To be in love with someone is an excitement and intensity like no other, and it’s hard to imagine ever feeling that way again when it’s gone.
Losing someone you love can feel like losing a piece of yourself; like letting go of something you don’t want to live without.
If it’s the first time you’ve been in love, the pain of it ending might feel impossible to bear because your experience of love has been limited to one relationship. You just can’t understand how life can possibly move on.
You could be feeling confused and lost now that your relationship is over, and struggling to see how to pick yourself up again. It’s difficult, when you’ve been so emotionally attached to someone, to imagine what life might look like without them.
Whether or not you can accept it right now, your relationship has ended for a reason. There is always something to learn from a relationship, and as much as you don’t want to believe it at this moment, it’s probably for the best that this has happened.
If you’re trying to cope with losing someone you loved, keep reading for some suggestions on how to move on and start navigating life without them.
1. Allow yourself time to grieve.
Losing the love of your life is traumatic and heartbreaking.
There is the expectation that after a couple of cries and some ice cream, you’ll pick yourself up and move on. But in reality, it’s much harder than that.
When you’ve been in love with someone, that attachment doesn’t just disappear when they stop being a part of your life.
To cope with this adjustment, you have to allow yourself to grieve the loss of your relationship and navigate what a world looks like without them by your side.
Pushing those feelings away and pretending you’re over someone too soon is unrealistic, and it will just make the process of truly moving on from them take longer.
Healing from losing someone you love takes time, and it’s good to express your feelings. But the moment this turns to self-indulgence is the moment it becomes unhealthy.
Being reminded of your ex and needing a moment to yourself is very different to purposefully taking out old photos of you together or deliberately wondering where they are or who they’re with.
There comes a point in your grieving process when you begin to find a way out of it. You have to teach yourself to revisit the memories of your ex less and less so that the pain of losing them fades. Grief is a way to work through our emotions, but letting it consume you will only trap you in a dark place.
If you know your relationship is over and you’ve accepted the loss of it, it’s time to take life back into your own hands. You can get over this, and you have the power to be as happy without them as you thought you were with them.
2. Don’t try to keep tabs on your ex.
When you break up with someone you love, it may feel strange that they are out there and yet you have no idea what they’re doing with their life. It can be hard to wrap your head around this concept, especially when you never thought you’d be apart.
The temptation to establish some sort of contact or check up on their social media can be overwhelming, just to feel a closeness with them again.
But this can often cause more harm than good. Social media only shows a snapshot in time and can be staged. You’ll never really know how they’re feeling from a picture or a comment, and seeing them happy somewhere without you will only cause you more pain.
It’s usually when we’re feeling at our most vulnerable that we give in and want to check up on an ex. It’s the worst possible time to see happy pictures that contrast so much with how miserable you’re feeling.
As much as you might not want to cut off ties with someone you love, hiding them on social media or blocking their number for a while could be exactly what you need to help you move on.
The thought of it will seem so strange after being close for so long, but it’s worth doing.
3. Trust that time will help.
It’s a cliché you probably don’t want to hear when you’ve just lost someone you love, but time often makes things better. Or, at least, it can help.
Of course, knowing you’ll feel better at some point in the future is not much comfort when you can’t seem to do anything but think about your ex and miss them in the present.
But it’s something you just have to trust in.
It feels impossible when your feelings are so raw, but trusting in time to dull the ache you feel for an ex and soften the edges of your memories together is something you can rely on.
There is no single answer to how long it takes to get over a breakup and reach acceptance of the situation. It depends on how ready you are to focus on looking forward rather than back.
But in any time of sadness, if you’re hit unexpectedly by the pain of missing what you had, take comfort in knowing that tomorrow will be easier than today.
4. Speak to a therapist.
There doesn’t have to be something ‘wrong’ with you to seek out a professional to talk to.
Talking to a relationship therapist about your experiences can be a valuable and effective way to understand yourself and learn how to manage your emotions when they feel overwhelming.
It’s a chance to speak to someone who will not judge what you say, what led to the breakup, or how emotional you get about it. Someone who has no intention other than to listen to you.
Speaking to friends and family is great, but they aren’t trained to say the right things to help you unpack your feelings in a constructive way and help you move on.
A therapist – one who specializes in relationships and breakup pain – is someone who will really listen to you and be able to help you navigate your minefield of emotions and the strangeness of life without someone by your side.
They can start to lead you out of the dark headspace you’re in and help you help yourself into a place of acceptance and understanding.
Relationship Hero is a website where you can do this via phone, video, or web/text chat, and it is often much more affordable than seeing someone in person.
And remember, you haven’t ‘failed’ if you ask for help; it shows a genuine desire to better yourself and could be the best thing for you to cope with this loss.
5. Don’t try to replace your ex.
When you’re coping with losing a partner – especially one you truly loved – going through the motions as a single person just doesn’t feel normal.
You’re so used to factoring someone else into your plans, your time, and your thoughts, that every daily activity you have to go through on your own just highlights their absence all the more.
It’s understandable if you find yourself looking for someone to fill that void. You’ll tell yourself that you’re ready to move on and that you aren’t rushing into anything. But be careful not to get involved in a relationship too soon after losing the love of your life.
Dating can be a good way to meet new people and get yourself back out there, reminding you that there are people besides your ex that you can have a connection with.
But if you start anything serious within the first few months, you could find yourself missing your ex even more than you were before.
A new partner won’t replace the relationship you had, and you won’t suddenly feel the same love for them as you did for your ex. Your new partner will have their own unique quirks that will be different from your previous relationship, acting as a reminder of everything you once had and don’t have anymore.
It’s too much to try to handle your old feelings towards your ex while also balancing the emotions of your new partner and your feelings of confusion toward them. It’s not fair on either of you and will end up hurting you both.
As much as you miss having someone around, finding a new partner isn’t going to restore the relationship you lost. You need the time to fully process your experiences, as alien as it might feel to be on your own.
6. Consider that your ex isn’t who you think they are.
When you’re coping with the loss of someone you loved, you might find that you look back on your relationship with rose tinted glasses.
The memories you find yourself holding on to are the ones when you were at your happiest; when you and your ex were at your best.
The sad reality is that the person you’re thinking about doesn’t exist anymore. Those happy memories you’re clinging to are from a different time when you and your ex were at a different stage in your lives.
Since those moments, you reached a place in your relationship where it has crumbled. Your ex out there right now is not the person you’re picturing in your mind, but the person who doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you any more.
It’s a cold and a hard truth to bear, and it doesn’t always make sense how you went from one extreme to the other. But in order to cope with losing them, you need to reframe your perspective of the person you’re pining for.
Stop thinking about them as the one true love of your life. Tell yourself that they were a love of your life; potentially one of many.
Unfortunately we can’t turn back time and return to when we were at our happiest. All we can do is cherish those memories and try to move on with our lives and experience more like them.
Going through this breakup, you are already different people to who you were back in those precious moments.
Remind yourself that your relationship ended for a reason, even if it wasn’t your choice. And that you deserve to be with someone who wants to be with you, not wasting your emotion on someone who only exists in the past.
7. Take the time to learn from your relationship.
As much as you think you’ve lost the perfect relationship, there must have been a reason for it to end.
Once the pain dulls and your emotions settle, try to evaluate where it went wrong.
People don’t break up without a reason. If you take the time to really think over your past relationship, was it all as good as it seemed?
Did you argue? Did you get jealous? Were you really happy and comfortable being yourself around your ex or were you trying to be someone you’re not in order to fit with their expectations?
Think about how you behaved toward them and any times where you could have done things differently. Going over past mistakes can help shape your future relationships for the better, and help you come to terms with the fact that what you’ve lost might not have been as perfect as you thought.
When you’ve had to fight to make a relationship work, it can feel harder to let go of it when it finally ends. But a healthy and happy relationship shouldn’t feel like hard work. You may have had an intense and passionate love, but often the calm, solid relationships are what’s best for us long term.
We can only grow from mistakes. This relationship didn’t work out, but you will have a better understanding of yourself for it. If you’d never broken up, you could be trapped in a tumultuous relationship and never get to meet your real soulmate.
Having a bad breakup can help us recognize when we finally find something good, so be hopeful that from this heartache, you’ll find something better.
8. Remember, you are not defined by this relationship.
There was a happy you before this relationship. There will be a happy you after it.
Right now, it might feel like there is no life without your ex and you can’t imagine being happy without their love, but trust that you will be.
This relationship and the love you shared is not what makes you the interesting and unique person you are. In fact, it’s because of who you are that you found that connection.
It stands to reason, then, that if you attracted someone who loved you in that way just by being yourself, it can happen again. It will happen again.
Heartbreak and the loss of someone you love is a defining moment in anyone’s life. It shapes how you go on to respond to relationships, and it has a lasting impact on your outlook. It’s not something you will ever forget and will be one of the hardest experiences you ever have to overcome.
But, this experience isn’t what makes you who you are; it’s just one of many that make up the tapestry of your life’s experiences.
Try to notice if you mention your breakup when you introduce yourself to people or are out on dates. Stop yourself if you find that you always revert to memories of your ex for anecdotes. Invest time and energy in yourself and start thinking about your life as separate to the one you shared with your ex.
The memories will never go away and, eventually, you will learn to look back and take positives from the experiences you shared. But you are not defined by that relationship or any relationship to come. This was a chapter in your life, but it’s up to you to decide on the next part of your story.
9. Think before you reach out to them.
When you’ve gone from talking or seeing someone every day and sharing every aspect of your life with them, it will feel strange to suddenly shut down all contact.
Part of you may want to reach out, even just to check in and see how your ex is doing. Alternatively, you might feel as though you still don’t have closure and want to speak to them about why they ran out of love for you.
Before you take this step, think carefully about what you’re expecting from them.
Are you hoping for a reconciliation or an explanation about why things turned out the way they did? If you are, have you really thought about what response you might actually get?
If you’ve broken up, there will have been a reason for this. You may still love them, but their feelings for you could have changed. Speaking to them could just end up being a more painful experience than not hearing from them at all.
Think how you would feel if you reached out and they ignored you. Would you want to be left anxiously checking your phone for a reply? Would it just add embarrassment to the pain you were already feeling?
If they did respond, how would you feel if what they said was cold or hurtful, or if you didn’t get the answers you were looking for? Would you be able to walk away or would it make you more upset and frustrated? What if they told you they’d already moved on with someone else?
Even if they told you everything you thought you wanted to hear and they wanted to get back together, would there not be a small part of your mind always wondering what would have happened if you hadn’t reached out? Could you really forgive and forget all the heartache you’ve been through to try again?
If they haven’t reached out to you already, does that not say something in itself? If they missed you as much as you missed them, they could have contacted you if they’d wanted to.
It’s a personal choice, but before you take the plunge and try to establish any sort of contact again, make sure you’re feeling emotionally strong enough to handle being hurt if it doesn’t go the way you hoped.
10. Make a choice to move on.
There are so many different things you can do to help yourself move on from losing someone you loved, and you’ll find advice coming at you from all angles.
Everyone will have a different opinion on what will help, whether it be going away for a while, getting into a hobby, changing your style, or eating whole boxes of chocolates while crying to romcoms.
Hopefully you have a strong support network of friends and family who are there to comfort you and listen when you need to talk. Or you may have even tried speaking to a relationship therapist to help make sense of all the emotions running through your head.
Even if you’re doing all these things and feel as though you’re throwing yourself into everything you can, the only person who can help you finally move on from your ex is you.
It doesn’t matter how much you visit a therapist or go to the gym, if you indulge yourself in checking your ex’s social media and refuse to cut contact, then you’re never going to move on.
Even if you allow yourself to sit there reminiscing over past memories of them or daydream about where they could be and whether they miss you, you’re still giving them power over your thoughts and your emotions and not allowing yourself to create an emotional distance between you.
There will be times when you have no control over your brain and suddenly you’re hit by something that reminds you of them. It’s about how you respond to those moments that defines how quickly you’ll be able to move on from them.
If you truly want to feel better and begin to move on from the love of your life, you’re going to have to train your brain and be strict with your thoughts to stay away from memories of your lost love.
Every time you feel tempted to think about them, try focusing on something or someone else. Don’t let yourself slip back into old emotions and memories that will make you sad and nostalgic.
As much as there is help and support out there for you, you are the only one who can control what you focus on. So have faith in your own strength to build a life away from your past relationship and focus on what happiness lies in your future.
You may not want to do it, but you need to start making a conscious choice to focus on you and not them, and pour your energy into your future, not your past.
Moving on from a lost love is possible. Even if you feel hopeless right now, there are people out there who know the feeling you’re going through and will support you until you come out the other side of it.
Relationships don’t always work out the way we planned, and even though a breakup feels so wrong at the time, usually it’s for the best.
In time to come, you’ll be able to look back on this moment and realize how much stronger you are for it, and see how it led you to where you needed to be. But right now, try to focus on finding what makes you happy again.
Take the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family and throw yourself into all the things you love doing. The love of friends and family may not be the same as the one you’ve lost, but it’s equally as important and can sustain you through the loneliest of times.
Don’t see yourself as being alone. Rather, see yourself as free to be able to focus solely on yourself and your own happiness.
You are stronger than you feel right now, and one day you will be thankful that you didn’t stay in a relationship that wasn’t right for you. Nothing will compare to the love you’ve just shared because you can never recreate it, and it’s important not to judge future relationships on the one you’ve just had.
Love is as unique as the two people in a relationship. Hold on to the hope that there is a new person with a whole new kind of love for you just waiting for you to find them… when you’re ready to.
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