So, you’ve probably clicked on quite a few articles on dealing with a breakup by now. It’s understandable if you’re feeling exhausted from all the advice out there, as if you can simply follow a checklist to get over someone you loved. Sure, taking time for yourself and reconnecting with friends are good suggestions, but they might feel like temporary fixes rather than real solutions.
Before urging you to “get back out there,” let’s consider a different perspective. Getting over an ex involves understanding who you are and the narrative you create about your past relationship, more than just trying to ease the pain each time you’re reminded of them. Pain is inevitable, so rather than avoiding it, let’s face it.
It’s a process, not a quick fix. Patience is key, even though hearing that might not be what you want right now. The only way to move forward is through the difficulty.
So, if you need to grab a bottle of gin or a gallon of ice cream, let’s tackle this together. And despite your skepticism, believe me when I say it will be okay.
Why the loss of a relationship hurts so much
Relationships give our lives meaning, not just the ones with people but also with our jobs, identity, and possessions. Losing a significant relationship means losing a part of yourself, as they are closely intertwined with your sense of purpose and self-perception.
To move on, it’s crucial to understand that the emptiness you feel after losing someone you love is a void in meaning and identity. Everything seems purposeless, and life may appear pointless. If you dwell on this for too long, you might find yourself desperately trying to fix everything to reclaim your old life.
Here’s the tough truth: a part of you is gone. It’s time to accept that and start rebuilding your life to move forward.
1. Let go of regrets
After a breakup, it’s natural to dwell on what went wrong and what you could have done differently. However, constantly revisiting the past only leads to unnecessary suffering. Instead, focus on the present moment.
Appreciate the positive aspects of your current situation, such as supportive friends and the valuable lessons learned for future relationships. Consider setting a time limit for venting to friends to prevent drowning in your feelings.
2. Forgive yourself
Avoid the self-destructive path of thinking you’ve made an irreparable mistake. Remind yourself that you’re human, and everyone makes mistakes. Embrace your imperfections as opportunities for growth and improvement.
To cultivate future love, start by forgiving yourself. Recognize that self-love is a prerequisite for giving and receiving love in the future.
3. Value your time
Rather than viewing past relationships as a loss of time, shift your perspective to recognize the positive aspects gained during that period. If you’ve been fixating on missed opportunities, redirect your focus to the accomplishments and experiences acquired.
Whether it’s building strong friendships or advancing in your career, highlighting the positives empowers you to move forward. Whatever transpired in the past has prepared you for the present, which is brimming with opportunities for personal growth, peace, and happiness.
4. Remember both the good and the bad
About 20% of us experience “complicated grief,” a lingering longing for someone with idealized memories of the relationship. Scientists believe this has a biological basis, akin to addiction in our brain chemistry.
It’s common to romanticize everything, especially if your ex initiated the breakup. However, it’s crucial to recognize both strengths and weaknesses in both parties and acknowledge mistakes made.
5. Reconnect with your individual self
Reflect on the fulfilling life you had before the relationship. Reconnect with neglected friends and interests. Remember the person you were before, who attracted your ex.
That person will help you navigate this loss and attract someone equally amazing in the future. If you can’t recall, take this opportunity to explore who you are now. Identify your values, interests, and what brings you joy.
6. Create distance
Hope can keep you stuck in the past. While it’s challenging to cut all ties, changing your hopes to broader terms helps. Instead of wanting a specific person back, desire love and happiness in any form.
You will experience love again, and by forgiving, letting go, and being open, you’ll encounter various people and relationship possibilities.
7. Allow yourself to feel
Losing a relationship is like a mini-death, prompting a grieving process. Initially, there’s shock and denial, followed by hurt and guilt, then anger and bargaining. Depression and loneliness may ensue before acceptance and a shift toward the future.
Acknowledge and experience these feelings but expedite the process by actively engaging in practices like daily forgiveness if guilt lingers. Read books, meditate, or journal to help cope with emotions.
8. Remember the benefits of moving forward
When you release the past, you grant yourself peace.
Clutching onto what’s gone is pure torment. It’s a cycle of regret, shame, guilt, and obsession—an endless path of suffering. True peace arrives when you silence these thoughts that threaten your tranquility.
Letting go paves the way for new opportunities.
Holding onto something tightly makes you less receptive to giving or receiving anything else. Picture clutching a massive bucket of water—you can’t offer anything beyond it, nor can you grasp anything else. It’s suffocating, restricting your ability to breathe freely.
To receive, you must give. Share love to receive it, spread joy to feel joy. But this is only possible if you’re open and willing.
9. Identify and replace fearful thoughts
Clutching onto a relationship often stems more from attachment than genuine love. Love desires the other person’s happiness, while fear clings to what seems to bring happiness to avoid facing alternatives.
Recognize habitual fearful thoughts, like “I’ll never be loved again” or “I’m powerless.” Replace them with empowering ones: “Pain fades with time. Being mindful eases its passing. I control my response to what happens.”
10. Embrace change
Nothing lasts forever. Every experience and relationship has its course.
Embracing impermanence means living it. Treat each day as a new life. Value the people before you as if it were their last day. Find meaning in every moment instead of fixating on what’s lost.
When tempted to cling, remind yourself that the unknown can be a curse or an adventure. It’s your mindset that determines how you perceive it.
It took me eight years to navigate through relationships and letting go. Now, fifteen months into a healthy relationship, I stand independently. I don’t regret my single years, but I realize I could have hurt less and opened up more possibilities by fully letting go. I hope you’ll choose that path too.