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How to Stop Holding on to a Relationship That’s Over

The first step in letting go of a failed relationship is often the hardest, but it can be done. Learn how to stop being so hung up through these steps.

holding on to a relationship that's over

Do you believe that there’s a difference between letting go and moving on from a failed relationship? The truth is that moving on is easier. It’s the part where you’ve found something new to look forward to. Letting go, on the other hand, is a different thing altogether.

Loving someone is a difficult thing to forget. When two people who loved each other break up, letting go in order to move on seems like an impossible concept, but it’s not. It is possible for you to let go of the past, in order to find something new and exciting. It’s usually something better and refreshingly different from what you’re leaving behind. [Read: What I learned when you broke my heart]

What happens when you break up?

It’s understood that a person will go through the motions of the post break-up period. You cry. You acknowledge the pain. You try to find something good from the memories to keep in your mind, just so you can cover up the knowledge that the person you loved is not your partner anymore.

It could take months and even years to get over someone. The first step in doing so is knowing when to give up and let everything go. Here’s what happens before you reach that point:

#1 Tears. Possibly lots of it. Unless you have some faulty mechanism in your brain that prevents you from acknowledging pain or facing it, you will shed a few tears for the relationship that you just lost. It’s a good thing because as they say, “Tears are pain leaving the body.”

#2 Stalking. And lots of it. It’s the 21st century. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the worst possible accessories to your post break-up period. But you can’t help it because it’s there. You will look. You will check. You won’t be able to help yourself, because finding out what’s going on in their life will be the closest thing you’ll have to a connection to your ex. [Read: 6 reasons why you should quit stalking your ex]

#3 Awkward encounters. You live on the same planet. Bumping in to each other is inevitable. It can happen immediately after your break-up or some other time in the future when you least expect it. [Read: 14 things to keep in mind when you bump into your ex]

#4 Coping mechanisms. When you undergo a traumatic event like a break-up, you will manifest certain behavior that may seem normal. Your body and mind will react in certain ways, in order to compensate for the stress and anxiety that you’re going through. You could start to binge-eat, make impulsive purchases or even get caught up in your work.

#5 Attempting reconciliation. When all else fails, a person who can’t let go of their ex will resort to bargaining their way back into the relationship. They will try to squeeze into their ex’s life by contacting them, asking them out again or urging them to get back together.

#6 Discussing the issue nonstop. This is one of the biggest complaints of the friends of a recently heartbroken friend. Supporting your friend is all well and good, but a person can only take so much complaining and whining. Talking about it can help, but never stopping can be bad for you and for your support system.

#7 Stasis. At some point you will arrive at the junction where you’re supposed to decide whether you should move on or do something about your failed relationship. When both choices seem frightening, the only thing you can do is stay in the same place where you started – lonely and depressed.

What should you do about it?

You may not have the information, but you do have the means to move on from this stagnant place of misery and attachment. Just follow these tips and you’ll be saying goodbye to your ex in no time.

#1 Pick yourself up. Take a look at yourself in any reflective surface and you’ll see someone who’s given up on their self. Before you can start to fix your love life, you need to start fixing yourself. Find out why you need to hold on to this relationship so bad. If it isn’t something that can benefit your life, try to find the strength to move on.

#2 Catch yourself when you feel weak. Whenever you feel the urge to call your ex or even look at their social media accounts, tell yourself “No!” It won’t work at first – I’ve tried – but after a while it will. Repetitive reminders are helpful and you can always keep doing it, even if you fail the first few times.

#3 Distract yourself. Take up a new hobby. Spend more time with your friends. Read a book that you’re really interested in. Immerse yourself in activities that won’t leave you time to think about your ex. The less you think about your situation, the easier it is to move on. [Read: 8 ways to stay busy after a breakup]

#4 Observe your habits. Have you developed any socially or physically destructive habits lately? Have you been eating more than you usually do? Have you been spending your money on things that you wouldn’t normally splurge on? Make sure that you’re not doing anything to harm yourself, because break-ups can lead you to develop bad habits just to cope with the loss that you experienced.

#5 Look at your past relationship from an outsider’s perspective. Who knows? You might see something that you don’t like. It will also give you a chance to assess the state you were in. Was it something that you really wanted? Or did you just not know any better?

#6 Smile, laugh and giggle. Look up a few jokes online. Watch a funny movie. Go to a comedy bar. Laugh until you cry, because those tears are better than the ones you are shedding for a relationship that was never meant to be.

#7 Put yourself out there. The only way you can get away from these feelings of attachment is by putting yourself in a position where you can’t say no to life. Get out of bed. See the sites in your city. Look at the sky. Don’t isolate yourself, because that is where further thoughts of depression and anxiety about your relationship will grow. [Read: How to survive the first 168 hours after a breakup]

#8 When you see them, notice them. Don’t avoid your ex when you see them. Say “hi” when it’s necessary. Nod when it’s from a distance. It may hurt at first, but if you make a big deal out of it, it will eat you up inside. Appreciate the fact that they’re okay and that they’re doing fine. Soon, you will be too.

#9 Control what you can. You can’t tell your ex what to do and you can’t make them feel something that they don’t. Ask yourself what you want. It has to be something that isn’t related to getting your relationship back.

You’ll see that there are still some things that you can control within yourself, despite your heartbreak, like a happy disposition and a clear mind. Those are just two things that you can control. Imagine what else you can achieve once you put your mind to it.

Don’t worry about the time it takes for you to move forward. Focus on the fact that you’re taking it one step at a time. No one has the power to control your situation aside from yourself. Friends and family are there to help you through this time of need, but they can’t do it all for you.

[Read: 15 lessons you can learn from your own breakups]

Just remember that no matter how difficult it is, you will arrive at a point where you can tell yourself that you are no longer bound by the memories of your past and the pain of what you lost.

Start by letting a few bits and pieces of your past relationship go. Then you’ll be able to let go of all the negative aspects and finally rebuild your life with new pieces of a new you.

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Danielle Anne
Those who can’t do, teach. I can neither do nor teach as well as others, but I can try. Aside from being a writer, I am also a physical therapist. My dream is...
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