How to Get Over a Breakup — From Ovid
For Every Burnt Romantic
If you’ve ever felt like your heart split open after someone said goodbye, this is for you.
And it doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or girl, we all feel heartbreak the same. It stings, it melts and it tears us apart inside.
“I’m going out of my mind, oh
With a pain that stops and starts
Like a corkscrew to my heart
Ever since we’ve been apart.”
— Bob Dylan
But in the end, a broken heart can make us stronger than we ever thought possible, because overcoming loss gives us a new layer of skin, even making us more complete as individuals…
But first, we need to mend that precious heart, our center of affection…
The Lady’s Man of ancient Rome, the poet Ovid, wrote The Art of Love, solid advice on how to find (and keep) love.
Then, realizing that most romantic loves don’t work out, he did a follow up called The Cure for Love. This was for the burnt — how to get over a breakup.
Not surprisingly, this ancient wisdom still holds water today. Here’s things I wish I would’ve known after I lost my first love, as it took at least six months to get over it.
Perhaps these tips can speed up the healing process…
Hang out with friends and family — Get around the people who do love you unconditionally, people who were there before this romantic interest came into your life. And most of all, stay away from lonely places!
“You who love, beware lonely places, lonely places are harmful! Why flee? You can be safer in a crowd. You don’t need secrecy (secrecy nurtures passion): in future it’s the crowd that will assist you. If you’re alone, you’ll be sad, and the form of the girl you’ve left will be there before your eyes, so like herself. Because of that, night’s sadder than the daylight: your crowd of friends missing, who might ease the gloom. Don’t shun conversation, or let your door be closed, don’t hide your tearful face in the shadows.”
Stay busy — Don’t just sit around reminiscing about the good times, create new ones. “Give your vacant mind work to occupy it,” Ovid commands the broken. He especially recommends travelling:
“You only need to journey far, though strong chains hold you back, and start to travel distant ways: you’ll cry, and your lost girl’s name will oppose it, and your feet will often stop you on the road: but the less you wish to go, the more you should go … the long road, give you a hundred solaces for your cares.”
Remember your ex’s annoying traits —Even people who have amazingly attractive traits are human, meaning they have flaws. Just navigate your mind over to the flaws…
Don’t pick the scar—Heartbreak is like a scar, says Ovid. If the scar has finally scabbed over, then running into your ex and having a exciting conversation will rip that new skin right off!
“If you love, but don’t wish to, avoid making contact … And if you want to know what she’s doing, still, don’t ask: endure! It will profit you to hold your tongue.”
Avoid onions — and not for the tears! Believe it or not, Ovid says onions are an aphrodisiac. While today we more worry about the bad breath onions cause, Ovid believe onions that made people go gaga for each other.
“I’ll give you what to swallow and avoid. Italian onions, or the ones they send you, from the shores of Libya, or the ones that come from Megara, every one will do you harm.”
Spells are in vain — In ancient times, spells and charms and herbs and all kinds of magic were used to affect people’s emotions and behavior. Ovid doesn’t think too much of theswe methods, and strongly advises against witchcraft.
“Harmful herbs, and magic arts … With me in charge no spirits will be ordered from their graves, no witch, with wicked spells, will split the ground … No pains will be charmed away to ease the heart, conquering love won’t be put to flight by burning sulphur … So whoever you are who call for help from my art, put no faith in witchcraft and incantations.”
Don’t hate —Haters never win. Hating is like drinking poison and hoping the person you hate dies.
“It’s wrong to hate the girl you loved, in any way: that conclusion suits uncivilized natures…. Shame for a man and woman, once joined, now to be enemies … Tell her to keep the gifts you gave her, without any ruling: small losses are usually a major gain.”
Play the “Happy” card —If you do run into your ex, pretend all is cool.
“If you’re grieving deeply, look happy, lest she see it, and laugh, when tears come to you… Pretend to what is not, and that the passion’s over, so you’ll become, in truth, what you are studying to be … he who can imagine he’s well, will be well … The new day will dawn: lose your words of grievance, and show no signs of suffering in your face.”
Get rid of all reminders
“Don’t re-read the letters you’ve kept from your sweet girl: re-reading letters shakes the steadfast heart. Put them all in the fierce flames (you’ll hate to do it), and say: ‘Let this be the funeral pyre for my passion.’… And often places hurt you: flee the places where you slept guiltily together: they’re a cause of grief … Remembering reopens love, the wound’s newly re-opened: trifling errors damage the weak-minded.”
11. Beware of “The Arts”
“But there’s value in not indulging in the theatre, till love’s truly vanished from your empty heart, The zithers, and lutes and lyres unman you, and the sound and waving limbs of the troupe. There lovers’ parts are danced, continually: the actor, with art shows, what delights: and what you must avoid. I speak unwillingly now: don’t touch the tender poets! Disloyally I banish even my own gifts.”
Saving the best for last, Ovid invents the slang word “Chill” — While researching this piece, I discovered that the ancient Roman could’ve been the first to use “chilling” to describe a person staying cool. Check it out:
“Make it seem to your girl that you’re chillier than ice.
So there you have it, the best thing you can do once that heart has been scorched is to go put it on ice and chill.
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