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Our Breaking Up Experts

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MJ Acharya

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Mike Riley

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Melissa Kantor

Melissa Kantor

Author of the young adult novel The Breakup Bible

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Lisa Steadman on Breaking Up

Lisa Steadman on Breaking Up

Lisa Steadman is a “multiple-breakup survivor” and proud of it. Also known as “The Relationship Journalist,” she’s the author of the book It’s a Breakup, Not a Breakdown: Getting over the Big One and Changing Your Life—for Good. She’s especially proud that the tips and techniques she used to cope with her “big breakup” have subsequently helped thousands of others in similar straits begin to view the end of a dysfunctional relationship as an opportunity to find true, lasting love. Here, Steadman explains the best ways to recover from a breakup.

How can people resist the urge to contact an ex when going through the first 30 days of breaking up?

Create a new set of rules and boundaries regarding your ex, because now that is what he or she is. Your ex is no longer the first person you call with any news. To make this rule easier to enforce, remove him or her from your IM, Myspace, email—all the primary ways you were usually in contact. The second crucial thing to do is create a support system to help you avoid that call. This core group of friends—at least three—should initially be available for around-the-clock supervision, as needed. They'll bring over pizza, give you hugs, remind you why you shouldn't reach out to your ex [and] that your life is on the brink of becoming something amazing rather than tragic. The third step is to find ways to fill your free time. Keeping busy will keep you from obsessing.

What is the most helpful breakup advice you have for the first 30 days?

Realize that the emotions you’re feeling are temporary. There is a lot of fear of the unknown and a lot of necessary sadness. Allowing yourself to feel these emotions helps you get on with your life much quicker than if you try to suppress them. One day you will wake up and say, “I’m done crying. My life is about a lot more than this relationship.”

Stop obsessing about what went wrong. You can’t fix or change it. Stop asking questions that won’t move you forward. Stop freaking out that your ex might move on before you do. That might happen or it might not. You can’t control someone else’s life. All that matters now is your healing. Basically just stop!

How can someone make sure that the first 30 days after a breakup results in self-discovery and not self-pity?

This really is a wonderful opportunity to recreate your life. What are the things you were always interested in trying but never had the time to pursue? Are there beloved hobbies you gave up because your ex didn’t like them? Often a partner sees us in a certain role and that can be stifling. Now you have the freedom to be yourself. Indulge that yen you’ve always had to try jewelry making, take a writing course or enroll in an Outward Bound wilderness adventure. The bottom line: Give yourself permission to discover and celebrate the life you want to have.

How can people deal with the fear that they will never find love again?

It’s natural to feel that way in the beginning. You look at married friends and think, “Why am I struggling so much, and it’s so easy for other people?”

Try to turn that around and realize that all it takes to be that happily married person is to find one right person. Relationships that don’t last are not failures. Rather, they are grooming you to learn who you really are and to discover what you really want.

What is the key factor to recovering from a breakup?

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Instead, practice the art of being patient. There are times you’ll get down on yourself for not progressing quickly enough through the stages of mourning. Or you might feel embarrassed or ashamed, especially if you got dumped. Again, this is temporary. If you’re honest, there is undoubtedly some relief in there as well. You’re out of a tough situation. Would you be patient with someone else going through a tough breakup? Sure you would. So give yourself the courtesy you would give that other person. You’re worth it.

How can someone succeed through the first 30 days of breaking up?

By making a conscious choice to view this difficult time as an opportunity to break away from something that wasn’t working, and to move on to something that will be better—much better.

What can people do to succeed after the first 30 days of a breakup?

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re totally OK. There will be times when you’re devastated and need a mental health day. That’s fine. Then pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go on with your fabulous new life.

SIGNATURE QUESTIONS

What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?

I embrace change. Even though the initial stages are scary, I find them exciting because I know I will wind up in a better place in life.

The best thing about change is…

…the sense of the unknown.

What is the best change you have ever made?

I went through a breakup, quit my job, rented out my condo and went on an amazing adventure spending a summer in Montana, my childhood home. I reconnected with who I was and what I wanted. That’s when I began working on my book and met the perfect man who is now my life partner. If I hadn’t found the guts, I wouldn’t have gotten here from there.

For more information on Lisa Steadman, visit www.lisasteadman.com.

Posted: 10/3/07