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Breaking Up Without Breaking Down

Breaking up is the worst. Adjusting to life after you’ve ended a relationship you’ve emotionally, sexually, and financially invested in, is effing terrible, even if you’re the one who broke things off. Trust me, I break up a lot, and it never gets any easier. And while I can’t promise that I always follow my own advice to a tee every time a relationship goes belly-up, I can tell you that this simple roadmap will make adjusting to newly single life a lot less difficult.

Set Boundaries for Contact

Breakups can flatten you emotionally, but you’re going to have to keep it together enough to handle the practical parts of separating. Even if you and your ex-sweetie didn’t combine finances or cohabitate, chances are you’ll need to coordinate the return of a few personal items, fill out some paperwork, or negotiate who gets custody of the Netflix and HBO Go passwords. Be very clear about your needs in terms of scheduling, and be honest with yourself about whether or not you can handle seeing your ex face to face. Text messages and email are great ways to communicate effectively while still preserving some privacy if that’s what you need. If you’re dealing with big stuff like mortgages or vehicles, be sure to have a lawyer handle that. For the little things, see if a friend can help out by picking up those books you left at his apartment or dropping off that spare key you’re holding onto.

Go Easy on Mutual Friends

Speaking of friends, don’t be a jerk to the ones who know both of you! While “friendship custody” can definitely be a thing, don’t pressure your friends to cut ties with your former partner. If they want to talk about the breakup or what she’s up to now and you’re not in the mood, gently remind them that you’re hurting and that you’d prefer to steer clear of those topics. Do your best not to take out any residual anger, jealousy, or grief you have for your partner out on your pals, and be sure to check in before you launch into an unscheduled vent session. If you find that some friends are keeping their distance from you while staying buddy-buddy with your ex, respect their choice, but find a way to let them know if you’re feeling hurt by the loss of their friendship. In most cases, clearing up this awkwardness will get that relationship back on solid ground.

Indulge in Self-Care

Processing the end of a romance on top of your everyday obligations is tough. Schedule time out from your job, family obligations, and social life to pamper yourself. That can mean different things for different people–athletes might schedule in extra time at the gym or prepping for a half-marathon, foodies might take a day to tour a local farm and cook a gourmet meal, and fashionistas might start the day at the spa and finish up with a shopping spree. Also be sure to pamper yourself daily, taking time to reflect in your own way by meditating, journaling, or calling a friend to take emotional inventory and keep yourself in balance