How to Deal With a Breakup

The do’s and don’ts according to our Ask-a-Guy, Isaac, who has done (and not done) them all.

Isaac’s guide to breakups first appeared on his blog, IsaacLikes. Once he started doling out advice to MR readers (did you read this one about cheating and this one about how to tell if a guy likes you?), he kept coming across the same question: “Isaac, I got dumped. What do I do?” Below, Isaac’s updated, Man Repeller edition of the breakup do’s and hell no’s.

When you’ve been in as many bad relationships as I have, you’re uniquely qualified to advise other people what not to do.

You name it, I’ve done it — or had it done to me.

If there’s one area in my past where I failed the hardest, however, it’s the breakup. I could never seem to let go, no matter how awful the relationship had been. If she pulled away, I clung on. If I pulled away and she told me she missed me, I’d try to kiss her. If she told me to never, ever, ever try to contact her again, I’d show up outside her house trying to win her back at 3 o’clock in the morning.

Oh, how I’ve grown.

The following list of Do’s and Don’ts is the result of too many mistakes that I didn’t need to make. If followed, it’ll help you to get over your heartbreak in a far more timely manner than if you do the opposite. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.



Get out of bed.

– Surround yourself with people who care about you a lot more than they care about your ex.

– Separate yourself from your ex’s group of friends (your ex should do the same with yours).

– Throw yourself into work/school/the gym/learning a new language — aka anything that will take up a large chunk of your time and give you a sense of achievement in the process.

– Behave with dignity and self-respect.

– Get out of town. Go travel the world. Check out the Greek Islands. Lie on the beach somewhere beautiful where the locals are attractive and the sun is hot.

– Go see a therapist. It will change your life, and they’re often not as expensive as you think they’re going to be. (Mine costs $100 per session, which, if you’re the average young person, is like one or two nights getting drunk at a bar except really, really good for you.)

– Cry. I always think it helps, just not in public or when you’re eating.

– Delete your ex on every social media channel. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Even Facebook. It doesn’t have to be forever — just until you can face seeing your ex without feeling terrible about yourself.

– Get yourself a wingman whose job is to make sure you’re having a good time whenever you guys are out.

– Enjoy being single. It’s extremely fun.

– Know that you’ll get over it. I promise.


– HAVE SEX WITH YOUR EX. EVER AGAIN. Sex does not equal love. In this situation it’s like a drug that will make you feel like you’re together again for the moments it lasts, and then tear you apart when your ex gets out of bed and tells you, “I just don’t think it’s a good idea if I stay the night, you know? We are broken up, after all.”

And if your ex does stay the night and cuddle you and make you feel safe and comfortable for eight hours, it’s no indication that he or she isn’t going to go out and have sex with someone else the next day. Also, STDs.

– Stalk or keep track of your ex’s movements. This includes talking to your mutual friends about what your ex has been up to, incessantly checking Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr/Snapchat for clues, or “turning up” to places where you know your ex is going to be.

– Try to be friends. I promise that you can be friends in the future but it takes a while to get there. Now is not the time.

– Allow your ex to talk to you about new people he or she is seeing, or problems, fears, aspirations, hopes, dreams, failures, or triumphs. You’re not together anymore — it’s not your job or duty to listen to this stuff anymore.

– Drunk dial. Put down the phone.

– Try and compete with your ex by hooking up with other people in an attempt to cause jealousy. This especially applies to your ex’s friends. Even if you succeed in making your ex jealous and he or she comes crawling back, you’re both still the same people and the same issues will crop up all over again.

Meet up for coffee, even if your ex is the instigator.

– Talk about your breakup or heartbreak all day, errrry day with your friends. They’ll get over it really quickly and you’ll end up being kinda boring to be around. That’s what therapists, sisters, mothers and bloggers you’ve never met before are for. (Hello, new friend!)

– Think that there’s anything wrong with you. Because there’s not. The honest truth is that your relationship didn’t work out. You weren’t right for your ex, and your ex wasn’t right for you. I know your self-esteem has just taken a gigantic beating, but it doesn’t say anything about you as a human being — it is what it is. And “it” happens to us all. Breakups are incredibly hurtful and painful and devastating and sad, but they’re a part of life. This experience will make you a stronger person in the end; it’s just gonna take you a bit of time to get there.

Let me know how you get on. Keep in touch. And whatever you do, DON’T YOU EVER SLEEP WITH HIM EVER AGAIN!!!!!!!! OKAY!?

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis


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  • Aaaaaappropriately timed.

    I would also like to add to the don’t list:
    Don’t post on social media about how much you hated how they did their hair, how sad and lonely you are or how much action you are now getting as a new single-ite.

    • Rosa Gee

      I have generated 86,000 dollars so far this year working online and I am a full time student. I am attached with an online business entity that I heard about and I have earned such great cash. It is really user friendly and I feel myself lucky to have that option. Why not try this. ll…

  • Heina Dadabhoy

    I’m laughing to tears at the financial characterization of “the average young person”. Oh man, please please please tell me about these rich-ass people you know some more so I can figure out who they are and mooch off them for nights out.

    • Seriously. $100 for a night out? I’m mad at myself if I spent more than $30

      • Urss

        Your a cheap ass if you think $30 is a night out what a joke. Yeah go figure out how many hrs of work that was. Oh by the way I forgot when you die you can take the money with you. HA!

        • Adrianna

          Thank you for letting us know how unhappy you are. Seriously, who spends their free time posting comments like this?

          • Urss

            Well didn’t you? I wonder if you know who to speak with out saying the word ” Seriously “!

          • Adrianna

            Thank you for sharing your misogyny

          • Urss

            Yeah cuz your a dumb bitch and I hate women even tho I have a pussy so what the fuck are you talking about.
            ” Seriously “

    • isaaclikes

      Keep in mind I come from New Zealand where everything costs about twice as much as it does here in America. Taxi to and from a bar: $40. One drink: $10-$18. It adds up super quickly.

      But if you live in NYC and you go out once a week, on average, I think $100 is pretty normal if you’re the type of person who goes to a number of bars and then nightclubs and taxis to and from along the way. Don’t forget that the average annual income in this city is $100,000.

      • I’ve lived in NYC for 8 years. $100,000? Were the people who bus your tables included in that average?

        Also, “The median household income across New York City stands at $50,711, according to 2010-2012 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.”

        • isaaclikes

          Okay maybe it’s the average income for people who live in Manhattan specifically. I’ve never looked it up but I hear it thrown around a lot. I’ve lived here for four years and I see a lot of people throwing a lot of money around in pretty average spots, from sports bars in Murray hill to dive bars in east village.

      • Heina Dadabhoy

        Is a young person in New York “average” for young people, though?

        ETA: I’m being salty about this for a reason. Often, the people who need therapy the most are exactly the people for whom $100 is not just a fun night out, but a month of groceries or whatever.

        • Marike M.

          $100 sounds like A LOT for me too. I work as a therapist in Amsterdam, Europe and I do not make $100 per session. As a matter of fact, I make $100 a month. I have to wait tables in the weekends making ends meet, since they don’t pay fresh-out-of-university-therapists. The upside of me not getting payed is that the ‘average young person’ here can get therapy for free, because of the health care system. I guess Isaac is seeing a private working high end therapist, but I am sure there must be more affordable options.

      • Sarah Moore

        A New Zealander living in New York. That explains a lot! (Fellow Kiwi here, living in London. Hopefully never in need of your breakup advice, I think I’ve found a keeper)

      • Stephany SR

        I lived in New York, wasn’t making a lot of money, and I was on a budget. But still I agree, when you go out between cabs and drinks you can easily spend $100 or more. Of course you can also just have one glass of wine and take the sub or bike but still.

        And I don’t think paying $100 for a session is crazy. Everything healthcare related in the City is super expensive, even with health insurance. Also at least in New York if you look carefully enough you get the best of the best, which at the ends means that is often worth every penny.

        Thanks Isacc for the great advice and insight on a man’s perspective ??

    • emarie

      i live in australia and you are lucky if you can go out for less than that. pints of beer are $12 each and the average dinner is $20…so you can get to $100 pretty quickly

  • hahaah I love it! And I love even more Adrianna’s comment. This post should be followed like the Bible.

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  • Pol

    i did literally all of these things and are now dying of shame.. help?

    • Amelia Diamond

      hahah you’re fine! start now!

    • BK

      We’ve all done all of these things before! Tomorrow is a new day!

  • meyow

    Oh, and if s/he broke up with you, do not/NOT ask them to explain why.

    Me (crying): “But, whyyyyyyy….? How could you do this to meeeee….?”

    Him: “Because you were always cold…. And you were always tired…. Oh, and remember the time you said xyz to me ….. blahblahblah…..”

    Lesson learned: Theyre always going to want to make themselves feel better about leaving you, so theyre always going to dredge up inane, hurtful crap if you ask them why.

    So, dont ask.

    Trust me.

    • BK

      YES never ask why. It just gives them an opportunity to rate you in order to justify their decision. The one exception is a recent breakup in which I was the crying one doing the “but whyyyyyyyyy????”, which surprisingly turned out to be a good move because his actual response, I kid you not, was “I’m afraid of commitment” and I laughed, surprised, because I didn’t think anyone had even used such a passé non-excuse since before around 1998. It was a great day for falling out of not-really love and helped greatly in my getting over the upset of no longer having access to his Netflix.

  • fucking brilliant. You have a new reader isaaclikes

    ps… single?

    pps … jk that’s weird.

    • isaaclikes

      Love your work!

  • Olivia AP

    I agree. But sometimes there IS something wrong with us. And that is the thing that nobody wants to tell but will certainly help in future relationships, there may be things about our personality that could be toxic and you can’t blame your partner if they don’t want to be with you anymore.

  • Blondes & Bagels

    THANK YOU for putting go see a therapist on this list. Mental health is swept under the rug when we really should all treat it like a physical check up – it’s just as important! And you’re totally right. Even here in San Francisco (borderline the most expensive city in the U.S.) therapists run around $100 a session which really (to your point) is how much it costs for one night out. So. Worth. It. Thanks for being an advocate of mental health!

  • I freaking love this and this column in general.

    I have to say, I am on the same boat as having a terrible dating history. I don’t know what it is.

    After five years worth of dating, I would this list of do’s and don’ts is ACCURATE!

  • Natty

    DO read “why men love bitches”, preferably on your kindle so no one can see the horribly embarrassing title. that book saves lives, ladies. TRUST ME.

  • Maria

    I’ve been reading this blog for the last five years and I’ve never post a comment (not even approach Leandra during Fashion Week in Paris, where I work, to say I love Man Repeller because I think that would be creepy. This is still kind of it…). I’ve had fun reading your posts, kind of learned about fashion and beauty… and now these advices for the daily life. Anyway, I’ve just read this in the perfect moment, I needed it, so I take the chance to say thank you (Isaac, Leandra and all the team), for this site. It’s still the one of the few blogs I’ve kept on reading despite all this time. Hope to keep on doing it for another five years and more 🙂

  • Kristin Kohanna

    Thanks for this, the last part about not thinking anything is wrong with you helped me a lot… with a recent breakup all I can do is go over and over in my head about how I wasn’t being the right kind of person and maybe the person I am is flawed but we are just different and it didn’t work out. I just needed to read that… it help ease my mind a little

  • Emily

    I’m still
    In middle school and this boy was with me for about a week and he called my friends insane and then he broke up with me on Monday 😭😭😭😭😭

  • Anahita Roohparvar

    Hey, I am in a very bad situation and I really don’t know what I’m going to do now, I have been asked to be just friend after sex with two different people last year, and after one year I saw someone new, he was behaving much better than my past experiences, till we had sex. He asked me to be just friends again. I was broken for two months until we both decided to meet each other, he said that he has alot of problems in his life and he cannot have serious relationship that was the reason he asked me to be normal friends, honestly I felt great about it and started talking to him till last night that we had sex again and he changed completely. And he said that he doesn’t love me as much as a girlfriend, and when he was leaving he told me that keep that in mind that I’m not your boyfriend. I AM SO CRUSHED, I feel pain in every way, this is the third time, please just help me I’m dying literally

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  • Mia Harrod

    Love love love!!
    Excellent read!

  • Ana banana

    Wow to be paying $100 to see a psych, I’m booked in for a session next week – $190 she charges which is the average price you pay for a decent one I think. My now ex partners paying $300 an hour but she was apparently recommended as ‘one of the best’ here in perth, although unsure by who. You would have to hope so for that price

  • Sarah Brown

    My ex just recently broke up with me like two days ago. I am pregnant with my 4th child and I can’t even deal with this. I feel horrible like I can’t go on. I know it’s fucking pathetic but I’ve been a single mom before and I swore I’d never do it again. Here I am recently engaged 4 months pregnant and alone again. Please if someone has been through anything like this give me some good solid advice.these hormones are making insane I keep texting him to please come back and I can’t stop crying.

  • Liam Martin

    Thanks for sharing this …… i love this article
    An office break-up is very difficult time if your relationship was a long one and the break up was bad. Breakups are never good with any person. You might also interested in