Ask E. Jean: I Just Had My First Heartbreak—Where Do I Go From Here?

Life & Love

Dear E. Jean: You’ve probably received letters like this ad infinitum, but here is mine. I’ve just had my first real, true heartbreak, and I don’t know where to go from here. Everything was lovely and beautiful, and I was the happiest I’ve ever been—until one day, a girl from his past returned. I trusted him. I shouldn’t have. End of story.

Even as we broke up, he said it wasn’t about her, but a few days after we ended it, I found out he had, in fact, cheated on me with her. I’d always planned on staying in this town for him, but now I don’t know what’s keeping me here. Where do I go next, E. Jean? I feel like I’m caught in some sort of weird limbo. I’m just floating in a void right now. I’ve started jogging. But other than that, how do I keep going on with my life?

Most of my friends are his friends, so I’m lonely now, too. My family and I aren’t close, so I can’t turn to them. No part of me wants to go back, because I know I deserve better than what I got from him—but what exactly does moving forward entail? I don’t even know where I’m headed! How do I get to the next, and better, part of my life?—Letter Writer From Limbo

Limbo, My Tiger Lily: Ahhh, come here, my girl, let me give you a hug. And a Tylenol. Science shows pain relievers work on emotional as well as physical pain. A glass of Moët is also effective, of course. There are only about 500 years of research proving that when love arrives, we expect champagne. When love goes, we need it.

We’re all just astonishingly naïve when it comes to heartbreak. First we’re half-dead with the pain, and then slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly it retreats till—boom!—it jumps out of its little basket where it’s been hiding in our hearts, sniffs the balls of our new boyfriend, and vanishes. So yes. Jogging is good. Starting a heartbreak diary is good. Flirting is very good. Volunteering at the senior center, wheeling a couple of old dolls outside in the sun and asking them for their heartbreak tips, is very, very good. It will give them comfort and you motivation. Meanwhile, don’t throw the mementos of your ex-chap away—we have plans for them. And now I believe you’re ready for:

The Absolute and Final Best Way to Get Past a Broken Heart

Pick a mountain, pack a bag, load up the car, tromp on the accelerator, and hit the road. Because I swear to you, Miss Limbo: Nothing hurls a woman beyond a heartache like a road trip.

You’ve probably never dared play music as loud as you want, but road-trip loud is the volume you’ll need. Music will not only blow the chap right out of your head, it will become the canvas on which you can project your future. You will also perhaps be astounded to find that you can eat four pints of Halo Top ice cream in a knotty-pine motel room while sitting on a vibrating bed, and that throwing assorted mementos from life with the ex-chap into various village-square fountains across the country is more delightful than tossing coins into the Trevi in Rome.

You will visit the birthplaces of “heartthrobs” (James Dean! Marion, Indiana!); discover novel places to live and novel people to admire; figure out possibilities for what’s “next”; and, in the evenings, when it’s too dark to drive, you’ll meet new friends on Bumble. And if one of those new friends turns out to be a handsome lad—ha!—rebounding just happens to be the second best way to get past a broken heart.

And when you arrive at that mountain? The answer to your question—“Where am I heading?”—is waiting at the top. Climb it to find it. Good luck! Send me your itinerary!

This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at

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