I have heard from many people that the best remedy to get over the pain of an old relationship is a new relationship. I have heard some people say it jokingly and other people say it seriously, and yet others say it as they are trying to justify moving into a new relationship. What do I think? Well, you are reading my blog, so I am assuming you are wondering. My thoughts are this: Imagine that a break-up is similar to someone cutting open your chest, reaching in, and ripping out your heart. They walk away with it leaving your chest open, exposed, a gaping hole. How many people would you rub up against with this exposed wound? What would you do? You would probably want to dress the wound, keep it away from anyone, and stay out of sight until it heals. This is the same care and attention you should give to a broken heart. The best remedy is: Time. The best way to spend that time is: Alone. The definition of rebound is: Bounce back through the air after hitting a hard surface or object. So your heart has been slammed into a wall and is flying free, looking for any kind of support. You have to be careful not to fall prey to the first person to catch it. Take control of your heart and spend some time alone. How long? Well, it depends on how long you were in the relationship. You may also want to read this article about whether you are ready to date again.
Grieve: It’s ok to cry. A breakup is like a death. You have to grieve the hopes and dreams you once had, the life you thought you would live together, and the word ‘us’ instead of me. Grief has five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. These stages do not go in any particular order, nor does anyone experience them in the same way.
Get to know yourself: What are the things you like to do? How often do you do things along? What do you look like outside of a relationship? When you find you are happy and able to live life fully alone, believe it or not, this is the best time to look for someone to compliment an already full life.
Take some time ‘off’ from the ex; Some people think that they can be friends with the ex, have a casual relationship, or still ‘hang out’. This kind of relationship usually ends with someone getting hurt, beyond repair. While you are healing, you should do it alone.
Get involved in activities! Get involved in activities that promote health and wellness. You could take a Yoga class, a cooking class, an art class. You may decide to join a mindfulness group or see a therapist. All of these things can help you get on track to being a better you.
Once an ex is in your past, leave them there! If you find it difficult to talk to anyone without bringing up your ex, you are not ready to date again. Once your ex is put in your past, you should move forward. Every relationship teaches us something about ourselves. What did you learn about yourself? about how you relate to others? about what you will allow? what you expect? Take these things as valuable lessons and apply them in your future. Move forward with the lessons learned and leave the baggage in the past.
Some of the questions I encounter from clients, people I meet at parties (who happened to ask me what I do), students, and couples is: “What do you do when a relationship is over?”, “How quickly can you start dating someone else?”, “Is a new relationship really the best way to get over an old relationship?”, “What if there was cheating involved on the other parties’ side?”
I usually ponder my answers before giving any information, because I do not believe in a “One Size Fits All” approach to dealing with break-ups. But I do think that there are some steps that you can take (the order is up to you) that may help ease the pain. The title of this blog is misleading on purpose. There is no ‘pain-free’ way to get over a relationship, especially if you truly loved the person. Remember, the higher you soared when you were in love is how far you will have to fall. But this is a wonderful price to pay for the wonders of a great relationship. Over this week I want to talk about some things to consider:
Question 1: Are you REALLY through?
Some people say they are ready to move on, but they are not. Sometimes they are hoping that by ‘saying’ they are going to leave, that their partner will change. Sometimes, they really just wanted space, but did not think the other person would give it to them. Sometimes, deep down they want to give the relationship another shot, but they are playing a dangerous game of chicken to see who will crack first. All of these things mean, you are not done. Some people think that when they are really done, it will no longer hurt to leave. Not true. It will still hurt, you will still wonder if you did the right thing. You may also start fantasizing about all of the good times. You do ‘know in your heart’ when you are really through with your relationship. No one else can tell you when this is, only you know. When you are ready to leave (especially if you are the one doing the leaving) make sure you observe break-up etiquette.
Do not keep contacting the person you have broken up with. If you initiated the break-up, you have to be the strong one and allow them time to heal. You will need to heal as well, but you don’t get to do that while dragging them through hope and hell. They may continue to call you and beg you to come back. If you are really done, you can tell them you love them and you are sorry (once), but after this, cut off communication. Many times, you may feel as if you are continuing to talk to them for their sake. Most often, it is to ease your guilt. You may be afraid that they may hate you, etc, etc. The best medicine for the pain a break-up brings is time and space. The longer the pain is avoided, the bigger the hole gets. You have to face the pain head on and alone, not holding the hand of a new person, or the old one. I do recommend that you seek counseling to help you through, it will also help you get to know you: out of a relationship.
Now, if you are reading this and feel you are the exception to this rule, you may be! Remember, I said it is not a ‘One Size Fits All’ approach. I don’t profess to know everything. I learn from everyone around me every day. What are your thoughts?
Next up: Why the best way to get over an old relationship is: Time Alone.