OPINION: 7 dos and don’ts for life after a breakup


A collage of photos courtesy of Ashton Byers when she was first stationed in the Air Force in England. The photos show the ups and downs of my life and the choices I made following a bad breakup. Photos courtesy of Ashton Byers

Ashton Byers

DISCLAIMER: I in no way claim to be a dating expert, nor do I expect my advice to be fully compatible to yours as a reader. I am simply sharing what I have learned over the years with the hopes that it may somehow help you while navigating the dating scene.

Something strange happens when you turn 29. 

You begin to reflect on your younger years and realize you have to take ownership of your life. Past mistakes can’t be blamed on the fact that you’re still a naive girl in her early 20s. A 29-year-old should know better. 

That’s why after years of dating, I feel more compelled than ever to share with you the list I’ve compiled of what to do and what not to do following a breakup. 

One of the most memorable breakups that I’ve ever had happened in England, where I was stationed overseas with the Air Force in 2010.

After six months of dating and being cheated on, I made the decision to venture out to London alone. What followed changed my life completely. 

I decided to go to the English capital alone, fully unaware of the chaos about to take place. Carrying professional modeling photographs, I arrived in Piccadilly Circus where I hoped to find a modeling agency.

What 19-year-old woman wouldn’t have wanted the chance to model in London? 

Once I made it past the hurdle of a swift career change, I gave up on my dream of becoming a model, and made my way back to the tube station. 

I arrived there only to find out they had to stop all travels due to riots stemming from police brutality. So there I was, alone on a train in a rioting city, trying to make it back to the military base, with the realization that a broken heart wasn’t worth it.

That’s when I started this list, a guideline for what to do (and not to do) after a breakup.

  1. DON’T go to a big city alone

I made it back to base safely following a series of unfortunate events which included being stuck in London due to the underground train station coming to a halt for safety concerns. This is one lesson I don’t desire to learn again.

  1. DON’T get a tattoo or a new piercing

If you ever feel that nagging urge to let the pain leave your body at the stick of a needle as it applies ink to your skin, go for it, but not because of another person. 

  1. DON’T change your hair color

While I am all for a fresh cut and color, these things should be avoided when emotions run high. Once you gather your thoughts, allow the tears to dry and get a good look at yourself in the mirror. Then, you can decide. 

  1. DON’T give your ex a second chance

I can’t stress enough how much of a bad idea this truly is. There’s an old saying I like that goes, “When it’s over, leave. Don’t continue watering a dead flower.” Sometimes we have to let go of the life we have planned to make room for the life that’s waiting for us.

  1. DON’T get a high-maintenance pet

If you do, your need for companionship will fade, but you’ll still need to take care of an animal that probably shouldn’t even be domesticated. While I’m all for people getting cats or dogs following a breakup, avoid getting animals you have no idea how to take care of.

When I was stationed in England, I got three water turtles. They are the smelliest things I’ve ever owned. 

  1. DO block your ex

A breakup is equivalent to an open wound. Keeping an ex on social media and remaining in contact with that person is like rubbing salt on the wound. What you need now is distance and time. Once you’ve mastered the art of what not to do following a breakup, you can begin the healing process. 

  1. DO get the hell out of bed

They say time heals all, I think it requires time and self-love. Plan a road trip or a girls’ night out. Whatever you do, don’t stay home and mope while watching Netflix. This will only increase your desire to text your ex, essentially self-sabotaging your efforts to move on. If you aren’t quite ready to enter the dating scene, then take yourself out on a date. When the time comes you’ll know. It typically happens when we stop searching, once we have done the internal work and learned from our past.