Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

20 Tips for Surviving a Breakup

Broken heartWhether you were together for a decade or just a few months, are the dumper or the dumpee (although, let’s face it, the former is better), breakups suck. Unfortunately, they’re also a part of life and most of us at some point or another will experience one. Some of us will experience many. But the good news is we all get through them. And here are 20 tips for making them a little easier to deal with:



1. Change his name in your phone to “DON’T.” Don’t call, don’t answer, don’t text … just don’t.

2. While you’re at it, hide his or her feed on Facebook and all other social media.

3. Here’s how to change your Facebook relationship status without broadcasting to your entire Friends list that you’re suddenly single.

4. Join a breakup book club (or just read a/some breakup books on your own). Dear Wendy readers and I recommend; It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken; The Breakup Bible; Getting Past Your Breakup; and Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends.

5. Seek support and commiseration in the Dear Wendy forums! Sometimes confiding in people who don’t know you offline and aren’t personally connected to your ex makes it much easier to vent, cry, rage, and move on guilt-free. And unlike dealing with offline friends and family, if someone says something that pisses your off or hits a nerve you aren’t prepared to deal with just yet, you can shut off your computer and walk away.

6. You know how there was this thing that you LOVED to do that he HATED doing, like going dancing, or hitting the beach, or camping, or shopping, or bike riding, or drinking whiskey sours? Do that thing. A lot.

7. And you know how there was another thing that you did that drove him or her crazy, like watching trashy TV, or letting your dirty dishes pile up, or spending too much time on the internet, or spending an entire Sunday hanging out with your friends, or talking to your cat like she’s a person? Do that thing a lot, too. Especially hanging out with you friends.

8. Get a change of scenery. Book a flight, take a road trip, play tourist in your own town. Do SOMETHING that gets you out of your normal day-to-day environment and shows you something new. It doesn’t have to be some grand “Eat, Pray, Love” trip; it needn’t cost a lot. But changing your scenery will go a long way toward changing your mind frame and breaking you out of your breakup funk.

9. Do something nice for someone else. Maybe it’s counterintuitive; YOU’RE the one hurting, after all, right? But doing something nice for someone else — especially if it’s unexpected — feels good. And feeling good is a great antidote to, you know, feeling bad.

10. Make a breakup playlist. None of that sad shit, now. Fill it with empowering songs with strong female vocals — songs that make you want to climb on top of a table and shake your booty.

11. Climb on top of a table and shake your booty.

12. Go to karaoke, pick out a breakup anthem — maybe a favorite song from your breakup playlist (I like “Rolling in the Deep”) — and belt that shit out.

13. Host a potluck dinner party for a handful of your favorite single friends and ask everyone to bring a “breakup dish.” What’s a “breakup dish,” exactly? Well, I guess you’re about to find out!

14. Avoid online dating sites for, like, at least a month or two. I mean, it’s just depressing if you aren’t in the right frame of mind.

15. Also, avoid driving/walking/biking/commuting past your ex’s home or place of business until you can do it without secretly hoping you see him.

16. Push yourself physically — run a race, hike a mountain, bike to a nearby town, swim a mile. If you set a goal and train for it, you’ll not only release feel-good endorphins — a natural painkiller — you’ll give yourself something else to focus on besides your broken heart. Plus, you’ll feel like a badass when you reach your goal and remind yourself how capable you really are.

17. Losing weight on the breakup diet? Now you’ve got an excuse to go buy yourself a new outfit — something that makes you look and feel amazing.

18. Change up your routine. Take a different route to and from work. Go to a different grocery store. Try out a different gym. When you change patterns in your life, you change patterns in your mind, which helps you break out of a funk a little faster.

19. Eat well. It’s OK to have a weekend where you bury your face in a vat of ice cream, but after that, fill your body with stuff that makes it feel good — fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc. You need to keep your energy up when you’re fighting the sads.

20. Avoid dressing rooms with florescent lighting. That’s a general life tip, but good to remember when you’re going through a breakup.

71 comments… add one
  • iwannatalktosampson July 23, 2013, 1:37 pm

    Dude. I just rocked my breakup. I literally did every single one but 11 and 12. And Wendy didn’t mention getting back on the horse… but I did that too. Can you win a breakup?

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    • iwannatalktosampson July 23, 2013, 1:38 pm

      Oh INCLUDING – I’ve ran 2 half marathons and hiked my first 14er. Is it a good or a bad thing that I’m good at breakups?

      Reply Link
      • Taylor July 23, 2013, 2:34 pm

        A good thing! Nearly everyone has them, so might as well be well adjusted about it =)

      • Boosker July 23, 2013, 5:44 pm

        Oh man, when my friend’s almost fiance broke up with her, she dragged us on a strenuous 15 mile hike. So for that, I want credit for being a good breakup friend. That could be a whole different post. “So your BFF got dumped…”

      • iwannatalktosampson July 23, 2013, 5:47 pm

        Oh so they were pre-engaged?

    • Anna July 23, 2013, 11:48 pm

      Yes. I won my breakup. I’m completely independent with an awesome new career, a new car, a great apartment, and a group of terrific new friends. He’s 30 and lives with his parents, hates his job, and is in a relationship with someone who controls his every move just like he tried to control mine. I definitely won. 🙂

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  • lets_be_honest July 23, 2013, 1:47 pm

    if someone says something that pisses your off or hits a nerve you aren’t prepared to deal with just yet, you can shut off your computer and walk away.

    Wait, you can do that?!

    Reply Link
    • lemongrass July 23, 2013, 6:04 pm

      Maybe you can, I certainly can’t.

      Reply Link
  • cdobbs July 23, 2013, 2:19 pm

    not sure how true this is but: Neuroscientists at the University of California discovered that emotional pain is processed in the same area of the brain as physical pain, therefore, painkillers can be used to depress the negative feelings following a break-up….The three week study examined the response of people taking 1,000 mg of the painkiller Tylenol versus people taking a placebo….Those who were taking the Tylenol experienced a reduction of hurt feelings, while those taking the placebo continued to dwell on their break-up.

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    • Boosker July 23, 2013, 5:45 pm

      Yeah, Tylenol PM is a smart choice for those who are hurting too much to sleep.

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    • SpaceySteph July 23, 2013, 7:51 pm

      I didn’t sleep at all after my last breakup. And so I took Advil semi-regularly because not sleeping? Gives you headaches, y’all. I wonder how much more messed up I would have been if not for my painkiller habit?

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  • ktfran July 23, 2013, 2:23 pm

    No. 11. It totally works. My cousin and her boyfriend of five or six years broke up around Valentine’s day one year. I came over, we had a couple bottles of wine, pizza and rocked out to fun dance music. Yes, she was on the table. Shaking it. And I’m pretty sure she had a blast!

    The next few years, that became our V-day tradition. Until, you know, she got another boyfriend.

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  • Fabelle July 23, 2013, 2:29 pm

    I love all of these!

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  • veritek33 July 23, 2013, 2:40 pm

    Excellent list. I’ve done most of these since January. Except for the calling and texting….should have just put DON’T in the phone. Lesson learned.

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    • TECH July 23, 2013, 2:59 pm

      I had my ex boyfriend years ago now tell me he saved me in his phone as “DO NOT CALL”
      It was kind of disconcerting to know someone had saved me in their phone that way.

      Reply Link
      • veritek33 July 23, 2013, 3:20 pm

        I just deleted his number yesterday. And I sold a purse he bought me at a consignment store. IT’S BEEN SIX MONTHS. There’s no reason for me to call him ever again, right?

      • veritek33 July 23, 2013, 3:21 pm

        Also, I have a date tonight.

      • TECH July 23, 2013, 4:14 pm

        Oohh, can you come back and give us details on the date? I so need to start dating again but don’t know where to start.

      • veritek33 July 23, 2013, 4:37 pm

        Maybe I’ll start a forum thread tomorrow. It’s a guy who messaged me on match.com. He’s not typically the kind of person I’d be attracted to, but he seemed funny, so we’re going to a Thai place for dinner. It’s not very fancy, so a low pressure and cheap date. Hopefully at worst, it’s good practice for getting back out there.

      • applescruffs July 23, 2013, 8:27 pm


  • Classic July 23, 2013, 2:50 pm

    I am excellent at breaking up. I could go pro. Let me know if you want me to break up with someone for you.

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    • Addie Pray July 23, 2013, 3:45 pm

      I’m the worst at it. My usually involve crying and over eating for several months straight. Then when I’m done crying over him, I start crying over the weight I’ve gained.

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      • Addie Pray July 23, 2013, 3:45 pm

        ps, I’m done with my stupid rule.

      • Classic July 23, 2013, 3:56 pm

        That’s good news. You could fine-tune the rule. Like, make it so people have to log in at least once every four hours, unless they are asleep.

  • ICarriedAWatermelon July 23, 2013, 3:20 pm

    Holy timely post Wendy!! I’ve been in the process of breaking up for a week now and keep coming on here and I swear everything seems relevant- like the post today about location & love.

    And I almost started a forum thread but couldn’t figure it out and gave up. Cause I needed to vent to strangers about this because I can’t bring myself to discuss it with anyone IRL yet.

    BUT BUT -I am KICKING THIS BREAK UPS A$$- even though we’re in limbo I am ROCKING IT. I went to the movies myself, hung out with friends/family, have been jogging, cuddling my puppy, and generally feeling strong despite feeling like the wind got knocked out of me.

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    • lets_be_honest July 23, 2013, 3:22 pm

      Gahhhh, why didn’t I think of that commenter name before you!
      You are now my favorite. Stay strong favorite commenter.

      Reply Link
      • Roxy84 July 23, 2013, 3:50 pm

        I just saw dirty dancing on TV the other day

      • lets_be_honest July 23, 2013, 4:30 pm

        Greatest movie of all time.

      • ICarriedAWatermelon July 24, 2013, 9:27 am

        Aww thanks lbh!

        Although, right now I’m feeling much less “I carried a watermelon?” and a lot more “NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER!”

        Which is a good thing.

      • lets_be_honest July 24, 2013, 9:28 am

        Ok, I officially love you. I think everyone should describe themselves by using dirty dancing lines.

      • ICarriedAWatermelon July 24, 2013, 7:07 pm

        lbh I don’t have the link- but you should go to xojane.com and search dirty dancing- there is an awesome article on the subversive political messages in the movie. I saw it recently and loved it.

      • lets_be_honest July 24, 2013, 7:15 pm

        I saw that too! Made me love the movie even more.

    • Addie Pray July 24, 2013, 7:03 am

      Start a forum, watermelon! It’s on Wendy’s list so you gotta. Here are the 10-step instructions on how to do that:

      1. Log in
      2. Click on “Forums” in the links above
      3. Select a forum – e.g., General Chat, Give Advice/Get Advice
      4. Scroll down past the list of forums to the very bottom
      5. Fill in the title in the “Topic Title” line
      6. Fill in the box below the title with your story
      7. Mention AP for bonus points
      8. Hit submit
      9. Go into the forum and reply to your own post, so it bumps it to the side bar
      10. Go ahead and reply 3 more times so you dominate the Forum Activity side bar (and so I feel less bad about being the only one who does that)

      Reply Link
      • ICarriedAWatermelon July 24, 2013, 9:30 am

        Thanks AP I think I just might. I do have one friend who I’ve talked to about the situation and she’s been so supportive and helpful, but I’m still internalizing too much of this, which can’t be healthy.

      • ICarriedAWatermelon July 24, 2013, 12:32 pm

        I don’t see anywhere to fill in- it just says ‘you must be logged in to start a new topic’- but I’ve logged in like 8 times?

      • lets_be_honest July 24, 2013, 12:34 pm

        You have to log in on the side, not the bottom of the page.

      • Wendy July 24, 2013, 12:59 pm

        Over on the right sidebar and the very bottom, under “recent comments” is a spot for you to sigh up/ log into forums.

      • ICarriedAWatermelon July 24, 2013, 1:44 pm

        Oh man you guys, lurker alert- I blocked this site awhile ago because I needed to focus on work, but that only prevented me from logging in and participating, not visiting the site. 😛

    • eljay July 24, 2013, 12:33 pm


      And keep up the good work on the break up. Internet hugs to you!

      Reply Link
  • HmC July 23, 2013, 3:25 pm

    With little to no alteration, most of these are just excellent life tips in general. Do things you really enjoy, help others, eat well and move your body. Nice Wendy!

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  • Lyra July 23, 2013, 3:49 pm

    Ummm…so I broke up with ex #2 like, 20 days ago? And I’m already back to the online dating thing. But the weird thing is that I feel more ready to start dating now. When I met ex #2 back in January, it was more me trying to get over ex #1 than me wanting to get into a relationship again. But SURPRISE, I ended up in a relationship. Hellooooo, rebound guy. Now it’s like: “ok, I’ve got that out of my system, time to get back on the horse!” Even though it hasn’t been that long since breakup 2, I feel so much more prepared for a relationship now.

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    • Lyra July 23, 2013, 3:52 pm

      I haven’t even cried over him since the day it happened…even the very next day I was fine. I was sad, but felt fine overall.

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    • TECH July 23, 2013, 4:31 pm

      I’ll admit the main reason I’m hesitant to do online dating is because I’m afraid I would find my most recent ex boyfriend or another ex boyfriend on there. And I would probably be mortified. I live in a pretty small community so it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Rational fear? Irrational fear? Or should I just get over myself?

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      • iwannatalktosampson July 23, 2013, 4:42 pm

        Wellllll. So what if you run into them on the site? Is that really a big deal?

      • TECH July 23, 2013, 4:46 pm

        Ok good, it’s an irrational fear. Sometimes I just need a reality check. I don’t know why things like that bother me.

      • gillociraptor July 23, 2013, 4:48 pm

        Both rational AND irrational.

        If you run into an ex online, click something to say that you’re not interested in them, and hope that the profile doesn’t come up again (I am not an online dating expert, but I was on OKCupid and Match, and at one point, you could do that).

      • iwannatalktosampson July 23, 2013, 4:55 pm

        I’m curious about how it’s rational at all. I mean unless your ex was an abusive stalker – why should it matter? Is it the knowledge that they’re actually moving on that’s stressful. I might be missing something obvious here – but I just don’t get why it would be scary to cross your ex’s picture on a dating site.

      • TECH July 23, 2013, 5:00 pm

        I think it would just be a feeling of embarrassment. And I quite honestly can’t pinpoint why I would feel so embarrassed. Like maybe they would think, “Oh, she can’t find a boyfriend in real life.” But then again, they would be online too, so we’d both be in the same boat. I think it’s a combination of sadness to be moved on and feeling almost like a stranger to that person, as well as embarrassment that you’re still alone. I think online dating has a stigma for some people still. But I think I just really need to own up to the fact that my reservations about it are totally irrational and I just need to get over it.

      • Kate July 23, 2013, 7:02 pm

        It does kinda suck seeing your ex’s profile online. For me it was a bit of a jolt. But now he’s getting married to someone he met on Match, and so am I. So that’s success.

        Yes, you need to get over it. I’m not feeling any stigma around online dating. I don’t think there is one anymore. And online dating IS real life. It’s just a way to be exposed to more people you might want to go out with. Then you go meet them, in real life, and maybe have a real relationship.

      • gillociraptor July 23, 2013, 5:38 pm

        I think it depends on the nature of the breakup/the relationship.

        It wouldn’t bother me, but I could see being embarrassed by it (as TECH said), or if someone’s not over the breakup, being tempted to use it as an opportunity to get back into contact. I had an ex who used to send me emails every time he saw me out and about following our breakup; I’d imagine that if he ran into me on an online dating site, he’d do the same thing. I was good at ignoring him, but some people aren’t.

      • Copa July 23, 2013, 7:20 pm

        When I was online dating for that hot second I online dated, I did “run into” my ex. According to Match.com, we’re a 98% match. HA! In any case, I Googled how to block him on the site, and to do so I had to go through his profile, sooo I read his “About Me” and “About My Date” section. His profile made me pity him cause it had several pretty big lies on it — about his education level & job — that I think would turn off any dates. Admittedly, his “About My Date” momentarily stung a little; there were things about my personality he disliked and that section easily could’ve read, “I am looking for Copa’s opposite, particularly x, y, and z traits.” I dunno — something weird about how he was advertising himself as definitely NOT looking for things he used to nag me about being wasn’t the greatest feeling. And then I realized I actually didn’t give a shit, hit the block button, and got my first message from my now-boyfriend about 12 hours later.

        So yeah. That’s what it’s like. Not scary, but a little weird. Also kinda funny to see how he presents himself to potential dates. You won’t be forced to interact with him, and you can block him.

      • Kate July 23, 2013, 8:24 pm

        ha, that was kind of similar to what my ex did… I hid my profile so I could look at his without him knowing, and it was a lot of BS. Not outright lies, but just… you know, misrepresentation I guess. He had some very old pictures too. And it was all about how he’s looking for someone who shares his “passions,” blah blah, which used to be a hot topic with him… He’d be like, “oh, you would never do all this adventurous stuff I want to do,” blah blah, and I’d be like, “well when are you ever going to DO any of this stuff you talk about, and a lot of it I actually WOULD do.” Anyway, annoying. But not embarrassing by any means.

  • Kate July 23, 2013, 3:55 pm

    In addition to these tips, something that helped me was to go a little wild and do some scandalous stuff. It was a good distraction, and I could be like, hee hee, I did that.

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  • Addie Pray July 23, 2013, 4:00 pm

    I had a deep thought – I think the government should make every single person where a big red S on their chest, just so, like, when you’re in line waiting for your raw lunch, and there are two men standing right there, you know which one to waste your energy flirting with, you know? Also everyone should have to out themselves as gay or straight because then we could all just be more efficient with our flirting time, you know? I didn’t know where to put this deep thought so I’m putting it here. I honestly see no problems with this rule. There’s a place for big government.

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  • muchachaenlaventana July 23, 2013, 4:21 pm

    kind of failed at my break-up this weekend, but these are helpful as i restart the process and def good life tips in general. and thank you on #20; i don’t get why they don’t put the most flattering lights in dressing rooms, and not make them so gd hot. its like do you want me to buy this? because the combo of me now sweating profusely and seeing every perfection on my face is not making me want to do that.

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    • kerrycontrary July 23, 2013, 4:47 pm

      I totally agree about the dressing room thing. I usually look a million times worse in the average dressing room than I do in real life. And I always get sweaty and my hair gets messed up. And lets not even talk about how I get nauseated in Forever 21 due to all of the cheap fabric dye.

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      • muchachaenlaventana July 23, 2013, 4:50 pm

        forever21 is the absolute worst. i swear i can’t look like that in real life. not to mention after you navigate the incredibly overwhelming (2 floors) of just clothing everywhere and get to the dressing room with 20 things, and spend 2 hours trying it on only to be a sweating hot mess after; i literally have not bought anything from there myself in like 3 years except jewelry. I feel like the prices aren’t even worth the psychological upheaval of going into the store. ha

      • kerrycontrary July 23, 2013, 5:24 pm

        Yes I tried a Kelly Kapowski sort of outfit on there this weekend. It was fun and not something I would normally wear, and then I went “I’m not spending 40 bucks on this shit!”

  • muchachaenlaventana July 23, 2013, 4:25 pm

    *imperfection. HA woops that sounds so conceited and awful

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  • cdobbs July 23, 2013, 4:34 pm

    gotta add watching chic flicks….Bridesmaids!

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  • TECH July 23, 2013, 4:41 pm

    I’ve decided what every woman needs after she is fully healed from her breakup is to have her own version of the “Bachelorette”. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have 20 guys vying for your attention, all of whom claim to be “falling in love” with you and saying they can see you as their wife? And you get to go on all of these super romantic dates?
    I wish there were dating services that would give you your version of “The Bachelorette”. Wouldn’t that be such an ego boost?

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  • Lindsay July 23, 2013, 4:47 pm

    I started volunteering at a hospital after one breakup. The dude had broken up with me with the excuse that he was too busy (in reality, he was having a secret baby with his ex), so for whatever reason, I thought it was a good fuck-you to get busy doing things myself. I ended up doing it for a year and a half until I moved, and thought it was really fun, and I think it really helped convince me that I should seek out a helping profession.

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  • applescruffs July 23, 2013, 8:30 pm

    I started Say Yes 2013 post breakup. My favorite Say Yes so far has been the pole dancing classes. Ladies, that shit is fucking empowering, and I would have had no idea.

    Also, I like belting out country on post-breakup karaoke nights. 90s country. Like Patty Loveless. Blame it on your lying, cheating, cold dead beating, two timing double dealing mean mistreating loving heart. Now how can you NOT feel better after singing that to a crowded bar in a sexy dress?! I rest my case.

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    • TECH July 23, 2013, 8:39 pm

      Ohh, I like this Say Yes 2013. So does this mean you say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, basically? What are some other good Say Yeses? I think by far my biggest post breakup challenge has been making new friends and trying new things. Every day I try to challenge myself to “put myself out there” in some way. But it gets hard. Sometimes it feels like I try and try and try nothing good comes from it. So everybody, what is you best Say Yes?

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      • applescruffs July 24, 2013, 12:21 pm

        Yes to every opportunity, except ones that will cause me physical or emotional harm (e.g. I’m not going to say yes to an invitation to use meth or whatever). I say yes to opportunities to meet new people, to be set up on dates…I applied to that theater volunteer board, I found a type of beer I don’t REALLY hate (because I REALLY hate beer), I finally made it to my first movie since the theater shooting last year (a coworker and I decided the best way to deal with our secondary trauma was to see a children’s movie at 5 pm. Minions!), I’ve been hanging out more with my brothers and spending more time getting to know my sisters-in-law, my niece and I are totally becoming BFFs, and I made bagels from scratch. 🙂 Oh, and I’m getting lasik!

    • KKZ July 24, 2013, 10:59 am

      Yay another pole dance enthusiast! I’ve been at it for about three years and a hearty HEAR HEAR on the empowerment. United Pole Artists just wrapped up their second annual “Bringing Sexy Back” week, encouraging dancers to put on a really sensual show (kind of a counterpoint to the “pole is all about fitness” mentality). I filmed my video last night and felt like a superstar afterwards. And I still go back and look at my very first video and how awkward and nervous I felt doing body rolls and squats and stuff. Now it comes naturally and I love it!

      And I would SO recommend it as a post-breakup hobby, because especially when you’re single, you’re doing it for YOU and that’s where you find the empowerment. (Of course, I SO recommend it for anyone, regardless of age, gender or relationship status.)

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      • applescruffs July 24, 2013, 12:16 pm

        Yes! Hooray! That’s amazing. Floor work really clicked for me about a month ago. I’ve never taken a dance class in my life, but I LOVE pole.

  • SpaceySteph July 23, 2013, 7:54 pm

    Re: #6… maybe don’t do that thing that much, if that thing is whiskey sours, or other kinds of drinking.

    I did a ton of drinking after my last breakup, which led to waking up a lot of Sunday mornings on my coworker’s couch instead of in my own bed. (And once in his bed. Oops.)

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  • Alena July 23, 2013, 9:47 pm

    I have one to add!

    21. Get a much cooler job or hobby than your ex. And all of his/her friends. And yours.

    I now work at a zoo. Everyone I talk to about it thinks I’m awesome, because I work at the zoo. My ex is stuck in a job that makes him miserable. I feel a little bad for him, but I generally kind of forget because I’m being all awesome and working at the zoo.

    The other day I saw our coastal brown bear attack our grizzly bear. He was fine, so it was awesome. I needed to share this zoo story.

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    • Alena July 23, 2013, 9:52 pm

      Also, there’s a baby monkey. Cutest damn thing.

      I know a lot of the penguins’ names and can recognize them.

      Our male warthog is name Theodore, but is more often called Theadorable or T-pig.

      One of the chimps (who is occasionally not so well behaved and gets pissed at people) really likes me and will come visit me sometimes when I’m around.

      I could go on like this all day. Best summer job ever, despite the sweltering heat and the stress of working in a budgie aviary sometimes.

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  • 6napkinburger July 24, 2013, 1:53 pm

    Broke up with my BF this weekend. Well timed.

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