How do I move on from a bad breakup?

Q. I'm 18 and just broke up with my first serious boyfriend. Actually, it was him who did the breaking up. We were together for two years, and then he dropped me, just like that. He said it wasn't working out for him and a bunch of other vague stuff like that, and then he cut me off. I was so crushed that nobody knew what to do to help me, not even my parents or my friends. It's been a month and I am still so hurt and depressed. I don't want to get over him. I just want things to go back to the way they were.

A. The pain of having your heart broken can feel like it's going to last forever. It feels even worse when the relationship has been monumental in some way, e.g. he was your first kiss, the one you lost your virginity to, etc. As regrettable as your suffering is right now, your response to this loss is actually normal. Though your friends and family are worried about you, rest assured that you're not going crazy.

Getting the rug pulled out from under you by a man you're intimately involved would hurt anyone. But do you know why this situation is especially difficult for you to accept? The emotional stamp that a first boyfriend leaves behind is one of the most psychologically potent; moreover, "It's the only time you're ever in love where you've never had your heart broken," says the author of ‘Virginity Lost: An Intimate Portrait of First Sexual Experiences’. So yes, the going's going to be tough for a while yet.

One of the best things you can do right now is to get out your thoughts and feelings with someone, anyone! Even responding honestly to a stranger's, "How are you?" yields kind reassurance from an unlikely source! Another important point is to limit the amount of time you wallow in misery, setting aside an allotment of time throughout the day to feel the grief. Use this period to write in a journal or kick a punching bag. This allows you to focus on feeling what you need to without playing the tape of despair over and over in your mind. Lastly, regularly schedule activities that you think will make you feel good and, if need be, force yourself! The agony will progressively lessen.

You mentioned that the break up came as a surprise. Since you can't know the real reason he put an end to it (and you never might), consider for a moment that the split might have had little or nothing to do with you. As you get more dating experience under your belt - which yes, you will - you'll soon recognize that a person's circumstances, as well as their maturity level, life situation, state of transition, etc., play a huge role in their decision to continue in a relationship. Sometimes, it doesn't matter who they're with, they just need to be single and figure things out. You haven't yet had the context to realize that you needn't take the parting too personally, and the last thing you need to do is draw unwarranted conclusions about something that may have little to do with your character, looks or personality.

How do you deal with dating again? You'll be better prepared to move on if you allow sufficient time to mourn. Forgive yourself for what you think you might have done to deserve the dump. As difficult as it sounds, stay open to new love. You'll always be immune from getting hurt if you never open yourself up again, but the downside is that you won't experience the depth of joy and love if you live in the past. You may not regain self-confidence right away, but it will come back gradually if you take it easy on yourself.