Three Don'ts for Getting Dumped

From The Girls' Guide to Surviving a Break Up

Most of you are going to do better during the day than you do at night, particularly the later at night it gets. You've probably already noticed this phenomenon. It's just true that the wee hours are harder and we're going to have to work with that. One simple but beautiful thing to remember is that no matter how bleak the middle of the night seems, dawn is on its way and can't be stopped.


1. Do Not Call Him
Whether or not you should contact him in general is a larger issue, but it's never a good idea to call him in the middle of the night. (For these purposes, the middle of the night is any time from 11pm to 8am.)

Take, for example, my friend Lucy. She will keep you on the phone for hours going over why she is not-not-not going to call her ex even though she is dying to do it. Eventually she will say the coast is clear and she is going to bed. By now it's usually around 3am. She will hang up the phone with you. She will then wait about five seconds and call him. He will be sleeping (surprise!), and their conversation will inevitably be disappointing to Lucy. She will then freak out for a few hours, smoking a carton of cigarettes, and call you back hysterical at the crack of dawn. While this is a very common scenario and I've played it out myself several humiliating times, it's not good. I have never ever known anyone who has felt better after a wee hours phone call to her ex. It's unlikely that you are going to be the first.

Also, it is quite possible that your judgment is not so great right now because not only are you tired and emotionally strung out but also maybe you've had a few cocktails or a few brewskis. Here's the deal: Never drink and dial.

2. Do Not Send That Email
I think I may be too old to think of email as a way of conveying urgent emotion. Or, more likely, it's just that I got married before I even had a personal email account. However, I try to stay hip to what's happening, especially with my friends, and I know there's a lot of emailing going on out there that is romantic and even heartbroken in nature. And I think that's totally cool. Writing can be very therapeutic, and often it's easier to convey your thoughts when someone is not interrupting you every two seconds. So if you find yourself in the middle of the night writing out a ton of thoughts to your ex via email, you are not entirely in the wrong. In fact, write your heart out. The key is, do not press "send." Print the email in question and put it in the "Send Later" bin. Sure, you can reread your email a million times and edit it to perfection, but your judgment this late at night and this hurt is not 100 percent no matter what the tequila is telling you. You can do yourself zero, nada, no harm by holding on to your electronic missive until you've managed to sleep a few hours and look at it again and/or have had the chance to read it to a friend.

3. Do Not Go Over to His House
This is like the "don't call him" situation only ten times more horrible. It's upsetting me just thinking about you dragging your bed-head self over to his house and standing there in front of his door, sad and only about to get sadder. It's not even that I care that he's going to think you are a psycho and tell all his friends about your "visit," it's just that this kind of behavior means that you aren't loving yourself as much as you should.


1. Call a Friend Instead of Calling Him
This is flawless operating procedure. When you think you might call him, especially if it is already pretty late at night, you must call a friend instead. If that friend isn't home or is asleep, call someone else and keep going until you get someone on the phone.
2. Go to Your Friend's House
You might hesitate to ask this kind of favor from a friend, but believe me it is much, much better than going to his house or going for a walk. If you are feeling really low, you will probably feel better lying on someone else's couch watching TV (particularly if she has premium cable), even if she's gone back to bed. It's wise to call in advance so your friend knows that you are en route and you know that she is home (alone).

3. Write Him a Letter (But Don't Even Think of Sending It Right Away)
Write your ass off on paper. If you feel you have to write email style, as I've covered, print it out but do not send it. Write through your tears. Curse him out. Tell him what you really think of his family. Yeah, you faked it, he's small, whatever. This is your time to completely lash out and let down your guard. This is an excellent exercise. And maybe you will eventually hit the "send" button or drop the letter in the mail. But do not even think about doing that until you've gotten some sleep and reread it, and/or read it to a friend who really is your ally and have been given the okay by him or her.

In the meantime, don't lie there tossing and turning and freaking out.

  • Get up and take a hot bath. Bring some magazines in there for good measure. Just be careful not to fall asleep in the tub.
  • Sit up in bed and read a book. It seems too easy, but this has knocked me out many a time.
  • TV and movies can come in handy here as well. Just sit there and force yourself to watch. Even though this isn't a good long-term solution, you will eventually pass out.
  • Go online. See who's chatting at this ungodly hour. Check out the ridiculous things people are selling on eBay.

From The Girls' Guide to Surviving a Break Up copyright 2003 Delphine Hirsh. Reprinted by arrangement with St. Martin's Press, LLC.

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