You know you shouldn’t call. You know getting some time and space to process would be best for you.

Yet you really want to meet up again…

Maybe you want to talk things through, just one more time. Or better simply hang out for coffee, cause you still want to stay friends. Your Ex might feel really down, and you still want to be there for them, right?

The following steps are here to help you get through these hard times before and after a breakup. Especially if you are not breaking up in anger, yet want to keep your distance for a while. I encounter this problem over and over again in my coaching practice and my community:

You want to give yourself some space for the next 10 days, yet by day three you meet up again, because of some seemingly good reason. By day five you feel trapped in turmoil, and blame yourself for not being able to get out of it.

You are not alone in this.

These tips can help you to make a commitment to yourself and stick to it.

1. Shift the focus from being away from your Ex – to having space for yourself.

There might be a lot of good reasons to stay away from your Ex after a breakup. Maybe you just have that gut feeling “I think I shouldn’t see her for the next 10 days”,  maybe it was your Ex who suggested some time apart. Yet you need a very clear reason, in order to stick to it.

So shift the focus from being away from your Ex – to having space for yourself.
What is the benefit of having space for yourself? It lets you reconnect with yourself.

This looks different for each individual, but here are some common benefits of having space and reconnecting with yourself:

  • You get to focus on your own feelings, needs, and desires – instead of reacting to the dynamics of the relationship.
  • You gain space to acknowledge some big feelings such as loss, anger, blame, exhaustion, or any other things that might now come up.
  • You can gain clarity, calmness, and energy.
  • You might even simply feel good, something you might not dare to tell your Ex.

So in your own words write down your reason for giving yourself space, some actual examples are:  

“I want space, because I want more clarity” or “I want space, because I want to get calm and feel my own feeling”

2. Make a written commitment with yourself.

What does it mean to stay away from your ex?

Some want no contact at all, some want to stay in touch through phone calls or messages. If you stay in touch in some way, get clear on how and why and set clear boundaries for yourself. For example:

“I want space for myself, because I want more clarity.
So for the next 10 days I will

  • not meet my Ex in person
  • I will not pick up the phone when my Ex is calling
  • if I get text messages from my Ex, I will not respond immediately. I will respond once a day at 4pm, stating “I got your messages, I am ok”.
  • I will not check their social media page and block them from my stream”

Here the commitment includes letting their partner know they are ok, once a day, but not going into the content of the messages they received, and they let their Ex know ahead of time that is what they will do.

It can really help to put a date and signature to this commitment. And carry a copy with you at all times, e.g. in your wallet or phone case.  

3. Keep a record of how you feel

At least once a day check in with yourself and write down how you feel. The purpose behind this is to have a record of your emotions, while you give yourself space. It is not just a way of honoring your emotions, but can also help you track your progress.

You will notice the benefits of giving yourself space when you keep a record of how you feel.

(Note that it is not just beneficial to feel good, but to allow all your emotions to be present. Remind yourself of the reason you wrote down for doing this, it is all part of the process.)

4. Understand your desires and give them attention.

In step one you have clearly stated a desire – the reason why you want space. And you are honoring that desire by providing yourself a framework, to make sure this desire is met (your commitment from step 2).

The thing is other desires will come up and you will need to prepare for how you want to respond to them, in a way that let’s you honor your commitment.

“I want so see her”, “I want to hear his voice”, “I want to let her know that I am thinking of her, while she is waiting to hear back from (test results, exam, job interview, …) ´”, “He called five times already, it must be important”.

The feelings behind the desires that may come up, could include loneliness, feeling lost, strongly missing someone, or wanting to be needed.

You are used to reacting to these desires in a certain way, e.g. turning to your Ex. This desire can be so strong and the reaction to the desire so familiar, that most people don’t think clearly about it, but simply act on autopilot. So this is where their commitment to themselves gets lost.

But if you are aware about this, and know what to do instead, you will be able to follow through with your commitment and honor your desires. After a few days, you new way of reacting will start to become your familiar habit.

What does that look like?

If X, that means Y, so I will do Z

When I think “I miss her so much” (X), that means I am lonely (Y), so I will honor this feeling by (Z) watching TV and eating cake.

Other examples are: I will honor this feeling by calling my friend Alex, writing into my journal, look at pictures of fluffy goats – you get the picture.

Choose a clear activity, maybe add one or two for different circumstances, so you know exactly what to do whether you are home alone, on your lunch break, or in the subway.
Now add this to your written commitment.

During the timeframe of your commitment to stay away from your Ex, there will be times you want to get in touch with them. But by preparing yourself with the steps above you will know why you are giving yourself space, and you will know exactly what to do instead of heading over there. This enables you to act in the way that you want, instead of reacting to your partner or switching to autopilot as a way to please your other desires.

5. Circumstances that would justify breaking your commitment

What circumstances would justify breaking your commitment and getting in touch with your Ex?

Think about this for a moment and try to come up with some honest answers here.

Play out some scenarios.

  1. You just saw a great art exhibit and she would be so interested in hearing your thoughts
  2. She has a pipe leakage in her home, her kitchen floor is under water and she asks you for help
  3. You need a ride, and it is on her way to work, so it would make your life so much easier if she could pick you up.
  4. Your dog hurt his leg, and you are worried about him.
  5. Your favorite shirt is at her house, and you kinda need that for dinner with your grandparents.

Go through your list and honestly ask yourself what situation would justify breaking your commitment. If you answer yes to any of your scenarios, ask yourself again if there is another option. For example what would you do, if she was not available for the next 3 hours (think of her as being at work, visiting a friend in the hospital, at a job interview, etc.) What would you do instead. Now think if this is a good option to add to your list of reactions you came up with under step 4.

There might be circumstance that would really justify getting in touch and breaking your commitment. And it can be comforting to know that in that case they are still in your life. But these are very clear exceptions. If you know what these exceptions are, if will make it much easier to know when it is not the case and the urgency you might be feeling, is actually a desire that you can meet in a different way.

6. Get support

Now is the time to reach out for support from other people than your Ex. Make a list of people you can reach out to. If you haven’t kept a good bond to individual friends during your relationship, this might seem awkward at first. But I believe that there is someone even in your life that you can reach out to who is than willing to be there for you during such a time. And if you think there isn’t anybody close to you or you simply prefer not to involve them, then reach out for support from a counsellor or coach.

Getting support is particularly important, if you feel that it is hard for you to honor your different desires. If you are not able to stick to your commitment, it is not a failure. Go back to step one and repeat the process. Getting outside support might help you through it.

7. Bonus tip: What to do after the timeframe is up.

Hopefully the above steps help you get clear on what you want, and let you honor your commitment to yourself to stay away from your Ex and give yourself space.

So what do you do after your self set timeframe is up? Reevaluate your situation.

Take a look of your record of feelings. Notice where you are at.

Now that you have had space for yourself, do you feel more connected to yourself?

  • If not, you might need more space. If you haven’t reached out for support yet, from friends or a counsellor, this is a good time to do so.
  • If yes, ask yourself if you want to continue giving yourself space, after all this seems to be doing you good. Maybe there are things that have come up that you really want to address together with your Ex though.

If you and your Ex both want to stay in touch, set yourself a framework that supports you.

You want to meet up again for the first time in two weeks? – Choose your location wisely.
A busy cafe in the afternoon is much more appropriate, than meeting for a movie on a couch at home. In general I would avoid meeting at home and rather choose locations outside. This is especially important when you have a strong physical attraction to each other.

Set yourself a time limit. If you want to meet up for only an hour, it can be a good idea to schedule something afterwards. At least set yourself a reminder on your phone that your timeframe is up.

In general it is good to set an intention for the meeting, and have a framework, what you want to talk about and do during your time together.

What many couples don’t know is that you can see a couples counsellor after a breakup. In fact that is a great way to process some things together, get clarity and closure on issues, and create a framework for a possible future friendship. This is also possible over the phone, in case you do not have a lgbt friendly couples counsellor in your place of living.

 

I hope these tips help you out in times of need. Obviously staying away from your Ex is just one aspect of processing a breakup. Yet it is an important step to reconnect with yourself and to give yourself the space to grief, process, heal, or what ever is appropriate for you. Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions regarding your specific situation. Wishing you strength, love, a good cry and some humor in these times of change.

Much love to you,
Joy

Joy

Joy Zalzala-Soyka – I am a Law of Attraction coach and a multicultural, lesbian mom. I work across Europe and North America, offering you personal sessions over the phone, and books & articles here on www.evolve.how.

Get in touch with me today and let me know what’s on your mind.