How To Get Over Your Ex—And Love Again

· Updated on May 28, 2018

In this week’s Hola Papi!, the advice column by writer, Twitterer, and prolific Grindr user John Paul Brammer, a reader writes in with a story we’ve either experienced or seen in a movie: Your last break-up utterly destroyed you.

We’re not talking about just eating ice cream for two days while watching sappy movies we’re talking about earth-shattering, can’t sleep, doesn’t think love exists anymore kind of devastation.

But even so, among the wreckage of our dear readers love life…he has some hope. And Hola Papi! is here to help him find his way back to love.

If you want his advice, just email him at [email protected] with your question. Just be sure to include SPECIFICS, and don’t forget to start out your letter with Hola Papi!


Hola Papi!I had a breakup not very long ago. He was my first ever relationship and it only lasted for four months. It wasn’t a long relationship, but it was intense. After we broke up, my whole world came crashing down.

I tried dating again, doing things I love, but still I can’t sleep at nights and I feel lonelier than ever. I’m terrified of going to the places we went together. Terrified of attempting something new with someone because I fear that I’ll get hurt again.

The question is: How do I move on? How do I restore my hope and my courage?


Ex Factor

Hello, Ex Factor!

Here we are at last. After fooling around with poppers and problematic role-play, it’s finally time for me, Papi, to supply the bread and butter of advice: I’ve been dumped. What do I do next?

Lucky for you, as a sentient sack of potatoes I am somewhat of an expert on the subject of being dropped. So let’s crack your heart open and start digging around there.

First of all, we should acknowledge this is a fresh situation for you. And yet here you sit before me, already talking about getting back out there. You do not get your arm bitten off by a shark while swimming one day and then attempt the breaststroke the very next, Ex Factor. You need time to heal.

Often times, because emotional wounds can’t be seen physically, we try to simply push through them. To be clear, this is bad. Much like straining yourself while physically ill, this will only increase the time you need to recover, and you run the risk of bungling things with people who had the misfortune of catching you “in a really weird place right now.”

As for courage, well, fear of not wanting to get hurt again while you still feel vulnerable is a healthy thing. It’s probably your heart telling you, “Hey there, give me a second.” The issue is when we stay in this place, when we let the fear become a habit. This in turn keeps us from taking any risks whatsoever. (SPOILER: Every relationship involves risk, especially when you’re trying to start one.)

The aftershocks of your breakup are shaping your worldview and impacting the way you see relationships. For me, a good indicator of where I’m at in the “getting over you” process is the Nostalgia Test.

When I see things that remind me of someone, like a restaurant or a show we watched together, does it inspire a sharp pain in my heart, a dull ache, or nothing at all? By your words, you are on level one: Sharp pain.

Time will help with that, but there are things you can do in the interim. Now is a good time to try something new that has nothing to do with romance. Is there a hobby you’ve always wanted to pick up?

Perhaps it’s kickboxing. Perhaps it’s drawing. Perhaps is reading tarot cards, or necromancy. The world is your oyster! Pick up oyster hunting! Find a rare pearl! Sell it on the black market to a man with an eye patch, fly to Brussels and start anew! Grow a beard! These are all on the table.

This above all, however: Do not dwell. Do something that lets you know you are entering a new phase of life. Listen to some deeply sad music, surround yourself with friends, allow yourself to hurt, and don’t shame yourself for hurting.

When the little things ask you if it’s okay to go, things like your favorite date with him, a happy memory of the two of you laughing at something, be strong enough to say, “Yes.” Then do it. Let go of it.

Gravity will tempt you to rest in that space of gentle hurt, because it will be familiar to you, and, in that sense, safe. It’s a trap.

And if you’re worried about losing things, well, nothing is permanent.

You had a relationship with this guy, and you lost it. But the tea is, you didn’t lose everything. A lot of amazing things happened. You felt some pretty extraordinary emotions. All of that was real, and you’re better off for it.

Whether or not you cling for dear life to your idealized version of those things and hope against hope that someone will somehow replicate those exact feelings in exactly the same way is up to you. But I would advise against it.

Yes, you’ll get hurt again. To be alive is to hurt. Have you stepped outside lately? It hurts! Hurt isn’t something we can avoid forever. It’s a fact of life we have to accept and manage.

That takes courage.


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