Are you struggling to move on after a breakup? How to deal with a breakup? How can you move on from a failed relationship?
When a relationship ends, it could be heart-wrenching and one of the worst experiences in your life. Whether the relationship lasted two months or two years, time makes no difference because the energy and effort you poured into that relationship seem incomparable.
Right now, you may be struggling to forgive, let go or even move on. You might find yourself playing and replaying the loop of great memories and times you shared with each other, and not being able to heal the void in your heart now that you know that it’s never going to be the same again.
And, it probably will not be the same again, but it doesn’t mean it will be a bad thing.
And, it is hurting, yes I know, and you need to know that you will be able to get out of this feeling.
When I fell in love for the first time, it felt like the whole world suddenly became better, brighter and more beautiful.
Being with someone made me felt belonged and loved, being cared for and knowing that there is someone I can share my ups and downs with lifted my spirits. And, it lit up my days and nights knowing that someone was thinking about me, that I mattered to someone. It suddenly felt like there is a reason to wake up early every day.
Being in love is indeed a wonderful thing. And, there’s a saying that you will always remember your first love.
Perhaps it was because you experience romantic love for the first time. Or perhaps because the first heartbreak is the toughest experience, hardest to deal with and take the longest to heal, especially when you have invested your time and heart into it.
The First Heartbreak
The first time my relationship ended, I was heartbroken for three months.
I cried all the time, I could not eat nor study and I kept wishing it wasn’t true, even if we were only together for a short while, and even if he wasn’t the life partner I would have chosen.
It took me three long months to start to feel slightly better and to be able to tear my focus away from the relationship and eventually direct my time and energy on other matters such as my studies and my health. Later, when I looked back with more objective eyes, I realised that there were actually obvious loopholes that led to the breakup, but I was too blind to notice.
Perhaps the first bad experience with failed relationship has taught me to wisen up, or to close my heart a little bit more as the following relationships didn’t feel that much more painful and were easier to let go.
The Emotional Link
We are beings with feelings, not machines.
When we first enter a friendship and/or a relationship, it would always be an exciting phase as we start to get to know each other in the beginning. We are eager to know more about them and we are also eager to share about ourselves.
And, as we create a connection with someone, we eventually will be more inclined to share bits and pieces of our lives with them, the good and the bad. This creates trust and bond with the other person. Over time, this connection is reinforced as you spend more time and attention on each other.
We have created an emotional link to that other person.
This is one of the main reasons why it hurt so much when the relationship ended, so much so that one could feel their heart literally breaking into pieces.
However, as with life, everything goes on and we have to move on, eventually. It may cause you to change your thoughts or perspectives on being close to someone.
If you look back at your relationship that ended, you might realise that there was something that caused the relationship to end. It could be due to a ton of reasons. Perhaps you were too young to be in a committed relationship, or there were too many differences between you, or that he/she is not ‘the one’ you’re looking for. Even when you were the one who was hurt in that relationship, there could have been something that you could, or couldn’t do that led it to where it went.
Having said that, most times, when we look back, we learn something from that phase in our lives. At times, we may feel better off without the same person in our life anymore.
What could you have learned from your previous relationship?
Why Relationships Fail
There are many reasons why a relationship could fail. It could be realising the differences in each other after the ‘honeymoon’ phase. It could be due to lack of communication. It could be the lack of commitment from one side. It could be a series of unhappy or negative factors that lead to a breakup. In most cases, it may not entirely the fault of one party.
Let’s take differences in individuals for instance. Each of us have our own perceptions and beliefs. No two individuals will carry the same weight of importance towards one another simply for the fact that we are of different makeup, upbringing, personalities, values, beliefs and so on.
Perhaps at that point in time, when you are in a relationship, the other person may matter the most to you and you would pour your heart and soul into building that connection. However, he/she may feel that a romantic relationship is just another part of their lives, where their families, friends or even work may carry a similar weight of importance to them.
Unless there are clear understanding and communication between both parties earlier, this may create a gap when one of you will feel you are either giving too much or taking too much of the relationship.
Perhaps from the previous relationship, you might uncover various factors be it in yourself or in the other party that led to the unhappy ending. It may be a trust issue, giving / taking too much, differences in opinions that often leads to quarrels or perhaps being together may mean being with each other all the time while for the other party, they may need more space for themselves and others.
But, realise that you have not failed as a person, nor have you sabotaged your own future and happiness after a breakup. Instead, you have just gained an experience in better understanding yourself and other humans, knowing which element in managing your relationship didn’t work for you or needed working on so that you can improve on for your next relationship.
Look back at your relationship that failed and pinpoints honestly, why it failed. Acknowledge all mistakes, flaws and loopholes, even if you have a part to play in it.
In my case, I was too trusting in my first relationship, which was no wrong of mine. yet, after that first breakup, I started to build a wall, held off being vulnerable and closed my heart a little bit more each time I faced another breakup. Although I hadn’t been in that many relationships, it was enough to cause my future relationships to suffer because I started doubting and became possessive. It slowly became a pattern that would eventually cause me to doubt who I am as a person, that perhaps I am not a girlfriend material.
How You Can Thrive After A Painful Breakup.
Dealing with a breakup is painful, especially when you have committed time, effort and hope to it. The end of a relationship and the departure of the other person from your life creates a void with the emotional bond broken, sense of loss and in some cases, loss of hope towards the future and happiness.
Though we will eventually pick ourselves back up again after a failed relationship, it usually takes the time to heal and only after when we are willing to let go of the past that we are able to move on.
The end of a relationship does not mean you have lost your way to happiness. It only means that the other person is not the one for you, and you would have picked up lessons from the past relationship that you can work on to be a better person moving forward.
Let Time For Grief
You may be tempted to fill up the void after a failed relationship whether it’s finding a new relationship to fill the gap, or immerse yourself in your work and so on. However, it is important that you allow yourself to feel the emotions after a breakup, to feel the sadness, unfairness, guilt, anger or whatever feelings that may surface. Allow yourself to grieve for that loss in our life, even though it might turn out to be a good loss.
Suppressing your emotions by burying yourself in numerous activities or work or even new relationships will not bring you any closure to the previous relationship.
It took me a few years to be able to finally let go and wish the other party well. Prior to that, although it seemed like I had moved on with my life, internally I was still asking about how he was doing, and sometimes hoping that he was not doing too well. It wasn’t until I finally sat myself down and allowed myself to grieve the pain that I was trying to bury, was I able to finally let the emotion surface and flow.
It was only then that I was able to move on from the past and be fully present and see my current relationship as separate from my previous relationship.
There will be times when we are only focused on the good and happy times after a relationship end. It doesn’t matter if you have been in numerous unhappy moments, quarrels or disagreements before the breakup.
Look at the relationship from all angles and identify what went wrong, even when you were at fault. Be really honest with yourself here. You might find yourself uncovering situations you never realised while you were in the relationship.
If you find yourself feeling the urge to want to look the other person up, don’t.
Until you are clear about what has been going on, going back into the previous relationship blindly will not help, and you might find yourself having to deal with a second heartbreak again.
For a long while, I was feeling like a victim of all my past relationships which all ended sourly. I would constantly think about the good times but avoid the negative events like getting into fights and big quarrels. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong because I felt I have committed my time, youth and energy to those I cared for, only to get nothing in return.
However, upon looking back, to say that I was surprised or shocked from my reflections is an understatement.
Once it became clear to me that there were indeed a series of events going on that led to the breakup and why they happened, it was easier for me to let go. Despite the wrongs the other party has done me, I was also clear about where I was doing things wrong. I realised I may have jumped into the relationship without knowing them well enough, and that my first heartbreak had created a shadow that would follow me into my next relationships. I realised I was in the wrong on many occasions too with my distrust, willfulness and quick temper.
I also learned that my relationships failed because I failed to trust and be vulnerable. I was constantly on the edge wondering if I will be hurt again, I was always questioning and not respecting the other person enough. I lacked the emotional capacity to love but I was expecting to be loved unconditionally myself.
Learn to Forgive
Forgiveness takes a lot of courage. It is easy to feel hatred and anger towards the other person especially if you were the more giving party or the one being let down upon. However, what happened has happened. If you choose to live in regret, blame and anger, you are not allowing yourself to move on. You will only be stifling your own happiness by staying in the past. And for all you know, the other person has already moved on. They may not even know that you are still writhing and wallowing in pain.
It is important to forgive yourselffirst. Many times, when a relationship ended, we tend to put the blame on ourselves, for committing too much, for giving too much, for being too trusting, for being too dependent on the other and such. Whether it was something you did too much or too little, did right or wrong, this is the time for you to let go of blaming yourself and to forgive yourself.
Only when you are able to forgive yourself will you be able to forgive the other party.
You might think that it is impossible to forgive the other person, especially when they have done you wrong. However, in choosing to hold on to anger, blame and hatred, are you doing yourself any good? Are you allowing yourself to continue living in the past and not giving you the chance to move on?
When you choose to forgive, it does not mean that you agree with what has happened. It does not even mean you choose to forget the past, it just means you are setting yourself free from what is not meant to be.
I felt stupid falling for the wrong person. I felt I had wasted my time and energy on people who didn’t matter. I felt I’ve made a lot of wrong decisions in my life that I immensely regret by choosing to stay in relationships that failed me, including many missed opportunities to build my career or to do what I love. But once I learned to forgive myself and my past, realising what has happened cannot be undone and that what I did at that time was to the best of my knowledge, I was able to tell myself that it’s okay.
To be able to understand where we went wrong and to be able to forgive ourselves is the best thing we can do for ourselves. In doing that, we are setting ourselves free.
Re-focus on You
Now, it is time to refocus your time, energy and attention back onto yourself.
How was your life before you met them? What were you doing before you started sharing time and attention on each other?
What would you have done differently if they hadn’t appeared in your life?
How would your life be if you hadn’t met him/her?
Now is the time to pick up where you left off.
What have you been putting off doing while you were in a relationship? What have you stopped doing in the process? What were some of the things that you enjoyed?
Also, this is the time when you could explore and do thing differently for a change.
What was something you wished would be different if you were not tied down with commitment? What was something you could have changed or gone into?
I know for a fact that I have given up a lot while I was in my previous relationships. I could have travelled more (which I put off for six years). I could have spent more time and energy in my career. I could have pursued my Masters. I could have spent more time with my friends and people who really cared about me even until today, which were what I started doing again after the breakup.
Until I learned to let go and refocus on myself, I was spending a lot of time and energy feeling sorry for myself.
Once I learned to look inwards and pay more attention, love and care towards myself, I began to embark on a journey I would always be proud of.
I started taking lessons I’ve been putting off. I took piano lessons, art painting, language lessons and dancing classes. I also picked up skills in jewellery making from wires and beads.
I started spending time with myself, listened in to my conversations and challenged my negative opinions of myself. I started going for yoga classes and braved myself up for the ten days Vipassana meditation in seclusion, and gained more consciousness of who I am.
I started travelling solo by myself and actually enjoyed it. I learned more about who I am as a person, learned to accept my flaws and weaknesses and challenged myself to face my fears jumping off cliffs, climbing to the summit of Mount Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom) in New Zealandand into the volcanic crater of Ijen in Indonesia.
When you start to do things for yourself and show yourself love first, you might find that your best company will always be yourself, and you are the one who has the capacity to love you unconditionally.
Also, you will find that you don’t have to look too far or search too hard to find the right person because he/she will trot along just when you are ready.
Dealing with breakup is painful, but it need not stay that way. You don’t have to bury the pain or live in the past with the hatred and hurt. You can let yourself go if you give yourself the chance to heal, forgive and let go. Coupled with reflection and refocusing on yourself, you might find yourself having more capacity to love when the right one comes along.
Here is a list of things you can do for yourself if you find yourself unable to let go, and feel more love towards yourself after a breakup.