"You will get through this and you will be stronger for it"KATE TOWSEY

At the start of Lent Term of my final year at Cambridge, my boyfriend of three and a half years broke up with me. I was totally devastated that the relationship had come to an end, yet also acutely aware of what an important time of my life I was in. Therefore, I was determined not to let the experience define my final months at university. I thought long and hard about what steps to take to stay strong and move forward as productively as possible. If you are going through something similar, I am so sorry and I hope you find my tips useful in this tough time:

Cut contact. Totally. I mean it

Fact: the person that hurt you cannot heal you. Believe me, I know it is so difficult to cut contact. Who will you confide in? Share memories with? Send pics of cute dogs to? The answer is not your ex. They may have been your best friend but they aren’t anymore, and if you try to reach out to them, the likelihood is that you’re only going to be disappointed. They aren’t going to slip back into being your bf/gf, you are going to be rebuffed or even worse… left on ‘read’. You may come up with countless excuses as to why you need to contact them but be honest with yourself and ask: will it change anything? (Spoiler: no.) Use all of your self-control and stop drafting messages/stalking their social media. You will be able to move on more quickly with fewer reminders and you will be proud of yourself for being strong. Unlike most things in life, with break-ups you regret the things you did do rather than the things you didn’t.

Be as gentle as you can with yourself

Your brain will find ways of blaming yourself for what has happened. You will remember all of the times you were not a perfect partner, or you will convince yourself that you’re not good enough. Please recognise that this is neither true nor productive. It takes two for a relationship to fail and quite often no one is really at fault. Criticising and blaming yourself will not change anything and will not help you heal.

Show yourself that being single is a totally liberating experience

Write a list and look at it often

I am not recommending a Mean Girls style burn book: in fact, please try to view your relationship with your ex as a positive experience. OK, so it didn’t work out, but don’t taint the happy memories or regret the time you invested. That being said, you need to adjust to the change, so do write a list of all of the reasons why your ex was not ‘the one’. Don’t be savage but be constructive, and ask yourself what was missing rather than criticising what you had. Look at this and convince yourself that this break-up is freeing you up to find that perfect person one day. Write another list noting what you’re going to gain from being single at this period in your life, you’ve got total freedom – you can read more, gym more, travel anywhere at a moment’s notice, spend less time on your phone. Show yourself that being single is a totally liberating experience.

Love your friends; let them care for you

Losing your partner should not make you feel unloved. I know they may have rejected you (their loss!) but I promise going through a break-up will show you how many people still bloody love you! If you’re a naturally independent person then it can be difficult to rely on people for support, but something I learned early on in my break-up is that it is important to let people care for you. To speed up the recovery process, let your friends know exactly how they can help you. I asked my friends to forget the flowers and chocolate (which I thought might make me feel too sorry for myself) and I told them that I would feel most sad and need their support in the evenings. A best friend actually forced me to sleep on a camp bed on her floor for the first few nights and she played a podcast to help me fall asleep – a total queen: if that isn’t love I don’t know what is!

Hair, make up, clothes (whatever makes you feel amazing)

I am not saying you’re not allowed to wallow in your PJs, eating ice-cream and watching countless episodes of Friends. But in my experience, making an effort with your outfit/hair/make-up will make you feel more put together and act as an armour on the tough days. At this difficult time I thoroughly recommend a bit of retail therapy: a face mask should not be the extent of your self-care, but superficial acts of kindness to yourself will act as a reminder that you are young, beautiful and deserve to feel fabulous!

Be prepared to push through but congratulate yourself on every small task completed

University is a tough place to go through a break-up: with countless commitments and deadlines, you probably don’t think you have time to be sad. But remember the saying ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ and do give yourself a few days off, watch some feel-good films, go on a long walk in the fresh air, visit home – essentially whatever you need to do to deal with the initial shock of the break-up. Talk to your DoS; I promise no matter how intimidating they may seem, they will understand and want to help you cope with your workload. Unfortunately, in life we often have to start picking up the pieces of ourselves sooner than feels natural, and you will have to start going to lectures before you are completely over the break-up. Make sure to congratulate yourself on every small task you achieve every day: getting ready in the morning (go you!), walking to lectures (like a boss!), sitting through the lecture (smashing it!), reading 10 pages (you’ve got this!). Whatever you do in this period of time is so impressive and a testament to your strength. You might not feel you are being as productive as you need to be, but every time you put one foot in front of the other you are moving forward.

Make a killer playlist – no sad songs

Music is a wonderful thing. Whatever you’re feeling, there is a song out there to remind you that you are not alone. To pick yourself up, please flood your brain with empowering songs. Let yourself be indoctrinated with self-love and positivity. Sad songs might be helpful when you need to have a quick cry (this is totally fine and understandable) but they will not help you to move forward. Instead opt for some bangers. (I can personally recommend ‘7 Rings’ by Ariana Grande and ‘Brave’ by Sara Bareilles!)

Do not move on until you’re ready!

A break-up will leave a hole in your life that your ex-partner once filled. It is important for your self-esteem and for your future relationships that you fill this void yourself. There is no prize awarded to you or your ex for moving on first. Do not rush into a relationship or look for someone to act as a quick fix. You are all you need, I promise, and one day you will look back on this process as important and formative.

I know it feels so hard but you will get through this and you will be stronger for it. Take it one day at a time, smile at every opportunity and remember you are an amazing person with much to look forward to!


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