Breakups are hard and sometimes moving on is even harder. I’m pretty sure all of us experienced a painful breakup at least once in our lifetime, and if you’re reading this article right now, chances are you’re stuck somewhere between stalking your ex on social media and listening to sad songs all day.
But that’s good, it means you made peace with the idea that your relationship is over and now you’re trying to move on. The first and most important step you need to take to get over a breakup is to accept the fact that it’s over. Without acceptance, it’s impossible to move on.
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But according to Terri Orbuch, PhD, a professor at Oakland University in Michigan and author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship, acceptance isn’t the only thing standing in your way when it comes to moving on, it’s about all the other things that remind you of the relationship.
“If you were living together or you worked out at the same gym—all of those things remind you of the past,” she says.
And most people assume that getting over a relationship is easier when you’re an adult, but that’s not always the case. If anything, I would say it’s the other way around. When you’re a teenager, you have a lot of things to focus on, like your future, so chances are you won’t spend a lot of time crying over someone who broke your heart. However, people tend to be more dramatic when they’re younger, but you also manage to get over someone quicker!
According to Jane Reardon, LMFT, founder of the app Rx Breakup, “For one thing, the pool of good potential partners shrinks as people pair off (and stay paired off) in their twenties and thirties.”
But it’s also worth acknowledging that the stakes are higher when you’re an adult, explains Reardon. According to science, most people aren’t ready for a long-term commitment until after their mid-twenties, so this explains why people tend to get over a breakup faster when they’re young. Also, as you get older, breakups begin to hurt more and hit you harder, and that’s because you were probably looking for something serious and you have to start over again now.
Additionally, breakups can hurt you so much that you feel it in your entire body. According to research, the physical effects of a breakup are very real, and that’s because our brain activates the areas associated with actual pain. Also, science has also proven that the so-called ‘broken heart syndrome’ is very much real and it feels like a heart attack.
But there’s no need to lose hope because even if you’re an adult, you can still get over a breakup by following the next moves. Read on to find out how to get over a breakup and really move on!
1. Consider therapy.
If you find yourself depressed or sad even though the relationship ended months ago, it’s probably a good idea to consider therapy in order to understand and make peace with the fact that the relationship ended and it’s time to move on. Therapy is very helpful when you’re finding it hard to accept the fact that you’ve been cheated on, betrayed, emotionally abused, or dumped.
In your healing process, a therapist will help you work on the things that hold you down. You start by analyzing the relationships in your life, either romantic, professional, or between family and friends. It’s important to take a look at how the relationship you had with your partner is mirrored in your other relationships, explains Reardon.
After analyzing those patterns, you might find it easier to move on and not repeat the same mistakes in your future relationships. Also, make sure you stay optimistic and look at the bright side. Only traumatic events and great pain can contribute to change, so you might find yourself disrupting old patterns and healing old traumas thanks to the breakup.
2. Write letters to your ex-partner, but don’t actually send them.
Another efficient method that will help you heal faster is writing letters to your ex, but never actually sending them. Unless you want to make a fool out of yourself, of course. In those letters, you can write how you feel, how the split affected your mental health and anything else you wish your ex would know.
Reardon recommends doing this weekly just to see your progress as time goes on. At first, your letters might include a lot of anger, pain, and resentment. However, as you heal, you’ll see that your letters will be more forgiving towards your ex. It’s a good way to let go of the emotional baggage and move on with your life.
3. Do not keep in touch with your ex!
In order to move on, you need to cut all ties with the people that broke your heart. While you might assume that talking to them will bring you closure, it does the exact opposite by only deepening the wound and prolonging the heartache, explains Reardon.
She recommends viewing breakups as a job, you can’t perform well in your actual job if you’re still thinking about your old one. The same goes for relationships. If you want to be happy again with someone new, you need to let go of the old partner that’s keeping you down. So no more texting, no more calls, no more meetups, and certainly no sexy time with your ex!
4. Eliminate triggers.
I think that we can all agree that usually the things that remind us of our ex can only deepen the wounds and do more harm than good, that’s why you need to eliminate them from your life. You need to get rid of everything that reminds you of them, including old gifts, personal objects, jewelry, and even old furniture.
Moreover, you also need to change your routine. If you two used to go to a certain restaurant every weekend, it might help to choose another restaurant the next time you feel like having a delicious meal.
5. Refresh your home.
After eliminating the triggers and throwing away their things and everything that reminded you of the relationship, refreshing your home is the next step to help you move on even faster, explains Reardon.
You probably always wanted to do a little makeover but never got to actually do it. Well, now is the perfect time to add some new items to your place, paint the walls, or even the furniture if you’re looking for a big change.
A little refresh in your home is a great way to improve your mental health and start fresh. After all, we spend a lot of time in our homes, especially right now because of COVID, so we want to make sure we feel the most comfortable through the healing process.
6. Let it all out.
It’s normal to feel anger and rage when someone has done you wrong, and you’re the one left to collect all the broken pieces and try to glue them together again. If you don’t know how to stop feeling this way, you could always join a kickboxing class, try rage yoga, or even a rage room, where you can throw and break items to relieve stress.
It’s important to let it all out at the beginning stages of a breakup, so you can move on faster and feel better in the end, explains Reardon.
“Anger management can be super cathartic, but the sooner you can move through the emotional aspects of the breakup [as in, feeling sad, angry, hurt, devastated] and move on to making sense of what happened and why, the quicker you’ll recover,” says Reardon.
7. Reach out to your friends.
After a painful breakup, you probably need all the support you can get, so reaching out to your friends or family members might be a good way to remind yourself that you are loved. Additionally, those who love you will be there for you to take your mind off things. Plan fun activities to do with your friends and never look back.
8. Take the time to rediscover old interests and hobbies.
According to Gary Lewandowski, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Monmouth University who delivered the TED Talk, ‘Breakups Don’t Have to Leave You Broken’, you need to ask yourself what did you love doing when you were younger and what you had to let go in order to have time for a serious relationship. Take the time to rediscover old interests and hobbies, and why not start doing them again.
It’s all about rediscovering your old self, which has proven very successful in moving on, as it allows you to create your own identity outside the relationship. Moreover, his research around this topic has proven that rediscovering old interests is actually more effective than finding new interests, and that’s because there’s no guarantee you’ll actually like those new activities, and they might not go hand in hand with your personality.
9. There’s nothing wrong with unfollowing your ex on social media.
In order to move on, you need to unfollow them online and offline. According to research, it’s way harder to move on when you keep stalking your ex all over social media, as it brings you a lot of negative feelings and you’re holding on to the idea that they’re still part of your life.
Therefore, cutting all social media ties has been linked to personal growth, the same study has shown. According to Lewandowski, if you continue to follow them online, they will always remain present offline, too. The best choice you can make right now is to unfollow, or even block them on social media.
10. A social media detox will do you well.
After we’ve established that stalking your ex on social media is not healthy at all, it would be a great idea to take a break from social media altogether, in order to speed the healing process. According to Reardon, the easiest way to get over a breakup is to cut all contact with them for months, including on social media.
Therefore, plan a 30-day detox where you delete all social media platforms from your phone and try to take your mind off things for a bit. Social media detox is much more efficient than simply unfollowing.
Even though you’re not following your ex anymore, you might see them in your friends’ posts, having a good time, which can bring back old memories and cause pain. By deleting your social media platforms for a limited amount of time, you’re eliminating the chance of seeing their face when you don’t want to.
You can always find other activities more fun than scrolling on Instagram.
11. But make sure you’re not asking your friends to check on them.
A lot of people block their ex on social media but constantly ask their friends to check on them. The thing is, doing this is not very different from stalking them yourself. In order to heal, you need to eliminate them completely for both worlds, online and offline.
Ask your friends not to tell you stories about them and not to mention their name when you’re around, so you won’t find yourself thinking about the person you’re trying to forget, explains Reardon. “It’s information you may want but don’t need to hear.”
12. Stop using your ex’s Netflix account.
After breaking up with someone it goes without saying that you should stop using their Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other accounts they might have. Even though you’re not talking to them anymore, using their accounts will still keep you connected to them and it will also affect your current relationships.
Also, it’s not your job anymore to know what shows they’re watching on Netflix, or what music they’re listening to on YouTube. In fact, you won’t be able to move on if you’re still letting them be part of your life, even though shared accounts.
13. Do not forget about the red flags in the relationship.
After breaking up, some people tend to forget about the red flags just because they miss the other person, or want them back. In order to make sure you’re not forgetting about the things that contributed to the separation, Reardon recommends making a list of all the red flags in your relationship.
Write down all the issues that you chose to ignore throughout the relationship, even though you knew they were red flags. According to research, choosing to think about the negative aspects of a relationship rather than focusing on the positive ones will help you move on faster, even though it might put you in a bad mood at first.
This list has proven to be very effective, especially in those times when you miss them or feel sad. You just take the list and read all the red flags, then you remember why you broke up and why it would never have worked out with them anyway. This will help you realize that you deserve more from a partner and you’ll certainly meet that person someday.
While breakups are hard and painful, they teach you a lot of important lessons and contribute to your personal growth, making you understand what to do in order to never be in a similar situation ever again.
14. Do not blame your partner/yourself for everything that went wrong.
Most people tend to blame everything that went wrong in the relationship on their partner, while there are some that blame themselves even though it wasn’t their fault. ‘He wasn’t ready for a serious relationship’ or ‘She didn’t deserve me’ statements won’t help you move on.
The same goes for ‘I’m not good enough for him’ or ‘I do not have enough money to support her’. In order to heal, you need to acknowledge the fact that a relationship is not just about you individually, it is about ‘us’.
Instead of using I statements, try saying ‘We weren’t right for each other.’ This will help you take the blame off your shoulders and blame your partner for everything that went wrong, by acknowledging that both of your actions contributed to the split.
When someone you love is no longer part of your life, it’s tempting to throw yourself a pity party and never want to leave your house again. While it’s ok to take a week off to cry and mourn, you probably know already that you can’t do that forever.
According to Orbuch, you need to find new activities that take your mind off things, so volunteering might be a great idea when you’re going through a hard time. It will give you the opportunity to help others while making you forget about your own problems. Also, volunteering has been linked to lowering depression and increasing satisfaction.
You can try volunteering at animal shelters, nursing homes, hospitals, Red Cross, National Parks, and even Churches. You will definitely get a lot of joy and satisfaction from helping others.
16. Look at the bright side.
Instead of crying about the things you’ve lost, try to appreciate the things you’ve gained. According to relationship experts, you should try to eliminate negative thoughts, such as: ‘I’ll never find someone else ever again,’ ‘I’ll never love again’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ and think about the positive aspects of the breakup.
If you never had time for your hobbies, now you’ll have plenty. Additionally, you get to spend more time with your friends, meet new people and make new memories. According to Lewandowski, you could start writing both the negative and the positive thoughts down, because research has shown that journaling is a great way to relieve stress and move on.
And if you’re feeling isolated and lonely, you should definitely be checking out these brilliant ways to cope and combat such feelings!