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5 Tips To Bounce Back The RIGHT Way

Going through a breakup? Admit it: It's easy to get tempted to do self-destructive things like booze binging, becoming anti-social, or begging him to come back. Here's how to avoid the pathetic path.

Newsflash: Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore's marriage is over. Sad, but this time, it's true. Whether we all saw it coming or not, we know that must hurt like hell. "It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I have decided to end my six-year marriage to Ashton," Demi said in a statement issued through her publicist.

We sure hope Demi's classy enough (and wiser with age, perhaps?) not to marry whichever backup stud happens to be waiting in the wings. But, for those of us not regularly featured on celebrity gossip shows and websites (even if the pain doesn't discriminate between who's famous and who's not), the rebound process is a little less predictable…and more difficult.

“Getting over a breakup can cause you to behave in ways you wouldn’t normally,” says Holly Pedersen, PhD, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Beverly Hills. If you can totally identify with Demi's pain right now, here's something to help you get through the heartbreak: we have red-flagged the most common rebound responses and got expert tips on how to deal. (If only we can share this with Demi, too.)

Rebound Impulse 1: To Go On A Booty Bender

When your happily-ever-after fantasy has been flushed down the toilet, your ego can shrink to the size of a flea…even if you were the one who did the dumping. “You might feel angry and lonely,” says Karl Scheibe, PhD, professor of psychology at Wesleyan University and author of The Drama of Everyday Life. “And in order to prove to yourself that you’re still attractive, you may feel tempted to sleep around.”

HOW TO REBOUND RIGHT: Granted, a hot roll in the hay can do wonders for your self-esteem, but you need to gauge your own booty hangover potential. Hooking up with a stranger leaves some women feeling empty, especially when they’re emotionally vulnerable. If you’re cool with casual sex, go for it; otherwise, it’s probably smart to leave your panties on. You can still get an ego boost from chatting up a guy. “Flirting makes you feel desirable and sexy, while retaining a sense of control, unlike a string of one-night stands,” says Scheibe.

Rebound Impulse 2: To Sink Into A Couch Coma

“You’re feeling rejected, confused, and hurt, which leads to isolation and fuels the depression,” says psychologist Larina Kase, PsyD, president of Performance and Success Coaching, in Philadelphia. It’s a vicious cycle, which is why it’s so hard to get back on your feet.

HOW TO REBOUND RIGHT: “When Mon broke up with me, all I wanted to do was lie on my couch,” remembers Melissa, 26. “After about two weeks of wallowing, I got sick of torturing myself and wanted to get my life back.”

Moral of the story: Cave dwelling lets you think things through and survey the damage of your broken heart. Just don’t overdo it! “It’s okay to spend the first weekend assessing the damage or even allowing yourself to mull it over when thoughts creep into your head,” says Kase. “But too much mental replay will send you into a downward spiral.”

Rebound Impulse 3: To Find A New Boyfriend

When a chick is suddenly single, she often finds herself jumping from one guy to the next in an attempt to fill that big gaping hole on the other side of the mattress…and in her heart. “That’s really just the way she distracts herself from the loss and pain she’s not dealing with,” explains Kase.

HOW TO REBOUND RIGHT: You’ve just endured an emotional root canal, and it can take a while for the pain and confusion to subside. Until it does, hang tight. “You may be more into the idea of a new guy than the actual guy,” says Kase. Embrace your new single status and date around to get a better idea of the type of guy you really click with.

Additionally, a little me-time allows you to process what led to the breakup so you don’t repeat past mistakes, a lesson that Erika, 26, learned: “John and I broke up after four years because I always had to light a fire under his butt to get him to do anything,” she says. “I never realized that his annoying lack of ambition was exactly like my father’s, which had always bothered me. To break the pattern, I spent the next six months casually dating energetic guys who seemed like they had a game plan and were a much better fit for me.”

Rebound Impulse 4: To Go On A Party Odyssey

While some rebounders hole up in solitude (see Impulse 2), others tend to rip it up like rock stars. “Excess partying is a form of escapism,” says Pedersen. “It can also be an attempt to punish yourself by behaving in self-destructive ways.”

HOW TO REBOUND RIGHT: The trick is to party within parameters. “Being social is healthy and keeps you moving forward,” says Kase. “If you start slipping at work, become lax with your appearance, or can’t drag yourself out of bed, there’s a good chance you’re overdoing it.”

Rebound Impulse 5: To Try To Get Him Back

Yeah, breaking up is hard to do, which explains why so many completely-wrong-for-each-other couples go back for rounds two and three. “Trying to get together again keeps you in a state of limbo,” says Scheibe.

HOW TO REBOUND RIGHT: Think of it this way: Calling him up just to say hi, driving by his house, or “accidentally” bumping into him keeps you in rebound remorse longer. “Every encounter adds recovery time, because you’re only prolonging the inevitable severing of ties,” says Kase.

Cathy, 23, figured that out after her breakup. “I’m finally at a place where I’m not crying all the time,” she says. “Why would I want to get back with him and undo the work I’ve done?”

Good point. But if you’re not as clearheaded, take drastic measures: Remove your ex from your buddy list, delete old e-mails, and pack away all those vacation snaps and other mushy mementos. The less you have to remember him by, the easier it will be to forget him and move on. “True perspective only comes with hindsight…and time,” says Kase. “That’s something you have to do alone.”

With additional reporting from Trixie Reyna

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