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How to do a Breakup Cleanse

Get Over Your Ex in Two Steps

After my last relationship ended, I decided to embark on a month long “breakup cleanse” in a solid attempt to examine what I could do differently to avoid another unnecessary shitstorm of emotions. I had only 3 rules for myself: 1) no dating apps, 2) regular journaling, and 3) focusing on fostering friendships and hobbies.  

On day 1 I didn’t even know I was doing a breakup cleanse. I was hungover AF at Toronto Pearson Airport, traveling with my ex on a flight where we were oh so fortunate enough to get seats next to each other despite checking in at completely different times, on a flight that was - of course - delayed. My ex was acting like a perfect gentleman, so instead of having a healthy dose of rage to help get through the day, I began the fun journey of self-doubt and second-guessing. We had common interests and some common values, future travel plans, and his friends and family were lovely. I knew that wasn’t enough to make or break a relationship though. There were key things missing so I knew that we had made the right decision, and prepared to brave the unavoidable sense of loss that would ensue. I braced myself for step one of the cleanse: feeling and digging deep.

Step One: Feel & Introspect

Breakups, or any other form of loss, hurt. And when we hurt we do things to make ourselves feel better, but sometimes at the expense of our longer term health and well-being. Doing things to escape negative emotions doesn’t teach us how to avoid the things that caused the negative emotions in the first place. I knew Mark Manson and others were right about pain and suffering being necessary for growth and learning, so I tried to dig deep to figure out what happened to minimize the chances of the same thing happening again. 

The first week was not enjoyable. It turns out part of the reason breakups suck so much is because they call into question your identity and your social status. Not being sure of who you are, where you stand, and not having a key support around makes you a little cray, but things can start to turn around sooner than you think.

Step Two: Live Your Life

Once the emotional drudgery was over, I started focusing on things like re-connecting with old friends, figuring out and working towards new goals (like buying my own place!), and planning my first solo trip (which ended up being wonderful). And around the end of week two, I decided some rules are made to be broken and decided to download good ol’ Tinder. In my experience it consisted of a lot of fizzled out conversations and entertaining overcompensatory pick-up lines, so I wasn’t expecting much, but was looking forward to dipping my feet back in the dating pool.

I ended up going on fun, non-creepy dates right off the bat, which ended up being a double-edged sword: it was exciting and reassuring, but at the time the thought of another relationship being within reach was borderline repulsive. I had just gotten out of one and definitely didn’t want to jump right back into couplehood. I wanted the time and freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted, and just didn’t have the emotional energy to invest in a relationship. Luckily my ex-landscaper, who I re-connected with through the wonderful world of online dating, was respectful of this and I was still able to focus on the broader goal of living my life despite breaking some of my own rules ;)

How do you get over breakups? Have you ever done a breakup cleanse? What do you think of the idea of a closing ceremony?

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