The first, and most important thing to acknowledge when you’ve been dumped is that it hurts. This might sound obvious, but it’s a step a lot of people skip over. Some people have this idea that feeling pain over rejection is for the immature or the insecure. And if that were the case, maybe it’d be easier to get over a bad breakup. But it’s not the case.
The truth is, getting rejected is one of the most painful things you’ll go through. Someone you love and care about chose a different path, and the wound that comes from that can run deep. When you get dumped, your life, your identity your future plans, your friendships and even your self-worth are thrown for a loop. It can kick off a serious season of depression. It’d be weird if you didn’t hurt.
Once you own that pain and accept that, yes, this does hurt, you can move on to dealing with it. There are no shortcuts. You’ll probably be feeling the sting of getting dumped for a long time. But you can do things during that time that will keep the pain from defining you and help you use this time to prepare for what God has next for your life.
This probably won’t happen neatly, or in order. You’ll have good and bad days where the things on this list will feel more or less achievable. Give yourself a lot of grace to do the best you can and, over time, you’ll find yourself getting better — little by little.
DO reach out to friends
You’re probably feeling very alone, since someone you considered your best friend just broke up with you, but it’s important that you don’t go through this by yourself. You still have people who love and support you, and they should be the first people you reach out to. You might want them to come over and watch movies. You might want to get out of the house with them. You might just want to talk. Whatever it is, don’t submit to the temptation to just sit alone all day. It won’t help.
DON’T reach out to your ex
A lot of movies have given us a very romantic idea of fighting for a relationship even after one person says it’s over. And, it’s true, that can happen. Sometimes. But generally speaking, your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend has made what they want very clear and you should respect that and give them space. Chances are, reaching out isn’t going to give you the answers or closure that you’re looking for and is only going to be salt in the wound. If you’re reaching the phone to call your ex, call a friend, family member or other trusted person instead and tell them how you’re feeling. It’s always the healthier move.
DO keep moving
When you’re hurting, you just want to curl up in bed until the bad feelings go away. But bad feelings fester in solitude, and no good will come from stewing alone. You don’t have to start training for a marathon (although you can) but you should do something. Take a walk. Do some yoga. Stretch. Even just getting out of your bedroom and into the kitchen is an accomplishment that will pay off on your overall mood. Endorphins are your friends right now. They won’t magically make you happier, but they’ll keep you from the lowest of lows.
DON’T self medicate
You want to make good decisions right now, and that starts with having all your faculties. It’s tempting to numb what you’re going through with different substances, but that’s a dark path you don’t want to start down. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself permission to indulge in some junk food when you’re feeling bad, but if you start leaning on alcohol, weed or other substances to get through a rough time, you might end up finding yourself in a much worse place than you already are.
DO process your feelings
Journaling, meditating or even just talking out loud can be very helpful for shining a light on how you’re actually doing. You probably feel like you’re in a yawning void and it’s hard to determine when or even if you’ll ever get through it. But the more time you take to process, the more you’ll be able to feel out the geography of your headspace and reorient yourself in the wake of your breakup. This may go without saying at this point but here it is: if you don’t have a counselor, now is a great time to start looking for one. We can help you there.
DON’T look for a rebound
Loneliness is overwhelming and it’s natural to want someone, anyone else to fill the void. You might be tempted to get back out there right away. You might even convince yourself that the first person who shows interest in you can fill that void. But now is the time to pump the breaks on your love life so that you can really heal from what you’re going through. A rebound relationship puts someone else in the awkward position of filling your ex’s shoes, and that’s not fair to them or ultimately helpful for you. As counterintuitive as it sounds, you don’t need a new relationship right now. You need some time to get over your last one.
DO start making some new memories
Pick up a new hobby. Plan a trip. Redecorate your living space. Change up your hairstyle. None of these things are magic tricks, but they can help set a tone for this surprise chapter in your life. You didn’t really plan on having to rethink your life, but now that you’re in this space, you might as well lean into it.
DON’T go to the spaces that remind you of them
If it sounds painful to go back there, avoid it. This can be easier said than done if you and your ex have classes together, work together, the same church or any number of other common communal spaces. But you can and should still minimize spending time in spaces that reopen that wound. It’s not brave to go back, and the benefits of doing so are overrated. Find something new instead.
Getting dumped is not too small of a thing to bring to God. “You discern my going out and my lying down,” the Psalmist wrote in Psalms 139:3. “You are familiar with all my ways.” God knows what you’re going through and really, truly cares about it. When you pray, you are connecting with someone who understands rejection, loneliness, disappointment and anger — someone who can give a peace that “surpasses understanding” (Phil 4:7).