7 Ways To Get Over A Guy – In 7 Days (Yes, Really)


Susan Barrett |

Photography by Pexels

Some guy got you all self-hating? There is a way to kill the hurt quick and bounce back stronger than you were before you even met him. Also, it’s kinda fun…

We know, everything just sucks. It’s hard to get perspective when you’re all pyjamaed up with your face in a bowl of tear-soaked ice cream. Here’s how one woman got over her heartbreak in record time – and you can too. No dark glasses required.

Follow these seven steps and, even if you’re not totally over him by the end, you’ll be closer to it – and you’ll like yourself a whole lot more.

1. Sign up for something that scares you

DO IT: Ever been mid-bungee and stopped to think about your ex? Thought so. The reality is that you’re going to need to step out of your comfort zone for this one. Okay, it doesn’t have to be something that literally stops your heart – just something that makes it beat a little faster, and changes its focus from the guy who broke it to the person who’s really important: you.

Tamer options include: Pop in on a yoga session if you’ve never done it before; sign up for a rock-climbing class; hire a SUP for the day. You’ll instantly feel more in touch with yourself… You’ll appreciate being alive. And you’ll feel powerful.

For me, step #1 involved a camping trip. I’d said yes before I even read the invitation – because I’d recently spotted the tail of the hamster I was turning into when I checked out my butt in the mirror. I did not know that I would be driving an iSuzu 4×4 through otherwise inaccessible parts of the Kruger National Park on the hairy northern Mafunyane Trail. (Note to reader: You need to put this trip on your bucket list!) I also didn’t know that the weekend before said trip I would be left stranded with a giant togbag in the middle of Johannesburg by the boy I’d recklessly given my heart to. It was great timing.

2. Be by yourself

DO IT: Family and friends are valuable when you’re down, but we tend to allow ourselves to enter major wallow territory with them – because we can. Even if you’d rather set your hair on fire than navigate the pain solo, ask them to give you space. Then go out and do something by yourself, whether that involves a simple walk in the park, or that thing that gets your heart racing (see above). Go for coffee alone, the movies, alone; anything you would traditionally do with others, do it alone. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can pull yourself together when the emotional crutch is missing.

In my case, this meant exiting the comfort of my bestie’s Joburg home (where I got to drink papsak and wander aimlessly around the garden in my broeks) to spend a night alone in a random Pretoria guesthouse (where I could not do that). I had to act normal. It worked. And it gave me the head space to actually feel a little excited about setting off on my Kruger adventure the next day…

3. Step into a totally different environment

DO IT: Break away from your usual routine. Live in a tent for a night (you can do this in your back garden too). Get on the Baz Bus and experience SA’s string of quirky backpackers (you will meet interesting people). If you’re a more sensitive type, hire a chalet or check in at a random B&B, as above. Other cool options that don’t involve actually going away or dropping cash, but still mean a change of scene: forests, beaches, mountains, lakes – they’re free. At the very least, rearrange your furniture – a different space equals different feels.

Had I stayed in my broekies at my bestie’s, or worse, begowned in my own tiny flat in Cape Town, I imagine I would still be hung up on that guy. (What was his name again?) Lucky for me, I got to step into a wholly different scene in Kruger. Think: an eco trail which, by its very nature, cuts out all the bullshit, leaving you surrounded by miles of breathtaking nothing, your only concerns reaching your next camp without flipping your car, what’s going to be on your plate at the next braai and what might eat you en route to your next bush wee.

4. Face yourself, preferably in nature (because it doesn’t judge)

DO IT: Be brave and just let go of the foundation for a day. Take your naked face outside. I won’t lie: initially, if you’re anything like me, there will be a silent scream. But you’ll be surprised how quickly you adjust – and actually start to like the true you again.

Speed up the process: Do a bare-faced hike to a remote stream, then go all the way! I promise you, the thrill of a skinny dip makes a lot of problems go away – including boy troubles. (Just don’t make it a habit, for the obvious health and safety reasons…)

Or take it slow: Take a no-make-up selfie. You can still filter it up a bit, and it might take a couple of attempts, but it will make you feel better about yourself. Just stare at the winning shot for a while. No actual posting required.

I didn’t have much choice – by Kruger Day 1, the heat had blithely wiped away all my “look pretty so people will like you” efforts. But no one ran screaming. In fact, no one even noticed. By Day 4 my make-up bag was lost, I was still wearing the same outfit I’d arrived in, my bed-hair game was on fire, and I’d started to feel completely at ease with the face that, until now, I’d thought only my mother could love.

5. Hang out with strong women – and learn their skills

DO IT: You can find strong women everywhere – and they will change your world view. Volunteer at the SPCA or any NGO, chat to the lifeguards at your local beach, talk to a nurse, pop in on a CrossFit box or Krav Maga class, call your mom or your gran. (If you’re shy, read a Beyonce interview.)

Way to really empower yourself: take that advanced driving course, or just learn how to change a tyre; sign up for night school or a short course through your closest varsity or college; acquire a new skill, even if it’s just through watching a YouTube video; give a typically male-dominated sport a whirl – soccer, boxing or surfing, anyone?

I hate to admit it, but I felt like a spoilt little fit girl sitting round a fire with my camp mates – all seasoned travel journos and petrol heads. Because these women were strong. Just that morning, they’d rescued a 4×4 from a muddy riverbank with a length of rope and pure grit. Then didn’t even blink before ploughing the next five cars through the same skid zone. No one considered calling for help. They don’t need help. Or men. They want them, and they have them, but they certainly don’t need them. The crush that had hijacked my entire ego suddenly just felt embarrassing… I realised I needed to change a tyre – and fast.

6. Switch off your phone (obvs)

DO IT: Okay, so if you’re not staring down a thorn bush in Kruger, you have two options. The first one is easier. Get out of signal. There are nearby places that literally take you off the grid within three hours from every major city. High-five SA for your deliciously slow technological progress. The second one requires fortitude: just switch off your phone. Or take it right back to the Nineties and switch off everything except for the call/SMS function.

This step is probably the most vital one – and, obviously, the hardest. I was lucky: bad signal and, bar the charge point in the Isuzu (okay, it also had WiFi, but I had Made Up My Mind), essentially an only-for-emergencies phone. The moment you “can’t” check when last he was online is the moment you stop caring. And all of a sudden you can be in your own moment without that nagging feeling sucking all the fun out of it.

7. Tell a stranger your story

DO IT: (Because this one really works.) Tell your story to someone you’ve never met before. And tell them in as much gritty detail as you can bear.

I told mine – and it was simultaneously cathartic and eye-opening. Firstly, when narrating to a stranger, you’re telling someone who doesn’t know him – or you. You are forced to explain in a way that outlines both sides. And it forces you to see both sides. Aka The Bigger Picture. The humanness of you and your ex. He’s easier to get over when he’s not on a pedestal. It’s easier to forgive yourself when you’re not on the floor.

It was the last night – and it was the cherry on top. I had gained more than perspective. I liked myself more than him. I was ready to try again. I hope you are too.

One sure-fire way to empower yourself (also, it helps in the bedroom…) is to get closely acquainted with your vagina. Now you can take a virtual tour through your lady parts! Plus: Get the low-down on how your vagina changes in your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.

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