You Can’t Move On From Your Ex Until You Stop Looking Back

They say time heals all wounds, but that’s not exactly true. Distancing yourself from your ex helps, but you have to want to move on for it to actually happen. It’s completely normal and totally valid to let yourself wallow in the pain of a failed relationship for a while, but healing isn’t a passive process. The day you decide to stop looking back is the day you can finally move forward.

  1. No one expects you to be okay overnight. When your world is ripped out from under you, you’re allowed to flail about as you desperately try to keep your head above water. We can’t turn our emotions off with a click of a button, and there’s no rule that says you have to go about your life as if nothing happened. You suffered a real loss and it’s going to hurt like hell. The specifics of the relationship don’t matter—the effect is always intense.
  2. Burying your feelings will only make it worse. The immediate aftermath of a loss isn’t the time to fake it ’til you make it. Pretending everything is fine and never giving yourself the time to let it out isn’t going to make it better. Instead, it will eat at you from the inside out. A bad breakup can feel like a death and you have to let yourself grieve.
  3. Still, at some point, something’s gotta give. While it’s OK to sit with your sorrow for a little while, choosing to dwell on what might have been won’t get you anywhere. There will come a point when you have to make the conscious decision to pick yourself up and attempt to stand. It will be slow going and it sure won’t be easy, but putting one front in front of the other is the only place to start.
  4. Do your best not to actively bring on pain. One of the biggest challenges in the aftermath of a breakup is to avoid intentionally reminding yourself of that person. What may feel like a quick fix from missing them, like reading old conversations, looking at pictures, daydreaming or even reaching out, might feel good for a second, but what you’re really doing is torturing yourself. The pain will come back and it’ll probably be stronger than before.
  5. You can’t change the past, no matter how hard you try. As good as it can feel to think about what if, and what could’ve been if he’d only said/done/XYZ, it’s no use. Holding onto what might have happened differently or the guy he might have been in an alternate universe won’t do anything except keep you firmly rooted in the past. The best way to move on is to try to find the lesson so that next time, perhaps things will be different.
  6. The healing timeline isn’t linear. When you’re in the process of moving on, there are serious ups and downs. Some days you might feel better than you have in months, finally able to go about your day without breaking down. Others you won’t be able to get out of bed. At times it can feel like for every step forward there are two back, but that’s okay. As long as you’re making an effort, no one can tell you that you should be over it by now.
  7. You may not have an a-ha moment. Some people wake up one day and realize the fog that was hanging above them for months has finally lifted. Or an epiphany moment gives them the strength they need to get up and brush the dust off. But that doesn’t happen for everyone. You can overcome anything, even if it’s just a little bit each day.
  8. The things we experience never truly leave us. Sometimes memories and feelings resurface, even long after you’ve moved on. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it just means you’re human. Every single event in your life has led you to who you are at any given moment, hard experiences included. You get to decide whether or not this will define you or just be a part of you.
  9. If you don’t choose to move on, you’ll always be stuck. It is only you who can make the decision to keep living your life. You can blame external factors on your inability to let go of the past, but the truth is, you have more control than you think. Picking the path of assumed least resistance is the only way to ensure you’ll never properly heal.
  10. Be kind to yourself, no matter what. The process of getting through a breakup is grueling and slow going. Having people in your corner is crucial but it starts with you. Let yourself feel the difficult feelings, but make sure to also celebrate the baby steps. Give yourself all the love and support you possible can, you’re going to need it.
  11. One day you’ll understand the meaning of it all. It sounds cliche to say everything happens for a reason, but in the case of a failed relationship, it is always true. The love we lose and the pain we endure set the stage to open ourselves up to the person who will give us exactly what we need. So take a deep breathe and turn the corner because there are only good things ahead.
We only have one chance to live this life and I'm making the most of it. I'll make plenty of mistakes along the way but each one will send me further down the right path.