From Justin Timberlake to Matt Dillon and Jared Leto, there’s no denying Cameron Diaz has had her fair share of heartbreak. So in recent years, the 40-year-old has taken a break from dating and put herself on a guy diet – a guy-et as we’re calling it. The result? Her career is going stellar, with four blockbusters in the pipeline, and she’s reconnected with her best girlfriends Gwyneth Paltrow and Drew Barrymore. “Contentment is about coming to terms with life as it is,” explained the the single actress. “For the first time in my life, I’m content.”
Jennifer Gauvain, author of How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy, says it’s helpful to take this type of dating sabbatical every once in a while. “It is easy to lose sight of who you are as a woman when you are constantly moving from one relationship to the next. It’s important to take some time off the dating scene and focus on yourself.”
So if you are going through a rocky patch on your relationship road, make like Cam and take a break from man drama. With all that extra time on your hands, the possibilities are endless. Here, VIVA shares some clever distraction tricks to help you start your guy-et and keep the focus on YOU instead.
Stop! Facebook stalking your ex
Instead: Step away from his profile page and use your online time productively
“Facebook stalking a guy is a bad idea on so many levels,” says MJ Acharya, author of The Breakup Workbook. “Dwelling on the past for too long isn’t healthy.”
As well as being downright exhausting, aching after an ex or a wish-he-was-mine guy can stir up a whirlwind of emotions, so channel that passion towards something creative instead. “Heartbreak can be toxic. Dwelling in that toxic place will keep you stagnant emotionally,” says MJ. “Working out, writing in a journal or blogging can help shed some light on the relationship and its demise, open up insights about yourself, and ultimately help you grow into a better version of you.” What’s more, nurturing your emotional self in this creative way will set you up emotionally and physically for when your next big relationship does come along.
In a relationship but still need a time out? Get inspired by celebrity lifestyle blogger Gwyneth Paltrow. Though happily married to singer Chris Martin, she still allows herself the occasional guy-et: her 40th birthday present to herself was a three-day solo retreat to Arizona. “Every day I set an intention and, on the third, I said, ‘I would like some guidance in terms of life decisions that are coming up,’” says Gwyneth. “I’ll never forget it. I was starting to hike up the Red Rocks, and honestly, it was as if I’d heard the rock say ‘You have the answers. You are your teacher.’ I thought I was having an auditory hallucination.”
Stop! Wallowing alone thinking about what could have been
Instead: Use the opportunity to get your friends together for a girls’ night
When you are nursing a broken heart, it can be tempting to stock up on Ben & Jerry’s, draw the curtains and lick your wounds (and the ice cream spoon) in solitude. But far from making you feel better, wallowing alone could actually make you feel worse in the long run, warns Jennifer. “The truth is, once the bowl is empty you will still feel empty too. Crying is cathartic, but don’t spend day in and day out all by yourself. Try to stay connected to the people who care about you.”
And nothing stops tears in their tracks like laughing with your best friends. “Our girlfriends can share in our tears but also give us the nudge we need to get back out there and have fun again,” says Jennifer. “Spending time with them will also help you get out of your negative head space.”
Stop! Obsessing over his new GF
Instead: Rock a smoking new look
So he’s got a new girlfriend and, judging by the pictures on Facebook, she’s supermodel-hot. Ouch. But instead of obsessively comparing yourself to her, focus on yourself.
“Rather than obsessing about his new girlfriend and feeling jealous every time you see them sharing online, try cutting the cord and letting it go. Literally imagine getting a big pair of scissors and as if there was an invisible cord between you and your ex give it a snip,” says life coach Jayne Morris. “Wish her well because there will be someone much better waiting around the corner for you (even though you might not feel that way right now). To help you move on, try clearing out old letters, photos or gifts from your ex, or make sure you’ve put them all away in a box so they aren’t hanging around as reminders.”
Shaking up your image can also give you a welcome confidence boost. The fastest way to kill the little green monster is to revamp your wardrobe or your hairstyle, says Jayne. “Shaking up your image after being dumped can really help boost your self-confidence,” says Jayne. “Changing your image can help you feel better and make a fresh new start.”
Stop! Texting him
Instead: Next time you feel that uncomfortable itch, go for a phone-free run
The urge to text him is rooted in uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, says Nina Atwood, psychotherapist and author of Temptations of the Single Girl. But exercise can quash those urges because it releases feel-good chemicals in our brain, she explains.
She also suggests drafting in a support network to stop you messaging him. “Set up a support chain of a couple of friends. Make an agreement that you won’t text until you run it by them first. By the time you finish giving your friends your lame reasons for texting, you’ll realise what a bad idea it is and stop yourself.” Buh-bye, text regret!
Besides, exercise will not only make you feel good, it’ll make you look good too – and what better revenge is there? “After a break-up, you need to nourish yourself. Once you get past the initial stages of grief, your focus should be on improving your life in some kind of way.”
Stop! Dropping everything for your man
Instead: Make him work for your time and attention
Like Gwynnie, even if you are in a relationship you can benefit from a guy-et. A new study from the University of Oxford found that women are more likely to immerse themselves fully in romantic relationships, whereas guys place their friendships on an equal footing. But if you’re giving 100 per cent to your guy and not getting the same back, isn’t it time you shifted your priorities?
Jennifer says, “When you drop everything for your man, the harsh reality is that you change as a whole person and lose sight of who you are independently as a woman. Many women who have spoken to me about this exact thing mention that they felt trapped, weak, and had lost their self confidence. They all admitted to feeling alone even though the very reason they got into a relationship in the first place was to avoid loneliness.”
Jennifer suggests keeping in touch with the real you by scheduling time for your friends, yourself and your hobbies – and encouraging your guy to do the same. “The healthiest couples I have met and worked with create autonomy within the relationship. Shared interests are important as well, but respecting each other’s hobbies is a true example of what makes a relationship work,” she reveals.
“Your man may not enjoy running a half-marathon with you, but how great would it feel to have him cheering you on at the finish line regardless?”
Besides, adds Nina, making him work harder for your time and attention can pay dividends. “Men are wired to pursue; it ignites the pleasure centres of his brain when he has to work toward a meaningful goal. When a woman makes herself instantly and totally available, it takes away all the work, and therefore a lot of the pleasure, for him.”