Getting over a break-up is gut-wrenching. There’s no other word for it.
I have been both the recipient and the instigator of ending a relationship, and both scenarios create their own brand of personal anguish.
I still ache at the feelings of rejection I experienced when I heard the words, “I want to break up.”
And I feel a surge of sadness and guilt recalling the times I had to say, “I’m sorry but this isn’t working out.”
For me, the end of a romantic relationship almost felt like a death, as I invest so much emotional energy into the connection. Getting past a breakup always required that I go through the typical stages of grief and loss.
There’s just no easy way around the painful ending of a romance, no matter how much you want to move on. You have to go through the pain to get to the other side.
But I do understand the longing to be over your ex as quickly as possible.
You want to wipe your mind clean of the memories and scrub every last bit of his or her scent from your bed, your sofa, and your clothes.
And yet … you can’t.
You still love this person. Or you think you do. Or you think you don’t.
You’re not really sure of anything anymore.
How do you move on when you don’t know what to do? How do you move on when you’re not sure if you should? How do you move on when your heart doesn’t want to give up?
You may never forget your ex. You may never stop loving her. You may never heal the wounds and scars he left on your heart.
But, unless you take steps to recover from a relationship beyond repair, you’ll be forever stuck in one painful place while the world continues to turn.
Here are ten ways on how to move on from a relationship so you can reclaim your life:
1. Acknowledge and accept the breakup.
Do you still talk and act around your ex as if nothing happened?
Have you avoided telling your friends and family about the breakup?
Do you feel a surge of jealousy when he posts pictures of his new love?
Do you keep telling yourself “it’s not over yet?”
If so, you’re probably still in denial about the breakup. That’s not a bad thing by itself; after all, losing your beloved causes you grief, and denial is the first stage of grief.
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However, in order to start healing from the breakup, it’s important that you accept the fact that it happened. Otherwise, the next steps won’t help you move on.
2. Unfriend and unfollow social media accounts.
Social media is great when things are going great in your life. But it can also be a flashing reminder of your pain and heartache during a breakup.
At least temporarily, you may need to disengage from social media or let go of some of your mutual contacts with your ex. It may feel awkward to do this, especially if you two have hundreds of mutual friends.
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But unless you want to endure the agony of seeing his or her face on your feeds every day, this is a step you need to take.
Granted, your mutual friends will ask questions. They may even decide to take sides, and unfriend or unfollow you in return.
But try not to take it personally. When the dust settles, and you're feeling stronger, you can reengage with mutual friends again if you wish.
3. Avoid or reduce contact with your ex.
If you were the initiator of the breakup, there’s a strong possibility your ex may continue to contact you.
He or she may call you asking for an explanation or for another chance to work things out. Or you may find your ex knocking at your door, asking to talk or reconnect.
You need to set some firm boundaries and be clear (in a kind way) that you need to move on, and he or she does too. If necessary, you might consider blocking texts and calls.
If you were the one jilted, do your best to resist the urge to call or text your ex. This is really hard when you feel so wounded and alone, but when you feel the urge, call a friend instead.
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Don’t try to revive the relationship out of guilt, loneliness, or insecurity. These feelings are not a foundation for a healthy relationship.
There was a reason that things didn't work out between the two of you, and as painful as it may be, you need to distance yourself physically and emotionally in order to heal.
4. Avoid rebound relationships.
Whether it’s to spite your ex or to heal your broken heart, it’s tempting to jump into another relationship right away.
A rebound relationships can seem like an easy, convenient way out of your pain and loneliness.
However, a rebound connection can do more harm than good when you haven't completely healed.
You not only risk hurting your rebound lover with your conflicted feelings and behavior, but also you might regret entering the rebound relationship in the first place — further complicating your emotions.
This is a good time to reconnect with your friends and family who can support you through your grief and help you feel less alone. Save a new romance for a time when you feel strong, secure, and ready for love again.
5. Don’t forget to care for yourself.
You may bawl your eyes out. You might scream until your throat aches. Or maybe you feel like curling up in a ball and withdrawing from the world.
But in your sadness and pain, please don't neglect your health because of a breakup.
You may not be able to control how you feel, but you can control what you do. And during this painful time, it's more important than ever that you stay physically healthy.
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Do jumping jacks as soon as you wake up. Eat the healthiest breakfast you can make despite your busy schedule. Walk or jog to your office whenever you can.
If you feel good physically, it’s easier to feel good mentally, emotionally, and psychologically as well.
6. Rekindle your old hobbies and develop new ones.
What are the hobbies you enjoyed before you met your ex?
Maybe it’s a sport, a craft, or reading books. Try to revive that hobby, even if takes some effort at first. You may discover that it relieves your aching heart somewhat. Distraction is a great antidote to mental suffering.
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You might also take up a new hobby. Visit a place you’ve never been to before, cook a dish you’ve never tried, or do anything else new that requires a bit of focus to keep your mind off your ex.
7. Put things into perspective.
When you break up with someone, your mind tends to latch on to the “should-have-beens” and “could-have-beens” of the relationship.
Rather than focusing on what might have been, change your mindset and consider the positives of not being your ex’s lover?
Think of all your ex’s bad habits. Think of all the nasty things she said to you. Think of all the times he forced you to set aside your needs for his. Now that you’re free from all that, aren’t you actually better off without your ex?
Even if your ex broke up with you, and you still love everything about him or her, remember that you are deserving of someone who reciprocates your love.
Try to look forward with anticipation to finding someone who is a better match for you and who values all of your amazing qualities.
8. Forgive yourself.
Of course, there will be times when you blame yourself for what happened.
Since it takes two to tango, it’s natural for you to assume that you did something to contribute to the breakup.
Regardless of who’s to blame or the reasons behind the breakup, what’s happened has happened. You can’t go back and erase what you’ve done (if you’ve done anything at all).
But you can learn from what happened and become a better person because of it.
Every relationship provides an opportunity for personal growth and self-awareness if you take the time to reflect on your behaviors and attitudes honestly.
Take what you've learned to improve yourself and your relationship skills for the next person who is in your life.
9. Live in the present, and look to the future.
You can choose to hang on to the memories of your past love and dwell on them. After all, you don’t want to repeat your mistakes over and over in your future relationships, and maybe reliving your past relationship can help.
But there's a difference between learning from your past relationship and ruminating about it in an unhealthy way.
In order to have a future relationship at all, you must look to the future first and envision a life beyond your ex. Dwelling in the past too much keeps you trapped there.
Don't allow the past to taint the present or prevent you from creating a joyful future.
Think about happy times prior to meeting your ex. What made you happy back then? Can you still be happy with the same things now?
It may take some time to heal your pain to find happiness again, but you have to make room for happiness and invite it into your life. You can't do that if you're stuck in past memories.
10. Talk to someone who’s been in a similar situation.
Most of your friends and adult family members have experienced a painful breakup someone in their pasts.
These people may be able to give you sensible, well-meaning advice on how to move on. You'll always have those who tell you to “Just get over it,” and “There are plenty of fish in the sea.”
But somehow these words feel empty and useless when you're in the midst of a breakup.
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Try to find someone who’ll listen to you compassionately as you pour your heart out, without judging or interrupting you.
Find someone who knows better than to tell you to “Get over it,” who doesn’t treat you like a child or invalid, and who offers to support you throughout your trying time.
What if there’s no one who fits the above to a T? Then it’s on you to lay out the ground rules. Call people out (tactfully) if they say thoughtless or hurtful things.
Be honest about how you feel, but don’t use your feelings as an excuse to hurt others. You owe it to others to be kind, just as they owe the same to you.
Your healing matters.
In the end, how you move on — or whether you move on at all — is up to you.
If the steps above don’t work overnight, don’t get discouraged. Healing happens at a different pace for different people. Offer yourself patience, kindness, and compassion for working to get through this trying time.
Eventually, you will get through it and find your way to happiness again.