ross and rachel breakup
photo: Warner Bros./Friends

Falling in love for the first time is magical, but if it ends, it can feel like total torture. While it feels like the world is crashing around you, we are here to tell you that it isn't. Surviving your first break up is possible. 

As relationship experts and co-authors of The Heart of the Fight, we have five very important tips for you to follow if you've found yourself in the wake of of a heart break. 

1

Don’t blame. Take responsibility.

It’s easy to blame your partner for everything that went wrong, but it takes two to tango. You need to take responsibility for what you did that contributed to the failed relationship or to hang in there when your gut was telling you it wasn’t a fit. Even if his breakup was messy, in some way you allowed yourself to be treated poorly and you need to take responsibility for that so it doesn’t happen again. 

And that doesn’t mean you get to blame yourself for everything that went wrong, or beat yourself up, or torture yourself thinking about every possible thing you should have done differently.

Neither of you gets to take more than 50% blame.

2

Don’t whine. Identify and learn your lessons.

You’re hurting and will want to be comforted, but don’t just whine and wail. It’s OK — and even necessary — to cry your tears, let out some anger, mourn the loss, and get comfort and support. But watch that you don’t [collapse into] becoming a victim, full of self-pity. Drop the drama. Don’t lose your self-respect. Take charge and use your energy to go forward.

Look more deeply: What are the bigger relationship lessons you need to learn from this?

Despite what most people think, the point of a relationship is not to make you happy. The point of a relationship is to learn, grow, and develop yourself. What do you need to learn from this last experience? Mine the lessons. What would you do differently next time?

3

Don’t Text, Call, Hook Up, or Initiate Contact.

Picking up the phone can be tempting; same goes for seeing your ex out and wanting to have one last fling. But initiating contact just means you didn’t learn your lesson. Get that it’s over; don't try to hang on. Face the end/loss of the relationship.

You need to let yourself be sad and mourn.

You can process what happened with your friends but reconnecting never pays off in the long run. If the relationship isn’t growing, there is no reason to have contact. It just prolongs the agony.

4

Don’t hang out with friends who are negative about relationships. Hang out with friends who have great relationships and tell the truth.

You may have friends who are delighted to help you pick up the pieces after bad stuff happens. But are they the right ones to hang out with at that moment? If they can help you work through it, great.

But friends who just want to complain all of the time about love, are always negative, or who are only there for you when things are bad aren’t always the best people to help you learn how to have a great relationship.

Instead, hang out with friends who have great relationships or who are working on it. Be with people who are willing to comfort you AND tell you the truth while you are mining your lessons.

5

Don’t beat yourself up. Treat yourself really well.

Any kind of breakup hurts, let alone a big one. Whether it was your fault or his doesn’t even matter. It’s easy to be harsh to yourself or not treat yourself well after a break up. But what you need is the absolute opposite. Honor the fact that you are in a very vulnerable state.

Know that you are eminently lovable even if it doesn’t feel that way at this moment.

Look for evidence that it is true even if it is through the caring look of a friend. Do whatever you need to do to be extra sweet with yourself in this challenging time. Give yourself the love you deserve.