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36 Healing Steps to Get Over Heartbreak & Deal with the Pain of Fixing It

There is nothing worse than having a broken heart. But you can learn how to get over a heartbreak so you can heal and move on. Here’s how to do it.

how to get over heartbreak

There is quite arguably nothing worse than a broken heart. Whether you suffer from the loss of someone you love through a breakup or through death, you might be asking how to get over a heartbreak. Everyone wishes that they had a magic wand, but they don’t.

When you have a broken heart, it feels like you can’t breathe or sometimes like you wish you weren’t breathing anymore.

Getting your heart broken will always be one of the most challenging life experiences in the world. It’s one of the most excruciating pains you will ever have to endure. 

By learning how to deal with heartbreak, you’re proving you’re stronger than you ever thought. [Read: How to get over a heartbreak – the guide to mend your heart]

No one wants to go through a breakup and begin the process of dealing with heartbreak. No matter if the relationship lasted five weeks or five years, if you liked someone and became emotionally invested in them, it can be very difficult when that ends.

Finding ways to get over it and move on are tricky, and there is no “one size fits all” solution that works for everyone. However, there are some tried and true methods that may just make you feel better.

Just do what you can do to move forward to a life without them, as much as it hurts. [Read: How to move on and deal with a break up with a smile]

What does heartbreak feel like? 

If you’re going through a heartbreak right now, then you know what it feels like. And if you’ve never experienced it, then count yourself among the lucky ones. But here are some key things a person experiences when they go through it.

1. Your brain interprets it as physical pain

When we feel pain, it’s because the signals are transmitted to our brain, regardless of whether they are emotional or physical. It might feel like you’re having a heart attack, even though you’re not.

The negative thoughts we have associated with heartbreak are causing our subconscious mind to feel the pain.

Grief is a very deep emotion that can mess up someone’s mental health and overall happiness. [Read: Painful stages of heartbreak and grief all of us go through after a breakup]

2. You feel like withdrawing

When you’re going through heartbreak, a lot of people feel like withdrawing and being alone. The physical pain you’re experiencing makes you want to withdraw from everyone and anything. The pain shocks your body sometimes too.

For a while, nothing will make sense to you. Your body and stress hormones play tricks on your mind and sometimes you wonder if you’re living in a nightmare. 

3. You feel depressed

Not only does it feel like you’re depressed, but you might also actually be clinically depressed for a while. Your brain goes through a lot of mental stress during the heartbreak process. [Read: How to help someone up when they’re feeling down and depressed]

Some people handle these feelings better than others. So, pay close attention to your body because it’s experiencing something that doesn’t feel good. Try to control your thoughts as much as you can so depression doesn’t get worse.

4. You feel rejected

Most people would rather be the one who does the rejecting instead of the one being rejected. That’s because everyone hates the feeling of rejection. It makes you feel unwanted and unworthy.

Rejection can damage your self-confidence, and only strong people can easily survive rejection. But keep your thoughts positive in order to get through it. [Read: 36 healthy ways to handle rejection and respond positively even if it hurts]

5. You might feel like it’s the end of the world

A breakup and the resulting heartbreak might feel like the end of the world. You think you will never recover and that you will never find love again.

But it’s obviously not the end of the world, regardless of what it feels like at the moment. You have to have an open mind and open heart and know that you will eventually feel normal again.

How long does it take to get over heartbreak? 

Since everyone is different, it’s difficult to give a definitive answer to this question, mostly because it depends on a lot of different factors. [Read: How long does it take to get over a breakup?]

However, there have been polls done of people who have recently broken up with their exes. Generally speaking, most people say it takes about 3.5 to 6 months to heal from a breakup. But if you’re heartbroken over a divorce, it will take a lot longer – maybe even years.

Here are several factors that determine how quickly you recover from heartbreak.

1. Your level of commitment

If you were very committed to your partner and deeply in love, then it will be more difficult to get over it.

However, if you were just enjoying the moment and didn’t see a future with them, then it will be easier to move on. [Read: What is commitment in a relationship and how do you know if you have it?]

2. Infidelity

If there was infidelity in the relationship, then that is another factor to consider. If you were the one who cheated on your partner, you might have done it because you were already emotionally checked out, so you’ll move on more quickly after the breakup. 

But if you were the one who was cheated on, then you will be heartbroken and feel rejected for a lot longer. This is especially true if you were blindsided and were happy with your partner.

3. Quality of the relationship

You can be married to someone for several decades but be incredibly unhappily married. Or you can be together for any amount of time and be madly in love. [Read: Healthy relationship – 27 signs, qualities, and what it looks like in real life]

So, how happy the person was in the relationship, and the perceived quality of it, is another determining factor to consider.

4. Who ended the relationship? 

Some people are mentally and emotionally distanced from their partners long before they pull the trigger and break up with them. In that scenario, if you’re the one who did the breaking up, then you should move on pretty quickly because you wanted it to end.

However, if your partner broke up with you unexpectedly – or even if it was expected – it hurts a lot more that way. You feel rejected, and it will take you longer to work through those negative feelings. [Read: Quick pick-me-ups for the recently brokenhearted]

How to get over a heartbreak

Loving someone makes an imprint on your heart and soul forever. When they leave, it feels like a hole left behind that never heals. The good news is, at some point, your heart will mend and it stops hurting so damn much.

1. Distraction is your new bestie

When suffering from a broken heart, the best way to mask it is to find things to distract you. If you sit and wallow in it, it only makes the heartache that much greater.

Nothing heals a broken heart but time. Sitting around doing nothing makes time pass way more slowly than occupying your mind and your emotions. [Read: 15 best feel-good movies for the brokenhearted]

2. Cry and let it out

We hate being vulnerable, but crying is healthy when we’re talking about a breakup. This is healthier than keeping everything inside and just bursting when you can’t handle the pain anymore. You need to let it all out, one way or another. 

Sometimes when we don’t just let things out, they sit and fester. Sure, there is a time to move on and stop crying. But if you don’t take the time to let it work its way through and let it all sink in, there will be a time when the emotions surface.

If you don’t deal with it now on a real level, you’ll continue to carry the pain and may not be able to heal from it. [Read: Letting go of someone you love – minus the bitterness]

Crying is important and healthy. Don’t feel like you shouldn’t do it.

Sometimes, the best thing to do when dealing with heartbreak is to put on the sappiest and most romantic film you can find, drink a large glass of wine, stuff chocolate into your face, and sob in your sweatpants. [Read: Ready for some tears? 20 movies that will make you cry]

3. Find support

There will be people in your life willing to let you throw your own pity party and others who skate over it and don’t want to be bothered.

If you want to get over a heartbreak, find someone who understands what you go through and won’t play the devil’s advocate, ignore your pain, or try to convince you it doesn’t just f*cking suck. Heartbreak f*cking sucks, and it is okay and much better just to say so.

4. Don’t only remember the good things

Sometimes when we lose someone, our minds only remember the things we will miss and not the things that were annoying.

If you’re trying to figure out how to get over a heartbreak, be realistic about what you had and what you didn’t. [Read: How to get over someone when your heart doesn’t want to]

If you broke up with someone, there was a reason why. Even if you don’t exactly know what it was. 

Think about all the things that didn’t make you happy. All the times you didn’t feel supported or secure, and ultimately, about how it is better to be alone than be with someone who wasn’t meant to be.

5. Don’t go on the rebound… or maybe you should?

The key to getting over heartbreak is not to attempt to fill it in with substitutes. Sure, somewhere in the future there will be other people to take the place left in your heart.

But sometimes you shouldn’t try to fill the hole you feel with random people. [Read: Relationship rebound – 43 signs and rules and how to have fun in one]

It only leaves you feeling lonelier and confused. Take the time to let your heart heal before you fill it up with things that stop it from mending.

On the other hand, you should never rush a rebound person, but it may be effective in getting over your heartbreak when you’re ready. 

However, if you aren’t ready to do so, you might end up projecting all your pain onto your rebound person. So, be sure you’re ready, and then feel free to go for it! [Read: Rebound relationships and why they’re good for you]

The best people for this are the ones you are incredibly attracted to but know you would never get into a new relationship with. The ones you drool over but find a bit cringy to have a conversation with.

This will build your confidence back up while ensuring that you don’t immediately get into a new relationship when you’re not actually ready.

6. Do focus on lessons learned

Sometimes the hardest part about heartbreak is not knowing what went wrong. If you don’t figure out what happened, the problem likely persists into your next relationship and beyond. [Read: Lessons your own experiences in love can teach you]

Try to take lessons with you to prevent you from getting hurt in the future. No relationship is wasted or useless if you find a lesson learned. 

Think about what you would have done differently. Next time, when your heart is mended and ready to love again, you won’t be heading down the same dead-end street.

7. Don’t beat yourself up

When learning how to deal with heartbreak, we often blame ourselves. We think we’re not good enough, or there’s something we didn’t do much of to make the relationship work.

But you need to realize that it takes two for a breakup to happen. [Read: How to forgive yourself and free yourself of the weight of guilt]

All too often we stay stuck in heartbreak to punish ourselves. A way of self-flogging, it doesn’t matter if you did something wrong or if the breakup was on you. It is over, and beating yourself up doesn’t do anything but prolong the misery.

There was a reason why you did what you did, whether subconsciously or on purpose. It was because something wasn’t right. 

You can’t try to put a puzzle together when the pieces don’t fit. It only leads to frustration and confusion. Forgive yourself, or you won’t ever be able to let go. [Read: How to forgive yourself & free yourself of the weight of guilt]

As soon as you understand that none of this was your fault, you will feel so much better. Relationships break down all the time. 

It’s sad, for sure, but it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you or that you should spend the rest of your life wallowing in self-pity.

8. Don’t try to rush through the grief

No one wants to hurt, but if you try to rush through the grieving process, there might be residual consequences. Often, we try to tell ourselves that we are over something when we really aren’t. [Read: Stages of grief in divorce and everything else in between]

We approach situations and relationships differently going forward because we never really got over or past the previous one that hurt so badly. Even if it hurts, you deal with your feelings and don’t try to rush the process.

It gets better, but just like any wound, it hurts until it has healed, whether you acknowledge it or not.

As cliché as this line sounds, time really does heal everything. So, all the wounds, anger, regret, pain, and loss you feel right now will fade away within time. You might still miss them by then, but the pain won’t feel as unbearable. [Read: How to get over your first love with a happy memory]

When you’re feeling heartbroken and miserable, it can be difficult to see it, but try to remember all the breakups that you’ve ever been through or all your friends who have wailed on your shoulder because they’ve felt like their lives were over, too.

They’ve all gotten over it, right? So, you will, too. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and you just need to wait for it.

9. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask

Sometimes, the shock of a breakup leaves us with our jaw hanging, wondering what went wrong. [Read: 20 real ways to get over being dumped, nurse your ego, and find closure]

If you were too stunned to ask the questions to find closure, and the breakup wasn’t a bad or violent one, it is okay to ask the questions you need to get past how you feel.

Asking for clarity from someone you once had a loving relationship with is totally okay and might just be the secret ingredient to being okay.

Heartbreak is one of the worst human feelings that you experience. As much as love elates, there is indescribable heartbreak in the horrible crash that sometimes follows. [Read: 20 most healing questions to ask your ex after a breakup to find closure]

Of course, you want to stop hurting… like NOW. But the reality is that losing someone and grieving the loss is a process. No matter how hard you try to run from or escape it, it follows you until you deal with it.

This is the only reasonable time you can talk to your ex – when you’re seeking answers.

If you really must put an end to all the questions in your mind about why you didn’t work, closure is a great way to get over heartbreak. [Read: How to say goodbye to someone you love and find closure and happiness]

But you also need to realize you will eventually get closure even without all the answers. Time apart from them will do that anyway.

10. Get some space

Once you have decided to call it a day in your relationship, it’s important that you give each other some breathing space. Even if everything ended amicably, if you continue to see and speak to each other all the time, it’s going to be impossible to move on.

As long as you keep seeing them, your heart will never heal from the pain. Letting go is tough, but if you don’t start somewhere, you can’t begin to recover. [Read: How to give space in a relationship and not drift apart]

11. Cut all ties

It doesn’t make you a bad person for cutting ties with your ex – it makes you human. In fact, this is connected with the first point above, which is creating space away from them. 

This means blocking or unfriending them on Facebook, deleting their number, blocking their email, etc.

Do everything you can to prevent yourself from thinking it’s a great idea to tell them how much you love/hate them at 3 am, after one too many shots. This also stops your ex from doing the same. [Read: How to stop thinking about someone you still like]

Block them or at the very least, mute their posts or unfriend them.

12. Don’t assume you will be friends

“Let’s still be friends” is probably one of the most overused lines when dealing with heartbreak and breakups. But in truth, it’s not always realistic. 

It’s difficult enough to see your ex after a breakup, but staying friends with them? You’re putting yourself through so much pain by tolerating a friendship with them. [Read: Can you be friends with an ex after a breakup?]

There’s too much pain and history to make a friendship work between exes. Of course, if you really can make it into the friendship zone, then well done. 

But for the initial breakup stages, it’s best to simply concentrate on getting your life back in order, not nurturing a friendship that’s unlikely to last.

13. Don’t use alcohol to make you feel better

Okay, let’s admit it. If we’re talking about ways to deal with heartbreak that aren’t exactly healthy, drinking is the first thing that comes to mind.

It makes you feel better instantly and helps you drown all your sorrows in the bottle of tequila. [Read: Stages of a breakup and how to get through them]

Let’s be clear – going out and getting out-of-your-mind drunk is not going to help matters.

You are far more likely to do something reckless, regrettable, and even dangerous if you’re up to your eyeballs in tequila.

You might end up drunk calling your ex or sleeping with the next person you see, all because you’re too caught up in your heartbreak. So, if you can help it, don’t drink as a way to get over your ex. [Read: 40 signs your ex has moved on *or not* and how to deal with the heartbreak]

14. Work out

If you’re looking for a healthier way to learn how to deal with heartbreak, exercise is the key. Unlike drinking, this is not a self-sabotaging approach to dealing with your heartbreak.

Nothing says “look how much better I am without you” to an ex than getting a killer body.

Besides, throwing yourself into an intense workout routine is a great way to feel good about yourself. Exercise releases endorphins, and the more you do it, the fitter and trimmer you’ll become. [Read: 25 inspirational tips to get motivated and work out]

15. Go for long walks

Getting plenty of alone time in the fresh air can do you the world of good. You can clear your head, think everything over, reason with yourself, and try to feel positive about things. 

Often, a good walk with our own thoughts amongst some beautiful scenery is just what the doctor ordered.

Also, a change of environment can do you a lot of good as staying at home and dwelling on the pain won’t get you anywhere. [Read: How to get through a breakup – 30 ways to get you back on track]

16. Be single for a while

Look, there’s nothing bad with being single. As boring and dull as it might seem since you’re coming out of a relationship, it can be fun being single. 

Just think of the things you weren’t able to do when you were in a relationship. All that freedom can feel like a breath of fresh air if you just appreciate it.

It’s easy to panic and get into the “Oh God I am going to die alone surrounded by 18 cats” mindset.

But if you spend time making your own life as fun and interesting as possible, you’ll end up so much happier. Remember, romance can wait, no matter how old you are. [Read: Staying in love or staying single?]

17. Plot revenge, but don’t act on it

Sometimes, you just want to get seriously angry, especially if you feel as though you’ve been wronged in the relationship. 

Plot a vicious and creative revenge that puts him down on his knees begging for you to take him back, as you stand over him in a fabulous ball gown laughing at the pathetic mess of a man he has become.

Getting angry is cool, talking about all the reasons why he was a horrible boyfriend *even if you don’t mean half of them* is cool.

However, breaking into his house and cutting holes in all of his favorite t-shirts is not cool. [Read: How to get back at your ex – 23 fun, classy ways to get revenge]

By all means, get mad at your ex, but don’t turn into a crazy person. Plotting but not going through with the plan is how you do that.

18. Spend time with loved ones

If there’s anyone who can make you feel much better about yourself, it’s your loved ones. So, spend as much time with them as you can, especially since you’re dealing with heartbreak. 

Your friends and family are the ones who will remind you that even if you lose someone, you still have so much love in your life. [Read: 100 juicy, sexual questions to ask friends and have a fun, naughty time]

It might feel like the end of the world, but we promise you, you’ll get over this. It’s easy to isolate yourself from your loved ones, but refrain from doing that if you want to learn how to deal with heartbreak.

19. Have a change of environment

A change of environment will do you a lot of good with your heartbreak. The more you spend time dwelling on yourself and staying at home, your feelings of pain and devastation will keep intensifying.

Have adventures and travel if you must. Just do whatever you need to do to stop thinking about them. This is a much better alternative than just staying in the same place where bittersweet memories surround you. [Read: 15 reasons why you should travel at least once a year]

20. Focus on improving yourself

The best way to learn how to deal with heartbreak is to improve yourself further. We know how much everything hurts, but you can’t dwell on those feelings of pain.

The only way you will get through this is if you focus on self-improvement rather than using self-sabotaging tactics for your heartbreak. Put all your energy into becoming better – not for your ex, but for yourself. [Read: How to improve yourself – 16 powerful secrets of self-improvement]

21. Realize why it had to end

Relationships end for various reasons, some of which are beyond our control or liking. So, if you want to really learn how to get over your heartbreak, hold on to the reasons it had to end. 

Maybe you weren’t suitable for one another, maybe something was missing, or maybe you just couldn’t provide one another with what you needed. 

A relationship will inevitably end if something is lacking, so you need to see why it had to end. [Read: 20 valid reasons to break up with someone]

22. Practice self-compassion

Self-compassion is so important when it comes to dealing with heartbreak. We all have this tendency to be harsh on ourselves when we’re going through something. However, treat yourself the way you would a friend.

If you wouldn’t be harsh to a friend who was upset, why would you do it to yourself? You need to treat yourself with kindness and compassion, especially during this phase of your life. [Read: How to be kind to yourself & others & love life instead of hating it]

23. Forgive them

If your ex cheated on you or betrayed you in some other way, then you probably hold a lot of resentment toward them. You are likely to be bitter and maybe even want to get revenge for how they hurt you.

But this does nothing to help you get through the heartbreak. As Buddha said, “holding on to resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” In other words, the only person you are really hurting is yourself. 

That’s why you need to forgive your ex – not for them, but for you. It’s a gift to yourself to let go of all that negative energy that you carry around in the form of resentment.

It will make you feel free once you do. [Read: How to forgive someone who hurt you and release the negativity inside]

24. Speak kindly to yourself

Regardless of whether you were the one who did the breaking up or not, you might still be down on yourself about things. If you cheated, then you might be beating yourself up and saying that you’re a bad person.

Or if your ex broke up with you, then you might have a lot of negative self-talk that says you’re not “good enough.” You might think you need to lose weight, get a better job, or improve yourself in a way that your ex would like.

But don’t do this to yourself. Be kind to yourself and try to have positive self-talk, not negative. There is nothing wrong with you. You’re perfect the way you are. [Read: Positive self-talk – what it is, where it comes from, and how to master it]

25. Believe in love

It’s very easy to get cynical and think that love is a bunch of BS. But don’t give up on love. Just because it didn’t work out with your ex doesn’t mean you won’t fall madly in love with someone else.

You just have to believe that everything happens for a reason. There is someone else out there for you that will be the right person. Your ex clearly wasn’t or else you’d still be together.

26. Write down what you feel in a journal

Journaling is very underrated. But it’s a very useful tool for people to work through their emotions.

There is something about putting a pen in your hand and writing things down on paper that makes things clearer for you. [Read: 45 truths and real questions to get to know yourself on a much deeper level]

You might want to write down all the reasons the relationship ended to keep reminding yourself of why it’s for the best that you broke up. Write down anything just so you can get the feelings out and try to deal with them more objectively.

27. Go to therapy

Sometimes, heartbreak is so deep that you can’t work through it by yourself. In this case, then you should go to therapy if you can afford it. 

Seeing a trained professional is a sign of strength, not weakness. They have many strategies you can try to get through your heartbreak faster and come out on the other end a lot happier. [Read: 33 steps to stop thinking about someone you like but can’t have]

How to help someone who is dealing with heartbreak

Maybe you’re not the one who is going through the heartbreak, but it’s someone you love. It can make you feel helpless, so you want to know how you can help them. Here are some things you can do.

1. Listen

Sometimes a heartbroken person just wants someone to lean on. They want to talk about their feelings, so you should be a good listener. You don’t even need to offer advice, just let them vent their emotions to you.

2. Reach out

Sure, your life is busy – everyone’s is. But try to make the time to reach out and check on them.

They might want to withdraw from life, so you can try to bring them out and reconnect with you and other people again. [Read: 30 touching ways to make someone feel better and help a sad friend]

3. Be practical

Depending on how deep their heartbreak is, think of some practical things you can do to help. You can offer help in terms of meal preparation, running some errands if needed, cleaning their house, or doing anything else to make their lives easier.

4. Don’t assume

A lot of people are really good at masking their true emotions. So, don’t assume that they’re okay just because they’re smiling and seem happy. A lot of depressed and miserable people go around with a smile on their faces and act happy.

5. Search for resources

If they can’t work through the heartbreak on their own or even with your help, you can try to find resources that can help them.

Whether it’s books they can read, support groups, or a therapist, they probably don’t have the energy to do it themselves. [Read: 21 steps to find yourself when you’ve lost your way and feel hopeless]

6. Tell them to stop comparing themselves to others

Most people compare themselves to other people. This isn’t a good habit because it makes people feel bad about themselves. So, tell them to stop doing that.

There is no competition in life. So, tell them to stop looking around at happy couples and think about what they’re missing out on.

7. Tell them not to feel embarrassed

The heartbroken person might pity themselves and feel embarrassed by their heartbreak or how their relationship ended. [Read: 17 life secrets to smile more often, feel great, and laugh your stress away]

But, just remind them that all people have gone through what they’re experiencing. They aren’t alone, and there is nothing to be embarrassed about.

So, how to deal with heartbreak?

It might seem impossible to deal with heartbreak, but you’ll get through this. You will fall in love again, and you will get hurt – that’s part of life. 

Just remember that you’re so much stronger than you think, and one heartbreak will never define you. It’s how you manage to get up that will define you.

[Read: How to find closure with yourself after a relationship]

Learning how to deal with heartbreak is one of the toughest jobs. Following these steps will help you get back on your feet and keep moving forward in life. 

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...