Attention: Spoilers ahead! (just in case you haven’t seen it)
I watched “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” last night for about the fifth time. It’s a pretty funny flick, but after this viewing, I have determined there’s more to it than just crude humor.
The romantic comedy stars Jason Segal and Kristen Bell. Bell’s character, Sarah, dumps Segal’s character, Peter. The fact that he is buck naked as she breaks his heart is awkwardly humorous, yet irrelevant. Peter is devastated and, with the encouragement of a friend, sleeps with more than a handful of girls and then flies to Hawaii in order to lick his wounds. Of course, at the same hotel he arrives at, is his ex-girlfriend – with her new boyfriend. The story ensues as Rachel (Mila Kunis), the sexy receptionist allows Peter to stay in a suite for free, Peter follows Sarah and the new boyfriend around the resort, Peter falls for Rachel, Sarah wants Peter back, and ultimately, Peter chooses to follow his own dreams (of making a Dracula puppet show) and hopes one day Rachel will once again be by his side. All of this happens in one vacation to Hawaii.
Peter vacations to Hawaii three weeks after Sarah broke up with him. By the end of the vacation (which seems to last about a week), Peter is completely over Sarah and has moved on with Rachel.
Is this realistic? Is this healthy? I know, I know, this is just a movie. But many times, movies portray real-life situations. And in this case, a fairly common one – the art of healing and moving forward after a relationship ends.
It seems as if the consensus is that time is the most important factor in the healing process after a breakup. However, it is not just time that heals hearts. There’s no set amount of time, there’s no rule like the common myth “it takes two times the months you were in the relationship to get over it,” there are no predetermined paths to take. However long it takes, it’s what you do with that time that really determines whether or not your heart can heal.
Sure, take a day or two to wallow in your own self-pity. Use a friend’s shoulder to cry on while you try and figure out what went wrong, what you did to deserve this and how you can get them back. Once you’ve realized you’re better than that, that this relationship is not the end-all be-all of your existence, that you are ok, then you can focus your time on truly healing you. Each window of healing is different depending on the relationship; it is important to take all the time you need in order to fully heal before you establish something new.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is jumping into another relationship immediately after the previous one ended. Many people feel that if they can fill the void that was just left inside them, they never have to feel the pain and they can move on more quickly. This may be the case initially, however, just like in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” after Peter started falling for Rachel, he relapsed and hooked back up with Sarah (briefly). When you jump from relationship to relationship, you don’t let your heart heal. Instead, you rush into something else merely to replace what you just lost. More times than not, this doesn’t turn out well.
Another monumental mistake people tend to make is going back. No matter if you and your ex have decided to stay friends or make a clean break, it is so important to keep your distance. Especially in the first few weeks if not months after the breakup. This means don’t call, don’t text, don’t email, don’t Facebook stalk or chat online, and definitely don’t have sex. Once you feel you can talk on a completely friendly level, then you can reintroduce some of these communication methods. Except sex. It takes a long time to get over someone physically and if you buckle and go back to the sexual aspect of that relationship you will regret it. It’s not hard to get caught up in the moment, but it will be even harder to let it go again.
So, how do you use the time after a breakup wisely?
- Get a mani/pedi or a massage or do something that calms you.
- Get a haircut – it seems that all women get somewhat of a makeover after a breakup. It’s a great confidence booster. Rock that new hair!
- Spend time with your friends – your friends are the best tools to your healing process. They’re there to encourage, share laughs, share tears, and trash talk, of course.
- Watch movies (preferably not lovey-dovey ones)
- Write. I know for me, writing is my therapy. Write about it.
- Start a new hobby. Give yourself something to think about other than your heartbreak.
- Spend time with your family – while they’ll ask those prying questions you don’t want to answer, it’s good to talk about it and get things off your chest.
- Take a class. Learning new things is always a good way to move on. Plus, you’ll get a chance to meet some new people!
- Stay active. Work out or join a team and play a sport. Competitiveness will help you get your aggression out in a healthy way.
- Most importantly: LET GO. You have your life and your goals and dreams. Focus on them.
Breakups are never easy. But there are ways to bounce back to them healthfully and without hurting yourself even more. Just take a step back, put everything back in perspective, and move forward at full speed.