10 Etiquette Tips for After the Breakup

You Might Have Split with Your Ex, but Your Manners Should Remain Intact

Torn picture of a couple after a breakup
Breakups are never easy. Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Have you ever experienced a breakup? Whether you're the one who initiates it or you are blindsided by someone you care deeply about, it's never a good experience. If it's a broken engagement, it's even worse.

It happens to the best of us. We go into a relationship with high hopes, only to discover later that we weren't the perfect match. Then comes the breakup – the hard part. This is when you can show what you're truly made of.

Be Nice

Just because you and your former main squeeze hit the skids doesn't mean your claws and fangs have to come out. Be the sweet person you were before you ever met, and you'll get through the difficult times much more easily. Take the high road and keep your anger under wraps. Practice being polite, and eventually it will seem natural.

Get Busy

It's okay to sit around and feel sorry for yourself for a day or two, but after that, get busy doing something productive. Make your time even more useful by taking up a cause. You just might find a better match if you're performing acts of kindness and generosity.

Choose Your Friends

The ideal thing to happen is for both of you to maintain all the friends you had when you were a couple, but we know that's not possible. A general rule of thumb is to leave with the friends you came with and any you made while together will naturally gravitate to the one they have the most in common with.

Avoid Gossip

Although it's tempting to trash the other person when asked what happened, once again, it's best to take the high road. Just smile, say it's a personal matter, and change the subject. Gossiping about others might make you feel better for…oh, say, about five minutes, but after that you'll know it was the wrong thing to do, and you're likely to be even more miserable.

Shun Revenge

Like gossip, getting revenge sounds sweet after being scorned. However, it is a terrible thing to do and could get you into a peck of trouble. Friends and prospective romantic interests might see this as a sign of emotional instability. If you're tempted to get revenge on your ex, step back, take a few deep breaths, and develop a philosophy about kissing frogs. You just haven't found your prince/princess yet.

Not a Chance

Don't go running to your ex, begging for another chance. It's over. Acting desperate will cause others (possibly including your ex) to pity you, and you don't want to come across pitiful, do you? Face the fact that it's time to move on. Whatever caused the breakup is still there, and all the extra chances in the world won't make things any different. While reconciliations work in the movies, this is real life we're talking about. Unless your life is "The Truman Show," you don't have scriptwriters tending to the details.

Social Media

If you follow each other on social media, stop. Continuing to be connected through Facebook, Twitter, and other social venues will only prolong the pain. Give the breakup at least a year before you decide whether or not to reconnect, and only do so if you have become friends.

No Permanent Physical Changes

The last thing you need to do when you're in this state of mind is run out and get a tattoo or shave your head. Give yourself some time to heal before making any permanent changes.

Ex Sighting

When you see your ex out with someone else, do your best to avoid a confrontation. If possible, go in another direction. However, if you can't prevent a close encounter, smile, say, "Hi," and get as far away as possible. Don't make an awkward situation even more uncomfortable and don't prolong the face-to-face. If your date asks what is going on, simply mention that you were in a relationship with the other person and change the subject. Your date might want details, but save them for later when you're not so rattled.

Keep Looking

Okay, so your last relationship didn't work out.

That's the past. It's time to get out there and mix and mingle. Let your friends know that you're single again. They might know some fabulous people they can introduce you to. Even if you don't get romantically involved with any of them, it's always nice to have more friends.