Epic phone conversations to analyze every detail with your BFF, a pint of Halo Top to eat your feelings, a kickboxing class to get out your aggression — these are just some of the ways we get over the end of a relationship. We all have certain strategies that are more effective for us, depending on our own unique needs and personalities. And when it comes to figuring out how to get over a breakup, your love languages can factor in, too.
The love languages were developed by counselor and author Dr. Gary Chapman. After observing couples in counseling for more than 30 years, he observed patterns in the ways that partners communicate with each other, and concluded that there are five universal ways in which people express and interpret love: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. According to Chapman, while we all may have two or three that speak to us, everyone has one primary love language that takes precedence. You may be well aware of how your love languages can play a role in your relationships. By knowing what makes you feel loved, you can better express to your partner what you need from them. But love languages are just as important to keep in mind once you split.
Think of it this way: you’ll definitely need to feel loved after a breakup. And if you know what your languages are, you can show yourself a little extra TLC and potentially heal more quickly from the trauma.
"After a breakup, we’re often left to our own devices and with no one engaging us in our love language, we’re likely to spiral into a pit of despair where we feel unseen and unstimulated," explains Chelsea Leigh Trescott, breakup coach and podcast host of Thank You Heartbreak. "To ward against this, it’s up to us to initiate self-care through our various love languages. Where your partner no longer meets you at your most tender place, you must learn how to."
So, want to know how to cope with a recent split? Here’s how experts advise moving on after a breakup, according to your love language.
Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you have to miss out on that physical contact you crave.
“If you respond to physical touch during a relationship, you very likely would still want and need physical touch to help you heal and recover from a breakup,” says prominent L.A.-based relationship therapist Dr. Gary Brown.
Don’t underestimate the power of a hug from a friend or family member. In fact, a hug can instantly trigger the release of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which is obviously much needed following a breakup. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University also discovered that hugs can lessen negative emotions and improve mood as well as psychological well-being after a conflict.
And if you’re seeking to treat yourself during this difficult time, Trescott suggests booking a massage or ordering a foot bath for a luxurious soak while you’re watching Netflix.
“Whether it’s dance classes, misting your face with rose water or hugging someone goodbye, what you’re looking to create for yourself is a ritual around touch,” explains Trescott. “However, rather than looking for touch in a romantic partner, it becomes about how you can use elements in your environment to touch you.”
Any of these acts may help to lessen the pain you experience due to losing that physical contact with your partner.
Words Of Affirmation
If you relied on lots of compliments or verbal expressions of appreciation and praise from your SO to make you feel loved in your relationship, then you’ll want to find new outlets for these affirmations.
Trescott advises purchasing a journal and coming up with a new question to answer every day for a full month.
“This will be a way of not only painlessly encouraging you to inquire within but asking yourself powerful questions will empower you to lean into your truth and accept the range and depth of your emotions,” she explains.
She also suggests writing your ex a thank you letter (rather than a goodbye letter) in which you detail what you learned about yourself throughout the relationship. While you’ll never send this letter, it will serve as a spectacular outlet for positivity during this challenging time.
You can also start implementing some positive affirmations into your daily life for a much-needed boost. For example, consider writing something nice about yourself on a post-it note and sticking it on your bathroom mirror so that it’s the first and last thing you see every day. Or, set a reminder in your phone to pop up at a certain time every day that includes a complimentary affirmation.
If you’re the kind of person who really valued QT with bae — as in, dates on which you had their undivided attention — then you may really benefit from setting up some dates with other loved ones in your life.
“Quality time with friends and family can help to heal the wounds of a breakup,” explains Dr. Brown.
Be sure to make plans that encourage quality interaction (i.e. cooking a meal together, painting each other’s nails, or even just taking a walk) as opposed to activities that include distractions (such as binge-watching Netflix). That means putting your devices away and using this time to simply connect with a loved one. Making new memories with other people who are important to you will help you to realize that quality time isn’t only reserved for your significant other. It will also offer up an opportunity to strengthen those relationships in the wake of your split.
Acts Of Service
If this is your primary love language, you have probably found that actions speak louder than words in your relationships. You felt most loved when boo brought home your dry cleaning on their way home or did the dishes when they knew you were exhausted. As such, while getting over your breakup, you may want to consider ways in which you can make your own life easier. For example, if you’ve been swamped at work lately and laundry is your most dreaded chore, treat yourself to a delivery service that does it for you.
According to Trescott, a breakup might inspire you to take a road trip with friends, or accompany them on their banal errands and turn it into a “windows-down, music-blasting, selfie-taking fun time.”
“It may also be the clean slate you need to show up in your own home differently,” she explains.
This might entail repainting the walls to breathe new life into your home, buying new bedding, moving furniture around, or swapping out the photos in your frames.
“When you’re feeling like you have no one to lean on, a breakup is the best time to lean on yourself and what better way than by putting yourself to work around your own sanctuary,” Trescott says. “Serving yourself will give you the strength to serve others.”
Did receiving some tangible token from your boo make you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Just because you’re not in a relationship anymore doesn’t mean you can’t leverage this love language to help you get over your breakup.
“A breakup is a prime time to start treating yourself to both luxuries and necessities,” says Trescott. “Rather than wait for your significant other to buy you flowers, purchase your own every Sunday. Go to a perfume counter and try out a new seasonal or signature scent. Scents after all trigger memories, especially tied to romance. Buy two tickets to an upcoming show which will be something to look forward to and something that locks you into finding yourself a plus one.”
So why not give yourself a little something as an act of self-love, and a reminder that you’re worthy?
“Maybe it’s high time you buy yourself a ring or piece of jewelry that signifies you committing to you,” adds Trescott.
Maybe you sign up for a subscription-based service that sends a specially curated selection of wine to your doorstep every month, or maybe you splurge on some luxe lingerie just because. The point is, you don’t need someone else to make you feel appreciated.
"Love languages, at the core, are a way of addressing and speaking to the most tender part of ourselves,” says Trescott. “Sometimes it’s the wounded part that’s aching for the soothing, grounding words of reassurance. Whether it’s words of affirmation, touch, acts of service, quality time, or through gift giving, each language makes us feel seen and, as a byproduct of that, less alone and alive. To show up in this world with steady footing, we need that acknowledgment."
Regardless of your primary love language, there are a number of different ways in which you can leverage it for the comfort, reassurance, encouragement, and tenderness you need during the often brutal experience of a breakup. Be kind to yourself, and remember: A breakup is an opportunity to learn more about what makes you feel the most loved so that you’re prepared to pursue a happy, healthy relationship next time around.
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