Breakups are brutal, and we rarely end a relationship with all of our feelings, regrets and issues off our chest. Instead, we’re left with a tornado of confusing emotions accumulating debris inside of us, potentially setting off some really bad decision-making. The post-breakup email would be at the top of that list. It’s totally understandable to want to send one last email — either for closure or answers or to explain yourself, but more often, as a medium for your residual hurt and anger. While all of those reasons seem really valid, you have to let go of the idea that sending the email will make you feel better. It most certainly won’t. DO NOT SEND A POST-BREAKUP EMAIL. Let me repeat that. DO NOT HIT SEND.
The only person who really gets hurt by sending out that post-breakup email is you. Unless your ex is a straight up sociopath, he already feels bad about breaking your heart, but sending a bitchy/snarky/sympathy-seeking/guilt-tripping/nailing-ass-to-wall email just lets him off the hook. You might think having the last word will make him feel worse, but in fact, they will actually make him feel better. Any negative feelings he had about you — you just validated them when you hit send.
The best bet is not to send it in the first place. At least, not until the emotion tornado has passed and you have some much-needed clarity and insight about the relationship. Here are some more productive alternatives to sending a post-breakup email. They can have the same cathartic effect during the most painful phase of your separation without all the mess. No matter what, take any of these suggestions over actually hitting send.
1.Write a letter. Some say this is the same as the email, but it’s not. First, the chance that you’ll actually get an envelope, address it, buy a stamp and march it over to the post office is so slight. Second, the physical act of writing pen and paper style is liberating. Sorting out what you are feeling on the page is helpful. Sending it is not. Like your journal or a diary, a broken-hearted breakup letter is just for you. Take your time. Write all the angry, hateful, resentful and yes, even childish thoughts and feelings you can think of in a letter, but do not send it.
What you’ve just done is give yourself a mini-therapy session and it’s free! Lock the letter away somewhere. I like to tuck mine in my high school copy of Billy Budd or inside an old journal. The beauty of the never-mailed breakup letter is that one day, years later, you’ll find it and it will make you laugh. I promise. I recently found one and wasn’t able to believe how hurt I was over that guy. I also couldn’t believe the shockingly bad poetry I wrote for him. There is something sweet about visiting a former version of yourself and realizing how much better your life is now – without him.
2. Go, do, eat or see the thing he hated. One of my best friend’s boyfriends had a severe peanut allergy. Anything with peanuts was forbidden, even for her. Once she’d eaten some Reese’s Pieces and tried to kiss him later. He tasted a little peanut butter on her breath and freaked out and grabbed the EpiPen. When he dumped her, she bought a huge jar of crunchy Jif peanut butter and went to town. It was a little victory that made her feel like she was giving him a private fuck you without really hurting anyone.
Reclaiming something that you avoided in your relationship is helpful. Maybe you had different tastes in music,he wasn’t a fan of hiking but you loved it, he hated sushi and you missed it, whatever it is, do it! Post-breakup is the time to be absolutely selfish. Indulge by spoiling yourself with the things he hated. You deserve it.
3. Burn it. I don’t want to sound like a pyro or anything, but fire is kind of awesome (in a safe, contained, sticking to all known fire codes type of way). Take that letter you wrote or even just write his name down (along with new ones you’ve given him like Liar, Cheater or Asshole) and burn it. There is a certain type of release watching his name slowly vanish with only ashes left behind. It has a liberating effect. Burning the name of the guy that broke your heart can help. Oh, but you might want to keep any burning to yourself because sometimes people think it’s weird. But nobody has to know about the fire but you.
4. Cut bangs. The easiest way to really change the way you look without too much commitment is to cut some bangs. Looking different can make you feel different. Everyone notices bangs, so people ask, “Hey, did you change your hair? You look great!” Instead of, “So what happened between you and so-and-so?” Change the conversation with those bangs.
I’m not saying you should do a “Girls”-style hair chopping, but subtle changes allow for bigger ones, like letting him go. And remember, there are awesome clip-in bangs that allow you to change your look if the fear of growing them out, or a nasty cowlick is stopping you.
5. Find your new anthem. Music can be a pretty powerful mood adjuster. Find an anthem for your breakup. Not a sad song that reminds you of him or about your heartbreak. No Radiohead, Coldplay, Ray LaMontagne, The Frames, country music or anything emo whatsoever. You need music to push you, to make you want to leave him, the relationship and all of your problems behind. Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable,” Christina’s “Stronger,” Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” Cee-Lo Green’s “F**k You,” and every track on Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill are some good examples.
Finding an anthem helps you channel your anger, which usually pushes you to workout. Working out will make you look and feel so much better (gotta love endorphins) and you will release your emotions in a positive way rather than indulging tearful, wine-soaked nights (not that there’s anything wrong with that but it tends to prolong the breakup pain rather than speed it up).
Getting through a breakup takes some time. But the urge to send a post-breakup email diminishes as days turn into weeks. Use these tips to get you through the initial phase, when willpower is weakest but the need for contact is at its strongest. It gets better. I promise.