Butch’s Guide to Remaining Sane During a Break Up

There are lots of break ups right now. Colleagues, friends, family. It happens to everyone – even to those who think they might be pretty damn close to perfect. Lesbians, even butches, break up. And breaking up sucks. No doubt about it. But it happens. It happens in bad situations (cheating), and it happens in not-so-bad situations (new job in a new city). We’ve all been there, and probably all hope to never be there again. But, if you suddenly find yourself in a break up, maybe these tips will help – at least a little.

1. Help Each Other. If possible, and you are mature enough, work together. I can’t imagine it working if there’s an affair or any severe incident. But, if you both decide that you aren’t right together and there is plenty of love, you can actually lean on each other for comfort. Could be the dreaded LBD (Lesbian Bed Death: passion gives way to comfort, love and friendship – no more sex); or could be you’ve grown in different directions; or maybe you’ve decided you just aren’t right for each other. In all three of these circumstances there might still be lots of love. Imagine how nice it will be if you are crying and she can comfort you and vice versa. Even if you want the relationship to be over, you are still mourning the loss of something good, familiar, or comfortable. Your day-to-day life as you both know it is over, the good and the bad.

When you can be right or kind, choose to be kind. Especially now.

Communication and kindness will be key if you try to do this. “But, Butch, we didn’t communicate well during our relationship, how are we going to do that now?” Well, you may find that the pressure has been released after you’ve chosen to split. You may be able to communicate really well. Surprisingly well. Don’t confuse this as a reason to get back together. Remember here, you are trying to work together for the common goal of splitting with the least amount of damage done to each other and the most love spared. Be kind. Don’t cause any new hurt or scars. If you do that, a friendship can blossom.

You were most likely already best friends and if you pull apart suddenly like Velcro it will be excruciating and the gap left by the ripping apart (ouch!) can easily be filled with anger and resentment. Working together allows you to build a friendship going forward. Unless you actually hated each other, you’ve already got this, and with some care and kindness, you can nurture it. It will be a great comfort to you both if you pull it off. And, imagine how much easier it will be on your friends! They won’t have to take sides if the two of you remain friends. If you still like each other, you can both be at the same parties – and you don’t have to divide friends. Imagine avoiding: “I’ll take the toaster oven and Brad and Angelina, you take the computer and Barak and Michelle.”

Perhaps best listened to on repeat for now.

2. Avoid Love Songs. Duh. But, what to do if you cannot? And it is hard to avoid them. Every song is either “I love you so much I want to rip your clothes off,” or “You hurt me and now I hate you so much I want to rip your clothes off.” Then, try this: imagine that the love song is about you discovering your own special self and singing to yourself, rather than to her. Maybe create a playlist of songs that are good for you, your old favorites (i.e. Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Time, A-Ha, KD Lang, etc.), things that are feel good for you and not connected to her, and upbeat stuff. Or, you might create an empowering playlist full of songs that are about how strong you are. Think Melissa Etheridge’s “Giant,” Fat Boy Slim’s “Because we Can,” Pink’s “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” or David Guetta’s “Titanium.” I suggest you avoid the Indigo Girls, Tori Amos, and Sarah McLachlan. Those amazing artists might just push you over the edge right now. If you are into speed metal or country, you are on your own, but the good news is that I am sure there are lots of songs that equate to “I can make it on my own!” in those genres.

3. Write. Even if you don’t write for others, try journaling. It can really help purge the things that you are feeling. Something about a pen on paper and writing whatever comes to mind is very cathartic. Plus, there can be lots of cross outs, angry exclamation points, and underlines. So there!!!!!! It’s hard to do that on a laptop. Therapists will tell you that this is super good for you. Also, if you get stuck or you try to out think yourself, put the pen in your opposite hand and try writing that way. It will be messy, but may be more honest.

This journal is just for you, so you can be honest with yourself. Don’t write it as if it’s a brilliant monologue that you will read, or she will find, and then magically she will change her mind – or your words will fix whatever is broken. You aren’t trying to do that. You are trying to move through this. Of course, you can share some of what you learn with her if you like, but the journal should be yours alone, and not motivated by trying to sway anyone – especially yourself.

4. Yoga.Or some other fitness activity that you like. Working out is super good for you and releases positive endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. “Happy people don’t just shoot their husbands,” or so says Elle Woods of Legally Blonde.

I do yoga and Pilates, and the room is full of hotties.
– Madonna

I suggest yoga, and here’s why. Yoga is amazing because you have to concentrate on your breathing while contorting your body into crazy poses – and that forces you to clear your mind. If you are trying to get your leg up over your head while putting your forehead on the floor (yes, really), you have to focus on breathing steadily and deeply and on your balance. You will have no time to think about her. I promise. If you do, you might fall over and then the pain or embarrassment of the fall will likely dominate your psyche – rather than her. Success any way you look at it.

Plus, side bonus: yoga studios are filled with limber, lithe, mostly female yogis. They frequently wear very little, or what they wear is skin-tight. There are lots of pony tails – translation, if they are lesbians, they are probably femmes, or at least sporty spice lesbians. Also, they are some of the fittest people – as a whole – that I have seen. In addition to the benefits of breathing, endorphins and clearing your head, if you start to realize that you are alright and that there is a world after her, a yoga studio can be a healthier version of a strip club (see Number 10).

One negative to yoga for me is that it is hard on the Mohawk. My favorite position – resting pose – ruins the hawk by making it all flat in the back. But, it is a small price to pay for inner peace.

5. Do Something You Like.  Maybe something you have never done before. Not to spite her, because that’s immature and below you. But because it’s good for you to focus on yourself. Having a partner has tremendous upsides – no doubt, but there are also compromises in every relationship. “Baby, I’d like to learn to play the drums.” “No way in hell, it’s too loud.” Well, now’s the time! Say you’ve always wanted to juggle, learn Italian, or practice your glass throwing abilities, but you haven’t had time – or permission (yikes), then take a class at the community college. Doing something new helps you redefine yourself without her, and in a positive way. Note that if you always wanted to smoke or become a knife juggler, this is not what I have in mind. Stay away from stuff that’s bad for you.

You have to know when to tell yourself no.

6. Just Say No. That last point leads me here to drugs, smoking, alcohol (yes, even fantastically good craft beer), cheesecake, In-N-Out Burger and Ben and Jerry’s. All of these things are intoxicating, delicious, mind-altering, and alluring. Some are illegal. Whatever your poison, these things are bad for you. Except for the illegal stuff, everything in moderation, right? The problem is that when you are grieving the loss of a formerly-perfect relationship, sometimes your decision-maker (that thing that keeps you in balance) is broken. It has lost its fluxie. If you start in on any of these tempting things, you might not be able to stop. And that means excess. Excess drinking, excess smoking, excess eating, excess ice cream. Which, in turn, means excess weight and lower self-esteem. If you are like most of us, your self-esteem is probably already at an all-time low, so lowering this is not what the doctor ordered. Plus, getting fat will not help your post-break up social life.

7. Avoid Her on Facebook. This doesn’t apply if you are able to take the steps in Number 1 above, but if not, take heed. As you know, Facebook is a slightly distorted version of reality. The last thing you need is to see that she is off skydiving, having dinner with gobs of friends at hipster places, or buying a house. She may be doing those things, yes. Or she may not be. Is everyone always honest on Facebook? She may be doing those things, but only because she is so distraught over the breakup that she must keep herself busy. And, when was the last time you saw someone post on Facebook, “my girlfriend left me and I can’t get off the couch where I have sat in a puddle of my own misery in my disgusting sweatpants for three days”?

Plus, if you aren’t ready, when she starts dating again, this will just drive you over the edge. Oh, and don’t even think of signing into her account and checking things out. This is Facebook stalking and it is bad form, women. Don’t do it. You may have changed all your passwords, or not, but regardless, do not give in to this temptation. It will only lead you to hurt. Do you really want to see what she is saying about you (if anything) to her friends? I, for one, only want to hear things that people choose to tell me. Not everything is meant to be shared with everyone.

8. Don’t Purge Everything. Sure you can throw away the sex toys, that recent silly note she wrote you, or delete the voicemails on your phone, but don’t go grab your memory box and all the cards you’ve ever exchanged and throw those out. We tend to think that getting rid of everything that is “her” or “us” will make us feel better. But it won’t. And, you may regret throwing away all of those memories, all of those pictures, later. After all, it is part of your life. She is part of your history, and if you throw all of that away, it is like throwing away a piece (maybe a huge chunk) of you … of your life. A year later, when things are settled, you may wish you could see those pictures of you in the Tough Mudder run. You threw them away because she was next to you at the finish line. Now, you are screwed. Can’t recreate that, and if it’s anything like what I have heard, you don’t want to do it again. What if she was by your side when you graduated from college, got your first car, traveled the world, or brought home your favorite puppy? There are other parts of your life together that you might want to sift from the rubble. You won’t be able to do that if you light it all on fire in a trash can – tempting as it may be.

9. Skip Big Changes. This is related to number 8. Do this at least for a while. If you are distraught, it is not the time to quit your job, move into a new place (unless you have to), get a tattoo or piercing, chop off all your hair, or decide to move to a new city. None of those things will assuage the pain you feel, and they will just add to your stress level – or create a possibility for regret. I really liked my hair, why did I do that? A giant Minnie Mouse tattoo, what was I thinking? You may think that a new city will be a fresh start for you – no memories of the two of you together, and you may be right. But, that new city will be there in a month or two when things have calmed down for you. Change is good, yes, but you are already going through lots of change. No need to pile on.

Bottom line is to make sure that you are not running away from her – from the house, the job, the look, the friends that you had with her. If you have something to run to, I suppose that is different. In other words, I am not saying to turn down some cool opportunity just because you are struggling through a break up. What I am talking about here is the desperate search for change thinking it will make you feel better.  Odds are that it won’t and the fact that it didn’t might make you feel even worse.

10. Strip Club.Have your friends take you out. Maybe a strip club isn’t for you (why not?) and if that’s the case, have them take you out somewhere else. Reach out to your friends. Your family – not for the strip club, mind you. But you need to have some fun, get off of your couch, and eventually get out of those sweatpants.

Use your imagination to embellish. I try to keep my posts and pics safe for work.

If you do go to a strip club (good for you!) or a bar, take heed of the other pointers here, and don’t get smashed. You’ll end up doing something stupid (why do I have this g-string in my pocket?) and regretting it, or you will end up at home on the floor of your bathroom crying like a baby about how she would never have let you do this to yourself. All things in moderation. Oh, and if you haven’t been to a strip club before, bring lots of singles and sit in the front. I am available to act as your guide if needed.

11. Butch Down. This is the opposite of butching up – toughening up and handling something. That doesn’t work in this situation. It’s not a broken window, a tire that needs changing, a door that needs opening, a spider to kill, or birthdays to be remembered. It’s your heart and you should treat that gently – no matter how butch you are. Cry. Scream. Pout. Whatever. Your emotions are right for you. If you are so butch that you don’t want to show anyone this side of you, then do it alone. But, it sure would be good if you could let at least one friend in. It takes a very strong person to show weakness. Are you butch enough to let people know that you aren’t made of stone?

Breaking up sucks. No matter what you do, it’s going to suck. Nothing but time and moving forward will help to take the pain away. But, maybe, just maybe, a few of these pointers will make it suck a little less.

Butch down and get through it. Be butch.

About Tristan Higgins, aka Butch Jaxon

I am a butch. This blog is about what I think. If you do not know what butch means, you are probably on the wrong blog. In the interests of inclusion, though, I can tell you that “butch” means a lesbian that is big, strong, tough, more macho, less girly. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules – which is an ongoing theme in my blog (and in the comments), but those are the basics. A butch will most likely not wear makeup. A butch is often referred to as “sir” by someone who is not paying attention. What else? I am, after all, not just a butch. I am happily married to the most amazing woman ever, and the mother of two fantastic kids. I am also a lover of, in no particular order, beer, bow ties, breasts, movies, hiking, bookstores, travel, dogs, geocaching, polar bears, the gym, music, gadgets, and more. By day, I am an intrepid corporate entertainment lawyer. Although I try hard not to be labeled as such – sporting a bleached Mohawk, for example. Think more entertainment and less corporate. By night, bring it all on! In my blog, I talk about things from a butch perspective, but this is not just for butches. We all love our femmes. Please do not let me offend femmes, mine in particular! If you like what you read here, I hope you will comment and let me know what you think. If you do not like what you read, well, what the hell do I care? Start your own blog. Be Butch. View all posts by Tristan Higgins, aka Butch Jaxon

30 responses to “Butch’s Guide to Remaining Sane During a Break Up

  • Maya

    Butch, this post is amazing and beautiful. Everyone should read it. Thanks for putting your voice out there into our world so in need of healing.


      • Maya

        Hey Butch,

        This is a reply to one of your tweets – can you tell me what your ‘binderfullofwomen’ is?



      • Butch Jaxon


        Of course! Romney used that term last night in the debate talking about equity for women. He said he’d had binders full of women when he was governor that he used to hire his cabinet. It struck many, including me, as an odd phrase.



      • Maya

        AAAHhhhhhh. . …. good ol’ Romney. Or, um. . . not so much.
        Yes, binderfullofwoman. Shouldn’t we all have one? Or maybe we femmes can have a binderfullofbutches?

        Thanks for the clarification. Yeesh.



      • Butch Jaxon

        Maya, binder full of butches! LOL. Can I be in it? Wait, I don’t like the competition. I do believe I stumbled on my own double standard. Butches get to keep a binder, but femmes, not so much? I need to evolve. But I just got my binder!



      • Maya

        Re: Binderfullofbutches. . .Butch, you sound like my Butch GF when it comes to being the one-and-only. . . but not to worry – I really think ONE true butch is more than enough to fill up any femme’s binder. My butch is on ALL my binder pages. . .

        . . .but tell me – would it be OK with you B’s if we F’s have a SECTION of the binder for other butches for specific things – like y’know, butches who write cool blogs, butches who fix electronic stuff my butch doesn’t want to fix, butches who want to run for political office (not my butch’s cup-o-tea, thank the Goddess) etc. As long as My Butch gets to be THE Butch in my life, would the extra section of the binder be ok or is even that more than a Butch ego can handle?? 🙂


      • Butch Jaxon


        The answer depends. For me, it’s fine. I bet your Butch would disagree. =;o)

        My ego would not tolerate that with my femme, though.



      • Maya

        Well, its all ok, because I really don’t want or need a binderfullofbutches. (I like my butch UNbound. . .) Thanks for being you and ever-fun to read.



      • Butch Jaxon

        Aww, shucks. You are welcome.


  • Bejai

    Your Butchness
    As a licensed therapist with years in the field, I have to say there is more wisdom in these words and suggestions than in most seminars I pay to attend!
    Do you think Ben & Jerry’s during yoga would be as bad for you? Just dreaming, I suspect I know the answer.


    • Butch Jaxon

      Hi Bejai, thanks for the compliment! As for ice cream during yoga, yes it would certainly be better for you than ice cream while seated on the couch. However, it might seriously interfere with your breathing and result in the falling over that I mentioned in the post. LOL. =:o)


  • pimmyjalmer

    This post is fantastic. I’m pretty sure it made my day!
    I couldn’t resist the In-N-Out Burger, but I’ll definitely change my playlist.


    • Butch Jaxon


      I thought I had replied right after you posted your comment, but now I see none has posted. Shame on me. Thank you for your comment! I am very happy to make your day. I do love In-N-Out Burger. If you are able to moderate during a breakup, you are stronger than I am!! :o)



  • Jen

    Great post – classics all 🙂 Small add to number 2 would be: “remember that every song on the radio was not written for you”. I would actually advocate for avoiding all songs and just stick with public radio…Oh and when interacting with your ex during and after a breakup try and do things that you will be proud of later. Yes, you are hurting – got that – but remember people judge our character by how we behave when things *aren’t* going our way, not how we behave when things are peachy keen.


    • Butch Jaxon


      I thought I had replied right after you posted your comment, but now I see none has posted. Shame on me. Thank you for your comment! “try to do things you will be proud of later.” Truer words were never spoken. Thank you for that.



  • MainelyButch

    Excellent advice! Great blog! yes, these are all classics. I hate break up songs the most, and music of any kind always seems to relate to “her” when breaking up…listen to hard core rock instead! Stuff you can’t make out the words to, and nod your head hard to the beat!


    • Butch Jaxon


      I thought I had replied right after you posted your comment, but now I see none has posted. Shame on me. Thank you for your comment! Thank you for the compliment. I, myself, am not a hard core rocker, although I do enjoy a little Metallica, Ozzy, and Rush.



  • Aldo

    Thanks for the practical advice. Just broke up with a guy I was seeing for two months on Sunday. I feel like gay-men-dating-time goes by at the same speed as dog-year-time, or at least it feels like it. In any event, I think I will channel my inner butch after reading your post. For a brooch-loving gay boy I will need all the advice I can get.


    • Butch Jaxon

      Hi Aldo,

      Welcome! Thank you for taking the time to read my post and for commenting. Please keep coming back and speaking up.

      Dog years! LOL.

      Seriously, I am sorry that you are going through a break-up. Be kind to yourself, and him. One foot in front of the other, all right?



  • Sheila Gilhooly

    Very good points Butch,,swimming works for all ma nner of cheering up..and still good as you age,,plus an underwater mp3 player really sweetens the boredom downside,,it’s awesome actually


  • Just Me « ButchOnTap

    […] to being friends. So far, so good. For my tips on how to handle a yourself in times like these, see A Butch’s Guide to Remaining Sane During a Break Up. I wrote that smack in the middle of it all. Some of you may have guessed, but were too kind to […]


  • Suzanne Jacoby

    Great advice, but certainly I feel that I can add a few from the femme side. 1. Dont rely on her to be your date. Go alone. It will be less heartache at the end of the evening. 2. Resist the temptation to be affectionate, ie snuggling during a scarey movie or holding hands because its familiar. It only confuses the situation. 3. I thought it was hilarious she stated “don’t listen to the indigo girls.” I cannot add anything more to that. 4. Don’t wallow in self pity. 5. Put on makeup, wear things that make you feel sexy, and laugh. 6. Don’t become a bitch because it makes it easier to walk away. Maintain your integrity and karma points. 7. Flirt. Nothing serious, just a little ‘I’m worth feeling attractive.’ Nothing like a butch server at the restaurant to take notice. Tip her well and let her know. It will warm your femme heart for a while and keep hope alive that maybe “she” is still out there. 8. Don’t jump into another relationship. Femmes are strong and independent. Prove it to yourself. 9. Learn to crochet. And give away everything you make. It will keep you away from bad behaviors such as snacking and smoking. 10. Femmes don’t usually go to strip clubs. So take a freshly single femme to a female sporting event. And she doesn’t need to like the sport, because it’s about the sweaty butch strong women, not who scores. And for those of you keeping up on my Facebook posts, you may now realize I have not recently taken my own advice. But I’m tryin…


  • Peggy Lee Murphy

    Great info but there must be something really wrong with me> Its been 3 yrs since my partner of 16 years split, yet I still cry and long for her still. She cheated and I probably should be thankful she left but I’m not. How f***ing long does it take to get over someone. She was my first lesbian love. It didn’t hurt this bad when my x husband and I divorced after 28 yrs. It has me jaded to the point of not wanting anyone to ever get close to me again. So now I have vented and life goes on so I will just try to make the best of it. Thank god for so many wonderful friends….


  • Sky

    Hi there,

    My gf is a butch and i’m trying to break up with her *i know this sounds bad* because i can’t tolerate her extreme jealousy even with me working with senior guy colleague for which he’s sitting far away from me!! My gf have resorted to cutting and banging her head when i told her why not take a break between both of us, but that’s the result i get and currently i’m stuck with her. Could anyone tell me what should i do? She have been to see a psychiatrist before.


    • Butch Jaxon

      You are allowing her to manipulate you with threats of hurting herself. If she is actually hurting herself, the situation feels a little dangerous. You need to protect yourself. You always have the right to leave a relationship.

      Maybe others here have better suggestions and advice…


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