad poems. Mantra: I feel like crap right now, this hurts, etc.

week 2: listen to the collected works of Belle and Sebastian, or some other upbeat-but-not-really-happy music. For me, happy music was intolerable for months, but I had to stop listening to really mopey stuff or I would've lost it. Wear regular clothes but keep the hoodie for comfort. Go for walks, hang out with friends, try to cook decent food, but keep it low-key. Watch sappy but uplifting movies. Nothing is more alienating than cheerful people when heartbroken. Mantra: I can get through this.

week 3: Try to cheer yourself up. Listen to new music, dance around your apartment. Watch silly movies. Go out. It may still feel weird but now is the time to practice the "fake it til you make it" strategy of being happy. At this point, it is imperative that you try to forgive yourself and the other person and stop harboring negative feelings, you might still be sad but try to be hopeful. Find someting new to be excited about: friend, hobby, projecct. Mantra: I can choose to feel better. The future is full of exciting possibilities.
posted by mai at 6:13 PM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

Keep yourself busy.
Get a lot of work done, paint your home, or do anything that takes a lot of time every day. Suddenly, you will notice that you are over her/him.
That has worked for me, but of course, YMMV.
posted by Penks at 6:14 PM on February 10, 2005

Listen to Nick Drake.

If you're a musician, make music.
If you're a carpenter, build.
Really, just create something. You'll find that in the emotional state you're in you'll have a lot of creative energy. And in light of your recent breakup, it will seem to you as if the breakup made this creativity possible. That's a good thing.

Sit down and write for a half hour or so. Do nothing but write about how sad you are. Go to bed. Wake up and read it. You'll laugh, I guarantee.

And listen to Nick Drake.
posted by The White Hat at 6:43 PM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]


Really, do something nice for yourself, and the decadence of chocolate is a traditional guilty pleasure.

Probably better is to devote yourself to something, being really organized, clean apartment, exercise, whatever. Master it, be in control, it can help as you will not be in control of your emotions. Those just have to happen so that you can move on. Controlling some other aspect of you life helps you feel a little better about yourself. It's OK to be a little selfish about it.
posted by caddis at 6:55 PM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

posted by jmgorman at 8:00 PM on February 10, 2005

Penguin pie, I'm so sorry -- it sucks.

Give yourself some time before you "do" anything. This means no crazy haircuts or one-night stands for at least, say, two weeks.

My prescription for serious painful broken-heart stuff has always been this: Before you go in to work on friday morning, if that is your schedule, 1) pack a small bag with just the most basic essentials -- toothbrush, extra sweater, wallet, guilty-pleasure novel, and a little notebook if you like to sort your thoughts out by writing them down. 2) After work, if you live near a train station or bus station or something, go there. 3) Decide while at the bus station or train station where you will be going for the weekend. 4) Get on bus/train. Feel freedom and independence. Revel in it. Get a nice little hotel room wherever you end up (preferably somewhere with some natural beauty where you can go hiking or something) and have a good time all by yourself. 5) Go back home refreshed and ready for a new start.

This has worked for me a couple of times -- the shift in perspective helps to move out of the pain a little, and allows me to let go of stuff.

Good luck to you. It will get better very soon, promise.
posted by jennyjenny at 8:10 PM on February 10, 2005 [3 favorites]

All this stuff is good, but the key is, talk to people. Find someone who'll listen to you mope and generally have your back, and maybe buy you ice cream or something.

I don't know, I didn't really feel equal to making something, but I did talk to people. (And I started blogging again.) And I read a lot. A lot. A couple of weeks after the whole breakup, I read The Hours by Michael Cunningham, which I really recommend because it's beautiful and life-affirming but still sad.

Get lots of sleep.
Don't beat yourself up.
You'll come out stronger and probably wiser.
posted by SoftRain at 8:28 PM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

Do your grieving - cry, rage, sleep, mope, pig out on junk food. And when you're sick of doing that - lose yourself in something you love to do.

I'm sorry, penguin, it's an awful place to be.
posted by deborah at 8:45 PM on February 10, 2005

Pain & disappointment are an inevitable part of life. Appreciate it for what it is - an opportunity to learn & grow. Also, "Layla and other love songs" by Derek & the Dominoes for when you need to do a little wallowing along with some of that low-down Southern whisky. Good luck....
posted by Pressed Rat at 8:46 PM on February 10, 2005

Reading Dorothy Parker always did it for me, but then, I'm a freak.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:06 PM on February 10, 2005

Here's a recommendation from an earlier thread (which you might want to check out, too): The advice of's Mr. Blue (= Garrison Keillor) to the third letter here. I really like jennyjenny's idea, too.

Good luck, penguin pie. Hope you pull through okay.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:30 PM on February 10, 2005

I allow myself to grieve in a big way for a few days. I drink a lot, I eat a lot of junk food and I cry a lot.
Then I try to hit the gym & I find other things to keep me busy and I spend a lot of time with my friends.

Good luck. It's tough right now, but it'll get better...
posted by whatideserve at 10:12 PM on February 10, 2005

I like going to movies alone. I've never found anything that accelerates the process, It's just a matter of time for me.

I was all wrecked once, and had to do some work at Bard college in Manahttan. Seeing such a concentration of beautiful girls really helped out my spirits. I didn't talk to a single one, but it took that critical mass to stop the infinite loop in my head.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 11:34 PM on February 10, 2005

Stay busy.

See friends.

Allow yourself to feel what you're feeling. Don't panic. If it hurts, you still have a heart. I know it hurts. But rue the day that you just don't care anymore when another one bites the dust. Feel. Breathe. Cry. You're not the first.

If you can swing some excellent sex with someone you can trust who doesn't put all kinds of weird head-pressures on you, it can, in fact, make you feel better. Just be careful.
posted by scarabic at 11:39 PM on February 10, 2005

Stay away from your ex, and people that are friends with or know your ex well. If you continue to put yourself in situations where you'll be in contact with or hear about them, it'll take a lot longer to get over it.

I have a friend who, right now, is not following that advice, and it's going to turn into a huge mess at some point in the near future.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 1:47 AM on February 11, 2005

For the first few days, indulge yourself. Pretend being sad is a justification for doing whatever you want (within reason--nothing permanently destructive). Cry yourself to sleep as often as necessary, even in the middle of the day--I know that sounds hopelessly pitiful, but it's incredibly cathartic. I invariably wake up feeling much better.

And then, as other posters have said, start getting outside yourself. Do this before you think you're ready.

There are two phrases that work well as mantras for this kind of thing. To counteract the feeling that nothing is worth this kind of pain, "because of the color of the wheat fields." And when that seems far too positive--and it will--this: "lived, hence livable." You can get through this because you are, at this very moment, getting through it simply by continuing to be.

And finally, in approximate order of improvement: Nick Drake, Belle & Sebastian, middle-era-REM, Billy Bragg, Janis Joplin.

Best of luck.
posted by hippugeek at 3:17 AM on February 11, 2005 [2 favorites]

I've always been a fan of dressing up in my best stuff, going to a club, and flirting shamelessly and/or making out with people cuter than the ex.

But then, I'm married so the last time I had to deal with this I was 22, and YMMV. Looking back, it is kind of a 22 year old's response, and most likely not very much help.

But seriously, getting some self-esteem boosting validation from the gender you prefer will do wonders for a shattered ego. (which is a big part of a broken heart)
posted by Kellydamnit at 6:20 AM on February 11, 2005

Don't isolate yourself. I cleaned the entire house when I was going through a similar grieving period, and that seemed to help, not to mention it gave me a huge sense of accomplishment. However, sometimes these things take time. Give yourself as much time as you need. Don't jump into any new relationship too quickly. And I agree with the others who say that you should avoid the people/places/ things you used to hang with/hang out at/do together, because seeing the person or hearing about the person only makes the pain worse.
posted by cass at 6:32 AM on February 11, 2005

Make sure your friends know you're hurting - don't say you're okay if you're not. Go out, go to movies, concerts, dinner. Spend some time in introspection, as above, but don't stay home listening to sad love songs every weekend for a month. Be aware that you're at risk of depression and if you get seriously depressed, get help.

Posting the question was a great start. This is a good thread. Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 7:08 AM on February 11, 2005

I favor a combination of booze and appropriate playlists.
posted by mrs.pants at 7:31 AM on February 11, 2005

Catch up with any friends you may have neglected while spending time with your ex. This serves the double purpose of rekindling old friendships while keeping you distracted from the topic at hand.

Once you're feeling better about the situation, exorcise the places that you frequented with the ex by returning to them with friends and having new good times there.
posted by hsoltz at 8:51 AM on February 11, 2005

Many of the things above have helped me in the past with the immediate wound. Music, friends, the gym, letting yourself mourn, booze, reading.

Once you get past the raw pain and you find that despite the fact that you are "better" your mind keeps going back to that person I found that the thing that helped me the most was telling myself "my mind is going to keep coming back to this person until I have fallen in love with someone else" and that let me accept it and let it go rather than obsessing about it.

You may even find your mind returning to that person after you have fallen in love again, but slowly, over time they will fade away until your emotional wang just can't get it up anymore to feel pain about them.
posted by jopreacher at 11:00 AM on February 11, 2005 [1 favorite]

This is embarrassingly lame, but the last time I dealt with heartache, I discovered the entire Pet Shop Boys Behavior album. Particularly "The End of the World", "So Hard" and "To Face the Truth". Of course, this all depends on what kind of music you like, but it should hit home regardless.
posted by hellbient at 5:35 PM on February 11, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, lots of great suggestions. I'm particularly a fan of the "Feel utterly sorry for yourself until you start to get bored of yourself" school of thought: it seems to work. As it happens I was already in training for a half marathon (beat my PB by 20 seconds last Sunday: I am an athletic goddess), learning to knit and listening to Billy Bragg/Janis Joplin, so maybe I had a head start.

Receiving so many sympathetic and thoughtful responses helped too. Thanks AskMefites.
posted by penguin pie at 5:35 PM on February 20, 2005

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