Contrary to what the movies told us, love doesn’t conquer all. Sometimes in life, we have to let go of those people we still love in order to find happiness. It might be the best thing for us, but it’s never easy. If you’re struggling to close the book on a relationship you thought would last forever (or you hoped would), here are some things to try.
- Remind yourself of why you’re letting them go. The most important thing you can do when you’re trying to let go of someone you still love is reminding yourself of why you’re letting them go. If you don’t truly understand why you’re better off without them, leaving them behind when you still have feelings for them will be impossible. Write it down if you have to. Make a list of the reasons why you’re making this difficult decision. Remind yourself of what you’re gaining by going through this pain.
- Cut off communication with them. Trying to let someone go and still keeping in contact with them is like walking past McDonald’s when you’re trying to follow a healthy eating plan. If the temptation is there, it’s harder to make the right decision. If you’ve still got that person on social media or you’re still texting them to see how they are, it’s nearly impossible to move on. You’ll be stuck in that space of not having them but also not being able to forget about them. And it’ll be torture. That’s why the no contact rule is so important following a breakup. Cut off all communication with them.
- Embrace the pain of letting them go. Pain is part of the breakup process, unfortunately. You can do things to postpone or avoid those feelings of sadness and hurt, but ultimately, you won’t be able to properly move on until you accept the pain. You have to feel it in order to be able to move to the next stage of life. It can be scary, but let yourself experience those negative emotions.
- Ask for support from your friends. Leaving behind someone you still love is very difficult and very painful. It’s okay to acknowledge that and to ask for support from your friends. That’s what they’re there for. If it’s too hard to be alone, surround yourself with people who love you. Nothing will fill the void of the one you’re still in love with not being there, but it definitely helps to have some listening ears and some compassionate hearts around you.
- Focus on loving and caring for yourself. When you’re going through a breakup or the weeks following one, you’ll need some extra TLC. Seek out support from other people but also don’t be afraid to show yourself some love. Be extra gentle with yourself and make self-care your top priority. It takes strength to not run back to someone you still love, so you deserve some pampering. Treating yourself with kindness will also reinforce that you are worth loving, despite losing that important person.
- Find an outlet for your feelings. Letting go of someone you love is an emotional journey. You’ll probably experience a rollercoaster of feelings, from sadness to anger to frustration to anxiety and everything in between. Remind yourself that you’re making the right decision, but still know that it’s totally okay to feel sad about it. Try not to let those feelings build up. Instead, find an outlet for your feelings so you can process them and move on. It might be writing about them, punching them out in the gym, or screaming them into your pillow.
- Find a distraction. While it is important to embrace and deal with your feelings, sometimes you need to just get away from it all. That’s a huge part of self-care—filling your cup with a little happiness when those heavy feelings become too much to carry. Find a distraction to help take your mind off longing for your ex. Take up a new hobby or get back in touch with a passion that you’ve forgotten about. Hang out with friends and family, learn a new skill, or just get out there and see the world. Some people find it helpful to date, but it’s not a great idea to throw yourself into a new relationship when your heart is still somewhere else. Don’t worry about replacing your lost love and instead focus on living your life to the fullest.
- Don’t fall for lies. It will always be tempting to go back to someone you still love. Part of you—and maybe a big part—will want to believe any possible reason to go back to them. But if you know in your heart that you’re making the right decision in leaving them, then don’t listen to those tempting urges to go back. Don’t fall for lies that you tell yourself, or that they tell you, to get you to come back. If things never changed before, they won’t change now.
- Forgive them for hurting you. An important part of letting someone go, especially if you still have strong feelings for them, is forgiving them for hurting you. This makes it easier to let them go rather than holding on to anger and hurt. And ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether they deserve your forgiveness or not. You don’t have to forgive them, but you’ll be able to move on much more easily if you are no longer carrying around that hate. You forgive for your own benefit; not for them.