The 10 Point Guide To Moving On After A Breakup
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How to take back your power.
Why is it that breakups are so devastating? We’ve all gone through them before, and we know from experience that we are capable of finding someone else somewhere down the line. Yet, going through a breakup can feel like the end of the world and keep us out of commission for days, weeks, or months.
A breakup isn’t just about the loss of a person — it’s about the loss of a future that you expected to live.
The future plans, the future wedding, the future kids, the future house, the future future…gone in the blink of an eye.
Of course you’ll experience a wide range of emotions during the process. Sadness, anger, regret…but none of these give you the power to decide how you’re going to move forward with your life.
Here are 10 things you need to do in order to take back your power and get yourself back on track:
1: Cut your ex out completely.
Yeah, I know — this doesn’t work if you have kids, were married, had a house, a pet, or shared a mutual obligation.
The point here is setting boundaries.
If any of the above circumstances are true, only allow conversations about those circumstances.
Otherwise, no chit-chat, no flirty texts, no entertaining going back to him or her.
This means unfollowing them on social media, removing any temptation to contact them, and restricting their access to you however you can.
Why is this so important?
Because you need mental and emotional space to get clarity and begin the process of moving on. If you’re always scrolling through their photos, watching their stories to see who they’re with, or having their name pop up on your phone from a late-night text, you’re going to have a much harder time separating yourself from the emotions of it all.
If necessary, communicate these wishes to your ex so they back off and give you some space. If they don’t respect your wishes, you can easily find the block button.
2: Stop romanticizing the past.
One of the most typical things we do when looking back at our now-previous relationship is remembering all of the amazing times we had together.
And, no doubt, there were quite a few of them. There is no ignoring that, and those should be celebrated and looked back on with fondness.
However, the relationship still ended for a reason (or reasonS) which likely accumulated over time.
And, if you allow yourself to look back with an unbiased lens, you’ll start seeing all of the things that ultimately led to the breakup.
The arguments, the differences in values, the fights over small things, the annoying habits or rituals they had that bothered the hell out of you…
To begin the process of moving on, you first need to have a clear view of exactly what and who you’re moving on from. If you paint an unrealistically rosy picture in your head of what you thought the relationship was like, you’ll never recognize it for what it truly was.
3: Allow yourself to feel the emotions.
Breakups suck. They’re difficult, lonely, and overwhelming.
I remember reading once that women tend to move on quicker after breakups than men do (obviously neither is this scientific nor universally true…) but hear me out on the reasoning:
Men tend to avoid their feelings more than women do (traditionally), or try to “move on” by sleeping with someone else, going out drinking with their friends, or finding some other distraction to avoid thinking about the reality of the situation.
What does this do? It extends the amount of time it’s going to take him to face reality, making the moving on process even longer.
On the other hand, women will face the emotions head on. They’ll dive deeper into the valley of their feelings and call some friends, have a few good cries, and process the breakup fully.
Then, much sooner than the man will, they’ll be able to move on because they’ve come to terms with what has happened.
The man will look at the woman and wonder how she moved on so quickly, while she’ll be wondering why he hasn’t yet.
I said “valley” earlier because that’s how I visually process this theory. If you imagine a deep, sharp, steep valley — the physical distance between the peaks is much shorter than a valley that is wide, spread out, but more shallow.
The more shallow valley may not be as painful or treacherous, but the distance across is it is much further, extending the time it takes to get there.
Needless to say, this conversation isn’t gender-specific and you could bring up examples of the roles being reversed in the given scenario, but the lesson remains the same:
Without fully processing the feelings, you’ll never fully move past them.
4: Reconnect where you lost touch.
Being excited about a new relationship can be all-consuming. You might be spending most of your time with them, going on adventures, creating new routines and traditions, planning a future together, and being generally consumed in each other’s existence.
The result of this is obvious: You often lose touch with friends, or even family.
It’s not intentional, it’s not malicious, it might not even be something you’re aware of — until you stop and look back on it.
Wow, I haven’t seen XYZ in months!
Now is the time to give them a call — if they’ll take it.
Reconnect with the people and things you lost touch with. Hobbies, passions, that side business you wanted to start…and yes, yourself. Rebuild the foundation of your life any way you see fit.
5: Focus on productive healing methods, not destructive.
Examples of productive healing methods are things like meditation, going hard on your fitness routine, going on adventures, traveling, getting yourself a new wardrobe or changing up your personal style…
Destructive methods are ways of coping that are harmful to your mental, emotional, or physical health. They are more avoidant and can do more harm than good over time.
However, they’re also much easier to fall into because they require less effort and are more easily accessible.
Sure — indulgences can be fun and help to give yourself a little break, but they are not a long term solution, nor do they honor who you are and how much value you have.
Let yourself sink into the couch and crack open that bottle of wine. Have a good cry over that sappy movie — and then, tomorrow, get off your ass and channel your energy into something productive.
6: Let go of guilt.
There will be thoughts swirling around in your head about all of the things you could’ve done differently. The things you never said. The arguments that shouldn’t have happened. The list goes on.
The fact of the matter is that, unless you directly caused the breakup through cheating, abuse, or some other betrayal — breakups are rarely the fault of one person because of one singular reason.
Take solace in the fact that you did the best you could with what you had during the time of the relationship. We all learn and grow over time and the hardships of life eventually serve as our lessons — but in the moments you’ll be thinking back on, these lessons hadn’t come your way yet.
The hard truth about relationships is that sometimes, they simply don’t work out. People are in different phases of life, want different things, have different perspectives, or hold different values.
If you can honestly remind yourself that you showed up every day as your most true and authentic self and gave your partner and the relationship the love and care they deserved — then rest easily that your actions did not break, nor could they have saved, the relationship.
7: Identify the learning experiences.
I mentioned earlier that we all learn new things from hardships in life — but this is only true if we choose to.
You didn’t “waste time” in a relationship if you learned more about what you do and don’t want moving forward.
Every relationship affords us learning experiences that help us gain clarity around who we are and what’s truly important to us.
It also shows us where we let our boundaries and standards slide, which we can recognize and pledge not to do again.
No matter how long or short your time together was, if you are willing to be honest with yourself, you can identify both the good and the bad to look for the next time you meet someone new.
Which, you will.
8: Start “getting out there” again.
Speaking of meeting new people, it’s a necessary part of moving on after a breakup.
Note: Obviously, wait until you are emotionally ready to start dating again.
But, you don’t need to be at this point in order to go out and have fun. Call your friends, go on a solo-hike, pursue the passions that you’ve been putting off for too long.
Take an art class.
Go rent a bike and ride around the city.
Go to a movie by yourself.
Do something to get the social momentum going again.
Putting yourself in different atmospheres with better energy will help you remember that the world is vast and extends far beyond one person or partnership.
While you already know this intuitively, it’s a much more powerful experience to get off of your couch and immerse yourself in it.
The world is waiting for you — don’t be late.
9: Don’t imagine a future that didn’t exist.
Earlier we talked about the “highlight reel” of your relationship and why you shouldn’t romanticize the past while forgetting the negatives.
Equally as important, is not to create a future-that-never-was inside your mind.
“But, we were going to do XYZ!”
The truth is that nobody knows what tomorrow is going to bring, and while we may have plans, we never know exactly how they’re going to work out — or if they’re going to at all.
You may have a vision in your mind of exactly what your life with your ex was going to look like, but many times that ends up changing as life goes on.
Not always in a bad way — just not in the exact way you imagined.
So, by mourning a future that was never guaranteed to exist, it’s like being sad about an imaginary friend passing away.
It’s never truly gone, because the only place it ever existed is in your mind — which means you can visit it anytime.
And, you’ve still got a chance of it coming true, just with a different (and better suited for you) partner.
10: Be honest with yourself about your timeline.
It’s been said that we shouldn’t rush love, but we also shouldn’t rush moving on from it.
One of the worst things you can do to yourself and to someone else is to start dating again when you’re not truly ready to emotionally invest in someone new.
This only leads down a road of comparison to your ex, baggage, and inevitable heartbreak.
It doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means you weren’t fully capable of bringing yourself to a new relationship.
Moving on takes time, especially if you lived an intertwined life or were together for multiple years. But, if you rush it, you’ll find yourself back at square one more than you’d like, and facing heartbreak even more often because you moved too quickly.
It’s just like when an athlete gets injured — they have two choices:
Go through the proper healing and rehabilitation process in order to come back even stronger than before…
Push too hard too fast and risk re-injury that might be more severe and more painful than before.
The most important thing about breakups is knowing yourself and what process works best for you. Everyone handles difficult times in different ways and honoring your method is paramount.
So, let me know — what has been most helpful to you in the past, and what takeaways were most powerful for you in this article?
James Michael Sama is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and personal development coach.
Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 38 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.
James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.
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