Breaking up takes time, support

Sarika Jagtiani

Credit: Andrew popik

A heartache is like a hangover.

They’re both full of headaches and sometimes nausea.

People might blame themselves for the breakup and/or hangover: “If only I had cared a little more/a little less, I wouldn’t be in this situation.”

But most importantly, the only thing that will solve either problem is time, and eventually you should be able to love, or drink, again (even though you swore it off right before you fell asleep on the toilet bowl).

I know whereof I speak.

My worst breakup was Summer 2003, right before I started graduate school.

Nothing was going right, but I was in complete denial of this because I was in love.

It was easy to make excuses for him. He didn’t answer the phone when I called to tell him I was laid off.

He’s probably busy.

But he didn’t call back until the next day.

Well, he did have to work that night.

Danger, danger!

Soon after events like these, I got the call I’d imagine everyone dreads.

I cheated on you, he said.

I love you, he said.

And then he cried.

And then I told him that he should drive the eight hours to Philadelphia, where I was at the time of the call, let me slap him and then he could drive home.

Unfortunately, he didn’t oblige.

We did the whole face-to-face breakup talk and made (delusional) plans to work it out — to start over.

But we never did because I knew better. That, and I had waded through the humiliating waters of the self-help section and picked up a few books, all of which told me to take some time off, as did my shrink.

The thing to remember about breakups is that everyone goes through them at one time or another, so you’re not alone.

But another thing to keep in mind is that they don’t have to be heinous. They can be civilized, or at least respectful.

Let’s start with the actual breakup.

So, things aren’t going so well. You can’t stop checking out other guys, even when you’re out with your boyfriend, and he’s planning on taking you home to meet the parents during spring break.

Time for the basics of breakups, as taught by the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dating, by Dr. Judy Kuriansky, clinical psychologist and hostess of “Love Phones.”

If you’re the one to do the breaking up, do it respectfully. No phone breakups, no criticizing or blaming the other person, no unnecessarily mean one-liners such as, “You were horrible in bed.”

Does anyone actually bust that one out? According to Dr. Judy, they do. So don’t.

Another no-no is using one of Dr. Judy’s “Frightful Five,” which include gems such as “Let’s just be friends,” and “I love you, but I’m not ‘in love’ with you.”

I confess I’ve used the “friends” line. Sorry, Dr. Judy.

She also says to take responsibility for things you might have done, such as saying, “I’m not ready for a commitment.”

I think one or two of my exes should print this on t-shirts and start a club.

The point is, be respectful and don’t allow wiggle room so the other person can worm his or her way back in. Be firm.

Being rejected, on the other hand, is a whole other story.

According to the Idiot’s Guide, there are nine stages of rejection: denial, bargaining, loneliness, heartbreak, blame, depression, anger, acceptance and healing.

In other words, after realizing the phone’s not going to ring and going through the whole, “If I could just be a little less something and more something else” stage, you’re going to have to reconnect with old friends and family and avoid being lonely. Calling on old friends who might believe you’ve transferred schools as they haven’t seen you in months can be tough but necessary.

Besides hanging out with friends, you have to feel the heartbreak but know that you will be fine in time (remember: heartbreak = hangover).

Try not to blame too much and allow yourself to feel sad and angry without becoming bitter.

Temporary bitterness is OK, but try not to permanently scar yourself.

Finally, let it all sink in. It’s over; I’m fine, time to move on.

Moving on can include working out, which is great for mind and body and might just boost your dwindling self-esteem.

Moving on can also include getting involved in things that you wouldn’t have done while part of a couple.

I took ballet classes after my breakup, which was hilarious not only because I had an excuse to wear legwarmers, but because I mistakenly thought I’d get into that class and be transformed in Audrey Hepburn. I was more like Snuffleupagus in the grace department, but I loved the class anyway.

I realize this is all easier said than done, and for some it’s harder than for others. If you need help getting through a tough breakup, don’t hesitate to call a counselor, or get your doctor to recommend somebody. Trust me– — I know a lot of people who could benefit from a little therapy.

Sarika Jagtiani is a graduate student in journalism and is the Stater’s sex columnist. Contact her at [email protected].