Even with a mutual breakup, a mourning period is necessary to properly lament the relationship that once was, the person you’re no longer with, and the fact things are ending. So, with that in mind, I composed an epic playlist, allowed myself to drink an entire bottle of wine, cried all around the apartment, and watched films to help me get over things. In deciding on what films to watch, I wanted movies that were properly mopey, upbeat, and would allow me to get over the slump and move forward with my life.
So pour a glass of wine, grab a tub of ice-cream, and wrap up in your warmest robe, let’s watch some movies and bitch about our exes.
- Home Alone (1990). This movie is the definition of single life as a woman. Am I terrified that people are going to break in and I won’t be able to defend myself? Mildly. Am I excited to eat junk food, watch rubbish, and take care of the house by myself? Hell yes. I may be living on my own, but I’m enjoying every moment of it. I may not have wished for my relationship to disappear, but this is the life I have now and I’m using it to appreciate my friends, my family, and my community. Even without a boyfriend, I enjoyed my Christmas and had a good time.
- Legally Blonde (2001). Nothing heals heartbreak like watching a favorite movie. Not only does Elle Woods use her pain as motivation to go to law school, but she uses her personal strengths in a way that makes her uniquely qualified. She reminded me I don’t need a man to achieve my dreams or goals, to face down challenges, and that I can look fabulous while doing it. This film is a quintessential part of my childhood and every time I return to it I learn something new, and here it gives me new strength to continue in my own graduate education and succeed like it isn’t hard.
- The Holiday (2006). When you breakup ten days before Christmas, this is kind of required watching. It also helps that it’s one of my favorite movies to watch in December anyway. It covers so many different kinds of relationships and breakups: unrequited love, cheating, lost love, one night stands, and friendships. Hans Zimmer’s score is absolutely gorgeous and the set pieces are typical Nancy Meyers beautiful. The Holiday reminded me to have some gumption and go on some adventures.
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008). Just like Peter and Sarah’s relationship, mine also lasted five and a half years. Just like Peter, a lot of the possessions around me remind me of The Captain and the times we had together. Just like Sarah, I tried my best to change myself to accommodate a relationship that wasn’t working. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a raunchy comedy even with its depressing subject material, and it’s pulled off by great performances from its cast, sharp writing, and an empathetic story. I’m also a huge fan of the Dracula musical.
- Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010). Most movies only have one or two exes to cause some drama; this film has at least ten. Scott is your typical “good guy” who is hung up on his ex-girlfriend, rebounds with a high schooler, and then falls in love with manic panic pixie dream girl Ramona. Of course then he has to battle her seven evil exes for her hand in relationship. The cinematography is sharp and gorgeous and there are so many wonderful performances amidst the rocking music. It’s also important to realize the power of self-respect, independence, and following your heart.
- Crazy Stupid Love (2011). This rom-com covers a lot of different kinds of relationships and breakups. It largely focuses on divorce—the end of a long-term relationship—and how the main character bounces back after being out of the dating game for so long. I think this is a common fear for those of us who missed out on the dating app revolution; all of sudden there’s this technology that’s innovated the way people interact and we weren’t there when it happened and it’s like learning a new language and what the hell is a Bumble? Great performances from the stellar cast, funny intersecting stories, and a heartfelt conclusion that maybe we don’t know where we’re going but we’ll figure it out.
- Bridesmaids (2011). Compared to Annie Walker, my life isn’t that bad. Even though we are both newly single, I’m still employed at a job I enjoy, I don’t live with weird roommates anymore, and I’m not avoiding my hobbies because of a fear of failure. We also both have some solid best friends to help us out. This movie’s solid sense of fun has seen me through plenty of tough times. I love the friendship between Annie and Lillian, and—let’s be honest—sometimes it’s nice to watch somehow whose life is worse than yours and laugh at and with them when your own is hitting a rough patch.
Is there a distinct lack of drama in my list? Yes, and that’s intentional. I wasn’t looking to bawl my eyes out over someone else’s heartbreak while I was hurting. I wanted to smile. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to relate to this universal feeling.
I’ll admit the hardest part was resisting one of my favorite movies The Five Year Engagement. In April, The Captain and I would’ve been engaged for four years. I often joked that we were living the movie and one of the key aspects is when the couple takes a break from each other for a while, gets some distance, and then come back together. But I don’t want that hope, thought, or idea in my head right now. It’s over and I cultivated a film list to support that thought.
Kevin McCallister taught me the importance of valuing alone time.
Elle Woods taught me to have faith in myself.
Iris Simpkins taught me to be the leading lady of my own life.
Peter Bretter taught me to pursue my hobbies.
Scott Pilgrim taught me to fight for what I want.
Cal Weaver taught me to never give up on the idea of true love.
Annie Walker taught me to find joy with my family and friends.
And they all taught me to move on. Thank you, next.