Ask Anna: Putting the break in breakup

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Dear Anna,

I recently went through a breakup and every time I think I’m finally starting to get over him something happens to prevent me from that, and then he gives me mixed signals. One time I was talking to a guy and he completely comes out of nowhere and interrupts our conversation. I’m wondering if you have any tips for this. — Not Quite Over It

Dear NQOI,

You need a real break. One that doesn’t involve talking, hanging out, texting, social media stalking or … inviting him on your dates. That’s probably not what you described above, but why was your ex-boyfriend there in the first place? If he’s giving you mixed signals, then it’s on you to stop receiving them. Give yourself the time and space you need to get over him, to grieve the relationship and to heal.

I know it’s not easy. But the short term joy you’ll get from seeing him, from hoping you’ll get back together, from having him in your life in some small way isn’t worth the long-term pain of muddling through this in-between purgatory state. Instead, distract yourself with other things. Cultivate pieces of yourself you’ve let languish. Seek friends. Seek hobbies. Seek any and every joy you can get your hands on. (And a Hitachi.)

You’re not ready to be friends with your ex, not yet anyway. So don’t be. It’s not a weakness or a flaw to admit you need more time and space. Breakups are hard, but prolonging the agony by hanging out with him when you’re not in a good place to do so is just going to make the pain worse.