Last updated on 22 April 2020.
Thanks to KT who posted this question in our Facebook Group, and to everyone who responded!
KT: “How did you ladies and gentlemen get over a rough breakup and letting go of that hope that there might be a chance?”
Listen to Joc address “what you can learn from a failed relationship” on Episode 411 of Optimal Relationships Daily.
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Getting over a breakup is a rollercoaster of emotions.
You wonder if you’ll ever be able to do it, and you wonder how you can get over it faster so that you can move on. You know that some of your thoughts or behaviors may not exactly be healthy ones.
If you still feel like you’re in love with your ex, that makes things harder by a hundredfold.
We’ve gathered tips from fifteen relationship and dating experts on how to get over a breakup. Tips include blocking your ex on social media, acknowledging the pain, prioritizing self-care, and more.
Here are their thoughts!
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How To Heal From A Broken Heart And Move On
1. Do What Makes You Happy
Trish McDermott is a Dating Coach at Meetopolis.com, dating industry expert, and a founding member of the Match startup team. She says:
- Seek morsels of truth. Often the hardest part of an awful breakup isn't accepting how our ex behaved in the relationship. It's taking a long, hard look at our own behavior. Ouch. To have loved and lost is often painful, but it's catastrophically tragic if you don't learn and grow from it.
- Take some solace in the fact that you are not alone in your transgressions, whatever they may be. People have made the same choices and behaved the same way in relationships for generations before you. Finding, forming and maintaining a great relationship is a process of failing your way to success. Understanding the mistakes you made, or how you contributed to the failure of the relationship, will help you avoid the same mistakes.
- Play, laugh, learn, travel, cook, entertain — live! Do what makes you happy. The freedom can be fun and invigorating.
2. Be Proactive in Building Your Future
Dea Dean is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor.
She says that in the aftermath of the break up, the main focus of moving forward is self care:
- Acknowledge the pain, don’t ignore it or belittle it. We tend to distract ourselves (with Netflix, with substances, with other people) but the best way to decrease the intensity of negative emotion is to acknowledge that it’s there and call it by its name.
- Be engaged. Make a list of activities or causes that give you purpose or fulfillment. We can often adopt the persona of our partner and let ourselves and our passions be lost.
- Imagine your future and be active in building it. Every relationship will have issues, but we get the privilege of deciding what issues we’re willing to sign up for. Know what you’re willing to do and what you’re unwilling to do in your next relationship by taking time to consider your desires and wants before committing to someone.
3. Set Boundaries
- Allow yourself to feel grief emotions like sadness, anger, depression, longing, and isolation. You are grieving the loss of the relationship but also all of the hopes, dreams, and expectations that went along with it. It's your brain trying to process everything that happened and negotiate your new reality without your partner.
- Set post-breakup boundaries. Do you want to see each other for the first month or no? Will you be going to the wedding you both RSVP'ed to? What happens to pets, money, home that needs to be “uncoupled” or “untangled”?
- Leave them alone. Breaking up means your ex is no longer your “person.” Designate new people in your life who can be recipients of good news and shoulders [to cry on] on hard days. Don't be afraid to fill your newfound free time with supportive and helpful resources.
4. Use Your Breakup as Motivation
According to Chris Seiter, Relationship Consultant and Breakup Specialist:
- Use your breakup as motivation to better yourself and become a better person.
- My goal for you is that down the road in a couple of years you look back on your relationship with this person and say, “Because of him/her and what he/she did to me, I became a better person. That was the best relationship I ever had.”
5. Engage in Self Care
- Accentuate the positive. Use this break up as an opportunity to create stronger personal boundaries. Make a list of the people, circumstances, and activities that lift you. You will find your spirits begin to lift as you consciously, mindfully engage in what brings you joy.
- Engage in greater self-care. Place your needs first (for once!) and treat yourself like you would treat someone you love. In order to truly integrate these practices and to start to feel better, you need to make them a habit so that they are internalized. They will become part of you.
6. Block Your Ex from Your Phone and Social Media
Laurel Steinberg, PhD, NY-based sexologist and relationship expert, says:
- Remember that there is no such thing as one “the one,” but in fact there are many people with whom you could have a great life. Reflect on what went wrong with your last relationship and commit to getting back out there to find a suitable replacement. Believing in abundance is key.
- Pretend your last partner isn't alive anymore and block them from your social media and phone. Not being able to reach out easily will prevent you from running after someone with whom it didn't work as well as from feeling the pain of seeing the person move on in their life.
- Take time to do normal day-to-day things that get you to feel that you are fine on your own and that having a partner is a “want” and not a “need.” Over time you will feel stronger and will be able to go back out there and start the interview process over again.
7. Write in a Journal
Carla Marie Manly, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, shares a few basic tips for healing after a breakup:
- Exercise in order to release negativity and increase feel-good neurochemicals.
- Journal frequently as a way to both “feel” and “process.”
- Strive to let go of blame and resentment—negativity will pull you down and make the healing process more difficult.
8. Acknowledge There's No Quick Fix
Jodie Stein, MFT Psychotherapist, says:
- Accept that there is no way to avoid feeling your pain. We tend to want a quick fix and often turn to forms of escape to cope. Drinking, getting into a new relationship too quickly, or stuffing down your feelings may offer temporary relief but in fact these strategies will slow your healing.
- A breakup is a major emotional blow and it will need recovery time, just like a broken bone. You will not be on your A-game for a while, so go for ‘good enough functioning.’
- Focus on activities that allow you to be authentic about what you’re going through. Think about what would feel comforting to the hurt part of you. Not only will this fill up your empty time, it will empower the do-er in you to help you feel more in control.
9. Don't Give Up
Sharon J. Lawrence, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, says to take time to process if the signs were there that indicate the break up was inevitable. She adds:
- Be mindful of who you share your feelings and pain with as you may not find genuine support with every person. Look for individuals or friends that can be objective and truly assist you with walking through the process of pain instead of that person who only agrees with everything you say.
- Realize that your ex is not the only “one” and that it is not the end of the world. Once you see yourself moving and actually do so, your healing will allow you to see yourself with another. Don't give up on you and don't give up on love!
10. Follow the 1% Rule
Cherlyn Chong, Rapid Breakup Recovery Specialist, advises:
- Find out what you really wanted from the relationship. Usually, it's not about the ex, but what the breakup meant to you as a person. Research has shown that the more you grew in the relationship, the more you identified yourself by your relationship. So losing it also means a loss of self. Find out what the relationship truly gave to you, such as comfort, security or validation, and find that exact thing in your life to gain a sense of self back.
- Shift your perspective by 1% every single day. Research has shown that we are not overnight successes, rather, we are the sum of our habits. If we shift our perspective about the breakup by a constant 1% every single day, going from a fixed mindset (“I am not lovable”) to a growth mindset (“I learned so much,”) we will be able to get over the breakup much quicker.
11. Focus on Rebuilding Your Life
Tina B. Tessina (aka “Dr. Romance”), PhD / Psychotherapist shares the facts:
DON'T idealize a bad relationship. In counseling people who got dumped, every client realized the warning signs that were ignored early in the relationship. Don't pick out the few good moments you remember and ignore what wasn't working.
DON'T expect closure from the dumper. Closure requires getting truthful answers to your questions about what happened — to understand why. After a breakup, both of you are upset, hurt, and guilty and probably won't be telling the truth. Longing to talk “just once more” to your ex is just asking for pain.
DON’T assign blame. If you blame your ex, you'll eventually turn that blame on yourself. So, instead of blaming, find some more neutral things to say, such as “We saw things differently” or “We had some good years, then things changed.” If there's ‘another man or woman', don't blame them either. Everyone's just trying to survive a difficult situation.
DO focus on rebuilding your life. Drama is not practical; it's a negative fantasy. Get your emotional, personal and financial life together as soon as you can. Think about all the things you've been freed up to do, and do some of them. Try things you would never have done before, or things you've always wanted to do. As Gatsby said, “Living well is the best revenge.” This will keep you focused on the present and the future, instead of the past.
12. Avoid Facebook Stalking
Raffi Bilek, Director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, says:
- An important part of getting over a breakup is avoiding the trap of Facebook stalking.
- It is tempting to check in on your ex's goings-on, see what they're up to, etc. This is a great way to keep the pain fresh and ongoing. Getting over a breakup means doing what you can to move past it and not stay stuck in how things used to be. Accepting the emotional pain and processing old memories is helpful; continuing to live in those past memories is not.
13. Enjoy Quality Time — Alone
Tara Eisenhard, Divorce Coach, says:
- Take a break from social media (or at least unsubscribe from the ex).
- Spend time with those who encourage and support you — not those who simply trash talk the ex (hating isn’t healing).
- Date yourself, spend quality time alone, and set goals. Realize that life will go on and there’s plenty of opportunity to be happy.
14. Forgive Yourself
- Pause and forgive yourself, whatever went wrong in your mind doesn't define you, you did the best you could with the information you had at the time.
- Don't date; you are not ready, pause until you advance on your healing journey.
- Consistently check in with self and ask, “Is what I'm about to do feeding my history or my destiny?” Life is a journey not a destination, and it should be fun. So thank the Universe that everything is lining up perfectly, that you had your ex for the season that you did, and be excited about all the great things about to show up by you doing your inner work.
15. Focus on What's Ahead
Celia Schweyer, Relationship Expert at DatingScout.com, says:
- Start to exercise, go out with your friends and think of all the things that made you happy before. Your time has come to do things just for yourself again – and this has to be the thought behind the process of this confidence boost. You do it for you, not to make your ex jealous.
- Always think forward, not back. The future is much more important than the past in this rehabilitation process.
- Involve your friends and talk to them. Exchange breakup stories with your friends and see how they handled these hard times — and where they stand now. These might just be the best examples that healing can take some time.
13 More Tips on How to Move On After a Breakup – By Our Members
Here’s a shoutout to members of our Facebook Group, who kindly shared how they moved on after a bad breakup!
“I cried until I couldn't cry anymore.
Asked my friends and family to entertain me and not let me dwell.
Started doing a bunch of amazing stuff with new people.
Did all the things I “didn't have to do” before.
Thought of all the sh*tty things the other person did… and how much better off I am without them.” — ND
“I joined a trekking group and met nice and genuine people.” — XL
“I participated in a Rebuilders group that I know. Next group starts next Tuesday evening. Best thing I could do to heal.” — BD
“Having faith in knowing the right person for me was coming and she did!” — BW
“Cried a lot.
Journaled a lot!!!
Joined a church Bible study.
Made myself try new things to push me out of my comfort zone.
Looking back, I invested a lot of time in myself and gaining back my self confidence and identity.” — NH
“Pure will power.” — RP
“Time.” — HG
“I’ve come to realize that the pain of heartache is real and requires its own time for healing. I worked on figuring out how I contributed to the demise of the relationship rather than blaming him for everything. I also acknowledged where I was in the process, grieved fully when it was all too much, and to this day am grateful for what we had together. I accepted that it would take time.” — GS
“Don't jump into a new relationship. Go have fun and enjoy life. New possibilities will arrive, just don't hold on too tight waiting for them to happen.” — LJ
“I made a list of 100 things I could do instead of talking to the other person and got busy doing them😊” — KJ
“I created a worksheet when I was moving on from a big relationship. Best of luck!” — AS
“I travelled the world. 😊” — JM
“I went to a local gym frequently. This helped me get aggression out, feel better about myself, while doing something healthy for my body. Even though it wasn't my intention, I eventually did two body building shows.” — BG
A thank you to everyone who shared their tips and experiences in this post.
We hope these insightful tips ease the pain if you're currently experiencing a breakup.
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