Under the Kilt: dealing with a breakup during a pandemic

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Breakups are already tough, but they may be even harder when you’re in the middle of a global pandemic. Feelings are running high; not only do you have to deal with the disappointment of missing out on spring quarter, potentially lose your job due to the quarantine and possibly being forced to move back home, but the end of an important relationship may prove to be the cherry on top of an already terrible cake. If you were on the verge of breaking up with your partner around the same time that COVID-19 measures escalated, it could also mean that you didn’t receive the face to face closure you needed. While it may seem impossible to move past the heartache, the healing process takes time — and right now, time is plentiful.

1. Lean into your feelings: Regardless of if the breakup was mutual or whether your partner was the one who initiated, chances are, it hurts. You invested time, energy and love into a relationship that, regrettably, did not work out; if things ended on bad terms, you might have to deal with the absence of someone you’re still invested in. Even if the relationship ended amicably and you’re still friends, it’s inevitable that your interactions may be painful for awhile. Ignoring these feelings won’t help you feel better.

On the other hand, bottling up every negative emotion you’re feeling now may delay your well-being. The best thing to do, especially right after the end, is to lean into your anguish. Whether that means cranking up your saddest playlist, crying or indulging in your favorite comfort food, it is important to grieve the end of a relationship. You need to give yourself space to feel hurt because otherwise, your feelings may resurface during unexpected moments.

2. Get closure, even if it’s virtually: With the majority of the country under quarantine, it is downright unsafe to meet with people outside of your home. Unless you live with your ex or had a heart to heart before the quarantine, chances are that you didn’t get to fully talk everything out in person. It may be weeks, or even months, until it is safe to meet in person again. But closure is still an important step in the healing process; you may be wondering if you did something wrong, want to get one last word in or even just figure out how to get cherished belongings back. Although everyone warns against texting your ex, sometimes it’s for the best. Having a conversation, whether it’s over the phone or FaceTime, may help you get some much needed answers without having to reopen the wound months later.

3. Take time for yourself: After getting some closure, it’s time to take time to yourself and reflect. Everyone is different, but I found it particularly helpful to deactivate all of my social media. What with the pandemic and the election going on, everything is inundated with overwhelmingly negative news, which in itself takes a toll on your mental well-being. This is only exacerbated if you also have to deal with the inevitable sadness spiral you’ll go down if you see your ex’s tweets or story on your timeline.

By deactivating all my social media, I was able to take time to think without constantly wondering if I’d see their face when I logged onto Instagram or wrestling with the temptation to comment on their Snapchat story. If you were together for a while, you might be unwilling to remove them from social media just yet, but remember that an unfollow isn’t permanent. While it may hurt to see their content online now, some of that hurt will dissipate with time.

4. Hang out with friends: Again, not in person! We have impressive technology at our disposal, which allows you to speak to friends even if they’re across the state. Have someone organize a Netflix party and chat while you watch a movie together, create a group FaceTime or Zoom call or simply keep in contact with your bestie by texting every day. Remind yourself that you are not alone, even if you feel like you are — you have a support system that you can rely on. Use it when you feel down. More than likely, your friends will be glad to lend a listening ear. Even if they can’t offer a literal shoulder to cry on, they want to help you feel better. 

5. Reflect on yourself: Maybe this means investing time in hobbies, journaling or hanging out with family members. Everyone is different and everyone heals on different timelines. However, moping and pining can’t last forever, so you should spend time remembering what solitary activities you enjoy and try to dedicate some time to them.

If your go-to after a breakup is to get together with friends and get plastered, having a dance party with friends over Zoom may be good if you’re missing the social aspect of partying. Maybe you love going to concerts — obviously, that won’t be possible for awhile, but compiling your concert videos or creating mixtapes could be the next best alternative. Even taking the time to clean your room and reorganize your space could be great in helping you feel like you’re turning a new chapter in your life. It’s crucial that you take time to reflect on your identity once again, now that it is separated from another person.

While these tips may help you feel better gradually, at the end of the day, all you can do is give yourself time to move on.

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