The joy of breakups: Can the end of a relationship really be positive?

New year, new you? How exciting. New year, newly dumped? Not quite as uplifting. Except, could it be?

Comedian Rosie Wilby’s book The Breakup Monologues – written after she was dumped by email in 2011 – is subtitled The Unexpected Joy Of Heartbreak.

Rosie, who is dubbed the ‘lesbian Louis Theroux’, has discovered ways to make heartbreak not only less devastating but actually empowering.

‘I’ve been researching the psychology of love for many years and have spoken to many academics and experts – and put myself through various weird and wonderful experiences,’ says Rosie.

‘So I hope I have picked up some helpful information along the way.’

Read on for Rosie’s ‘five best ways to get over a breakup’…

1. Harness your breakup energy

‘I know “the unexpected joy of heartbreak” can sound absolutely bonkers if you’ve just been dumped but I do think that after the dust has settled, this time can be an opportunity for self-discovery, reflection and healing. I believe that in the wake of a breakup, we’re our most authentic self and full of renewed potential. If only we can realise it.

‘Being in a relationship, while it can be lovely, is also incredibly demanding. So you’re free, baby! Now you have time and headspace to celebrate yourself. Start that business you’ve dreamed of, or go travelling and have the adventures you didn’t have time or headspace for when you were in cosy coupledom.

‘Harness this new, weird, energy – a bit vulnerable, a bit all over the place, a bit chaotic – and instead of directing it into revenge, turn it into a creative project.’


2. Give yourself permission to set your own timeline

‘I don’t like this idea that there is some kind of proportionality to healing – that somehow the length of time you should take to get over someone is proportional to the time you were together – that it should be half the time you were together.

That’s rubbish. We’re all individuals with our own baggage and we all take our own sweet time. I was still struggling with my breakup of a five-year relationship five years after it ended. I was like “that’s the whole duration again and I still don’t know why it went wrong or how to move forward.” That only started to become clear when I started to write about breakups.

‘Some flings can be the hardest to get over because those relationships are full of unexplored potential, you never saw their flaws and you never lived together and saw them pick their feet. They become idealised.’

3. Share your breakup story

‘When I set up The Breakup Monologues podcast (which inspired the book) I wanted to establish a place where people could talk about something that is a painful experience but perhaps, after some time, humour could be seen in it. That old adage of “tragedy + time = comedy’”.

‘What I didn’t realise, though, until I looked at scientific research, was there is real science that shows the more time we recall a painful experience, in safe surroundings, the less traumatic the memory of that experience becomes – because we are constantly rewiring our brains and adapting our memory of that event every time we tell it again.

‘So sharing our story – perhaps with nice people interacting with us, or an audience laughing with us – adapts the memories and they become the new memories and they help us move forward.’


4. Get out of your comfort zone

‘The period around a breakup is the ideal time to pull yourself out of your comfort zone. That may seem counter to what you want to do – to just stay in bed and listen to sad songs – but this is such a creative time and we can feel rewarded and boost our confidence by doing new, unexpected things.

‘After one breakup, I did comedy at a sex party. Before the sex rooms opened – not while they were having sex. I was the foreplay and, I’m telling you, you had to do a tight five minutes. It was a very different experience for me and that is a huge distraction from where you’re at.

‘Anything out of your comfort zone will change your routine, change your thinking, and give you a kick-start of adrenaline. Try stand-up comedy. Get super-fit. Get inspired.’

5. Hug a pet


‘If you don’t have one, borrow someone else’s. Stroking a pet releases oxytocin – called the cuddle hormone – and it’s one of the most wonderful chemicals for helping us feel bonded and connected.

‘If you have a dog, or have a friend who has a dog, take it for a walk. Dogs force you to be sociable. I’ve had people on the podcast who say, “Thank God I kept my dog after the breakup – because everyone talks to you – “How old is she? What breed is she?”

‘Whatever type of animal you’re able to spend time with, do. Our connection with them can make us feel more present and alive in the world. Plus animals are honest and authentic, and you can have a high-quality relationship with them. Not like duplicitous humans!

‘My aim with all of these tips is to get you back to feeling the best you while also discovering a “new” you. That’s very much how I tackle breakups. But, you know, eating chocolate is fine as well.’

The Breakup Monologues, is out in paperback today. The Breakup Monologues podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts. Rosie is on Twitter @rosiewilby. Check out rosiewilby.com

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