There’s no way around it — all breakups suck. Even if the decision was mutual, moving on from your previous partner can still feel slow and difficult.
The good news is, everyone goes through this process. If you don’t navigate this chapter of your life properly, however, you risk finding yourself at square one and losing sight of what this breakup truly is for.
Everyone moves on in different ways, but if you find yourself stuck in the past, consider reminding yourself of these four things:
1. Admit It — there were signs of incompatibility
Ignoring some red or yellow flags in your partner is unfortunately a normal occurrence. When you were together, you were more prone to viewing your significant other through rose-tinted glasses — causing you to lose sight of what’s actually happening. Some of us even come up with justifications for their behavior.
The signs of incompatibility can range from something small, like personality quirks, to bigger things such as unaligned values or lack of mutual goals.
Whatever they were, it’s important to admit to yourself that these signs exist, but you were downplaying them to keep the relationship alive or make your partner happy.
Avoid creating excuses for them in your head as it’ll only make the process much longer and harder. Your partner is no longer in your life, so empathizing with them won’t make much of a difference.
Identifying these signs can also help guide the search for your next partner. Reflect on what aspects you can’t tolerate in order for you to have a happy and loving relationship, and what elements you can negotiate in the future.
Additionally, remember to forgive yourself for not realizing these signs sooner. You’re human for wanting to make a relationship work with someone you love, even if they weren’t actually right for you in the long run. Believe that whatever happened in your life is meant to happen the way it did, even if it had to cause you pain and suffering.
2. Remember — they can’t give you what you’re looking for.
Do you find yourself wanting to get back together after the breakup? You’re not alone. However, this desire alone isn’t a good enough reason to start reaching out to your ex.
Remember — things didn’t work out for a reason. Most likely, it’s because of their inability to give you what you need in the relationship. Whether it be a serious commitment, emotional availability, or mutual goals.
The happiness you’d feel after getting back together would be temporary. At the end of the day, you’d still have to work through unresolved issues that started the rift in the first place. Plus, you don’t know whether the other person has matured for the better from the separation.
Instead of fantasizing about whether you can work things out, take this time to focus on yourself. Figure out how you can give yourself what your previous partner couldn’t provide. Indeed, it’s possible to attain these things and make yourself content without the presence of a romantic partner, or through non-romantic relationships.
By focusing on your own interests and goals, you’re starting to shed the remnants of your previous relationship and build a new life beyond it.
3. They’re gone — nothing can change that
For some, this is a truth most difficult to accept — especially if the breakup was mutual and done on good terms.
One time, I visited an old cafè an ex and I used to frequent. I didn’t feel anything at first, but as I drove home, it dawned on me that he was no longer in my life. It wasn’t likely that we’d return to that place as a couple like we used to.
Overwhelmed with emotion, I stopped at a nearby park to let my feelings sink in. I had to admit to myself that I still had hopes of getting back together, but I had to let those expectations go to make the best of this chapter of my life. At the end of the day, I owed it to myself to follow through with that decision.
By letting go of your partner, you’re not only allowing them to continue with their lives, but also permitting yourself to move on and seek the contentment you truly want.
The clichè saying is true — every cloud has a silver lining. Often, a breakup is also a breakthrough to various opportunities for personal development, and hopefully, cultivate better relationships. This brings us to the next point:
4. You deserve better
No matter what your previous relationship was like, seeing yourself being happy with another person besides your ex can still be challenging.
Some of you may think, “Maybe that was the happiest I could’ve been with a romantic partner.” Or maybe, when you reflect on the relationship without viewing it from the lens of fear and anxiety, you realize how happy and fulfilling it actually was.
In any case, life continues. And if you were able to find a person that wants to be with you, chances are the same thing can happen again.
This time, though, you’re more informed about what you need and want in your next relationship because you’ve gone through this breakup. Use this information to filter potential partners and set boundaries.
You may meet them in a few days, weeks, or months, or years. You may even have to go through a set of wrong partners first before actually settling down.
I wrote this not just to share what I’ve learned, but also to release some leftover feelings I’ve been keeping throughout this process. I hope to look back at these words when times get difficult, and hopefully, you’ll do the same.
When you break up with someone, you’re also parting ways with the old version of you, who didn’t have the self-respect to ask what they needed, couldn’t set proper boundaries, or put their happiness in someone else’s hands instead of their own.
As you step into your new personhood, I wish you the strength to leave this chapter of your life for good.