How do you fill the emptiness after a break up?
January 5, 2013 4:02 PM   Subscribe

How do you fill the emptiness after a break up? Its now been two month since the break up and I feel like I have no interest anything anymore. I don't enjoy watching sports, my tv shows or movies like I use to. I still go to the gym and run but even time to time I am not motivated to do them. I use to complain about my job to friends and family (politics, unfairness, too much stress), but now I just go to work and I don't even complain about them anymore since all I think about is my personal stress life. I know I am depressed but do I have a bigger problem?
posted by kser333 to Human Relations (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If you like to run, maybe sign up for a half marathon that's a few months out, and join a training group. That way, you can make some new friends, fill up the empty hours and have a pretty medal to show for it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:04 PM on January 5, 2013

If it's the void of having a partner to share things with, maybe getting out there and dating (or at least meeting new people) will start to fill that void.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:07 PM on January 5, 2013

I think creating an exercise schedule and sticking to it will help you feel better. Also, being sure to keep busy and spend lots of time with friends and family.
posted by ninefour at 4:20 PM on January 5, 2013

Have you tried therapy?
posted by quincunx at 4:25 PM on January 5, 2013

I used books as a crutch in one breakup.

Travel can help too.
posted by salvia at 4:39 PM on January 5, 2013

How long were you together? If this was a long term relationship, I would consider detached numbness to be an accomplishment at the 2 month mark.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:39 PM on January 5, 2013 [11 favorites]

What did you do before this relationship? Think about the things you might have been doing previously and try to return to them. Sometimes people forget what they have given up to enter into a relationship. Maybe you will discover some old interests.
posted by thorny at 4:51 PM on January 5, 2013

Lots of people just immediately sleep with someone else. I can't testify to whether that works, but lots of my friends have tried this.

I can confirm that running and hiking in the woods works really, really well.
posted by mochapickle at 4:51 PM on January 5, 2013

Two months ago you were planning to propose to this woman and, presumably, spend the rest of your life with her. I'm with DarlingBri.
posted by teremala at 4:55 PM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

You don't really feel interest in things you usually like, but you also don't really feel disgust for things you usually dislike either right? Why not clean your whole house, repair broken things, scrub your toilet, organize your desktop and files, do that other thing you've been putting off, or just about anything that is also going to suck because hey - it couldn't make you feel worse right?

But then at the end your house will be clean, your stuff won't be broken, your toilet will sparkle, your computer will be more useful and you won't feel any worse while you're making that happen. All you can do anyway is live well, might as well use how much this FUCKING SUCKS to do the things that would make better times suck worse but can't touch you now. You'll also be in a much better position mentally, emotionally, and socially to continue recovering with that cleaned and repaired stuff of yours. Also pick up a musical instrument, everyone sucks at them at the beginning, which is why so few play them - but what the fuck does that matter to you now? Then by the time you've gained significant competency with it you'll not only feel better but you'll also have a really neat new skill. Breakups, especially the terrible ones, give you superpowers - don't waste them.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:25 PM on January 5, 2013 [25 favorites]

It took me at least 6 months to feel the dark cloud lift for me even slightly. Now I'm eight months out and I'm actually HAPPY that I'm single.

Breakups suck really hard and for a long time. Maintain no contact and set goals for yourself, like to run a mile further than you ever have before. Signing up for a race is a great way to stay active, hold yourself accountable and meet new people.
posted by thank you silence at 5:27 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Have to talked to your friends/mom/cousins/dog about it? Wrote a journal? At some point, once you've talked it out and thought about it longer than humanly possible, sometimes it's best to just busy yourself with to-do lists.
posted by camylanded at 5:28 PM on January 5, 2013

an oldie but goodie:
"Time heals all wounds"
(hang in there...yr doing fine)
posted by sexyrobot at 6:36 PM on January 5, 2013

Well, I started learning another language. For you, it might not be a language, but something else that turns on your brain. There's nothing to be done about the absence of a specific beloved person, and your heart will take its own time recovering from feeling flat. Meanwhile, though, your brain can sparkle.
posted by melesana at 8:59 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

It will pass. You're doing fine at 2 months. It definitely takes longer than 2 months to feel better.
posted by kellybird at 10:46 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you're doing fine. When life throws you something crazy, I think the best thing that you can do is just focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Eventually it gets easier.
posted by kat518 at 10:51 PM on January 5, 2013

Pets...your own, if that's an option, or borrow someone else's.
posted by Pomo at 11:12 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding Blasdelb for great advice.

I could have written your question 5 months ago. The thing is, what you're feeling is completely normal, and time will pass. It will get better, I can promise you. Counting days turns into counting weeks, and before you know it, you are back to feeling a bit of joy (step by step) in something unexpected.

Two things that helped me: I took myself on 'dates'. I made a list of things that I would want to do (ie. a movie I wanted to see, chocolate from a fancy store I wanted to eat etc). I spent time reconnecting with something that I enjoyed doing, separate from my ex. It takes courage to do it the first time, but it does get easier. It was cathartic, and made me realize I could enjoy something by myself, independant of any ties to a partner/breakup.

Secondly, I got a pet. If you aren't ready for the responsibility/time commitment of a pet (I got a puppy and it's a LOT of work), I'd recommend finding a friend/family member who has one, and spend some time with them. It really helps the healing.

Good luck. You will be fine!
posted by msrobinson at 12:17 PM on January 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

I asked a question recently, here. Its not exactly about getting over breakups but the breakup has added another dimension to my grief. Sometimes I forget who I am grieving. Its been precisely five days since the breakup and here are some of the things I am doing to get through this difficult period (some of the points below are also taken from answers to the question, both public and personal responses, but this is what is working for me):

* The first thing I did the next day was yoga. The last time I did yoga was two days before my mom died. I do the exercises that I once used to enjoy. This is a non-negotiable activity. Whether I can work or not, watch tv or not, I *have* to do at least 25-30 min of some exercise that makes me tired and/or sweaty, and often it is more that just 30 min. When I am overwhelmed with emotion, I take a break and go do exercise. An additional benefit is that when I go to bed, I doze off in a few minutes and sleep very soundly.

* I don't compromise on my sleep. Whatever it takes, I need to make sure I am tired enough so that when I go to bed I am not thinking of negative thoughts esp regarding the ex.

* I used to love poetry in school. I got two books (among others) from the library that resonate with my situation, and I read them before bedtime or when my heart is heavy with emotions.

* I make detailed to-do lists. I need to do this professionally and I do it for personal activities as well. I carry my diary everywhere and keep checking whats next and check things off. This is basically what I am living for right now- checking off my to-do lists because often there is no joy in life, there is no purpose in life. I know this is just a phase I am going through but I need something to hang on to.

* I clean my place obsessively. I take out old stuff and donate to goodwill, not just in one go but cyclically. I have a ton of paper/documents at home. I clear out those stacks, shred the paper and take to the recycling center. Again, I do it over and over and over again.

* I try to change/rearrange things at my place. Its kind of like shedding the old and replacing with the new. It doesn't mean a makeover, mind you. It means getting rid of old stuff that isn't/hasn't been useful and replacing with what is useful, and this is also a metaphor for the relationship/ex. I want my place to be different, even slightly so, that it used to be when they visited. It is not an escape but a subconscious adjustment to not only accept the "seasonal" change but to welcome and look forward to it.

* I am not afraid to ask for help or call friends. I have called people and cried over the phone when my ex broke up with me because I was so, so overwhelmed with emotion. This is highly out of character for me so its not something that is easy for me to do. But instead of overthinking it, I did what I needed to do to get help from more humane individuals. I posted on Metafilter and I took the advice to heart. So I availed of each and every resource I can possibly think of, anything and everything that might help in the slightest.

* I try to be kind to myself. If I feel like doing an activity at any moment, I don't postpone it to later because I *should* be doing something else. Of course, this is not applicable to work but say if I want to get groceries and I have to read something for work on a weekend, then I go get groceries. I give myself the permission to do what my heart desires, however little or insignificant that task may be.

* Quotes, faith and prayer. I hang on to whatever little that makes me the slightest better. I repeat it over and over again in my head. Not like a mantra but like I am talking to a child, explaining to them that its okay. S*** happens. People betray you. But to quote Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (EKR)- "There are no mistakes, coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from" and "When you learn your lessons, the pain goes away", among others. I also remind myself of the concept of impermanence, and my pain too shall not last. Whatever works whenever, I hang on to it for dear life.

* In moments of some intellectual clarity and rationality, I reassessed what I believed in and looked at my relationship in that light. Meaning, I realized that the way I was treated may have been how they thought they were treating me kindly but the way the situation was handled and the timing of it was especially bad. The latter has been confirmed by friends over and over again. This says a lot about the character of the individual, something I would have never known otherwise. Would I want to be with this person if they called me tomorrow and wanted to get back together? I would be scared to say yes. Reassess your relationship in your moments of clarity and think of what you would say to a friend in your situation. EKR has another wonderful quote on giving ourselves unconditional love- something that I am only beginning to learn. Be nice to yourself.

* It is very natural to think of what could have been or how you would act if you bumped into them in the future. Giving them an earful sounds splendid in theory but think about what effect your words and deeds will have, and if you wish to be accountable for them. Hard as it may be, personally for me what gives me some peace is to think that no matter how many things I want to say to them, I don't want to spread more negativity in the universe. The universe will take care of what is negative out there- be it their actions or whatever. I am strong believer in Karma and I am not in charge to clean up the mess in the universe. It may sound strange but the thought of taking the high road and accepting that what was done to you was wrong but has a lesson for you to learn can be a huge relief in low moments.

* I dont have pets but I visit a friend with a pet often. And that animal just brings joy to my heart like no human can give me right now. Of course, I pet him senseless.

* I am very mindful of what I eat. No sugars, coffee, crazy man-made stuff.

* I cry to my hearts content- be it for grief or breakup. I give myself permission to cry.

* Again, the time of relationship matters. There are *always* people who are in longer relationships (unless you were together for 60 years or something) and these things happen. If they can survive, so can you, and so can I.

* I printed the answers from my previous question and highlighted the stuff that resonates strongly with me. When I get a bit down at work (quite an understatement), I have this and the quotes ready to read.

* Hard as it may be, I try hard to look forward and less into the past. Each day, each hour, each moment is a new opportunity and I don't know what it will bring to my life. If it is worse- then this is certainly not the worst. If its better, all the more reason to look forward to it.

* While I give myself the permission to do the stuff I like, I also do some of the stuff that I *think* I won't like. For instance, watch a movie. If I don't want to watch it, I still go ahead with friends (another good thing about friends- they drag you along- so say 'yes' more than 'no'). I dont care whether I enjoy it or not, I do it anyway.

I wasn't planning for this to be this long! But I think I am going to print it out for myself as well!!

I wish you peace and if you want to commiserate via email, I'll be happy to indulge. :)
posted by xm at 6:10 PM on January 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

Yeah, having a broken heart is no fun. It hurts real bad and nothing is good to you. And the worst part is you can’t think about anything else, how unhappy you are and how you’ll never be happy again. The problem is when you’re ruminating like this, you just go round and round thinking the same thoughts, over and over. So how do you break out of this cycle you’re locked in? One way would be to journal, because when you start writing, you can’t write the same thing over and over.

You can be sitting thinking “Why did she leave me”, “I'm so unhappy without her”, “I’ll never find another girl like her”, and think it a thousand times. But if your journaling, you can basically only write it once, and then you have to move on to another thought. I guess you could write 100 pages about how miserable you are, but I doubt you would. But even if you did, that circular thought pattern would be broken.

Many of the other ideas are about distracting yourself, which are good ideas but the caveat is can you get yourself to do any of them when you don’t feel like doing anything? I don’t know, maybe you can, and it’s certainly worth a try. Being a musician, naturally taking up an instrument is one of the first things that comes to my mind. Most people love music, and there’s nothing like being able to entertain yourself. Contrary to what many people think it’s really surprisingly easy with the right approach. Basically it’s learning to play songs you like as fast as possible while dispensing with scales, exercises and the like.

I play piano and guitar and have gotten lots of people started on both. Memail me if you’re interested, I’d be more than happy to show you a painless approach to either or both. And it’s something you’ll have for the rest of your life.

One other thing you might consider is doing some volunteer work. Might sound cliché, but it can really have a profound effect on you. It’s not that you’re seeing people worse off than you are and you feel better my comparison. It’s akin to the pleasure you get when you’re excited about giving someone a gift you know they’ll really like. But in this case, it’s a strange kinda thing, but the gift comes back to you. You could become a Big Brother or something, help some little kid who really needs someone in their life. Something to consider.

Ultimately what will fill the void you feel is some other girl. She’ll come along and win your heart and you’ll be on top of the world. And the only one here who doesn’t know that is you.
posted by PaulBGoode at 11:12 PM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

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