The end of a relationship can be very painful. Even if you initiate the breakup or know that it’s for the best, the memories of the relationship and dreams you once had for the future can still really tug at your heartstrings.
Here’s how you can help yourself move past a breakup, and feel more comfortable and content in this next chapter of your life.
When you’re in that fog of feelings, it’s easy to forget about taking care of your basic wellness. Check in with yourself to make sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep, incorporating movement into your day, and are eating regular, nourishing meals.
It’s OK to treat yourself to that favorite dessert; it’s a nice little way to cheer yourself up. However, if you start to notice that sweets and treats are no longer feeling good to your body, it’s probably a sign that it’s time to scale back.
Grabbing a social drink or two could be a means of reconnecting with friends. Just keep in mind that alcohol is a depressant, so you could actually be running the risk of making your sad feelings worse. Reflect on how you want drinking and substances to be part of your life at this point in time, remembering that while they may temporarily “numb” your feelings, they don’t fundamentally change them.
Open yourself up to new experiences to help yourself connect with joy. Take that weekend getaway you’ve been thinking about, try that new restaurant in your neighborhood. Creating new memories without your ex will pull you out of living in the past, and focus you more on the present.
Decide what to keep and what to leave behind
There’s often a strong impulse to get rid of any reminder of an ex at the end of the relationship. This idea has some merit — you might not want to look at that watch your ex gave you every day anymore, or feel like holding onto that coffee table the two of you bought on vacation.
Consider releasing reminders of your ex in your daily conversations, too. Sometimes it is important to talk through your feelings with other people and get support, but focusing all of your talks on your relationship or bringing every story and anecdote back to your ex is actually not helpful.
On the other hand, don’t punish yourself by throwing away things from the relationship that you actually want to keep. Okay, so your ex gave you that Le Creuset set for your birthday… it’s still going to serve you well even though they’re gone!
Sometimes I hear people say they feel like they can’t go hiking anymore, or go to a certain band’s concerts anymore, because they were introduced to that experience through their ex. It’s true, keeping connected to those things can bring up some sorrowful feelings at first — but your ex doesn’t have sole ownership over those things; they can be part of your life too.
Be aware of the company you keep
As tempting as it may be to crawl into a hole and mope post-break up, make sure that you’re not isolating yourself from your support system — staying connected to others can help prevent or alleviate depression.
Reflect on any boundaries that you need to set with friends and family to maintain your healing process. Your sibling might think they’re being helpful by tearing into all of your ex’s bad qualities and not realize that only brings up painful memories for you. That friend in your circle who’s always fishing for drama is not entitled to every lurid detail of your breakup — it’s OK to say “that’s a rude question” or change the topic entirely.
If you neglected people close to you during your romantic relationship, consider that they may have mixed feelings about you getting back in touch right now. Don’t take their support for granted — have the maturity to acknowledge the ways you may have let them down, share appreciation for their ongoing presence in your life, and express your intentions for showing up differently in the future.
I strongly advise against rebounds, especially in the initial post-breakup period. When the loss of a romantic partner is still so fresh in your mind, the connections you’ll gravitate toward are typically either attempts to recreate that partner in somebody else, or create a partner that is very much NOT your ex… with little regard to whether that’s something you want or need.
Ultimately, rebounds are an attempt to continue living in the past instead of moving into the future — which is not helpful to your healing process, and may not be fair to your rebound partner if they are looking for a genuine connection.
Don’t keep tabs on your ex
No one likes to hear this, but I’m going to say it anyway — unfollow your ex on social media. All platforms. Including LinkedIn. Consider blocking them if you have to. The point of this exercise is to remove any temptation to take a look at how they’re doing, what they’re up to, whether they’re over you, etc.
Release the idea that you and your ex will have some kind of interaction that will give you “closure”. That final conversation where you both reflect on everything that happened in your relationship might never happen. You might show up to your college reunion looking hot and smug, only to find out that they didn’t come. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to process the end of the relationship and move on — removing your ex from the equation is actually part of letting go.
Breakups bring up a lot of emotions — if you’ve been finding yourself overwhelmed, lost, or unable to shake that feeling that the rug has been pulled out from under you, therapy can help you re-ground and redirect. Click the button below to set up a free phone consultation — I’m ready to help.