If you’re going through a nasty breakup right now, don’t fret: This shit shall pass. It may not feel like it now while you’re sulking in your room picking apart lyrics to vintage Dashboard Confessional songs, but with time, some good advice, and a shot of alcohol or two, you’ll be back in the game before you know it.
Here, we gather advice on surviving a breakup and easing back into dating from 10 regular guys who’ve been there, cried through the mess that came after, and come out on the other side all ready to be a soldier of love again. Read on and pay attention.
1) Give yourself permission to be a mess while you figure out why things fell apart.
Fresh from a breakup, it’s perfectly fine to feel like shit and act like it—in fact, you’re expected to. So go ahead, let those fat manly tears roll, get drunk enough to get kicked out of a bar, and wake up in last night’s clothes with a puddle of puke on your bedroom floor.
“The night you become single, get as wasted as possible, kung pwede, gumapang ka pauwi,” says Yuri, 21. “And then after that, quit drinking for a while and reflect on what happened. Because while you need to get all the emotions out, you also need to keep yourself sane. Reflect on yourself, and then that’s when you start to pick yourself up from the bottom.”
2) Regain control by working on improving yourself.
All the men we talked to agree: Rebuilding yourself should be your top priority post-breakup.
"Take time to let your wounds heal before dating again,” says Velden Lim, author, motivational speaker and lay preacher who will soon release a book about dating and relationships. “The last thing this world needs is a person wounding another person. So heal first. Let go of your baggage.”
For Jeff, 33, the post-breakup slump is the perfect time to “increase your net worth as a man.” “Your self-esteem is the most important thing because everything else stems from that,” he says. “Your first priority should be taking care of yourself physically and emotionally. Start working out, do vigorous sports, and if you can travel, travel. If you’re looking for a relationship, don’t get into one right away until you achieve this. You can’t contribute to another person’s life until you have a healthy sense of self-worth.”
3) Hook up if you must, but know the risks. (And no, we’re not talking about STDs, although there’s also that.)
Most of the men we talked to agree that while you should refrain from jumping into a new relationship while you’re still all fragile inside, hookups are fine—as long as you know they’re JUST hookups, nothing more.
Red, 21, stresses the importance of clear expectations when getting into casual flings. “For you this might just be a hookup, but you can’t say the same for the person you’re hooking up with,” he says. “If you haven’t healed yet, there might be a transference of the emotions that you felt for your ex, or you might drag this new girl into your issues and then you’re just repeating the cycle all over again.”
4) When you’re ready to look for love again, look in the right places.
One good side effect of improving yourself via new hobbies, interests, and experiences is you get to meet new people. And new people = potential dates.
Dave, 33, says, “The more things you do, the more people you get to know, and the more activities you allow to happen in your life, mas marami rin pwedeng mangyari sa'yo that’ll take you by surprise—which includes meeting dating prospects."
As Dave puts it: “Kung baga sa raffle, the more entries you send, the more chances of winning.”
Red suggests simply doing the things you love and going to the places you love. “Chances are, you’ll meet a new girl in the place where you love doing what you love, and chances are, they love doing that, too,” he says. “You’d have common ground already, and it’d be easier to break the ice.”
5) Once you do start dating, be open-minded, manage your expectations, and remember: This new girl is NOT your ex.
Vince, 32, says it’s fine to set dating goals, but don’t cling to expectations—for instance, stop harboring thoughts that the new girl will be just like your ex, or that she will be the one to pull you out of your dark cave and into the love-filled light—that'll only put too much pressure on a bond that’s barely in its infancy. “Don’t set expectations because this might be yours alone and not your date’s,” he says. “That way, if it doesn’t work out, you won’t be too disappointed.”
6) And with a new girl, don’t go oversharing about your past relationship drama.
Bong, 24, warns against sharing details of your recent breakup with a new girl, which will set off alarm bells in her head and make her think that she’s a rebound—sending her running in the other direction. If you must admit the fact of the breakup, don’t do it right at the start of your flirtation, and avoid getting into the weepy particulars of how your past love crashed and burned. (Trust this female writer: That’s a real lady boner-killer right there.)
7) But wait, should you follow Popoy’s infamous three-month rule? These guys give a resounding NO.
“It’s just a man-made rule,” scoffs Bong. “Kung merong opportunity to date, why not grab it? You and your ex broke up already. You have no commitment to each other anymore.”
For Red, how long it takes you to start getting back in the game really depends on how much you’ve healed, not on what your ex will think. “I don’t believe in the three-month rule, but I believe in the time it takes for you to heal yourself,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be three months; it can be one year, it can be two years.”
8) If you want to wait much longer than three months before getting back on the dating horse, that’s totally fine, too.
“Time is an illusion for people; for some people time flies faster, ‘yung sa iba naman time goes slower,” Yuri says. “The important thing is you have to be 100 percent honest with yourself if you’re ready to date or not. If you’re not yet okay, fine. Who said we have to be happy all the time?”
Talim, 35, agrees. “I believe a guy should not do anything drastic to start dating or loving again,” he says. Proof that taking it easy after a breakup works: Right after an eight-month dating drought following his own breakup, Talim finally took a risk and dove head-first into a new relationship. He and his lady love have now been married for six years.
9) In case of an intense relapse that makes you want to just crawl back into your ex’s open arms, STAY STRONG, BRUH.
Alex, 24, who admits having gotten back together with an ex in the past, advises for you to hold your ground when your own ex comes back into your life and the resolve you’ve built up over months threatens to crumble. “The feelings might overwhelm you again and you might get caught in the same situation you were in before, if it was a destructive or dysfunctional relationship to begin with and that’s why you broke up,” he explains.
While Red says that love can work the second time around, he urges such decisions be made with a clear head. “Listen to your head and remember why you broke up,” he suggests. “As long as you realize everything that happened between you and you’ve learned your lesson and you think you can get it right the second time around, plus, you know you’re clear-headed in doing it and not just carried away by pure emotion, then do it.”
Bob, 30, puts it bluntly: “Just view things in black and white. If you want her back, by all means try to get her back. If you don’t, then do everything in your power to stay away. It’s as simple as that.”
10) Sounds cliché, but when you’re ready to love again, you’ll know it.
For Bong, this happens “when she’s no longer the first thing on your mind in the morning and the last thing on your mind before you go to sleep.”
For Yuri, it goes much deeper than finally finding a new prospect to pin all your romantic hopes and dreams on. “It’s not so much who you’re going to meet next that determines if you’re ready to love again; it’s how much you’ve fixed yourself, how much you know yourself, how much you respect yourself, and how much you love yourself.”
And once you’re ready to open your heart again, just remember that you’re also opening yourself up to the possibility of heartbreak again—it’s just the price you pay for experiencing that nebulous, glorious pleasure that drives even the sanest men mad: love.
Red shares something for you to chew on: “My mom is a counselor and she always tells me this: ‘If you want to fall in love, be prepared to be vulnerable. And whatever happens to you, it’s the consequence of that vulnerability.’”