Skip to content

How to get over a breakup

One moment you’re happily holding hands under the table, the next, he’s gone and you’re alone and miserable. Heart ache is inevitable, but it need not cripple you. We spoke to Janet Winterbourne, a Cape Town based specialist marital and relationship counsellor to get to the bottom of breaking up and moving on.

When a couple splits, you may find yourself emotionally drained or numb. “Numbness is a form of shock, whereby the body protects itself by shutting down until you are able to process what is happening. The mind needs time to assimilate and process what is happening and to plan forward, at which point the numbness recedes and coping mechanisms kick in,” says Janet. During this time of numbness, however, it is important to keep off the couch and away from the sulking corner.

Reconnect with yourself

Becoming single again can be strange, especially if you’ve been in a relationship for a long time. “Feelings of insecurity and confusion may surface as you need to adjust your view of yourself,” says Janet. You need to get back in touch with old friends and hobbies that were left neglected, as they will help you reconnect with who you were before the relationship. Janet also says than anger, shame and a sense of failure could manifest and that you must be kind to yourself when they do.

Get clarity

As we all recover at different rates, Janet says that, “there is no prescribed time as to when the pain of loss will be over. Some people never get over the loss, whereas others can move on quickly. We recover based on the damage caused by hurt and our own coping mechanisms.” It is therefore important not to push yourself to hard and to let the pain run its course. However, confusion regarding the break-up will stretch out the process as you will consciously and unconsciously try to figure out why it didn’t work out, what you did wrong and whether or not there really was ‘another girl.’ “Knowledge is power,” says Janet. “Learn to understand why you feel the way you do as it will help you make sense of what is happening.”

Speak to someone

Yes your BFF may be there for you every step of the way, but her opinions may not be objective as she will always have your feelings at heart. Janet suggests a “counseling environment where you can safely release your feelings and acquire coping mechanisms that can make you feel stronger,” adding that, “a non-judgmental ear and a place to vent safely can help with the recovery process.”

 … not your ex

“It is important to have questions answered, but once that is done, desist from engaging with your ex-partner and take time for yourself to recover and plan your way forward,” says Janet, adding that some people can find friendship after a split, “but this can prove to be confusing and counter-productive to healing.” She suggests spending time apart before tackling friendship, but this does not mean ducking and diving when you spot him in the grocery store.

A tip from us: Dress to impress after a split, as it will give you the much needed boost of confidence.

Keep calm and look happy. It. Will. Drive. Him. Mad.


Ready to start dating? If you’re planning taking your search for love digital, read these online dating tips first.


Share this article: