The 10 break-up rules that are actually worth following.

If Sex and the City was gospel (quite frankly, isn’t it?), then it “takes half the total time you went out with someone to get over them”. 

Charlotte called it 'the break-up rule', explaining to Carrie that she had exactly five more months until she would get over Big. It's just simple math, right?

Okay, so we all know how that went (RIP John James Preston) but stay with me, because for some, this really is the case.

Watch Angie break up with Timm on The Bachelorette. Post continues after video.

Video via 10 Play.

I went out with Ricky for exactly three years. Which meant that at the one-and-a-half-year mark post-traumatic breakup, I was over him.

I remember the moment with complete clarity. I was on a bus in France, somewhere in the deep wine country of Bordeaux, when I checked his Facebook, and there in front of me was the shocking realisation that he had a new girlfriend. 

It was the final piece. And after swiping through a few photos on her profile, I shut down the app, put my phone away, and stared out the coach window with the full-body realisation that I was finally over him. The man I broke my own heart over.

The future Mrs Big may have mocked the “big math solution” to problems of the heart, but from where I’m standing, it was a pretty good one. 


So, when it comes to the matter of break-ups, what other rules should we be following?

1. Prepare for the drop in dopamine. 

“When you’re in a relationship, your brain adapts to an elevated level of dopamine and your partner regulates many of your biological rhythms like sleep, heart rate, and even immune system,” Selina Nguyen, a relationship therapist and sexologist told Mamamia

“When you break up, there is a sudden drop and dysregulation on a physiological level. That's on top of the rollercoaster of emotions you go through, so prepare accordingly. Go heavy on the self-care, lean on your community, and focus on things that make you feel good.” 

Who could forget the Post-it note break-up? Image: HBO.


2. Do not stalk them.

“No stalking your ex or asking mutual friends about them,” Gemma Cribb, a clinical psychologist, told Mamamia

“Focus on your own life and filling it with fun, enriching things.”

3. Remember the red flags.

“I always encourage my clients to write a list of all the reasons the relationship isn't working or wouldn't work long-term,” Nguyen said. “It's not character-bashing, but it can be a list of differences in the relationship, things you shouldn't have put up with in hindsight, red flags that you ignored, and so on.

“The point of this is that the period post-breakup is almost always when the rose-coloured glasses are on the heaviest, and you romanticise parts or all of a relationship and ignore the issues. The list helps you keep level-headed.” 

Count the red flags and know you deserve better. Image: HBO.


You also have to take your ex off their pedestal, Cribb said.

“It’s normal to miss aspects of a person or a relationship when it ends, but no one is perfect,” she said. 

“Remind yourself your ex had flaws and, if necessary, write out some of the bad memories of your time together and read them when you need to remind yourself that your relationship wasn’t perfect.”

4. Shift your attention.

“Create a time each day to journal about your feelings, then each time your ex pops into your head during the day, remind yourself that you can focus on it later and try to shift your attention to something else,” Cribb suggested.

List to the hosts of Mamamia Out Loud discuss the best break-up text. Post continues after podcast.

5. Don’t turn to alcohol.

“Limit alcohol and other addictive substances and activities,” Gemma said.

“You’ll be feeling particularly emotional so try not to numb your feelings with things that are only going to make you feel worse in the long run.”


6. Reflect on your part in the break-up.

“Each person has a part in the relationship breakdown,” said Nguyen. “This doesn't mean that they are equal parts, but in order to not keep making the same mistakes in future relationships, you should understand the areas in which you did well but also where you could've done better.

“They may have lied, but to what degree did you make it comfortable for them to tell the truth? They may have cheated, but to what degree did you make it a priority to talk about your needs and desires? When the heat of the break-up has cooled off, learn, so you can do better next time.”

Everyone has a part in a break-up. Image: HBO.


Cribb agreed that “nothing is ever only one person’s fault”.

“Think about what you contributed to the relationship's downfall and what you could do differently in your next relationship,” she said. “Even with a nasty ex, perhaps you accepted too much for too long or didn’t speak up about your needs and feelings.”

7. Work on your friendships

“Reach out to old friends and think about how to make new ones,” said Cribb. 

“It’s normal when you are in a relationship to give less time to friendships. A break-up is a perfect opportunity to rekindle old connections and make new ones.”

Oh Charlotte, you had it right all along. Image: HBO.


8. Give yourself a 'life re-vamp'.

“Think about a ‘life re-vamp,'" said Cribb. "What things can you do or achieve to give you a sense of pride and satisfaction?

“The more your life changes from what it was when you were in the relationship, the more quickly you’ll feel ‘moved on.’”

9. Don’t see them for three to six months.

“Waiting three to six months is generally a really healthy period to level out your nervous system and your emotions after a break-up because an ex can be so powerful," sex and relationships expert Alina Rose told Mamamia.

"It’s a chemical; it’s a rush."

She continued, "You know that breaking up is the right thing to do, but your cellular memory will make you miss that person for a while – even if it was the most toxic relationship. You think it’s because you miss them, but it’s not.

“That is the period of a break-up that you need to surround yourself with friends and support because that's when you're most prone to go running back to your ex. But if you can just ride it out and wait, you’ll see the situation a lot more clearly and get back to being yourself.”

Rule #11 (according to me), always put yourself first. Image: HBO.


10. Find alternatives to what you’re missing.

“If you’re missing affection, go play with your friend’s baby or cuddle a pet – both are great at giving love and cuddles – or get a massage,” said Rose.

“If you’re bored and don’t know how to fill a gap in your life, creativity and taking up an artistic endeavour have been shown to close that gap and produce similar chemicals that having a companion does.

“And if you want closure resolution, write down your feelings in a letter then tear it up, talk to someone like a friend or therapist, and then see your ex for a coffee for that final closure and clarity.”

Images: HBO.

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