For Your Consideration: 30 Slightly Unhinged Post-Breakup Activities That Aren’t Actually That Bad

for your consideration

Welcome to For Your Consideration, a series about things we love and love to do — and we’d like to give you permission to embrace your authentic self and love them too.


1. Collect bottle caps like you did when you were 12.

2. Bleach your hair. Duh.

3. Get really into face masks.

4. Suddenly start using Instagram stories way more frequently.

5. Throw things at other things — but in a safe, purposeful, socially acceptable way. Horseshoes, bowling, darts, corn hole, skee-ball, etc. Anger feels like the least productive emotion, but you’re feeling a lot of it. Throwing things can be nice.

6. Develop a new hobby or two or seven. Preferably something with your hands. Because your hands hold onto so much that isn’t even there anymore, and when they’re still, you start to feel out of order, submerged. If you keep them moving, if you jolt yourself from being too still for too long, it’s easier to stay afloat. There’s no better time than now to learn how to knit or weld or watercolor. Haven’t you always wanted to garden?

7. Go on a 72-hour bender of playing the Sims. Delete the game when you accidentally make your characters break up with each other.

8. Start cooking again but make chaotic meals like lasagna for breakfast and a Virginia-style peanut pie for dinner.

When you can’t decide between steak and clams one night at the fancy grocery store, buy both. Make a ridiculous dinner-for-one:

Rub the ribeye with salt and pepper and garlic powder and sear it on both sides for under a minute before throwing the cast iron in the oven for another eight.

Wash the outsides of the shelled littlenecks and arrange them in a shallow pan with melted butter and chopped garlic and some of the white wine you’re also drinking. Turn up the heat and put a lid on top and wait for the steam to make them open up their mouths.

Throw broccoli and bok choy in the oven with some lemon and sesame oil and garlic. Cook until charred.

It’s an elaborate dinner that all takes less than 30 minutes to make. It’s perfect. Eat every last bite in bed.

9. Download two different astrology apps and throw your phone across the room when one tells you something you’re not ready to hear.

10. Watch so much goddamn reality television that the seams of reality start to unravel.

11. Re-read Bluets by Maggie Nelson over and over and over. It is the perfect breakup book, and when you dye your hair blue it isn’t technically because of it, but it also maybe is just a little bit. Start seeing blue everywhere, the temporary side effect of reading this book always. But it’s nice this time, because it means a little break from the latest repeated image you can’t seem to escape: seeing her name everywhere — you know, the other girl’s. Could it really pop up that often? (It can.)

Maybe obsessing over the color blue for a bit will help you stop obsessing over that number, too, the number you never knew and never will. Why does it bother you so much? Not knowing how many times they fucked? Why did you ask so many times? That number wouldn’t change anything, wouldn’t matter at all. But you hate not knowing it.

Re-read Bluets exactly three times and then put it back on the shelf where it belongs.

12. Re-organize your bookshelves.

13. Cross a very important item off of your bucket list: making out with someone while “Everywhere” by Michelle Branch plays.

14. Smell. Everything. It will be a very long time before you stop associating certain smells with her, you think. It may take approximately forever, you’re told. But in the beginning it’s too much. It’s all the time. It’s every goddamn smell. Well, if “smells, like music, hold memories,” like Arundhati Roy writes in God Of Small Things, then you’re just going to overwhelm your scent glands with so much smell-noise that maybe just maybe you can rewire something.

Cook with even more garlic than usual — an impossible amount. She used to tell you the spot behind your ears smelled like garlic because you spent so much time engulfed in it in the kitchen.

Place a sunflower on your windowsill and smell it in the morning.

Dab tea tree oil behind your ears. But not too much, because it dries the skin, leaves it feeling abrasive in a way you kind of like but also probably isn’t good for skin. (Despite all those face masks you’re doing, you have no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to skincare.) She used to always have tea tree oil-laced toothpicks in her mouth when you first met her, would chew them down into a gummy mash and then spit them out. She stopped when they started hurting her teeth, and you missed their taste for a bit.

15. Try every kind of dumb, fancy bottled cold brew drink at your grocery store.

16. Make a map of all the places you’ve cried in the city. You’re bad at drawing maps and always have been. You remember in elementary school when you had to make a map of your neighborhood and you couldn’t quite grasp the concept of a consistent scale, placing your house way too close to Stacy’s house and the field too far away.

Your map is equally fucked up this time, and that’s okay. It’s a shitty map to commemorate a shitty thing. Sometimes, you have to commemorate the bad stuff because it’s not like your brain will let you forget anyway.

17. Make bad art, but make good art, too.

18. Reinvent your sense of personal style approximately every two weeks.

19. Post photos of yourself on Instagram and only photos of yourself. Flood your feed with selfies. You never thought you’d be the kind of person who only posts themselves, but here you are.

Someone tells you that the first thing that gets better in the wake of a breakup fueled by infidelity is your self-confidence. It’s the first thing to come back, they tell you. (Trust, meanwhile, will take forever.) And you want to believe it, but you aren’t quite sure. So take selfie after selfie after selfie and shamelessly crave attention from everyone because the one person you want it from won’t give it to you.

Eventually, you really will just be doing it for you.

20. Train to become a dungeon master for Dungeons & Dragons and rope a few friends who have never played before into becoming your players. Eventually. Because it will take some time to read the 300+ page book on how to get started as a dungeon master, and you want to get this right, because you want to get everything right. You hate when things go wrong, even when it’s not your fault that they do. (But somehow, you always think it’s your fault.)

It turns out you have to draw maps for this shit, too.

Build a whole world. Spend hours on it. Too many hours. Put so much time into planning to play Dungeons & Dragons that it becomes unclear if you’ll ever actually play. (You will. In time.) There’s nothing wrong with being thorough. There’s nothing wrong with replacing the bad obsessive thoughts with good ones, with playful, fantastical ones that remind you what it was like to build whole worlds as a kid, to learn a new game and struggle at it happily.

21. Quote a T*ylor Sw*ft lyric in a sext and then immediately regret it.

22. Build a table?

23. Go to the same museum once a week every week for a couple months. You don’t even need to look intently at everything every time. Sometimes, you can just sit there, just let the work sort of permeate you passively like when you would jump through a cloud of body spray a very long time ago.

24. Take everything off the walls of your room and leave them blank and punctured for a few days before putting new things up. Or the old things in a new arrangement.

25. Yes, make that breakup playlist, bitch.

26. Write letters — some that you send but most that you don’t.

27. Develop one million crushes.

28. Start carrying an absurd amount of non-essential things in your bag every day. Those bottle caps. A cribbage board and cards. Several essential oils. Books you’ve already read. Smooth rocks that you can reach for when anxiety kicks in. Dried, dead flowers that you forget about and turn to dust when you’re rummaging around for your keys.

29. Tweet your drafts.

30. Move across the country. Or think about moving across the country but then realize how much you like it here, now, and start to see here in a different light. Burn that map of every place you’ve cried.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 863 articles for us.

139 Comments

  1. Psychology Today lists 59 different types of therapy on their website, but inexplicably omits “Kaylaian.” I’m going to pen a sternly worded letter to the editor to rectify this grievous oversight.

        • You’ve given us all an opportunity to build this community by participating in a challenge together! A fun activity that incidentally lets us all show you our appreciation for you! And drive up engagement metrics to support the site. I’m sure that was what you were planning. So generous and thoughtful of you!

          Are there any other burning questions on your mind that we can help you with? Put each in a separate comment, please, for, um, ease of responding. ;)

  2. There are so many options to chose from WHICH LYRIC

    was it “I’ll do anything you say if you say it with your hands”???

    • I knew I couldn’t be the only person on this planet who thought that song was about fisting. Thanks for confirming this.

  3. Amazing article, but really just contributing to find out that Taylor Swift lyric. Challenge accepted!!!

  4. These things aren’t unhinged at all! And Bluets is really the best breakup book ever.

  5. There must be some recent break up people on here who can count leaving comments until we find out about the Taylor Swift lyric as a legitimate post break up activity!

    • I am a Certified Recent Breakup Person and jusy commented. Such is the power of the AS community!

    • I’ve gotten into water coloring and I gotta say it’s a wonderful hobby!!! Especially if you have a little travel kit and brush and just pop it out anywhere. Wait I might actually pitch a fit your consideration about it…would that be chill? Especially during the summer it’s SUCH a nice hobby for sitting outside.

    • I also am fond of No.27 : 1 million crushes. I’d add for bonus points, to launch a balloon for each one

    • One item I will definitely try : lucky no. 13 : making out with someone while listening to Everywhere by Michelle Branch. It’s not on The Playlist though !

      • And possibly my favourite : no.5 : Throw things.

        I stopped reading after these two words. They were enough.

  6. This feels very timely. I’ve had a few good cries driving and in the shower recently so it’s a bit hard to burn that map up. lol

  7. I joined a daily photo group on Facebook post break up and got to know a load of people and one of them in the year I joined started hosting an annual party in Cornwall, so so this June will be my 5th party/holiday in Cornwall. Which I enjoyed even though I am an introvert.

    • What an actually productive activity! I bet your (hypothetical or real) therapist was so proud of you

  8. #31: Trying to dye your hair purple with Manic Panic without lifting your (very dark) natural color. This will not dye your hair, but it will dye your bathtub and your sink and make you feel productive for a few hours.

    • I have lots of brown hair dye splotches in my bathroom, purple would be more fun! (and more obviously hair dye then brown is)

    • Looking forward to “For Your Consideration: Flagrantly Daring Your Community to Show Their Support for You.”

        • Ooooh, a compliment on my commenting-jib fashion, why thank you! I pair it with a pirate hat, pajama pants, and my black-with-rainbow-edging shawl for maximum fashion awesomeness.

    • Honestly, I could probably bump this from #98 to #104 by my clumsy attempts to add an Arrested Development gif. But I’ll just do it The I old fashioned way

  9. Did you know that according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Pol Poulsen of Denmark holds the world record for largest bottle cap collection, with more than 101,700 unique bottle caps from around the world?

  10. Let’s play “Guess the TS lyrics”
    My guess: Say my name and everything just stops
    I don’t want you like a best friend
    Only bought this dress so you could take it off
    Take it off (ha, ha, ha)

    • I’m sure its actually something from Bad Reputation but I desperately want it to be a lyric from love story. If someone ever sexted me ” You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess
      It’s a love story, baby just say yes” I’d either block her forever or marry her, there’s no inbetween.

  11. Another Guess:
    In silent screams, and wildest dreams
    I never dreamed of this

  12. Hmm which ERA of Taylor Swift do we think it was? My head says probably something from the last five years, but my heart says it’s much funnier if it was a line from, like, “Tim McGraw.”

    • Rep is def the most explicit era… but “slammin’ screen door” is def a lyric I could work into a sext ;)

    • Maybe it’s a BDSM text
      “You, with your words like knives
      And swords and weapons that you use against me
      You, have knocked me off my feet again,
      Got me feeling like a nothing”

      • this was a good guess given that i wrote about knifeplay mere weeks ago

  13. A lot of these ideas are good for breaking up the monotony of daily life sometimes… The chaotic meals is definitely something I do every so often!

    For me, breakups involve listening to really sad or emo music on repeat. I let myself wallow in the misery for a little while, and it feels good in a cathartic kind of way. Then I start trying to force myself to move on in different ways, and it eventually works.

    Sending some <3s out there to all y'all! (and adding to the comments heheh)

    • Totally agree re: breaking the monotony of daily life! I’m reminded of a tumblr post that goes, “Do you ever cycle through the same 4 apps on your phone over and over again and feel like a tiger pacing its cage at the zoo? If you’re doing this, it is because you, like the tiger, need enrichment and variety in your life. May I suggest cramming just a whole bunch of raw hamburger into a pumpkin and rolling it around your enclosure?”

  14. I don’t think I’ve commented in years, but I love a challenge and everything about this!

    • hi darcy! darcy is my actual name and i feel like some part of me has logged in for the first time in years! rofl

      • Hi Darcy! I’m so glad I could help you have this experience! I owe it all to my curiosity and will think of you fondly when I start using the lyrics while sexting.

          • Yeah then you could blow up the comments section on the “dating someone with your name” article too

            “For Your Consideration: Dating Someone Because the AS Commentariat Dared You To”

  15. I continue to love everything about this series and, for my contribution to the 100, here is my personal list of 10 totally fine break-up behaviors

    1. Start religiously attending hot yoga 2x a weekend
    2. Take a completely different, circuitous route home from hot yoga because the train passes through her neighborhood and you look super cute on the way there, but not so much on the way back. It’s fine, you have more time to read
    3. Be inspired by a FYC column to start eating lunch/dinner foods for breakfast. Realize it’s the first thing that’s worked as far as getting you out of bed in the morning
    4. Walk everywhere. Average 10 miles a day. Wear out three new pairs of shoes in six months. Fall back in love with the city.
    5. Spend what should have been your anniversary walking the length of Manhattan (it was incredible and I so highly recommend)
    6. Read back over both of your horoscopes from the months before the break-up to figure out if you should have seen it coming
    7. Venmo stalk.
    8. Listen to “Look What You Made Me Do” on repeat one for a few months. Consider “honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time” as a tattoo. (I (thankfully?) changed my mind)
    9. Spontaneously drunkenly pierce your cartilage. Don’t think this through (because you’re drunk), get it on the side you sleep on. But you were struggling to sleep alone anyway, so it’s not like it makes that big of a difference.
    10. Quietly freak out when the song that played the first time you kissed her plays in the restaurant when you’re on a new first date. It’s not a popular song, you don’t think it ever got any radio play. You listened to it on repeat one for weeks after you first got together. You deeply believe in the psychic power of the radio/shuffle and have absolutely no idea what to make of this.

    Keep seeing the girl from the new first date. Read the new FYC column on your phone on the way home after meeting her for dinner three months after the night that song played and start making a joking companion list. Realize that you haven’t actually looked at your ex’s Venmo in months and don’t feel a need to check now. Realize you feel like a completely different person than you did in the months after your break up. Realize that somehow everything feels okay again and hasn’t felt not okay in a while.

    (Thank you again for everything Kayla, I truly wouldn’t be here right now if not for this column)

      • I DON’T KNOW. My relationship ended because of a long term lying situation and I got several different answers about what happened based on her sobriety at the time. So if it all started about a month earlier than I thought, it was definitely reflected in our horoscopes (across several platforms!). But I’m not sure it did! And doing that was very unhealthy and didn’t make me feel better!!

  16. Anyone else remember the last time there was a massive TSwift fueled comment spike on AS, with the Lady Gaga article? Can’t wait for the big reveal.

    • I started to read Autostraddle more or less at 5he time of the Taylor Swift article

  17. This post is causing me inner turmoil. It’s so good I want to share it with everyone. But also isn’t it too good to share with the straight world? But maybe straight people would be less annoying if they took Kayla’s advice. But really, it’s too good to share with the straight world.

    Kayla posts are like Erin posts in that I don’t think the world outside Autostraddle is equipped to properly handle them.

  18. I really feel that balance between indulgent and in trouble with therapist. I just want her to be proud of me! And also I just want to be chaotic! Fine line to walk

  19. We did it! This is #101. Good work, team, and thanks for this bonus entertainment on a great article, Kayla!

  20. Oh my, the million crushes!

    Some of these things I do without any particular connection to heartbreak – reorganizing my library, writing letters (to send or not), and knitting – but I just wanted to comment on what a sense of strength this piece gave.

  21. There once was a writer named Kayla
    who sexted a lyric from Taylor,
    which she swore to relate
    if we all took the bait –
    she inspired an all-day-long gala.

    “For Your Consideration: Inspire Others to Write Poetry, Or At Least Doggerel, About You”

  22. wow………..WOW!!!!! smh!!!! ok y’all earned it!!!!!!!!!!

    sooooo the wild thing is that MICHELLE…literally guessed it on the very first try!!!!!!! the taylor swift lyric i quoted in a sext was “and I’ll do anything you say, if you say it with your hands” from the song Treacherous from taylor’s best album (imo) Red. I’M SORRY IF THIS IS ANTICLIMACTIC BUT I TRULY CANNOT BELIEVE SOMEONE GUESSED IT SO EARLY ON!!!!!

    in case u were wondering, yes, I did cite my sources in the sext.

    • Thank you for sharing. I’m curious about the outcome of the sext, although I appreciate you never said you said you’d share that.

      • Right? Buncha librarians and academics here, of course we all swoon over that detail.

        If someone ever sexted me a lyric and cited their source APA style, much like someone above thought about “you be the prince” lyrics, that’s either an immediate block or a marry, no in between.

    • If there’s two things I know it’s erotica and Taylor Swift lyrics! Oh man, I woke up hungover and the one thing carrying me through to work this morning was the possibility of this reveal <3 A+ choice – her queerest, most erotic lyric by far.

  23. I think the only one of these I’ve done is the astrology app thing and I feel personally attacked by Co-Star every day. Also I’m now very adept at driving and crying so that map thing is gonna get complicated really quickly. But I love these ideas. Also I just post photos of my cat instead of me on Instagram now.

    • Also we have a Break Room where I live where you literally get a bunch of stuff to break safely!

  24. This list is AMAZING.

    Since my recent breakup, I have built furniture, reorganized my bookshelves and closets, blasted my breakup mix (really it’s mostly all Lizzo) on repeat, started walking shelter dogs, started working out more, and began a pottery class. Hooray to post-breakup activities.

  25. OH WHAT I missed a comment challenge?! Remember when we got the 69th Comment Awards to exactly 69 comments and no more? There is nothing we can’t accomplish

  26. “There’s no better time than now to learn how to knit” so I just wanted to tell y’all that I did, I did learn how to knit! I’ve knitted 7 socks already which is 7 more than I’ve ever knitted before in my life and I’m very pleased. I’m knitting socks like crazy now because I’ve always wanted to learn and I inherited my grandmother’s needles when my grandfather passed away and I loved them both so so much and now they are gone. Oh and also I got dumped. So you know. Tryin’ to not keep my hands still. Autostraddle remains my all-time favourite website and the only place on the internet I ever read the comments. Love you all so much!

    (Language learning is suuuper domain specific and boy, I have never spoken about knitting in English before and it sounds so silly to me, why do you guys call it “needles”?)

  27. i wish there was a like button on articles, because I LIKE THIS. sincerely, -freshly single

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