By Thomas Whitfield
Breakups flat out suck for everyone involved. About half of the people I see for therapy are currently seeking treatment because they want a relationship, want out of a relationship or are dealing with the end of one. Being LGBTQ, a breakup can often feel like another rejection of who we are, a familiar feeling for many. The majority of people dealing with a breakup think what they’re going through is entirely unique and no one understands their feelings, but the experience is surprisingly universal. Relationships are complicated, and so are breakups, but there are things you can do to help yourself heal. Here are a few questions I received about how to move on when you’re heartbroken.
My ex and I were together for about two years and broke up four months ago. I’m not over it. I honestly feel like I’m never going to be happy again. My friends who have been through this
seem to have been able to move on quicker. What do I do? – Male, Gay, 27
I hear similar things from so many clients. First, you have to acknowledge that “I’m never going to be happy again” is a thought, not a feeling. If you’re constantly thinking this irrational thought, it’s of course going to lead you to feel sad or even depressed. Was there ever a time, even a moment, where you were happy before the relationship? I’m sure there was, which means your happiness isn’t dependent on your relationship or partner. Second, when you have that thought, give yourself a more rational one. Something like, “I might not be happy right now, but I’ve been happy without this relationship in the past, and I don’t have to have it again in order to experience happiness.” Third, everyone handles relationships differently; don’t compare yourself to your friends. You’re going to be OK.
I’m fucking depressed. I’m not eating, not sleeping and I pretty much cry all the time. It’s been months, and pretty much none of my friends will listen to me anymore. I think they avoid me because I’m such a downer. – Male, Gay, 22
OK, tough love time. Cut. It. Out. You have to take care of yourself, even when it seems difficult. Make yourself eat when you’re not hungry and get on a regular sleep cycle (make a schedule, set alarms, stick to it). Join a gym, take some classes, meet new people. I’m not saying you need to get a gym body, but working out is great for the mind. You’ve got to force yourself to engage with the world. Yes, talking to friends can be very helpful, but don’t drive them nuts. Limit your venting to a period of time, not free ranting. Then don’t bring it up again. Allow yourself to be present with your friends, which will take your mind off the breakup. Notice that you’re making decisions all the time—deciding not to eat, not to sleep, not to engage with the world. Make the other choice, even when you might not want to. If this persists, find a therapist that can help you, preferably someone who practices cognitive behavioral therapy.
For everyone going through a breakup, fall in love again—with yourself. Take yourself on dates, the dates you’d want to go on if you were in a relationship. Spend time getting to know yourself more, and treat yourself the way you’d want a partner to treat you. And masturbate, a lot.