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Is It Really A Breakup? The First Few Days

From the first moment that you have the wind knocked out of you by hearing in one way or another that the relationship is over, you must ruthlessly prioritize doing as little as possible. By that I mean you must accept that you are in shock and that you should expect nothing from yourself other than to keep breathing. Even that may seem like a stretch, but you can do it.

More than likely the breakup and the devastation you feel were not anticipated. That’s okay. Alert other people to the fact that for forty-eight to seventy-two hours nothing is about the most that they can expect from you, though not necessarily in those words. Take a half hour as soon as possible to clear the decks for two to three days so that you can fall apart with some dignity – and privacy.


While you may feel completely powerless at the moment of the breakup, keep in mind that your ex is more than likely feeling some guilt about upsetting you so. You must swiftly make use of this guilt to secure whatever you feel is going to be the most comfortable living arrangement for you for the next few days.

You cannot enter the first hideous but necessary phase of a breakup until you are in a comfortable place away from your ex, so keep it quasi together for a few minutes to get this out of the way.

You may want to stay in your mutual abode. This has the added benefit of buying you some time to mark your name with a sharpie on as many of the joint acquisitions and CDs as you would like. When someone breaks up with you, it is more than’ reasonable to ask him to stay at a friend’s or a parent’s for a week, so even if your ex doesn’t get this right away, know that you are well within your rights.

If your ex is anything like the men I know, and you are crying, he will either want to go to bed with you or get the hell away from you. Do NOT sleep with him. It will not make you feel any better and it won’t undo the breakup.

Once you have told him that he has to stay elsewhere for a little while, do not follow him around while he gets ready; do not hover. Be clear that you don’t want to hear from him for a few days and that he may under no circumstances drop by.

If you are feeling extremely untrusting and/or bitchy, you can ask him to give you his keys to the apartment-he probably will. Then give him exactly twenty minutes to gather what he will need and sequester yourself in another room and call a friend.

Of course, you may not want to stay at the place where you two lived together. You may feel oppressed by the reminders of your life together. If you are going to split, do it quickly. Do not drag your ass around moping. If you forget stuff, you can always borrow from whomever you are staying with. It’s mature to let your ex know where you are going in case he needs to reach you in an emergency, i.e., the house burns down.

You can tell him, but it’s also wise to let him know that you would prefer he doesn’t call you. You will contact him when you are ready. If you are feeling so pissed that you don’t want to tell him where you are going, that’s fine too. He has forfeited all rights to keep tabs on you.

©2003 Delphine Hirsh

Excerpt from The Girls’ Guide to Surviving A Breakup a book packed full of information to keep you going when he gets going. Order your copy today! Delphine Hirsh is a veteran of many breakups and is also a consultant to heartbroken friends nationwide. A thirty-two-year-old native New Yorker and a graduate of Princeton University, she currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband.