The ending of a relationship is an emotional time for both people. It wouldn't be dramatic saying that breakups can feel like someone ripping your heart out of your chest. But even though you stop dating, your feelings don't go away. Cue the pining, indulging in ice cream, texting at 2 am, and the whole nine yards of post-break-up life. But what if, no matter how hard you try to let them go, you can't seem to get there? You know you're hanging onto something that isn't real anymore, but you can't stop yourself. It's okay to let go of someone who doesn't want you anymore. It's healthy for you. But it does take work.
Why Is It So Hard To Let Go?
There are many reasons why you might find it hard to let go of an ex. The most obvious ones are that they are still in your life in some way. When you still harbor feelings for a person, allowing them in any part of your life will hurt you more than helping you. Meeting up with them "as friends," creeping on their social media, and contacting them when you are lonely aren't ways that help you move on. In fact, they make you feel like you are still close to them. By doing this, you are allowing your old feelings to fester, keeping them real and upfront in your life. You won't be able to move on because you've given yourself no reason even to try.
When you dig down deep, you probably are scared to move on. You've invested your heart and soul in a relationship that didn't work out, so you don't want to try again, but you also don't want to feel like you're alone. Instead, you create a limbo where you're still broken up, but your feelings haven't changed. Even after the most devastating of breakups, that person will still feel familiar to you. You had a relationship, so there's a bond there that you have to break when you move on physically. There's something really scary about losing a bond that was in your life for so long. The idea of no longer knowing this person probably hurts, too. And you feel like it's just going to hurt forever. It's important that you know, though, that it doesn't have to.
5 Ways To Learn To Let Go And Move On With Your Life
Remember that it's okay to be sad. A relationship ended, and so you are entitled to a grieving period. You get to be sad and wallow in the pain. It's a reminder that you had something real, even though it didn't last. When you put your heart on the line, you run the risk of having it broken. Part of the mending process is letting yourself be sad. If you don't process through the pain, you're left trying to push it down deeper inside yourself. That can lead to feeling like you haven't moved on. When you don't grieve, and you don't let yourself feel lonely, you hold onto the feelings of comfort and love to keep yourself from falling apart. Let yourself have a good cry. Eat some chocolate if that brings you comfort. Watch some Rom Coms that make you ache for that kind of love again. You'll be surprised by the healing qualities that follow.
After a relationship has ended, you have to learn how to be alone again. It doesn't matter if you dated for six months or lived together for six years; there are things that you got used to doing as a pair, and now you have to relearn how to do them as a single person. You don't lose your identity when you lose a lover. You are still there, even if you feel like you can't find yourself. When you spend some time alone, you get to know yourself again. You learn how to cook your favorite foods that they didn't like, watch the movies that you would never have asked to watch with them. You stay in your PJs and forget to shave your legs, and find comfort in your presence. There is freedom in being comfortable by yourself. And for the days where you can't be alone, turn to your friends and family for support. They will help you remember who you are because they love who you are.
Mark Epstein, a psychiatrist who wrote the book Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, says that we have to be willing to love freely to move on from a relationship. When we hold onto our emotions and try to control every aspect of our relationships, it becomes harder to let go when something ends. When you learn to love freely, it comes with an acceptance of endings. No relationship lasts forever, even marriages of 60+ years. It's better to appreciate what you have now than to be afraid of when you might lose it. Some day you will be able to look back on your relationship and be thankful for the time you had and be okay with the fact that it ended. Forever isn't a prerequisite for something being real or important.
Eventually, you will let go of the relationship. It won't happen overnight, and it won't be an easy decision to make, but you will realize that you are worth healing at some point in time. You can be grateful for the relationship and still feel love in your heart for them, but know it's time to move on. Time helps with this. The more distance you put between the breakup and yourself will help you see yourself more clearly. You will have to put in the work. It starts by telling yourself that someday you will move on. You don't have to move on immediately, but you have to decide that you will post-break-up. Making the promise to yourself gives you something to work towards, even on days that feel overwhelming.
Only then will you be willing to try again. Maybe the idea of loving someone else seems impossible right now. No one could ever be as good as who you once had. But the truth is that the relationship ended for a reason. You will see that someday, you will come to figure out what you need from a partner. Then you'll go on dates and find people who can give you what you need. After all, that's what dating is for. You learn from your past, and you grow. It's still painful and takes time to heal, but knowing that you can really find someone better brings hope.
Ask For Help When You Need It
Getting over a breakup takes more than just reading self-help blog posts. It's really easy to say that you're going to get through this, but another thing entirely to recognize it as truth. If you are having a hard time after a breakup, know that it's okay to ask for help. Talk to people who love you. Ask a family member for advice or invite a friend over to keep you company. You don't have to be literally alone all the time after a breakup. Surrounding yourself with love and friendship will help you to heal. Let the people who want to be there for you help you through this tough time.
And if that's still not enough, you have more options. Therapy is an incredible tool to help you work through your emotions. You can even get therapy online without ever needing to leave your house.
ReGain is an online therapy tool that you can use to chat online with a therapist for as long as you need. By answering some questions about yourself and your needs, you will be matched with the right therapist and given a secure chat room to communicate with them. Therapy sessions aren't in real-time, so you can send a message to them whenever you need to, and they will respond when they can. Access to ReGain is given through a monthly subscription service and is typically cheaper than in-person sessions. ReGain is available for you right now to sign up or get more information when you go to www.regain.us/start.
When you go through a breakup, it can feel like the world is ending. One day you will realize it isn't. But until that day comes, let yourself lean on those who can help you through the muck. Whether you use ReGain, another therapist, or talk with friends and family, you are putting in the work to heal and feel whole again. You should be proud of yourself for trying.