How to Let Go of a Failed Relationship
It takes great effort to let go of failed relationships and learn to heal yourself instead of letting those complicated feelings linger. To learn how to adjust your mindset, cut ties with your ex, and start enjoying your life again, follow these steps and let the healing begin.
Part 1 Letting Go
Give yourself time. It’s okay to mourn the end of the relationship. Whether you were together for a few months or you lived together for years and shared pets, you have the right to your complicated emotions. Allow yourself to cry, reflect on the experience, and accept that it’s really over.Use this time to reflect. Write down your feelings in a journal and really get in touch with why you’re feeling that way.
Giving yourself time may help you get over the relationship faster. Some people like to set an “end mourning date.” Of course, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be over the relationship at that point–but it does mean that you’ll start making a conscious effort to move on.
Let your emotions loose. If you feel like crying in bed all day, go for it. If you want to cry or vent to a friend about all of your frustrations, do that too. Just remember to only do this for as long as you need to, don’t rush out into a new relationship in a week just because your ex is or to make them jealous.
Remind yourself why the relationship is over. It’s natural for you to long for your ex and to wish he/she was still by your side–after all, you’re used to having them around, even if it wasn’t comforting all of the time. But you have to stay strong and remind yourself why the relationship is over. Though it may hurt, try thinking of a moment when you were deeply unhappy in the relationship. Write it on an index card or save it on your phone and and carry it around with you. Look at it whenever you’re regretting your decision or wondering why you and your ex aren’t together anymore.
Learn to recognize negative thought patterns. Bitterness, guilt and regret can make for a debilitating emotional cocktail when you’re trying to get over a relationship. You can teach yourself to recognize bitter thought patterns, though, by writing them down and then later examining them to find your emotional triggers. If you can pinpoint the things that set you off running into an emotional swamp, you can learn to walk around it.Read back over your journal as if it belonged to someone else. What is it that seems to set this other person off? What advice would you offer them? What should they avoid?
Circle words or phrases that show up repeatedly. When you find yourself thinking of that word or phrase (maybe your ex’s name, maybe a particular place or concept) interrupt yourself. Have a mantra or or a song prepared to recite or listen to as a way of interrupting yourself and rewarding yourself for avoiding that negative thought.
Avoid self-destructive behaviors. Taking up smoking just because you’re feeling angry about a relationship won’t do anything to help you feel better about yourself. Indulging in self-loathing that takes the form of drinking or drugs will only draw out the grief process, because you’ll have to start from scratch.If it’s a distraction you’re looking for, why not make it a healthy alternative? Instead of smoking, try taking up bicycling, art projects, or picking up an old instrument you’d lost touch with.
Part 2 Cutting Ties with Your Ex
Stop communicating with your ex. Stop texting or calling. Don’t try to have an awkward mature lunch with your ex once a week when it’s over. Though you may be able to be friends with your ex one day, it needs to be after you’ve learned to be separate. The potential for damage at this point is great, and communicating with your ex will make it much harder for you to let go of the relationship.If you need to stop hanging out with your mutual friends for a while, do it. If you really want to see them, hang out with them by making special plans. You’re not being cowardly by doing this–you’re just protecting yourself. Likewise, find new social places to hang out–there are plenty of bars, restaurants, and parks to check out that don’t have any emotional baggage.
If you run into your ex, you don’t have to run in the other direction. Be mature and say hello, but you don’t need to stop to have a painful conversation.
Stay away from social media for a while. Though you may be tempted to log on to your Facebook to see if there are any pictures of your ex with a new cutie, this will only prolong your pain and may even make you feel a bit obsessive. Even if you’re determined not to contact your ex on social media, you won’t be able to stop wondering if he saw your latest photos or your latest post. Don’t get on social media again until the thought of seeing your ex’s photo doesn’t make you feel an intense spectrum of emotions.
Alternatively, try blocking or “unfriending” your ex. This can be a very tangible way of signaling that the relationship is over.
Get rid of things that remind you of your ex. Do a relationship spring cleaning. If you can’t bear to throw them out entirely, put them in a garbage bag at the back of your closet. Even if the stuffed animal your ex won for you during your first date at a carnival is your favorite item, throw it in a bag with everything else.If you have a few things that belong to your ex– sweatshirts, books, electronics–return them immediately. You can have a friend drop them off for you to minimize the pain.
Remodel, redecorate, make your place your own. Especially if you had been living together, get rid of old things even if they don’t remind you of your ex. Move your furniture around, and add some plants for decoration and peace. Do whatever you have to do to make your space feel new. It’s important and healthy to try not to keep too many things from your lives together.
Take a mini-vacation. While you can’t just pack up all of your things and move to Hawaii the second you break up with your ex–unless you’re lucky–visiting relatives or a location you’ve never been will help make your world a little larger for the time being. This offers necessary perspective and is a good start to enjoying yourself and starting to do things that you want to do.
Part 3 Enjoying Your Life Again
Spend more time with your friends. When you’re ready, it’ll be fun to catch up, laugh, and get back to having long and intense conversations with your friends. Use your new free time to reconnect with old friends, strike up new acquaintances, or to turn an acquaintance into a friend. Do the things you couldn’t do in your relationship. If your partner hated sushi, organize a group lunch at the best place for sushi in your town. If your ex couldn’t stand going to live metal shows, get some friends together and head for the mosh pit.
Spend time with your family. Especially if you’ve been preoccupied with your relationship, perhaps you haven’t been able to spend as much time around your family as you might like. They’ll be on your team and give you a chance to relax, reconnect, and even enjoy some home cooking for a change. Plus, spending time in your hometown might give you a chance to reconnect with childhood friends, old stomping grounds, and enjoy yourself.
Find joy in new activities. Instead of doing the same old things that you and your ex used to do, try pursuing a new interest, finding a new hobby, or by getting completely out of your comfort zone.
Explore your creative side. Try writing a song, composing a poem, painting or sketching. Express yourself in way you never had before but always hoped to try.
Try a new form of exercise. Take that yoga or Zumba class you’ve always been wanting to try. Not only will exercising make you feel less stressed out and more centered, but you may find a new passion.
Do something completely out of your comfort zone. Try a type of food you’ve never eaten before, go hiking even if you’re not outdoorsy, or even go sky diving if you’re feeling adventurous.
Pick up a new hobby, like knitting, coin collecting, bird watching, or anything else that makes you feel calm and dedicated.
Find peace on your own. Though staying busy with a flurry of friends and fun activities is a great way to take your mind on your ex, if you really want to let go of the failed relationship, then you have to be able to be comfortable with yourself. Eventually, you may even relish the opportunity for some solo time.Take walks a few times a week. Connect with nature by exploring local parks or lakes. This is not only great exercise, but the perfect opportunity to reflect.
Read. Get lost in a book and spend hours just reading with a cup of tea.
Write. Write in your journal, or try working on a short story. See what you can learn about yourself just by writing.
Part 4 Dating Again
Enjoy being single first. Don’t try to look around for the next rebound opportunity the second that you break up. Instead, take the time to enjoy being single and doing whatever you want whenever you want it. Many people in relationships would love to be single–at least for a little while–so you should look at it as an adventure instead of as a problem.If someone asks you out before you’re ready, don’t be afraid to tell them, “It’s too soon” especially if you think you might be interested. You’ll be doing both of you a favor by not rushing it. If there’s something there, it should still be there later when you are ready.
Have fun meeting people and flirting. Part of being single is the thrill of serendipity. Who knows who you might run into at the grocery store or the library. Talking to new people is an important step in moving forward.
When you’re ready, go on a date. Let your friend set you up with a mutual acquaintance or even set up an online dating profile. It’s important to take it slow and have fun meeting new people without setting any expectations.
Articulate your desires for new relationships and be honest. If anything, what do you wish you might have done differently at the beginning of your last relationship? Here’s your chance to start things off on the right foot.Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. If any “deal breakers” pop up in the first few dates, don’t ignore them just because it feels good to be dating again.