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Everyone knows breaking up is hard to do. But staying in contact with your ex following a breakup? That's where things get really tricky. By remaining in each other's lives, you run the risk of a post-breakup rendezvous, holding onto feelings for your ex, and in general delaying your ability to heal and move on quickly (and without additional heartache).

The following are some tips to help you avoid a post-breakup backslide into your ex’s arms, and instead ease you into your happily ever after future:

Tip 1: Create new boundaries. Your best defense after a breakup? Immediately create new boundaries with your ex. That means no phone calls, no emails, no texting, and definitely no late night booty calls. Your ex is now your ex. That means it's time to ex-tricate him from your life.

If you can't completely cut off contact because you have children together, run a business together, or work together? Your recovery is a little bit more challenging. But it's not impossible. You just have to create special new boundaries, only dealing with and talking to your ex when absolutely necessary about your common interests, i.e. the children, business, work. If your ex wants to know how you're handling the breakup? Shut him down. If he's curious if you're dating again? Tell him it's none of his business. The same is true for you. Don't pry into your ex's post-breakup recovery. Just as you deserve to heal and move on, so does your ex. Give him the space and time to do so.

Tip 2: Avoid being one another's shoulder to cry on. You loved, you lost, you're now in mourning. A word of warning when you're in post-breakup mourning: DO NOT seek comfort in the arms of your ex. That's a huge recovery no-no! Instead, recruit a support system from your inner circle of friends, preferably friends who have your best interests at heart and won't report back to your ex on your progress and setbacks. This is actually one of the single most important steps you can follow during your breakup recovery.

To heal and move on, you're going to need help. That help should NOT come in the form of your ex. The same is true for you. If your ex calls, emails, texts, or stops by seeking comfort for his broken heart? Don't open your arms. Instead, kindly but firmly let him know that you are no longer his go-to support system. Then shut the door on any and all opportunities to help each other heal following the breakup.

Tip 3: No online ex bashing. After a breakup, it's only natural to feel some residual anger, resentment, bitterness, etc. And in the era of social networking sites and YouTube, it's all too easy to go online and spew in front of millions of readers/viewers. Don't do it! By going online and bashing your ex on your blog, via video diary, or to everyone in your social network, you are inviting bad breakup karma into your life. And you know what they say — what comes around goes around. When it comes around? Ouch!

Tip 4: Handle the dreaded run-in with class. While it would be fabulous if your ex could be automatically ejected from the planet following the breakup, that technology has yet to be invented. And depending on the size of the city you live in, a post-breakup run-in with your ex is not only possible, it's probable. Rather than become a shut-in out of fear of your ex encounter, embrace the possibility and plan for it.

First, imagine the absolute worst case scenario: You haven't showered in days, your clothes are wrinkled and smelly, your hair is a mess, and you happen to run into your ex on a date with the most gorgeous girl you've ever seen. In fact, they're engaged, as evidenced by the huge shiny rock on her left hand. Can you see it in your mind? Pretty painful, right? Chances are, that's not going to happen. In fact, your ex encounter will probably be a lot less dramatic than this scenario. However, the pain may still be there. In bumping into your ex, you may be reminded of what you loved about him. It may even reignite those familiar feelings of love, lust, or just plain loneliness. Do not use the run in as an excuse to reconnect. What's done is done. Your ex is now your ex. Bumping into him does not mean that the two of you are meant to be together.  Instead, summon that inner strength, smile politely, and extricate yourself from the situation as soon as is possible without being rude.

Tip 5: Follow the six month rule.  After a breakup, the best rule of thumb is to avoid all contact with your ex for at least six months. Think about what you can do in six months — train for a marathon, plan and take a well-deserved vacation, buy property, change jobs, heal and move on after a breakup. In giving yourself a six month cushion, you greatly increase your chances of getting over your ex. In the throes of post-breakup angst, you may not like the sound of that. Like it or not, it's what's best for you. Rather than fight what you know is right for you, give yourself permission to put the six month rule into practice.

So there you have it, five tips for handling contact with your ex following the breakup. If you adhere to these guidelines, your post-breakup recovery will be that much easier. In letting go of your ex, you give yourself permission to heal, move on, and eventually find your very own happily ever after. Good luck and happy healing!

Lisa Steadman is the best selling author of It's A Breakup Not A Breakdown: Get over the big one and change your life - for good! and the follow up workbook It's a Breakup, Not a Breakdown Workbook: A 21-Day Action Plan to Plot Your Revenge, Spoil Yourself, and Find Out How Good Your Life Is Without Him.

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