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Getting Over a Breakup

shutterstock_189555827We’ve all been there: stuck on the one that got away.  If you’re having trouble moving on, this post’s for you.

1)  Find out whether it’s really over, or if there’s a chance to reconcile.

That means having an honest, adult conversation with the one who broke your heart.  Sometimes people avoid doing this because they don’t want to hear the truth.  But you need that. It ‘s part of making the end real for yourself, and that’s crucial in being able to heal and move on.

But maybe you’ll learn that the other person would consider getting back together if you’re willing to make some changes.  See what those changes are, and if you’re willing and capable of making them.  If not, then you need to follow the rest of the steps in this post.

2)  If it’s really over, tell yourself that.

Nursing denial might temporarily  feel good, but it stunts your progress in the long run.  You need to admit that something terrible has happened: A relationship ended when you didn’t want it to.  You have no control over that.

What you do control is whether you face that reality, and how you respond to it.  Be deeply sad for a while.  Feel sorry for yourself.  Look at pictures of the two of you together.  Really know what you’ve lost.  And then…

3)  Admit that you’re looking at it all through rose-colored glasses.

People who can’t seem to get over someone are often telling you how  great the relationship was.  But how great could it have been, at least toward the end, if someone was willing to end it?

If you got blindsided, that in itself  tells you a lot about how disconnected you’d become from your partner.  And if you saw it coming, then think about why this person–why this relationship–was no longer a fit for you.

If the person was a jerk, admit that to yourself.  Heighten those aspects of him/her.

What I notice in my practice is that people are often trying to paint things rosy because they want to leave the door open in case the other person wants to walk back through it.  But think of it this way: If you spend your time being honest with yourself and moving on, the other person could still contact you.  And if that happened, you’d be coming from a position of strength, as someone who’d gotten on with your life.  You could still consider their proposal, but you wouldn’t have lost valuable time waiting for it, stoking feelings that are past their expiration date.

4)   Begin to consider what you’ve gained.

Think about what you can do without any limitations.  You don’t have to do any compromising (at least not until your next relationship.)

Think about who could walk into your life now.  Think about what a new partner could offer that your previous one lacked.  If you’re thinking negatively like “I can’t attract anyone, who would want me”, then maybe this is the time to work on your self-esteem.  Become the person that you most want to be.  It’s possible that your last relationship held you back from that.  You’ve got the time for self-improvement now, right?

5)  Welcome new experiences.

Make plans with friends.  Take a class.  Learn a language.  Find something that interests you, and pursue it.

Depression is a natural stage in the grief process, and as in depression, you might find that you don’t want to do this initially, but you’ll be glad you did.

Woman in bed image available from Shutterstock.

Getting Over a Breakup

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2014). Getting Over a Breakup. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 18, 2019, from


Last updated: 21 Sep 2014
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