{photo from Flickr} I know that I don't usually give dating advice on my blog, but I thought I'd put this out there since it's been ultimately helpful for me.

Being broken up with - especially when you are still really into the person - is super painful. It hurts all over. Your heart aches because of the dashed hope for a potential future with this person. Your brain aches and you beat yourself up over not seeing the signs or doing something different leading up to this. Your ego aches, making it really difficult to imagine someone ever loving you again. Etc. I get it. I've been the dumpee as much, if not more, than I've ever been the dumper and for anyone who says, "Being the dumper is more painful..." well, they are totally full of it and have probably never experienced being dumped.

About a year and a half ago, I read Helen Fishers, Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, which really saved my life. I swear. Having been dumped in a big way a couple months previous to reading it, I was still in the throes of pain. I was showing the world 'brave face' but inside I was a total mess. I'd go home every night after smiling and pretending I was okay and go into total mope mode. But after reading Helen's book, I realized that I wasn't moping because my ex was the best thing that ever happened to me and I'll never find anyone to take his place, it was because I continued to feed the brain chemicals that caused romantic love.

Yes. Seriously. Why we fall in love has very little to do with fate or stars or some other mystic and romantic notion. We fall in love because chemicals in our brains are triggered at the right time. I won't go into the chemicals in this post (you should read the book...very fascinating), but lemme just illustrate it with this one fact: falling in love is tightly related with the same brain chemical reaction to becoming addicted to drugs like cocaine or crack.

So after reading the book, I realized that I would need to de-toxify my body from my ex the same way as I would de-toxify my body from a drug. Here are some of the things I found worked well to 'break the habit':

  1. Zero contact. And I mean ZERO. None. Nada. Everytime you have contact: be it email, phone, in person, whaever...you are revving up those chemicals again. Just like if you were to say you quite cocaine, but do a 'bump' a day later. If there has to be logistical contact, keep it professional. No 'I miss you's' or 'I'm thinking of you's'. Even better, if you bring in a mutual friend to help you make handoffs (keys, etc.).
  2. No stalking either. I know that you desperately want to see if he/she is still thinking of you. But even if looking at his Twitter stream is tempting and will only take a second glance, don't do it. Even if he or she mentions they are feeling blue, too, can be misconstrued as something to hope for...which will strike up those chemicals once again. Bad. Unfollow him/her on Flickr, Twitter and everywhere else he or she regularly updates.
  3. Refrain from reliving moments. If you had a special song or there was a special place you went together or anything else that will trigger happier moments memories, avoid it. Eventually, you will learn to reclaim it. For yourself or with someone else who deserves your love.
  4. Keep yourself moving forward. Don't avoid your feelings. They are real. But wallowing only serves to feed the chemicals and keep you miserable. Find ways to positively move through the pain like working out, going to a conference to put your brain on a workout, read a good book, go out with your brilliant friends, dance, etc. Anything that will stimulate the other chemicals in your brain that will eradicate the love ones.
  5. Get over someone by getting under someone else. Okay. So this one is a bit dicey and to tell you the truth, I'm not very good at it. But according to the brain chemical theory, being ravished by a new suitor will jump start other chemicals that could be very good for you. Things to be careful with here: a. the person you are doing this with won't get hurt by a fling thing, b. this won't turn into a rebound relationship, c. you, yourself, are aware of what you are doing and you make the choice to feel good again and treat yourself, not to get back at whats-his-pickle.
  6. Be aware at every moment of the really awesome things in your life. Not in relation to him/her, but in relation to you. Just you. You have great friends. A good job. A great vocabulary. A fantastic wardrobe. Supportive parents. A good palette for wine. Whatever. You have talents and blessings and, well, it's not too corny to repeat them over and over to yourself at this moment...cause you need a happy distraction.

Love is like an addiction, so getting 'clean' when it isn't available to you anymore (through that desired person anyway), is not easy. But you make it even tougher on yourself if you prolong the addiction. Of course, you can do all of the above and it will still take time to get that person out of your system. I mean...you DID really love him/her, right? And you still DO. But at the risk of sounding crass...He/she has moved on. It's time for you to as well.