Maybe you thought he or she was the ONE.
You were making important life decisions around him or her, planning your future together, dreaming of the life you were going to have.
And suddenly it’s all over.
He or she decided you weren’t the ONE for them. And you are broken.
Maybe you were in a toxic relationship and it needed to end, yet you still feel attached to the person.
Maybe you are the one who ended the relationship and now you’re having second thoughts. You miss “belonging” with someone.
How does a wounded heart heal? How do you overcome the rejection? How do you get rid of the pain and stop crying?
How do you get over the longing for that person even if the relationship was unhealthy? How do you break the emotional connection you had with your ex?
A few years ago Richard and I were going through old letters that he received from home while he was at boarding school. One letter from his dad gave some interesting advice on what to do after a girl cheated on him and broke his heart: get another girlfriend as soon as possible!
Hmmm. I don’t think that’s quite the answer! (And I don’t mean to put his dad in a bad light, he obviously didn’t know better.)
So, how do you get to the point where your heart can begin to heal and your life can move forward?
Make the mental shift. Accept that the relationship is over. Let go any hope of restoring it or getting it back. Hankering for what was will keep you stuck in the past. Set some boundaries on your thought life by not allowing yourself to relive the past and reminisce about how things were. Reliving it will keep you stuck in it. Don’t allow yourself to daydream about how things could have been if you were still in the relationship. Making this mental shift and letting go of the past will free you to move forward.
Stop interacting. Remaining “just friends” is a noble idea but it doesn’t work. What you need is time away from the person – especially during the first few months. You need time to break the emotional ties that hold you to him or her. If you allow yourself to get pulled back into the relationship you extend the time for healing from the breakup. Pray for the emotional bonds to be broken. This may not feel very nice but it’s necessary for your healing.
A young man told me about an incident that happened with his ex-girlfriend more than a year after she broke up with him. He was visiting her town and asked to get together with her and meet up with a mutual friend. She agreed but then backed out and did not respond to any more of his messages. And the hurt hit him all over again.
Don’t message. Don’t call. Don’t get together. You’re prolonging the agony.
Cut social media. Checking your ex’s status or posts is, in a sense, still interacting with them. Unfriend them or stop following them so that your heart can heal. Seeing who they are with or what they are doing will keep your feelings fresh and delay healing. You may also feel hurt when you see them with someone else or that they are in your area and didn’t let you know etc.
Don’t spend time alone with the other person. If you have to interact with your ex, stay in group settings. You can’t always avoid seeing the person, but don’t talk alone or go places alone. You will get pulled back into the emotional connection and delay healing.
Be responsible with your feelings. Be careful that your pain does not make you callous. In an attempt to protect yourself from being hurt again you may harden your heart and use and hurt other people. Way back in high school a guy broke up with me and I was devastated. I quickly moved into a new relationship, but because I had not given myself time to heal I treated the new guy badly. Don’t rush into something new to smother the pain of a breakup.
Fill the void. You have lost something by breaking up. Choose to fill the emptiness with healthy, life-giving activities. Get out and help someone else or start a new hobby. Exercise is a great way to combat grief because it floods your body with feel-good hormones.
Get healthy emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically. Talk to someone. Go for counselling. Learn from the breakup. A young man emailed me last week with the sad news that his relationship had ended. He had tried really hard to make the relationship work and yet his girlfriend decided she wanted out. I was so impressed with his response. He said,
“I have since decided to take time and analyse my own life and see what things I do wrong and correct them, and just work on how I can be a good, likable man. I also feel God has allowed things to be so in order for me to fix up some other things in my life, and be a better man, who deserves a committed relationship.”
Getting healthy will prepare you for a new relationship.
Getting over a breakup is a process and will take time.
Check out this great analogy for how pain or grief subsides with time. My nephew shared it with me after the breakup of his relationship and he said it’s a perfect description.
Like audio better than reading? Listen to Debra Fileta’s podcast on how to get over a breakup here.
Is there someone you know who’s hurting from a breakup? Share this with them today.