Breakups are the worst. Sometimes they're the worst because you have lost someone that you truly care about and will miss; sometimes they're the worst because you have put all your eggs in one person-size basket and that person-size basket unceremoniously dumps you; sometimes they're the worst because now what am I supposed to do with my time? Regardless if you are the dumper, the dumpee, it was mutual, or the other person just ghosted into the mist, getting over a breakup isn't easy. Here are a few proactive tricks to help you get through it.
1. Give yourself permission to be messy but only for a specific amount of time.
Women can be hard on themselves post-breakup. You're going to be sad, you're going to be angry, and you're going to be emotional. You should be. Breakups are sad, even if breaking up is the best thing that could have happened. You can't be a mess forever, but set an end date, and then take the time to be emotional and messy if you need it. Bonus: Breakups are the only acceptable time to show up to lunch in your pajamas clutching a jar of peanut butter.
2. Have a funeral for your dead relationship. Literally.
Just like mourning a death, there are stages of grieving a breakup. Instead of hoping the other person will come to their senses and come running back into your arms, or that you can somehow trick them into being yours again, you have to accept that your relationship is over. (The tricking thing never works anyway.) The best way to do this is with a funeral. Alone, or better yet with girlfriends while drinking, physically bury some memento from your relationship while giving an angry/heartfelt/drunken eulogy. Just acknowledge that it's over and you're moving on.
3a. Unfollow your ex everywhere.
There are many schools of thought on this, but by and large, looking at any images of your ex having fun/with other women/not being a miserable pile of tears will probably annoy the hell out of you. Unfollow everywhere, and yes, this includes your ex's friends and family, because you know you're just doing that to see your ex. How much did you really like his parents?
3b. Don't forget to double delete them from your iPhone.
You deleted Jason's contact from your phone, but if you go to messages and start typing "J-a" his name and number will still pop up. NO! No. But don't worry, if this happens, just tap the "i" icon next to his name and choose "Remove from recents." There, now he's double deleted and you won't be taken off guard by his name popping up.
4. Get your own account for everything.
This is important if you were with someone for a while and shared accounts for things. I have found that it's both time- and brain-consuming to do the busywork of setting up all your own stuff post-breakup, and as a bonus, it's also oddly empowering. Who needs love to buy bulk groceries? You don't!
5. Make a masturbation schedule and stick to it.
For a long time I thought that sexuality was just the sex you had with another person, and being in a relationship does not disabuse you of this notion. Being single, however, is an opportunity to reintroduce you to the idea that your sex life belongs to you and you alone, and if you're feeling kind, you may loan it out to other people on occasion. It also reminds you that there is more to your sexuality than just having sex. Get your masturbation schedule back on track as a single woman. Write some erotic slash fan fic about The Avengers. Watch porn. Take a class in anal. Get erotic massages. Sculpt your pubic hair into new shapes. Take a burlesque dance class. There is so much out there that you probably wouldn't have even considered while you were in a relationship.
6. Whenever you have a decision to make, ask yourself what you most want to do—not what your friends want to do or what your parents want you to do—and do that.
Remember all the things you used to do when you were single? Eating imitation crab meat for dinner? Watching endless marathons of America's Next Top Model? Waking up at 4 a.m. and deciding to dye your hair? All the things that you had to compromise while you were in a relationship—guess what?—you no longer have to! You maybe thought those things were sad while you were in a relationship, but they weren't sad—they were you living completely on your own terms, and it's time to get back into that uncompromising life.
7. Go to brunch.
Sometimes when you go through a breakup, you walk outside and look at the hustle and bustle of the world and think, HOW IS ANYONE ABLE TO GO TO WORK OR HAVE BRUNCH—DON'T THEY KNOW TRUE LOVE HAS DIED?! But it's true, the world continues to turn and exist and have birthdays and school projects and business meetings, despite the fact that you've gone through something terrible. Get out of your own misery by getting out into the world and gaining perspective for how tiny, ultimately, we are in the grand scheme of things. Volunteer. Go to a museum. Help clean your parents' garage. Help out a friend and don't make it about you.
8. Set up "on call shifts" for your friends.
"On call" is a thing my friends and I have been doing for a long time. When one of us is going through something, the rest of us set up a schedule and take turns being the receptacle for whatever emotions our troubled pal needs to get rid of. If she needs to watch old horror movies and not talk, someone's there. If she needs to weep and yell and hypothesize about the future, boom. All she has to do is text a code word. Set this up with a few of your friends. If Jessica's "shift" is Monday nights and you're having a rough Monday, all you need to do is send her the pizza emoji and she'll be there.
9. Take an inventory of your needs, and assign a new way to fill each one.
What did your relationship provide you? Really? Companionship? Not feeling alone? Intimacy? Sex? A date to all the weddings you have to go to? Once you get over the hysterical feelings, sit and think through (or talk through with a friend) what you actually got out of the relationship, good and bad. Realize that you deserve to have intimacy and companionship and sex and wedding dates, even if you aren't in a relationship, and seek out creative ways to have those needs met without being in a romantic relationship. For example, did you know that if your pal brushes your hair, it feels just as good as when a lover does it?
10. Stay single until you can feel chill about facing a weekend with no plans.
I don't believe that everyone has to be single for long periods of time, but I do believe that if you jump into a relationship immediately after terminating a relationship, you don't have enough time to properly mourn the first relationship. Often you end up cramming all the emotional baggage of the old relationship into the new one. When you're finally OK with the idea of spending a whole weekend with just your fun self and not crying even once is when you're probably OK to date again.
Emily V. Gordon is an L.A.-based writer and comedy producer, and a former couples therapist. You can find her making comedy happen on The Meltdown With Jonah and Kumail on Comedy Central, or writing about relationship and self-esteem issues on her Tumblr. You can also buy Super You, her self-improvement guide for women, here.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.