I remember my first "breakup."
The two of us had hung out four or five times on consecutive weekends. We had eaten pasta together at one of those fast-casual shopping mall restaurants. She and I had determined that "Hands Down" by Dashboard Confessional was on both of our top five of all-time lists (or whatever "all-time" means for a 16-year-old). She made up a nickname for me: Craigerdoodles, and our AOL instant message conversation never went dormant like so many of my other IM windows. So all of this being said, high-school-Craig was sure we were going steady.
Now of course, high-school-Craig was too timid to ask the all-important question of "how do we define this relationship?" So when I found out that she had always thought of me as a friend and was interested in someone else she met at the holiday party, our unreal relationship came to a very real end, and I do mean unreal in all senses of the word.
In the early days, my melodramatic self wasn't quite sure how to process these feelings of rejection and loss, juxtaposed to the previous feelings of romanticism and joy. I think I had a warped sense of what relationships were supposed to be because of movies like this:
My goodness, how many Mandy Moore movies did I watch? These movies had given me a warped and overly romanticized view of what relationships and love were supposed to be. But this was my first experience in what everyone calls "the breakup routine."
My High School Break-Up Routine
Step 1 (there's only one step) - stack up all of your emotional punk rock CDs (called "emo" back then) and exclusively listen to those songs on repeat, especially when in the security of your windows-up vehicle. Sing the lyrics as loud as you can and really feel the emotion in the song.
As it turns out, this methodology was quite common. I've peppered in the breakup routines of some of our fellow Yo! contributors. Here's Michelle's breakup routine:
First - stereotypically change my look (thanks all 00s rom-coms). Second - listen to early 00s emo music . Third - my mom usually gets me a "screw that person" T-shirt or "you go, girl" merch. Fourth - lay down in the middle of a room and be sad - Lilo style. Fifth - get up, and move on.
Have a guitar? Play the songs yourself. Here's David's breakup routine:
I listen to sad music, play sad music on guitar, and feel sad while getting fat eating tons of snacks.
Emo songs might do it for a 6-week (not-real) high school relationship, but how do you bring out the big guns for the real relationships in college? How do you live with yourself when you just can't seem to take off the rose-colored glasses that keep reminding you of the good times and the special moments?
My College & Early Adulthood Breakup Routine
Step 1 - stack up all of your emo CDs and exclusively listen to that playlist on repeat.
Did you think this was going to be different? Maybe the artists and songs on my list have drastically changed, but there's nothing like experiencing a song that is conveying the exact same emotion as you are feeling. Plus, there's a song for every occasion.
But there are always still the mementos, photos, movies, and little things that remind you of what you don't have. Timothy has this to say about those memories in his breakup routine:
I'm going straight for hypnosis. Put me under a trance, remove the person from my memory, snap your fingers, do whatever you have to do. As long as that person no longer exists in my brain, I'll pay or do whatever it takes to make that happen.
This brings me to step 2 - in lieu of knowing a hypnotist, gather all photos, gifts (under $100), and apparel and place them directly in the trash can: fewer mementos, fewer memories.
Finally, step 3, my favorite. Once the keepsakes of heartbreaking remembrance have been discarded and the playlist has been curated, open your phone, find their name, and press the "delete this contact" button while saying "time for you to go!" The best part? You'll be greeted by the following response from your phone: "Are you sure?" Oh, hell yeah.
We may have actually used all of the aforementioned tactics in each of our breakups, but in reality, authentic breakup wellness came with time and a little self-esteem. While every single breakup came with the question, "why the heck didn't that work?" and "what is wrong with me?" they also involved my friends telling me what will work in the future and what's right with me. I found that just being okay with the fact that I wasn't 100% okay helped me to accept myself and where I was at. Rather than focusing on why one isn't happy or why one should be happy, just be.
The Things I Didn't Think Of
Need more inspiration for your break-up routine? There's more where that came from. Ever heard of the "breakup bod?" Kerilyn describes it well:
The "Revenge Bod" is the ultimate way of getting back at your ex. Not only will you show off your hot new bod in the new clothes you'll buy to go on dates or nights out, but you can show your ex what they're missing. You can post photos of you looking smokin' hot in your workout clothes, sweat dripping, leaving little to the imagination. You'll be able to prove after all that the 5-10 pounds you put on during the relationship were their fault.
I found that long drives were a nice contemplative time to reflect and get introspective. A couple of members of our team took this idea and went the extra mile… literally. Here's Philip on his breakup routine:
Literally, move away as far away from them as possible. As a matter of fact, 6 hours away… by plane.
Then there's the international move. Taylor says:
If I were to ever go through a breakup, I'd like to think I'd sell my belongings, move to the Japanese countryside, start a mushroom farm or brewery, and never be heard from again. It's not a far-off scenario—I've heard tons of stories of women who go on to achieve great things after a breakup.
Finally, there's Dina's "no baked goods for you methodology":
Riding the chaotic waves of anger and sadness with blasting raging heavy metal and listening to sappy Jhene Aiko. It is quite a rollercoaster, but it is a much-needed cathartic ride. But the cherry on top is that I rage bake. I just bake and bake and bake. Not even to eat and gorge on my feelings, but instead to get my mind and body moving as I get restless. So I blast the music in the kitchen and pull out all the ingredients to make as many desserts as possible. I whisk eggs aggressively, thinking of the BS I put up with. I tend to forgo any salt in the recipe because my tears are a good enough substitute. I turn up the oven and shove the pan in there, and while it bakes, I think of how I am slowly cooking the loser who is no longer worth my time. Once I am done, I divide the goodies amongst friends and remember that I am a badass. The petty side of me never wants to open up my own bakery because I don't want past partners to be able to indulge in anything that I used to make them, even if they had to monetarily pay for it. At some point, I'll watch He's Just Not That Into You to hate on relationships (I know it isn't a bad movie, but during a breakup, I just have to watch it).