Learning how to let go of someone you love is really hard.
If you’re feeling that pit in your stomach, the physical feeling of heartbreak, it’s going to take some work to get rid of it – I’m not going to beat around the bush and pretend that it’s easy.
The good news is that moving on from someone you love is easier when you have a plan and when you know what to expect.
Here is a step by step guide for how to let go of someone you love.
How To Move On From Someone You Love
By Lana Otoya – Dating Coach
1. No Contact
This is the very first thing that must be done before you even think of doing anything else.
If you are truly going to heal and get over someone, they cannot be in your life.
- No drunk texting them or making excuses to contact them
- No trying to be friends
- Delete or hide them from all social media
- Don’t stalk them on Google or your friend’s phone now that you have deleted them from your socials.
This step is actually really hard to do, but it’s like ripping off a band-aid. It might be more painful at first, but the pain will be over much quicker.
Now before you skip this step and move on to the next one, I really need you to do this one. So I’m going to tell you why it is so important.
Your brain needs to let go of its triggers
Technically the break up that you went through is in the past, so why is it hurting you now?
It’s because your brain has the ability to “re-trigger” itself.
Your brain can think of a memory and it can make you feel emotions tied to that memory all over again.
Have you ever done something really embarrassing? When your brain replays that scene in your head, you feel embarrassed again, even though you’re in the privacy of your own home.
That’s how powerful our thoughts can be.
Let go of your ex by giving him less power
If you want to let go of someone you love, you’re going to to have train yourself to give that person less power over your emotions.
If he’s constantly texting you or you’re seeing photos of him on social media, this is going to re-trigger your brain and your brain will flood you with emotions of loneliness, regret, and grieving.
So when I say “no contact” rule, it’s key that you actually do this.
2. Wallow In Your Own Self-Pity
Now that you have cut off all ties with your ex, you can give yourself permission to wallow.
Many people skip this step, telling themselves and others that they are “fine” or that they “don’t care”.
You might even beat yourself up for being sad about this breakup because everyone else is telling you he was no good anyway.
- You have every right to be sad
- You’re allowed to feel sorry for yourself
- It’s ok to feel like garbage
The more you tell yourself that it’s ok to feel sad, the more your body can purge these emotions.
When you cry, scream or talk out your emotions, it gets easier to deal with them and they don’t keep coming back with the same amount of force they had in the beginning.
3. Don’t Self Destruct
While you’re in your “it’s ok to feel sad” mode, make sure you are not going down a bad, self-destructive path.
Letting go of someone you love doesn’t mean letting go of yourself.
In your heart of hearts, you know what things are going to hurt you in the long-run.
They could be:
- Having too much meaningless sex/hookups
- Drinking and partying too much
- Doing drugs
- Isolating yourself from friends and loved ones
Let go of him by finding healthier ways to cope
You can feel sad in a healthy way.
Watch TV shows or movies that make you happy. Get your hair dyed. Buy some new outfits. Do whatever you need to do that isn’t going to hurt you long-term.
4. Choose To Dig Yourself Out
You can’t wallow forever.
It’s ok to stay at home for weeks on end eating ice cream and watching re-runs of Friends, but there comes a time that you have to move on from your ex, even if you don’t want to yet.
That last statement is key.
It can be easy to think that you’ll just start feeling happy “eventually” but this is not always true. It’s up to you to choose happiness and to get yourself out of a rut.
Wallowing is healthy for a short period of time, say a month, maximum.
Then you need to get up and start doing things that you don’t want to do because they will pay off in the long run.
A big part of this journey is to help get your confidence back. If you need tips on how to do this, check out this article:
5. Stop Missing Your Ex
When you’re missing your ex, it can be hard to live your life without feeling lonely.
If this is happening to you, remember that your happiness is in your hands. If you have a brain, you can be happy, but how?
Now is the time to start experimenting.
There are many ways to help that feeling of missing your ex or loneliness, you just have to try them out and see which ones work best for you.
- Practice meditation and mindfulness
- Write in a journal
- Start exercising every day
- Practice gratitude
- Go to a spa
- Start a side hustle
- Learn something new
- Join some meetup group or sports team
Now is the time to start on those daily rituals that will make your life more fulfilling and get rid of the need to fill that hole with your ex.
I know that distracting yourself from the situation might seem really overwhelming. Like the last thing you want to do when you feel miserable is to join a sports team and small-talk with new people. I know that it feels this way, but it’s so effective, you would be shooting yourself in the foot not to try.
The Power Of Distraction
Psychology Today pointed out an amazing study that showed how heartbroken people responded to three methods of coping with a breakup.
The three methods were as follows:
Negative reappraisal of the ex-partner. Reminding yourself of the negative qualities about your ex.
Reappraisal of love feelings. Telling yourself that it is normal and OK to still love your ex-partner, and accept your feelings free of judgement.
Distraction. Engaging in activities, like watching a movie or playing games, to distract yourself from a breakup.
Here is what they found in the study:
Negative reappraisal decreased love feelings and made participants feel more unpleasant.
Love reappraisal did not change how in love or pleasant/unpleasant participants felt.
Distraction did not change love feelings, but made participants feel more pleasant.
See? Distraction was the one thing that made participants feel better.
I know it can be hard to motivate yourself to do this, but it’s a very effective way of taking the plunge and choosing to get over someone you loved.
If you need some extra tips on dealing with loneliness, check out this article:
6. Get Extra Help
It’s not possible to let go of someone you love without the help of others. While you’re trying the things in step 5, make sure that you’re getting help from others as well.
Talk to your friends and family about how you’re feeling. Ask them to hang out or go somewhere fun with you.
Talk to a therapist or mentor.
This is not something you have to overcome by yourself – in fact, I advise against it.
Once you have some new daily rituals and have talked things out with friends or family, you should be in a better place to look back on your relationship and forgive.
You don’t want to forgive your ex, you want to forgive yourself.
Forgiving means to release feelings of anger or resentment.
You might have made mistakes but you never did anything to purposefully hurt anyone. Even if you think you did – you were likely acting out of immaturity, jealousy or other negative emotions that are not you. That was the old you.
You must forgive the old you and know that you are a bigger and better person now.
This may be surprising but I don’t want you to forgive your ex.
There is no need. Your feelings of anger or resentment towards him are healthy and help you move on. One day you’ll likely release these feelings because he won’t matter at all to you, but for now, those feelings are likely helping you accept what happened.
If you need some extra help with positive thinking, check out this article:
This step is about accepting reality and coming to terms with it. You dated someone that wasn’t interested in you or hurt you, and you know what?
Humans are tribal animals, we want to fit in with others. But have you noticed that humans were never just part of one big tribe? We always separated out into little tribes. Just take one look at any high-school and you’ll see this in action.
We are not meant to get along with everybody. If you and your ex are not together, it’s because you were meant to be part of different tribes.
When you find your “person” it will feel a lot better than this.
Rejection is just a step toward finding that person. The person that you can feel perfectly accepted by.
9. Start Dating Again
You can start this step even if you’re not quite ready.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should force yourself, just give it a shot and you can always take a break if it becomes too much.
Depending on how well you’ve healed, finding someone new can actually be a great way to take your mind off your old relationship and truly begin to move on.
This step should not be done too soon though, because you can end up trying to cover up your pain with a relationship that isn’t the best.
The goal here is not to use dating as a band-aid, it’s to use it as a new chapter, a clean slate.
You want to end up with a better relationship than you had in the past, and to do this, you’ll need to be emotionally stable and ready to make yourself vulnerable to a new person.
If you need help making yourself vulnerable when you’ve been hurt in the best. Check out this article:
And of course, as a dating coach, I have to mention that if you need a guide to help you with getting back in the dating game, check out my free dating coaching.
10. Let Time Do The Rest
Once you have completed the steps above, take a deep breath and let time handle the rest.
Time is so powerful. It can make what once felt like the end of the world turn into the best thing that ever happened to you.
When you allow yourself to go through the grieving process outlined above, you open yourself up to let the pain go away on it’s own.
This is why going through the grieving process and letting your emotions out is so important. Once you have had a total freak out, your brain starts to realize that things aren’t so bad and you are still here on this earth.
Time is the best way to see this side of the situation, so don’t try to force healing. It will happen on it’s own if you let it.
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