How to Really "Win" a Breakup, According to a Relationship Expert

Why do we feel like we have to "win" a breakup?
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DEAR DOCTOR. JENN,
My ex and I have been separated for a few months and I'm losing it. He lives his best life. His Instagram stories are filled with hot girls and cool events. I feel like I've "lost" the separation. I know I shouldn't care. And I feel really lame for doing this. How do I turn this around and get a better headspace? —Separation losers
Dear break-up loser,
We always lose when we compare our insides to the outside of our ex, which is his Instagram feed. All you see is a carefully curated story - most likely you want it to look like it lives big to your advantage! You torture yourself by looking even though we all do. According to a recent Squarespace survey conducted in collaboration with The Harris Pool, one in five Americans (20%) searches for their ex online at least once a week. For millennials, that number climbs to 40%. Social media allows us to stalk from afar, which only feeds obsession and prevents healing.
After the vulnerability and rejection that most breakups bring, it's human nature to want to prove to our exes (and anyone else who visits our social media page) that we are fabulous and desirable . Our ego is hurt. But revenge sex generally backfires, and these big parties make us feel more isolated and alone.
Despite our desire to "win" the breakup, keeping the score will only ever make you feel like a loser because no one wins when people are hurt and relationships end. It's very simple: you have to take focus off your ex and allow yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship and the partner. There are no shortcuts. You have to do this to really move forward - and ultimately, make a better partner and build a healthier relationship in the future.
So this is how you "win" ...
10 ways to "win" the breakup game
1. Avoid all contact.
This is my least popular therapeutic intervention. I know he's your best friend. They share a dog. You forgot your grandmother's antique brooch that she gave you on her deathbed in his house. She left her medication in your home. She has an important presentation at work and cannot be successful without your help. I've heard all of this before. The bottom line is, to get over your ex, you have to let go of what you have to do to "win". The most important step in your development at this point in the process is letting go. Every time you talk, send SMS, FaceTime, DM, Skype, Zoom, smoke signals or carrier pigeons, you tear off the scab and start bleeding again. You have to let it heal and the best way to do it is with no contact.
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2. Don't compare your inside to the outside.
Stop checking their social media. All you will see are superficial images that don't really tell you what is going on emotionally. Many people act by partying, sleeping around and doing things that look like fabulous fun, but often they just cover up the pain. You can drive yourself crazy doing some deep dive analysis while your best friend is looking at the next woman at the party they posted. This is wasted energy that you should spend improving yourself.
3. Stop running away from pain.
Don't be the one dealing in food, sex, drugs, or alcohol. Instead, let yourself feel the pain. We can't get around the pain, we have to go through it. Don't postpone it, just dive in. The sooner you mourn the loss, the sooner you will be over it. Embrace the pain. Get therapy (if the fee is an issue, contact local psychiatric clinics or use hotlines). Read books about grief and loss, breakups, divorce, and how childhood affects your relationship decisions.
4. Let yourself shine.
I'm not suggesting that you go on a crazy diet or have plastic surgery, but what I encourage is that you devote yourself to yourself. Get a good skin care routine. Find a gentle exercise that you enjoy. Start meditating. Get some sun. Take the time to improve your self-care game.
5. Forgive yourself.
Once we end a relationship, we tend to beat ourselves up. Sometimes we become obsessed with things that we may have said or done wrong. Sometimes we get mad at ourselves for taking shit we shouldn't have tolerated, or we criticize ourselves for not seeing something that was hidden from us. Beating yourself up over these things won't help your healing. It'll just hold you tight.
RELATED: The Only 4 Reasons to Get Back Together With Your Ex
6. Do a self-inventory.
With the exception of domestic violence situations, most relationship conflicts are a fifty-fifty dance. It may seem like one person is the "good guy" and one the "bad guy", but it's usually more complicated. We participate in the unhealthy systems that we help create. It takes tremendous strength and maturity to ask yourself, "What was my contribution to the unhealthy system? What could I have done better?" If you don't think about yourself, you will likely choose the same types of partners and continue to display the same harmful behaviors in your future relationships. Take the time to do this work so that you can stop unhealthy relationship patterns and make better choices next time.
7. Let go of your anger.
Notice that I didn't say you need to forgive your partner. Maybe it's too early to forgive, or maybe something they did was unforgivable. Either way, it will only hurt you to hold onto the anger. You can acknowledge that something terrible was done to you, when it did, and work to let go. This means that the other person does not receive a free ticket, but you can move on.
8. Find yourself.
So often do we get lost in a relationship. We are losing our identity. We're too busy to take a class, pursue a hobby we love, hang out with friends, or tackle a large project. If you feel like you've lost your identity, now is the time to find it, create it, or reinvent yourself. Take the time to get to know yourself. Date yourself. Court yourself. Ask yourself questions you've never asked before. The more you know and understand yourself, the more likely you are to attract the right person and love yourself too. When you love yourself, you enjoy your own company, which makes you less likely to settle for a relationship that is not in your best interests.
9. Pursue your passion.
Chase the things that set your soul on fire. And if you don't know what it is, take the time to find out. Your ex can't be your reason to get out of bed in the morning (and neither can your next S.O.). Find things that inspire you, get your creativity flowing and bring you joy.
10. Learn from your mistakes.
Beating yourself up for your mistakes (and we all do) won't help you. Learning from them is all about it. What did you learn from this relationship that can help you grow and be a better partner for your next love? This is how we continue to develop and become better pickers and partners.
Take the time to reflect, learn, and grow for yourself. The only time we lose the breakup game is when we don't learn from our relationships. Use what you had with that person as a stepping stone to jump off and grow from.
In Hump Day, the award-winning psychotherapist and TV presenter Dr. Jenn Mann your sex and relationship issues - unbiased and unfiltered.

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