10 Step Guide To Not Just Surviving A Long-Term Relationship Breakdown, But Thriving

When the ‘ship goes down, you’d better be ready!

Let’s face it, any relationship breakdown sucks balls, big, hairy, old man balls! But when it’s someone who has been in your life for a long time it’s even harder.

Especially if you weren’t the one who ended it and still love them. That can be devastating. Even if you ended it and you’re happy to get out, it’s still a form of loss! Either way it’s a massive change in your life and we humans often have a hard time with big change.

Regardless, any relationship breakdown is a trauma, plain and simple. But the truth is, as a human, it’s going to happen to you at some point in your life, maybe even multiple times!

But often we don’t deal with it appropriately, or efficiently, mainly because we’ve never really been taught how to. It’s not like this stuff is being taught in schools. Hello class, today we’re covering uncontrollable sobbing curled up in a ball hugging a pillow covered in our own snot and tears…. Not going to happen.

This means we are often ill equipped to deal with it in the most healthy and effective way. This unresolved or badly dealt with trauma is what most people call baggage! We all know how sexy that is in a new relationship!

To make things harder we are battling chemicals our brain is creating, one study found that the brains of the heartsick can resemble the brains of those experiencing cocaine withdrawal1.

Yet breakups are often trivialised by everyone else not currently going through it, you know, it just happens man, we’ve all been there, move on! But this doesn’t help you mend your heart and process it all in a healthy way.

In this guide I’m going to break down some of the steps you can take to not only bounce back, but to own and boss it! To learn how to leave those suitcases on the massive whirly thingy at the airport!

Because, even though you may not feel it, if this heartache and loss is processed right, you’ll be back out there connecting with someone amazing soon, and you won’t be needing anything in those suitcases, especially your clothes…


1 – Grieve The Loss
2 – Get Structured
3 – Get Moving
4 – Eat Healthy
5 – Remove Reminders
6 – Reconnect With Old Friends
7 – Find Yourself
8 – Say No To Negative Habits
9 – Change Your Mindset
10 – Get Back Out There, With Honesty

1 – Grieve The Loss

There’s no way around this one. A relationship breakup is loss, plain and simple. Treat it as such!

In a safe place away from others, get mad, shout, scream, break something, get the fucking anger and pain out! If you repress these emotions they will just come back stronger, compressed, at the back of your mind, slowly eating away at you and any future relationship you have.

You don’t want this relationship to ruin something amazing with someone else. So, let’s process this properly. Like a grown up, well a grown up curled up in a ball sobbing uncontrollably. Don’t worry, we’ve all been here. Let it out man.

One thing I’d like to add is it can help to put a time limit on this. Maybe do it in bursts each day or maybe just put aside a weekend or a week so just collapse, feel the pain and fully experience it.

Doing this doesn’t mean you’re not a man. Humans have to process emotions to be healthy. Don’t let your male ego stop you from becoming awesome.

We also, however, don’t want this turning into a pity party or for a wallowing mindset to creep in. So, set a date to say “I’m done with this”. Then start getting back out into real life again by following the points below.

2 – Get Structured

When something as traumatic as a relationship ending we feel like our world has been turned upside down. As humans, we need stability and a feeling of safety.

The easiest way to get this feeling right now is with structure and routine. Your brain will thank you for it. Studies2 also show that routine helps you sleep better, and better sleep means better mental health and wellbeing. So, get up at the same time, have a morning routine you do every day. 

Have a night time routine to help you get ready for good sleep. Try and make it a habit so you just do it and your brain feels safe it knows what’s coming next.

3 – Get Moving

The science behind this is huge. There have been numerous studies that show the mental health benefits of exercise3.

When we move and do exercise we create all sorts of amazing chemicals that make us feel good. These will help to combat all the negative feelings we have.

This can also work well with the routines and habits. Put going to the gym or doing a home work out into your daily morning routine to double up the benefit.

Other activities could include running daily, do a class, play football, heck even knock-out some Pokemon go! 30 minutes brisk walking can have a positive impact.

There really is no excuse to not get up and do something that gets you active and moving. It can only benefit you. Do not skip this one, it’s that important!

4 – Eat Healthy

This linked with exercise will give your body and brain the best chance to process all the negative chemicals it’s producing right now.

By cutting out junk food and sticking to healthy whole foods, high in protein and low fat, you’re feeding your body the best fuel. You’re hurting so give your body the fuel it needs to help heal.

Also comfort eating can become a crutch and stop you from moving on with healing the trauma. Not taking this step means you will just start putting on the pounds, which will then knock how you feel about yourself. Did someone say square one?

So instead eat healthy and exercise and you’ll start to notice you’re losing some weight and look and feel better. That actually feel great doesn’t it. You’ll also look hotter naked. Grrrr, you little stud muffin you!

5 – Remove Reminders

This on its own won’t work. It won’t just magically make you fall out of love. But it can help you reduce the amount you think about them and stop you from getting caught in a spiral of going over the whole damn relationship over and over… The whole “I wonder… what if…” trying to work out why.

A better strategy is to remove reminders out of your life and schedule some time (that damn structures back!) to reflect and reappraise your thoughts about the relationship.

On your terms, for a healthy amount of time, no more obsessing! This approach is backed up by a study by Langeslag and Sanchez4. In the study they found that by negatively reappraising your relationship (seeing ex partners faults, issues within the relationship dynamic, etc), participants felt less “in love” with an ex, but this also made the participant feel bad.

Interestingly, distraction, or in our case, getting on with your life, improved participants’ moods. We can also add to this feel good factor by bringing in compassion for self. It’s ok to feel crappy or still have feelings, accepting this is a healthy way to process your thoughts and emotions.

By mainly getting on with our lives but structuring in times to reflect and reappraise or old relationship we can begin to heal and move on. Add in the self-compassion and you can still accept the loss and feel the pain, but it’s not about to sink the whole ship.

This is a great technique to wean yourself of that “love” drug. For your own mental health, delete their number, get rid of messages, presents, unfriend them, cut all contact! Remember you’re looking after you now!

Side note: If there are things that are sentimental and you think once you’re back fighting fit you’d like them, then package them up, save pictures on a USB stick or whatever and hide them well, well, away. 

Maybe even give them to someone else to look after. Anything less could trigger you so be ruthless. Be kind to yourself and get rid of anything that reminds you of them. Unless you have kids… apparently you can’t get rid of them!

Reconnect With Old Friends

6 – Reconnect With Old Friends

Quite often when in a relationship we lose touch with old friends. Especially if everyone’s in a relationship.

Life gets busy and friendships drop away. Re connect, reach out! Sure, some won’t be rekindled and that’s cool. If no one connects, go find some new friends. Join a club, go to bars, talk to people or invite people from work out.

Humans need social connection, it can lower anxiety and depression, promote higher self-esteem and empathy, regulate our emotions and also improve our immune systems.

All things that are going to help us over this break up. As an added bonus it will help us to gently flex that social muscle. Which now you’re free and single you’ll be needing a whole lot more!

7 – Find Yourself

We often end up losing ourselves a bit when in a relationship. Years have gone by, you’re bound to be different from the last time you were flying solo. A lot of people rush back into relationships without ever really getting to know who they are right now.

But working out who you are in the present, what you like and what you don’t is so important in healing. It kills the neediness to have to have someone in your life which will set up a much healthier dynamic in any future relationships.

We quite often fall into the trap of just having work and our relationship. This means if either one breaks down, 50% of our life is then in turmoil! 

Fill your life with lots of things. New things will keep you distracted from falling back into any old habits or negative thought patterns as you start to get excited about how much you are learning and growing.

Plus, if something drops off, it’s no longer 50% of our lives. We’ve got so many other things that bring us happiness.

So, go forth, find yourself, who you are. Try out new things. What have you always wanted to do but never had the time? What did your old partner never let you do? What crazy adventures can you go on? It will help you feel alive again! Pinky promise!

8 – Say No To Negative Habits

During this whole process I’d highly recommend staying away from any substance that numbs your feelings.

You can’t process them if they are numbed so it just keeps you trapped there for longer. Another major factor in this advice is that you’re more likely to want to contact someone you really shouldn’t and say or do something you’ll regret when you’re high or drunk. The odd beer is fine but if you are someone who can’t do an odd one, just don’t do it.

Another negative habit you may have that’s not so obvious is your boundaries.

Sometimes we let our boundaries slip which mean we can have people tread all over us or we can let other people mess up all our progress. You’ll need strong, healthy boundaries. Build these up by start making them in everyday life. Work out what you will and will not accept now you’re single. Stick to them.

If you’re following these steps there’s a good chance an ex will find out about just how well you’re coping and will be intrigued. They may get back in contact. Don’t do it.

Think of all the hard work you’ve put in! You’re now onto the path of a great single life that will attract amazing people to it. If you choose further down the line and you’re ready, you can contact them. But give yourself a few months to heal fully.

Until you can think about them being with someone else and be cool with it. You’re not ready. Finish the process properly.

9 – Change Your Mindset

By now you should be in a really good place. You’re being healthy and exercising. You feel great, you look great, you’re building a fun single life.

However, our mind has a way of bringing up things when we least expect it. This is why we should be working on our mindset daily.

Acceptance is the first step. You should have hopefully already done some of this during the healing journey. Now is the time to really accept the relationship for what it was. Good and bad, it happened.

Also seeing the positives in it and what you have learned. I think you know you’re well on the way when you can find gratitude for the relationship, start to finish.

Really healthy relationships where both parties are committed and loving don’t fail. Fact! So maybe this was a gift. It’s taught me some life lessons, I’ve grown from it and now I’m in an even better place to meet someone amazing, if I wish. No baggage, just lessons.

Get Back Out There Dating, With Honesty

10 – Get Back Out There Dating, With Honesty

Break ups can really knock our confidence.

They can make us feel unattractive and unloved and unwanted.

Even if we were the ones who left sometimes it’s been so long you’re not actually sure if you’re a viable sexual object and if anyone will ever find you sexy!

The common advice is “To get over someone, get under someone”. This advice can be very damaging if done too early or incorrectly.

Empty meaningless sex will leave you hollow. Yeah it feels good in the moment as you’re getting your willy wet, but just like drugs and alcohol, long term you won’t feel so great!

Make sure you’ve really gone through the grief, you’ve built up some self-esteem. When you do get back out there be honest about where you are.

Don’t go telling girls you want a relationship. Tell them you’re coming out of a bad break up but want to feel connected. Be honest. We’ve all had our heart broken so they’ll get it. If it’s not their thing move on.

Manipulating people to sleep with you will ultimately just make you feel shitty. But open honest naked times can massively boost your self esteem and confidence. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start seeing yourself the awesome catch you are!

Peace my brother and good luck!


1. Helen E. Fisher, Lucy L. Brown, Arthur Aron, Greg Strong and Debra Mashek (2010). Reward, Addiction, and Emotion Regulation Systems Associated With Rejection in Love. JNP https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00784.2009

2. Laura M Lyall, Cathy A Wyse, Nicholas Graham, Amy Ferguson, Donald M Lyall, Breda Cullen, et al. (2018). Association of disrupted circadian rhythmicity with mood disorders, subjective wellbeing, and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study of 91 105 participants from the UK Biobank. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30139-1

3. S. Saxena, M. Van Ommeren, K. C. Tang & T. P. Armstrong (2005) Mental health benefits of physical activity, Journal of Mental Health, 14:5, 445-451, DOI: 10.1080/09638230500270776

4. Langeslag, S. J. E., & Sanchez, M. E. (2018). Down-regulation of love feelings after a romantic break-up: Self-report and electrophysiological data. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147(5), 720–733. https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000360