Even though I’ve been married for five years, I can still feel that searing pain from previous relationships when I was trying to get over a break up. I remember feeling all those mixed emotions, from the anger of having been treated so badly to the hopelessness of thinking we would get back together, to the jealousy when I heard that my ex had met someone else. Not getting over a break up will stop you from attracting a new relationship into your life. This is because psychologically you don’t have the “space” for someone new when you are consumed with thoughts and feelings for an ex, whether positive or negative. If you do meet someone new, this relationship is doomed to failure since this new person will either not live up to your expectations, or not feel special or loved enough.
Here are my 5 top tips on how to get over a break up:
1. Stop comparing every man/woman you meet to one or more of your exes
If you hold one of your exes in such high esteem that no one else measures up to them, you need to do a reality check and recognise why the relationship would never have worked. If you can’t see why it wouldn’t have worked, get some honest feedback from family or friends.
2. Stop pursuing an ex when they have made it clear that they are no longer interested in you romantically
Remember that everyone has a right to say no and that when someone says no, they mean no. Also remember that you can’t make someone love you and just because your ex is no longer interested, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t anyone else who will be interested in you. If you continue to pursue an ex who is not interested, you will create a never-ending cycle of disappointment, hurt and even anger for yourself and your ex. If you are concerned about your behaviour being unusually irrational and obsessive, seek professional help from a therapist or counsellor.
3. Start forgiving your ex for the way they treated you
The effects of not forgiving someone can have a far more detrimental effect on you than on the other person. Remember that when you forgive someone, you don’t have to condone or accept the behaviour which hurt you. For example, you can forgive someone for being unfaithful to you but this doesn’t mean letting them be unfaithful to you again. Remember also that your ex is probably feeling guilty and regretful about the way they treated you.
4. Start forgiving yourself for the way you treated an ex
When you direct blame, anger and resentment towards yourself, you are continually telling yourself what a bad person you are. This leads to diminishing self-esteem until you don’t think you are worthy of anyone, let alone your perfect match. To start to forgive yourself, acknowledge what you have learnt from your mistakes and that you wouldn’t treat anyone like this again and apologise to your ex face-to-face, in writing or if you are out of touch, visualise meeting and apologising.
5. Stop relying on your ex for emotional or practical help and/or stop giving an ex emotional or practical help
If you and an ex are supporting each other practically or emotionally, you are still intimately connected. Be wary of being too dependent on an ex for help and mistaking this kindness for romantic interest in you. Also be wary of the ex who uses you for support since they don’t have a partner in their life.