I had my first heartbreak at 16.
He was my first boyfriend. I wouldn’t say we were in love, but it was teenage infatuation and at that age it feels the same.
We hung out and I tried my best to be pleasing to him. He was an incredible kisser and we gave each other our virginity.
I liked him and loved being in a relationship. But it ended when he told me he had a crush, and it wasn’t for me. He was really into one of my closest friends.
He broke up with me so he could date her and I was devastated.
I was hurt, confused, and just a mess of feelings. I didn’t know what to do but I knew I needed to change something about myself. For whatever reason, that’s what felt right.
So I took stock of my style — if you could call it that.
I was a bit chubby and tried to hide it underneath oversized hoodies that I wore with jeans. I wore bandanas as headbands and somehow didn’t see anything wrong with that. And my idea of doing my makeup was to cake on some foundation that wasn’t even the right shade (I could never find any brands that catered to pale girls and it showed).
I was a total dork, and if nothing else I wanted to come out of this relationship looking a little more put together.
I went to the local department store with a friend and we paced around the hair dye aisle for close to an hour until I settled on the brightest red dye I could find. I bought new makeup to go with all that foundation I was wearing, and some clothes to complete the look.
I turned my mousey brown hair into a deep, bright red. I used eyeliner and eyeshadow — way, way too much of it but it was a step in the right direction at least. And from then on I wore things that accentuated my curves instead of drowning them in baggy fabric.
I looked like a new person and I felt like one, too. I had used the breakup as motivation to transform into a better version of myself.
Even though he left me heartbroken, I stayed friends with my ex-boyfriend. One night, we were heading to a party together. His dad was driving us and he commented that breaking up with his son clearly suited me.
I asked him what he meant and he said “You look better since you guys broke up. It’s clearly done you some good.”
That’s when I knew my first glow up was a success.
And it wasn’t going to be my last. Every time a guy broke up with me after we were pretty serious, I felt the urge to change. It wasn’t always my looks, it wasn’t always huge, but I always improved something.
Breakups always suck, but by changing yourself in the right ways, you can come out of it better than before.
Glow Up Your Style
The style glow ups are the ones that really stand out in my memory because they don’t just change the way I see myself — they change the way I present myself to others.
If you’re in a relationship long enough, you can fall into a rut with your appearance. You go for what feels comfortable and easy instead of trying to achieve the looks you think would be perfect for you.
A breakup is the perfect opportunity to start wearing the clothes that make you feel better about yourself. Upgrade your wardrobe. Wear things that highlight your physical assets instead of hiding them.
Try the things you saw in YouTube hair and makeup tutorials but didn’t have the guts to attempt before. Keep what looks good — and keep the failed experiments to yourself.
Get some new tattoos. I got my first one after my last serious highschool boyfriend broke up with me. Mine is a broken heart on my chest, but yours doesn’t have to be so literal.
I did this again recently (except the tattoo) when I got involved in a long-distance thing with this guy named Rob.
I was used to thinking of myself as just a frumpy mom who was stuck in her house living out her routine day after day. Being involved with someone who made me feel hot lit something in me. And when things ended with Rob, I decided to hold on to that image of myself.
No more staying in my pajamas all day. No more half doing my makeup. No more lazy ponytails.
I started taking pride in my appearance. I wore outfits that made me feel cute. I did my makeup so it looked good, not just good enough. I curled my hair, styled it, and dyed it more often.
That was enough to change my mindset and put me in a better place. Looking better made me feel better, and that’s exactly what I needed to get back on my feet and start moving past that situationship.
Glow Up Your Health
Breaking up is the best time to break your worst habits.
At first, you’ll feel like just moping and eating a pint of ice cream for supper. Go right ahead. Let yourself go through those feelings. But once you’re over the gloomy bit, take your health back into your hands.
Ditch the bad diet you got into when you and your guy got comfortable indulging on date nights. Eat better so you can feel healthier.
Get back into your workout routine — or start one if you didn’t have one already. Make sure you get your body moving regularly so you feel more energetic.
Basically, show your body some love. You’ll feel stronger and it will help you get your confidence back.
Glow Up Emotionally
A lot of my glow ups had to do with my appearance. But after being played by a fuckboi, I needed something different.
The way he toyed with my emotions made me question my value, so I had to remind myself of it.
I started working on the internal things that would make me more appealing and make me feel more emotionally solid. I did some work on my issues with self-esteem. I got better at enforcing my boundaries. I did some soul searching and found out what I really wanted out of a relationship.
When a breakup really leaves you shaken up, it can help to turn your focus inside.
Work on defining your goals and pursuing them more aggressively.
Learn ways to give yourself validation so you can stop relying on others to give it to you.
Get a new hobby, learn a new skill, or pursue a new passion. Learn to play an instrument. Master cake decorating. Start working on those short stories that have been kicking around in your head.
Work on bettering yourself, becoming more interesting, and living your life on your own terms.
Glow Up Sexually
A breakup can feel like the end of sex (temporarily anyway), but it doesn’t mean you can’t get in touch with yourself sexually.
Get some new sex toys. Experiment and try new things. Take your masturbation to the next level.
Give yourself permission to explore more of your sexual fantasies. Watch porn and read erotica in genres that you were curious about but never actually took a peek at.
Take this time to get better acquainted with your desires, because there’s nothing hotter than a woman who knows what she wants and what she likes.
Glow Up Your Self-Care
Self-care routines aren’t about indulging (okay, they’re not just about indulging). They’re the rituals you do that remind you that you’re important and that you’re worth making time for.
That’s exactly the kind of mindset you need to start living better.
I like to take long bubble baths, use exfoliators to make my skin super soft, and do face masks to make myself feel really pampered.
I’ll do my nails, do something fun with my makeup, and give my hair a fresh dye. Purple is a bitch to maintain, but it always makes me feel good to zhuzh up my hair.
You can go hard on self-care because it’s a way to treat yourself with zero guilt. There’s nothing unhealthy about relaxing, soaking in the tub, or pampering your skin.
Glow Up Your Attitude
There are a lot of reasons to glow up after a breakup.
Sometimes, you do it for revenge. You want to look so fucking good and be so damn successful that they’ll regret leaving you.
You might do it because you want them back. Get cuter and become more interesting and maybe — just maybe — they’ll come back around.
But the best glow ups are the ones that remind you that you don’t need them. That you’ll be fine because you’ve got this and you’ve got a lot to offer anyone who is willing to stick around for you.
It’s also about not letting your ex define who you are. Instead of staying the same as you were in that relationship, you get to define the terms and become your own person.
So, don’t just wallow — glow the fuck up. Because sometimes all you need is a change.
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