What now?
June 19, 2007 9:03 PM   Subscribe

Break Up Filter: How do I get my life back?

I broke up with my live in boyfriend a month and a half ago. I've just moved into a new place, but it honestly doesn't feel like a home without him. I work a lot (15 hours days this week, not typical), but I need none work related suggestions of things to do, activities, etc that will get my mind off not being with this guy whilst also helping me establish my own (solo) routine. I've joined a gym, am meeting some new people, but still struggling. I know time heals all wounds, blah blah, etc but how did you (maybe) go about rebuilding after a significantly traumatic break up?
posted by heavenstobetsy to Human Relations (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If your work schedule permits it, find some volunteer work. It doesn't have to be huge, maybe a couple hours a week. Pick cause that's important to you. For me, it was vollunteering at a kid's science camp. The kids made me feel needed and appreciated again, and I met many other interesting people who were volunteering along side me.
posted by The Coach LD at 10:01 PM on June 19, 2007

Try and remember all those things you wanted to do but didn't have enough time for because of the relationship. Do them.
posted by brool at 10:11 PM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Force a few activities by yourself alone, even if you don't feel like it, including going to the movies, museums etc.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:13 PM on June 19, 2007

what about your friends? i know i couldn't have made it through my break ups without my friends…especially the ones who let me go on and on (and on) about how much i missed the ex-bf—until i was done. but they also made me go out and do things and meet new people and they tried their darndest to make sure i was having fun.
posted by violetk at 10:19 PM on June 19, 2007

When I had a bad break up a number of years ago, I just decided I didn't want to be alone (because when I was alone all I did was think about the break up). And I dated ALOT even though I wasn't ready yet. I pretty much joined every club and organization I could think of. It actually worked for me. I ending up meeting a wonderful man just three months after the break up and I made some pretty good friends to boot.
posted by bananafish at 10:24 PM on June 19, 2007

Do you have things you forward to doing by yourself when you are home? It could be a hobby (genealogy, scrapbooking, photography) or a luxurious bath once a week or subscribe to netflix. Buy flowers for yourself to make your place look cheerful - because you deserve it. Decorate your bedroom, or at least put lots of pillows in interesting cases on the bed. Another idea is to try experimenting with cooking new foods - it helps make sure you have something to eat in the house and gives you a great way to impress your new friends when you have them over.
posted by metahawk at 10:29 PM on June 19, 2007

meeting someone new is a great way!
posted by Salvatorparadise at 10:33 PM on June 19, 2007

Seconding the volunteer work idea. Or, if more work just doesn't seem like fun, try something a bit different, like taking up knitting or crochet. There's a lot of local clubs for that sort of thing, and they tend to be very social, and very supportive groups.
posted by ysabet at 11:46 PM on June 19, 2007

violetk: "what about your friends? i know i couldn't have made it through my break ups without my friends…especially the ones who let me go on and on (and on) about how much i missed the ex-bf—until i was done. but they also made me go out and do things and meet new people and they tried their darndest to make sure i was having fun."

Totally. Tell your lady friends "distract me" and they should know what to do. It's woman instinct in times like this! Circle the wagons!

* Note: above inappplicable if your friends suck : (
posted by loiseau at 4:50 AM on June 20, 2007

Recipe for a rebound relationship: you broke up six weeks ago; you just moved to a new place; you are putting in long hours at work. Instead of rushing out and being busy and meeting new people, take some time to grieve for what you've lost. Don't be afraid to be alone for awhile.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:23 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

I would also endorse the suggestion of finding volunteer work to do. At the risk of sounding Pollyanna-ish, in times of emotional pain it really, really helps to find things outside of one's self to focus on, and the opportunity to do things to help others who are in significantly worse situations does a lot to restore one's sense of proportion.
posted by Kat Allison at 6:24 AM on June 20, 2007

Hobbies, hobbies, hobbies. That's what worked for me. I took up sewing my own clothes [see Craftster more crafty inspiration if you're so inclined) and hoola-hooping, and they honestly give me as much satisfaction as a man...often more! =)
posted by infinityjinx at 6:56 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd go with the volunteer option or hobbies you can do on your own. I would definitely not recommend dating yet, even if it's 'just friends' dating. One of my sisters is now seriously dating her 11th guy in a row, and there's been no time in between any of those 11 relationships. Her personality changes with each man she dates, and I think she still hasn't gotten over the first break-up. I firmly believe in healing time in between relationships, regardless of whether or not they ended amicably.

In your place, I think I'd work less (if possible) and get a pet, if that were an option. Sometimes you need a friend that will just be happy to see you and who will also cheer you up. Good luck!
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 6:58 AM on June 20, 2007

the volunteer thing works wonders. last year i had a bad breakup with a woman i dated almost 3 years. i immediately went to new orleans and volunteered for a week and i felt so great about myself and the people i met that it barely even mattered.

when i got back i started spending an hour or two at the gym per day and never looked back. between all the time i spent making other people's lives better, and time spent making my own better, i just felt euphoric and awesome.

which i think really aided in helping me to attract the women i've dated since her.

i also recommend libraries and coffeeshops. places where you can be alone in public. for me, it satisfies some of the want to be around others and still gives me time to think, decompress, and reflect on where i'm going and where i've been.
posted by kneelconqueso at 7:19 AM on June 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

All the activity suggestions above are good. But what I've learned is that after you break up with someone, it just takes a while to get used to being on your own again. If you're used to being with someone all the time, it just feels weird and uncomfortable and wrong to be alone. But give it time. Try to make your alone time pleasant, doing some of the things suggested above. Things will gradually feel less weird, more comfortable, and you will probably find you actually the independence and ability to do what you want, when you want. When you do get into a relationship down the road, you'll probably find you sort of miss this time when all your time was your own.
posted by messiejessie at 12:42 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Dance lessons. Seriously. Taking a ballroom or Argentine tango class forces you to get out there and interact with people in a low-key social way, yet you aren't required to hang out with them or even make small talk beyond, "Hi, my name's _____." You're there to learn and have fun, but unlike an art class or many volunteer opportunities, you actually need the other people to help you with the learning.

And you'll likely find that just going to the class opens up other social opportunities, because you'll hear about events at which you can practice your new skills. If you meet someone you like, then you can always propose a coffee date after class...when you feel ready.
posted by hsoltz at 1:19 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm going to second the notion of getting a pet. Of course, the decision to get a pet shouldn't be taken lightly -- but if you're at a place in your life where you can have one, and are committed to it, do think about. Having recently gone through a break up myself, I can sincerely say that there is something incredibly satisfying about coming home to my kitty every day. There are no bad days, no good days with her -- just purry kitty days!

Also, it is nice to have something that loves you and needs you without any real emotional baggage.
posted by rosethorn at 6:25 PM on June 20, 2007

Good question (and timely, since I just broke up with someone).

I definitely do the "alone in public" thing at coffeeshops and the like. Exercise is great if you're up to the challenge. Also, I really believe in the idea of cutting yourself some slack. If you're hard on yourself like I am, you think how you "should" be doing something productive and forward thinking with your time. However, when you're feelings are raw you sometimes need to read a trashy magazine, watch reality tv, or participate in whatever other mindless "guilty pleasures" you might normally feel, well, guilty about.

Good luck to you.
posted by mintchip at 6:56 PM on June 20, 2007

(Meant to say "when your feelings are raw")
posted by mintchip at 7:11 PM on June 20, 2007

Best answer: Oh, I so feel your pain. I broke up with my fiance and boyfriend of three years in March and it honestly felt like my entire world had been taken away. I had been working full time for about four years at that time while also getting my law degree part time at night. My life was work, school, come home and try to decompress enough to do it again the next day. Most of my social interaction involved our relationship. Needless to say, I was no pleasure to be around, had no balance in my life, and was just praying to hold onto the relationship long enough to graduate and right the ship again so that I could finally enjoy all that I was working for, including a marriage.

But, alas, it wasn't to be. And I've found myself, at 30, in a new apartment, living alone for the first time, and really trying to rebuild my life from what seems like scratch. It is quiet in there. And if I'm not careful to drink enough caffeine, really, really depressing. Because I'm studying for the bar this summer and continuing to work full time, I continue to lack the social life I want. Building friendships takes so much time and there is of course the post 30 single female attrition issue. (The number of cocktailing buddies out there continues to dwindle with every passing wedding season.)

So you want to know what I'm doing? Meetups. Freaking meetup.com. It's great for those of us with no time and following our breakups, no personal life. The people are nice, the bar to entry low, and you don't have to do much but log on occasionally and RSVP for stuff. Much like internet dating or any other online "social" thing, it gives you stuff to do while you're playing the fake it 'til you make it game with the social elements of your life. I heartily agree that you should just start dating, even though you might not think you're ready, and just throw yourself out there. Of course time heals all wounds but what you're (rightly) concerned about is right now, today, and the best advice I can give you is to find random people to go out and do stuff with. It will feel random, and slightly embarrassing (!) probably, to discuss with other people in your life, especially those that are happily married and can't fathom how desperate you must be to spend an evening at a dinner with strangers, but only you can make yourself happy and what I'm finding is that there are a lot of people out there that are in our position.

And here's one other thing that I am slowly learning is an integral part of this whole thing that will probably be as welcome as 'time heals all wounds'. You have to try to make yourself happy. As in authentically HAPPY. Which I know may feel impossible. I've taken to literally leaving little signs around my apartment with ridiculous things like "where's your smile?" on them. If nothing else I laugh at how retarded I am. People are drawn to other people that are happy and enjoy their life. I think it's probably the most important factor in bringing people into your life. So maybe spend some time reconnecting with the person you were before your last relationship or the last time when you felt like things were really gelling for you and you were psyched about tomorrow. And get back on track with that life and that person. Soon enough, you're weekends will be full again.
posted by smallstatic at 10:38 AM on June 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

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