10 Surprising Things People Reclaimed After a Bad Breakup

Once you and a partner have broken up, walking past your (former) favorite date spot might flood you with painful memories, make your heart plummet, and thoroughly ruin your day. Well, time to devise a new route that completely takes you out of your way just so you never have to experience that awful feeling again. Or when “your” song pops up on your playlist—ah, the betrayal of shuffle—you might rush to delete the track, convinced by the lump in your throat that you can never listen to it again.

After some time passes, though, reclaiming things that were hallmarks of your relationship can be a great way to reconnect with yourself. It’s not about living in the past, it’s about rebranding those things by creating new associations in the present. Breaking up can be so rough that you deserve to find little glimmers of pleasure wherever you can, even if it’s in something you used to enjoy with your ex. To show you how it’s done, below, 10 women share the things they refused to let a breakup ruin for them.

1. Pete’s Tavern in New York City

“The first time my ex took me to ‘his favorite bar,’ I was skeptical, imagining something dingy and loud. But Pete’s Tavern in Gramercy was something special. We first went during the holidays, and the dark interior was illuminated with Christmas lights draped from the ceiling.

The food was to die for. Not knowing the culinary treat that awaited me, I ordered their eponymous Spaghetti a la Pete’s. The waiter told me there were four ingredients in the sauce: San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, basil, and garlic—so much garlic. Enough garlic to melt your face off. Oh my god. It was the best thing I’d ever had, and that was saying something for Manhattan.

My ex and I would go to Pete’s to celebrate special occasions, and when I moved to Gramercy, I ate there once a week. But after we broke up, it seemed intuitive that he’d get Pete’s in the split. After all, it had been his favorite bar for longer than I’d ever laid claim to it.

That only lasted until I met my now-husband about two months after my ex and I broke up. I dragged him to Pete’s, excitedly showing him just how much garlic was in the spaghetti. (Seriously, it tasted like at least 11 cloves on a light day.) He loved seeing my enthusiasm, and we started going regularly.

We’ve since moved away from New York, but my love for Pete’s persists. Every time I’m in the city, I make a special pit stop. I’m not worried I’ll see my ex. Even if I do, now it’s my favorite bar, too. So there.” —Katherine I., 35

2. Long walks by the water

“After my most difficult breakup, I thought I’d have a hard time enjoying long walks by the water near my home in Fall River, MA. I thought I’d never be able to look at it the same way again. Taking those walks was one of my favorite things to do with my girlfriend at the time. Most of our dates began or ended with the waterfront. She and I had been best friends for years and when our relationship didn’t work out, I was heartbroken because I was sure I’d not only lost a romantic partner but also one of my favorite people.

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