Treating the post-breakup Valentine’s

K. Montinola (The Philippine Star) - February 13, 2015 - 4:54pm

Like a bad rom-com, Valentine’s Day is coming up just as you’re newly single. Only recently you were one of those people you hated — googly-eyed, lovey-dovey happy. Now the one day of the year where you could have showed off is coming up, and all it does is make you relive the day it ended, the time when you felt like you were getting cut to bleed. You hate everything. You want it all to burn.

Valentine’s Day post-breakup is not pretty, but you might find that it’s your pride that is making you feel more aggravated. Breakups aren’t just embarrassing, they’re humiliating — they make you feel smaller than you are, and the hurt is something you might carry for a long time. There is a point though, where you have to completely let go of what other people think and just concentrate on properly caring for yourself.

Understand that a breakup is like a wound. How serious the harm is will vary depending on the circumstances, but basically even the “nice” breakups have some kind of hurt that needs to be addressed. It will hurt, sure, but you’re going to have to face that hurt before the healing can happen anyway — or else things will fester and scar.

So here is a quick guide to treating your post-breakup wounds over Valentine’s Day. Remember, it may sting.

Clean the wound and remove the dirt

If you haven’t already done so, make sure you’ve cleaned out your house — that is, in your mind as well as your actual home. Getting rid of the physical helps; give away or throw out all the “relationship booty” (items like gifts or borrowed shirts and the like), but be sure that you spend as much time cleaning out your state of mind.

Do not cling to the idea that you might maybe sort of get back together someday — consider that thought “dirt” and purge it. It’s over. It might take a while for your heart to understand, so you need your mind to help it move towards acceptance.

More dirt to remove form your mind: we could have worked it out, I could have saved the relationship, if only he did this instead of that… anything that makes you obsess over something that has passed, and anything you didn’t (and still don’t) have control over. It’s done.


An indefinite social media blackout is recommended after any breakup, so as much as possible treat it like a bad habit and don’t give in. The last thing you want is public, post-relationship drama. And all of it — yes, all of it — is unhelpful crap. If you need to vent via the written word, do so in private.

Take time instead to understand what you feel and why you feel that way. Are you sad because you feel betrayed or angry because you feel stupid? Are you begrudging people their happy feelings because you think you deserve it more than them?

Evaluate the relationship honestly. Every breakup happens for a reason, even if they aren’t all “good” reasons. The fact is one or both persons decided to end it, and it’s over. It will hurt to realise why it ended, because it will feel like love failed you. But it’s not a bad idea to recognize that one or both of you just did not love the other properly so you can move on.

Don’t wallow. You’re allowed to feel bad, because you’re human, and loneliness sets in to many of us. But don’t obsess over your own misery, because you would just be letting things fester in your open wound.

If you catch yourself feeling sorry for yourself, take a moment to acknowledge how you feel. Compartmentalize what part of you is “sad” about being “alone on Valentine’s Day” because you are self-conscious and your pride doesn’t like to be pitied, and what part is really and truly hurt.

Bandage, don’t expose the wound to the sun

Be on your guard when you go out, and don’t let anything anyone says creep in. Guard against toxic people. It’s usually easy to tell who are interested in your business for their own entertainment — don’t humor them, even if they’re your “friends.”

Nobody, no matter how “close” they are, has anything to do with your relationship except for the person you had the relationship with. And even that person shouldn’t be allowed near you for a long time. As much as possible, remove yourself from that person’s vicinity.

Still, do make plans. Just because the holiday “doesn’t apply” to you, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Do something you enjoy. If sitting in and eating copious amounts of ice cream in front of a laptop screen make you happy, go for it; if you’re just doing it to fill in the time, find something else.

Find your real friends. It’s as good a time as any to try new things. You might not feel like having fun yet, but attempting to go have fun and failing is miles better than not trying at all.

Don’t pick at scabs

When wounds begin to heal and form a scab, there is always the itch to pick at it. Remember that picking at your scabs can exacerbate scarring. Likewise, resist the temptation to pick and pick at your emotional hurts. It might feel satisfying at first to pick at every opportunity, but you can do yourself some permanent damage if you don’t learn to let go.

Don’t kid yourself about your envy. Valentine’s Day is going to feel like everyone is parading what you lost, and that’s just the way the wind blows. But if you at least recognise that this is what you feel, you can take steps to make sure it doesn’t ruin you.

Above all, don’t pretend that you don’t care. You can still care for someone but fully recognise that this person was not meant for you. You can even care for someone who was totally inept at caring for you; it does not make you weak. Residual feelings mean you felt very strongly about that person, and you just need time to let those feelings fade.

Reserve that part of you who loved, turn it towards yourself, and let it heal. Then one day, some day, not necessarily a Valentine’s Day, you might find yourself capable of loving someone again.

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