Getting over a breakup isn't easy. In fact, it can be downright awful.
It's easy to slip into feelings of guilt if you're the one who leaves, or feelings of abandonment if you've been left behind. A broken heart taxes your body as well as your emotions.
While some people deal with breakups by hunkering down in front of the TV with a pint of ice cream, others go online, obsessively searching for a new mate to substitute for the old one.
When you're feeling desperate and needy, that's not the time to doggedly look for Mr. or Ms. Right. Instead of succumbing to the stress of the breakup, focus on making yourself feel whole and more attractive. Here are a few ways to do that.
Find positive ways to soothe your body and soul. "Indulge in a makeover to see and believe in a new you," says Debbie Mandel, a fitness and stress-management expert in Lawrence, N.Y. Make an appointment for a facial or a new hairdo. Spend the day at a spa with a friend.
Find and flaunt your talents
Because relationships take time, you probably have a few holes in your schedule. Use your time to figure out where you can excel. Cook your favorite recipe, spruce up your home, take dancing lessons or enter a Scrabble tournament.
Take care of your body
Eat right and don't wallow in junk food, says Mandel. Prepare for a marathon. Play tennis, swim or bike. Getting in shape and improving your stamina will help you feel better about yourself.
Consider joining a health club or signing up for a tai chi, yoga or aerobics class. Not only will you get the benefits of an endorphin rush, you'll also place yourself in a new social setting, says dating and relationship expert April Masini.Talk it out
Find someone with whom you can be honest and open — a close friend or a therapist. Limit those conversations so they don't take over the rest of your life.
After his marriage of 25 years ended, Phillip (not his real name) of Charleston, S.C., spent at least an hour each day on the phone with his closest friend, Fred, lamenting his situation.
Months later, Phillip finally felt ready to register with an online dating service, through which he eventually found his new wife.
Rekindle old relationships
Don't spend too much time brooding alone. Google your old school mates or work colleagues and find out where they are. There's something comforting about spending time with people who knew you when.
Visit extended family or friends in another part of the country. If you're a parent, spend more time with your kids: Volunteer to coach a team or serve on a PTA committee.
When her boyfriend moved out after a five-year live-in relationship, Maria (not her real name) of Yorktown Heights, N.Y., turned to her friend Margie for support. "It was hard to even think about dating even though I wanted to," she says.
Maria dreaded celebrating her upcoming 30th birthday without a boyfriend, so she and Margie planned a last-minute trip to Las Vegas.
The long weekend away and the support of a good friend gave Maria a chance to test the waters. She didn't meet anyone special in Vegas, but it was Margie who introduced Maria to her current boyfriend, Al, six months after the trip.
Forge new relationships
It's OK to try Internet dating sites (at minimum, you'll realize just how many other people are searching for soul mates), but keep things light and make it clear in your profile that you recently were in another relationship.
"If you're a college student, do all the things that students do, including focusing on your studies," says Masini. This is one of the last times you'll find yourself immersed in a vast pool of single, age-appropriate adults, she says. Similarly, if you're employed, don't let your work fall by the wayside.
"Don't tell everyone your sad story," says Mandel. "Instead, listen to theirs."
Smile often, act friendly, and try to make every person you meet feel special. Before long, the void you're feeling will be filled with new and more-satisfying relationships.