Post-breakup life is hard. You bounce between wanting to text your ex, jumping on a new relationship, and scrolling through old photos. Thankfully, you’re not alone. The trials and tribulations of heartache are well-documented in the eyes of cinema. To reassure but also realign your post-breakup game plan, here are a few mistakes to avoid—as seen in your favorite movies.
1. "(500) Days of Summer" - Constantly picturing what could have been.
Set against the backdrop of dreamy Los Angeles, this movie is a good look at falling out of love. A particularly heartbreaking scene is when Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Tom thinks he’s about to get back together with his ex when she announces her engagement to another man. On top of that, Tom lets his breakup ruin every part of his life, from his friendships to his career.
Tom’s main vice was his constant flashbacks to the past. He played their relationship over and over again in his head, even extrapolating what it could’ve been. It’s hard to navigate life without constantly thinking about your ex, but the only person who can get you out of your rut is yourself. That means hanging out with friends you enjoy to distract you from thoughts of your ex. It means picking up new hobbies to find what sparks your inner curiosity again. It also means cleaning up your living space and removing anything that reminds you of your relationship. And for some, moving out of that space completely is what helps them cope.
2. "Crazy, Stupid, Love" - Getting revenge on your ex with new conquests.
Steve Carell’s Cal is a lovable guy, but there’s a point in this movie where his smooth-talking prowess becomes a tool of destruction. While coping from his wife’s decision to separate, Cal takes the advice of Ryan Gosling’s Jacob to sleep the pain away. Soon, Cal’s clothes, behaviors, and priorities change, which makes him forget who he is. It’s comical to watch Cal’s transformation in this film, but you can also see his behavior as a cry for help. Divorce is painful, especially with kids, a house, and an entire life to dismantle. But when you’re embarking on new hobbies or relationships, it’s important to evaluate how your priorities are changing with this new life. More importantly, evaluate the reasons for your behavior. If it’s about pursuing your passions and finding happiness again, go for it! But if the main reason is to get revenge on your ex, emotional consequences are inevitable.
3. "Ingrid Goes West" - Relying on social media to cure your sadness.
We meet Aubrey Plaza’s character Ingrid as she tries to repair her life after the death of her mother. Through social media stalking and manipulation, she becomes close friends with an Instagram influencer, but things turn south when her real intentions are unveiled. While this film is a commentary on the age of Instagram, it also dives into how toxic social media can be when we’re at our worst. For Ingrid, she lost a friend, a mother, and herself, which encouraged a reliance on likes and comments for inner acceptance. Long story short, don’t do this. Deleting Instagram off your phone is good during any stage of life because it allows you to see the reality of your situation a bit clearer. It gives you time to pursue IRL friendships, read insightful books, and repair yourself organically. More importantly, it allows you to see your wins without comparing them to other people’s lives on social media.
4. "Bridesmaids" - A good example of how to get out of your funk.
Annie’s life completely falls apart within five minutes of this film. She goes on to get kicked out of her best friend’s bridal party, her relationship with a genuinely sweet man doesn’t work out, and she gets evicted and moves back home. With not much to lean on, Annie submits to a life of watching television on her couch. After a breakup, there’s an acceptable amount of time to let yourself slip into reclusiveness. However, it might be smart to set up a deadline for getting your life back in shape. For Annie, it was the wise words of Melissa McCarthy’s Megan that kicked her in the butt and got her off that couch. She started baking again, a skill she repressed but was very talented at. And when her friend Lillian started having cold feet before her wedding, Annie pushed their tension aside and sprang to action. “Bridesmaids” is really a breakup game plan to follow. Whether it’s going back to your happy place or helping out a friend in need, actions speak louder than words.