How to Get Over a Relationship or Friend Breakup

Posted: February 27, 2023 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 7 minutes

How to get over a breakupOne of the hardest things to learn in life is that some people were only meant to be around for a season of your life, a chapter in your story. Friends come and go, and relationships can be the same way. Maybe you both ended on good terms, or you still aren’t talking to each other because they blocked you on all their socials. Whatever the case, breakups of any kind can hurt your heart. Here are some ways that you can get over friendship and relationship breakups.

How to Get Over a Friend Breakup

According to psychologists, friendship breakups hurt a lot more because of a societal pressure to not openly express the same amount of grief over an ended friendship that you would a relationship. This is called disenfranchised grief, and it’s that bitter feeling that lingers when you think about the ex-friend in question. The loss of a friendship that you expected would be lasting and fulfilling can be extremely painful and jarring, and can even trigger trauma or PTSD responses.

1. Acknowledge your pain

The first step is to acknowledge your pain–if you bury it instead of confronting it, it can fester and hurt even more. Know that your grief is normal and valid. You can also examine what went wrong in the friendship. Maybe they were to blame, maybe you were, or maybe it was mutual. If toxic behavior was the culprit on either end or both ends, analyze this. Perhaps it was due to mental health troubles, or maybe it was caused by unawareness of boundaries or lack of boundary enforcement. Take this into account when moving forward with future friendships. See it, accept it, and move on.

2. Take care of yourself

It’s important to remember that your worth can only be determined by you, not anyone else. Make sure you’re keeping up with your hygiene and daily activities, and that you’re taking care of your body by eating. Keep yourself busy by finding a healthy coping mechanism, whether that’s painting, reading, going for a run, socializing with your friends, or experiencing a little pampering of your choice. If it’s healthy and makes you feel good, it’s self-care. Whatever you do, don’t sit in your bed and constantly think about what happened.

3. Talk to people you trust and who care about you

Whether that’s a family member, another friend or group of friends, a significant other, or a professional counselor, make sure you’re as honest as possible. It’s okay to get a little emotional–your support system will support you.

4. Routinely check up on your mental and emotional health.

If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, seek professional help immediately and remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You have lots of people who love and support you, and talking to a therapist can be the first step to helping you turn to those in your corner. Proactively managing your grief, sadness, or whatever emotional response you may be experiencing can aid in your emotional recovery from the friendship breakup. For more information about mental health and wellness resources, visit Southern Utah University's Counseling and Psychological Services.

How to Get Over a Relationship Breakup

The most difficult part about any relationship breakup is the lack of closure that often comes after the breakup. Regardless of who dumped who, if they cheated, or even if it was a mutual breakup, it can be easy to get lost in the “what if’s.” Studies have shown that having a broken heart is another form of grief. There’s actually a scientific name for that feeling; scientists call it an “ambiguous loss,” where you aren’t getting that closure over the ended relationship. The grief you feel can be a result of not just a lack of closure, or grief over the loss of a romantic partner, but it can also be traced back to a loss of dreams for the future with that person. It can be easy to isolate yourself and feel like you are alone, but the truth is, you’re far from alone. Here are some ways to help you recover from a relationship breakup.

1. Feel your feelings

It may not feel great to begin with, but trust that it will get better over time. Think of it like a physical injury where you’re not able to operate physically at your full capacity. If you broke your ankle, you’re not getting mad at yourself for missing leg day at the gym. You’re taking the time and means to recover properly so that you can be able to go back to the gym eventually without the fear of hurting yourself even worse. When it comes to your emotional recovery, take the time you need to feel your feelings. There’s no shame in having a good cry. In fact, science shows that letting it all out is good for you. When you cry, your body releases endorphins and oxytocin; chemicals that are meant to make you feel good. It can make you feel a bit numb, but given time, you’ll feel better.

2. Do the things that make you happy, with people that make you happy

Turn to what you love! Allow yourself to feel your feelings about the breakup for, say, a certain amount of time. Set a timer if you have to. Once the timer goes off, ask yourself what you need, or what would make you feel better. Read a book, take a bath, get a treat from your favorite ice cream place, or play a game with some friends. Often we shift away from things we like while in a relationship, so help yourself heal by going back to those things that brought you joy long before your ex did. Talk to your support system–friends, family, etc.–about what happened. And don’t worry about being a burden. The right people will want to help you and support you. If you lost touch with some of your support system while you were in the relationship, don’t be afraid to reach out and reconnect with those people. Own your mistakes if you need to, and touch base with those you can lean on.

3. Go through the mementos that you have of your ex

Consider if anything is really worth saving, and if it is, save it smartly. You don’t want to connect everything back to your ex. Don’t keep tabs on them, don’t post revenge content on social media, and don’t focus on them, period. The best thing to do is live your best life. Distance yourself from the relationship and take some time to date yourself before you get back out there. This can look like cooking a nice meal for yourself, having a movie night, the whole nine yards. Make new memories with the people in your circle. And remember, you are your own best partner!

4. Check in with yourself periodically

How are you feeling mentally and emotionally? Talk to a therapist if necessary. Similar to friendship breakups, if you’re having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, seek professional help immediately. Don’t rush back into the dating sphere, but don’t wait for closure for an unnecessarily long time. Accept that you may never get the apology or explanation you feel you deserve and are holding out for. People don’t like owning up to their mistakes. Instead of focusing on “I’ll be happy when…,” focus on making new memories and trying to date other people. Sure, some things may remind you of your ex from time to time, but that will eventually become less frequent. There is no perfect form of closure, no matter how well the relationship may have ended.


The most important thing to remember for breakups of any kind is that you are not alone. There are so many people in your life that love you and don’t want you to hurt. Turn to those people and remember to take care of yourself in the process.

For more information about mental health and wellness resources, visit SUU's mental health resources for students. Or visit SUU's Counseling and Psychological Services Office for couples and relationship counseling, and counseling for other concerns. You deserve the most love and respect the world has to offer, so don’t worry if you don’t feel the best following a breakup. The right partner will come.

Tags: Mental Health Student Life

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