How To Kick Bad Love Habits After A Break-Up

By: Dan Cooper

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Whether you broke up with someone or were broken up with, many of us have created bad love habits with and because of our former partners that need to be broken. Perhaps you’re feeling the urge to call your ex all the time, or maybe you want to ‘accidentally’ run into them somewhere you know they’ll be. These are normal and perfectly acceptable feelings, but now that you’re no longer in a relationship, it’s time to kick these bad love habits. Now I’m not suggesting that you never long for another person again, or look forward to hearing someone’s voice – far from it. But after a breakup, with this particular person, at this particular time? Definitely.

Reframing After A Breakup

Another way to think about it is in terms of your health. If you’d decided that you were eating too much or smoking more than normal, you might in turn decide that your best plan of action is to stop smoking, go on a diet, or have a chat with a medical professional. But that also doesn’t mean that you’ll never eat or even smoke again. Your behaviors are completely up to you, and you’ll decide what behaviors are acceptable when you’ve kicked your love habits.

Identifying Triggers After A Breakup

The first step in the process of letting go of these love habits after a breakup is to look at your triggers – the things that might tempt you to seek contact with your ex again. These could be as innocuous as driving to work and feeling odd not seeing their coffee cup in the holder next to yours, or as obvious as your anniversary date.

Think about the events, places, things, people, and dates that you may need a bit of help maneuvering through in the next couple of weeks or months. Does eating alone in a restaurant trigger you after a breakup? Coming home to an empty house? Hearing the phone ring?

What To Do About Your Breakup Triggers

Once you’ve got a list of some of your after-a-break-up triggers, your next step is to brainstorm ideas of things and ways to feel good that you can do – instantly – to take your mind off things.

The premise behind this idea is simple: if you are able to distract yourself for an hour, the likelihood that you’ll want to succumb to a love trigger after a breakup is reduced considerably. As an example, think about the last time you really had to go to the bathroom but discovered that the closest restroom was quite a distance away. If something else caught your eye while en route to your destination, did you get distracted – even temporarily? Breaking a love habit is a similar concept, but considerably easier because its not a driving ‘need’, like going to the bathroom is.

What To Do After A Breakup

Depending on how challenging you’ve found yourself after a breakup period, you can either print out the ways to feel good after a breakup list and post it somewhere prominently, or create your own that you can refer to as needed. Make sure that you have things on your list that you find truly engrossing, fun, or even distracting, that you know you can do easily and without too much fanfare. Then, whenever you are compelled to contact your ex or see them, force yourself to do something on your list for at least an hour.

Each time you postpone your interest in your ex after a breakup – especially if you choose another activity that you find compelling – your love habit will slowly erode away from being a driving force in your life. And since your love habit isn’t a physiological response (like the bathroom example earlier), the need won’t come back any stronger after you’ve postponed it.

Need More Breakup Support? Some Other Coping Ideas

You may also find that after a breakup, you may still need more incentive to break your bad love habits. If you find yourself still longing for your ex even after you’ve postponed the thoughts for an hour, try providing yourself with a small but measurable reward for each hour you invest elsewhere. A piece of chocolate, perhaps? One dollar towards a purchase you’ve been saving up for? Whatever you decide, be consistent in your positive reward efforts.

Please note: for those of you unable to come up with any ideas that make you feel good, I strongly urge you to speak with a medical professional about the possibility of depression, as the decreased pleasure in things you previously enjoyed prior to the breakup can be a symptom. For more urgent assistance, such as feeling the need to do harm to yourself or your ex, please contact the crisis center in your area.

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