We have heartache to thank for some of the best music ever written and the most moving films ever made. But as profoundly affecting as a good ballad or weepy can be, there's not much practical advice to be taken from them.
Breaking up with someone and being broken up with is painful, protracted - and often with long-lasting effects. Getting that elusive 'closure' can be particularly tricky in this online age, when a good old creep of your ex's profile is just a click away.
Step in Laura Yates, a brilliant break-up coach and writer who helps people through their heartbreak -whether they've instigated it, or are having to deal with it. In such an emotionally charged situation, we all make mistakes - and here's what she found to be the twelve most common traps we fall into, whether we're instigating the break-up, or on the receiving end.
1. Not accepting it's over
They refuse to accept what has happened and won’t allow the other person any breathing space after ending it. Being broken up with can feel like your world has been shattered - especially if it’s unexpected. The temptation is to do anything in your power to change your ex's mind but this is where 'crazy ex' syndrome can kick in. You need to respect their decision and give yourself (and them) time and space to think rationally about what’s happened and adjust.
2. The social media game
They try and 'get back' at them by posting passive-aggressive updates on social media. Aside from it usually being very obvious what you are doing, using social media in this way only ends up hurting you more as it keeps you focused on your ex and less on what matters now - you, moving forwards.
It's great to be able to go out there, rediscover yourself again and enjoy yourself but posting about it on social media purely for your ex's benefit is unnecessary. And usually, it's also untrue. So instead, place your attention on doing what you can to try and genuinely have a good time in the real world - not just saying you are in the hope that your ex will see it on Facebook.
3. Bothering their exes
They won't leave their ex alone and try and beg them to change their mind. If you make it your long term mission to keep hounding your ex, this will only further cement their decision in their minds that breaking up was the right thing to do. It might be incredibly tough but the only way to keep your dignity intact and be able to heal from the break-up, is to cut off that communication and bring the focus back to yourself.
4. The revenge game
They immediately date other people to try and show their ex what they're missing. Similar to the rebound relationship in the other example, this never feels good; particularly when you are doing this for the sole benefit of your ex. And you have to remember that there are someone else’s feelings in the equation here too. You don’t want to end up being the person bringing 'ex issues' into every new relationship or interaction.
5. Being the 'crazy ex'
They go to where they know their ex hangs out in the hope of casually 'bumping into them'. Again, you will only be regarded as the 'crazy ex' if you keep finding opportunities to be in the same vicinity as your ex.
6. Staying in touch with the family
They maintain too much communication with their ex’s friends and family. Your ex could think you are using their friends and family as a way of keeping that connection, which can be incredibly annoying and sometimes quite awkward. Even if you have mutual friends, you need a breather from anyone too close to your ex. You need to create time and emotional and physical distance.
7. Acting out
Instead of being open and honest about wanting to break-up with their partner, they withdraw or or 'act out', which results in upsetting the other person and leading to confusion about why they are behaving this way. There is a lack of respect and communication. Sometimes these things aren't necessarily done deliberately to upset their partner, but can be an easier alternative to facing the 'break-up conversation' and the potential conflict or intense emotions around that.
8. Being smug
They post on social media about what a great time they're having in this new phase of their single life. If you have broken up with someone, there is absolutely no need to use social media as a way to show how much better life is now. It can lead to so much unnecessary hurt and anxiety. So be mindful of how your ex must be feeling and keep your private life just that - private.
9. Attention seeking
They break-up with their partner because this is the most extreme length they can go to to get their partner to give them attention or see how unhappy something is making them. This is not a wise route to go down because it's a panic based action wrapped up entirely in fear and insecurity.
If you don't intend on seeing the break-up through and you're using it as a form of emotional manipulation, then it's not a sensible choice because it will likely backfire completely. So think about it carefully and if there are issues that you want to resolve, communication is the key to this.
10. Checking in
They try and keep communication going following breaking up with their ex and don't allow the other person space to heal and move on. It's unfair to do this, it's confusing for the other person and if you break-up with your partner you have to be prepared for the consequences of that which means they're not a part of your life in that way anymore. The same goes with maintaining frequent communication with your ex’s friends and family. Respect that they need physical and emotional distance from you.
11. 'Let's be friends'
They tell their ex that they want to stay friends. This can give your ex false hope that the relationship might not actually be over and it isn't allowing either of you the space to move forwards.
They jump straight into a rebound relationship. Taking time for yourself after a break-up is essential and jumping straight into something with someone else is usually a way to numb or distract yourself from what you're actually feeling. This will often come back up to bite you. So take that time to fully heal from your last relationship so you’re not taking any break-up 'residue' into your next one.