When your Relationship is Over - How to Move on Gracefully


It is natural for the end of a relationship to give rise to a lot of hurt, pain and anger. And in cases where you have been dumped, it may seem impossible to ever forgive your ex or move on to a more positive way of thinking. And yet however difficult as it may seem, letting go of the past is not entirely impossible. Here are few tips to move on gracefully when your relationship is over.

TIP: Read the guide to prevent a break up or get back with your ex.

Allow yourself to grieve

Experts believe that the end of a relationship forces a person to go through the same feelings as after bereavement. First there is the shock of the loss of a loved one followed by denial. At this point it is important to stop clinging to false hopes. Flirting with others or using your kid to emotionally blackmail your partner into returning will rarely work. Accept that your relationship with this person is over so that you can move on with your life. Don’t feel bad about moping around for a while; in fact you may even find your tears bringing on a cathartic sense of relief.

Clean up

It is all very well to ask someone going through a breakup to allow him/herself time to grieve but how do you hold on to your sanity in the process? One of the best ways to do this is to get busy. Start with getting rid of all the visible signs of the failed relationship. Put away photos, letters, personal stuff and anything that belongs to your former partner or reminds you of them. You may not, as yet, have the emotional strength to send back your engagement ring or throw away your ex’s perfume but ensure that they are out of your sight. Put everything in boxes and either have them delivered to your ex’s place or keep them in the attic/basement to do so when you are ready. If nothing else, the act of cleaning up can at least keep you occupied for a while and perhaps even bring about a sense of closure.

Don’t stay in touch

If you have borne the brunt of the breakup, it is only natural for you to feel pain, anger and resentment. You may even fantasize about making your ex jealous by hanging out with someone else or appearing at the church to ruin your ex’s marriage. Individuals have been known to get drunk and make late night calls to a former partner. In order to eliminate any chances of such foolish behavior and handle the breakup in a mature way, ensure that you have absolutely no contact with your ex, at least for a while. If you are still on speaking terms, make it clear that you don’t want to receive text messages, phone calls or emails from him/her. Don’t part with phrases like “We can still be friends” or “You can always count on me” which will hold out false hopes of reconciliation. Rather explain to him/her that perhaps later when you are ready, you both can get back in touch but not now. If any contact is entirely essential, let it be through a lawyer or a trusted friend. While breaking up all contact with your ex may seem an extreme measure and even painful at first, it is will allow you to move on sooner and in a more graceful manner.

Allow family and friends to help you

A breakup, especially after a long relationship is one of the most traumatic personal experiences and there is no need to make it harder on yourself by going through it alone. Rather accept the offer of a short vacation from a sibling or tag along with colleagues if they insist on late evening drinks before winding up for the weekend. Finding and accepting support from genuine well-wishers will not only help you to overcome the feelings of misery but also make you realize that there are other relationships where you are loved and cherished.

Take professional help

If you cannot get rid of hateful thoughts about your ex even after a while post-breakup, it would be a good idea to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor will be able to help you cope with feelings of hurt, anger and betrayal that you may have been unable to do on your own. One of the most common reasons why breakups, particularly divorces, get messy is because money, property and/or children are involved. If necessary look for reputed divorce lawyers, child psychologists and financial advisors who can counsel you on the options you have in case of custody fights or disputes over money and alimony. This way, you will be able to let others deal with the nitty-gritty without wading through the poison and rancor of a breakup yourself.

Keep yourself busy

In the first few months after a breakup, make sure that you are busy. Go back to work if you had taken a couple of weeks off and rejoin the gym or the book club where you were a regular fixture. If you are reminded too strongly of your ex since maybe it was the bookshop where you had met for the first time, find some other interest to occupy you. Finally try to go out more often even though you may not be in the mood for socializing. Never turn down an invite from a friend, no matter how boring it may appear. Who knows, you may just end up meeting someone nice and interesting at the get-together!

Find new goals

One of the best ways to make peace with the past is to find new things to like in the present. An interesting way of doing this is to find something that you couldn’t or weren’t allowed to when you were with your ex. For instance go travelling if he/she was a homebody and didn’t like venturing out. Or keep a dog if your ex disliked pets. You will not only have fun in doing something new but also benefit emotionally from setting and achieving a new goal. More importantly, however you will realize that the loss of the relationship may have set you free in more ways than one.

Help others

Ever thought why so many people get involved in volunteer work when there are no pay or perks to look forward to? It is simply because of the satisfaction that people get from knowing that they are helping or making a difference to the less fortunate. Thus volunteering for a social cause or getting involved with spiritual or charitable work will also help to keep your mind off hurtful thoughts and make the breakup easier to get over.

Take your time

If the breakup was forced on you, then you may be sorely tempted to starting dating again – if only to show your ex that he/she can no longer make you feel miserable. However rebound relationships rarely work in the long run since they are unable to bear the additional weight of an unhappy past. Rather start small and go out in groups or with mutual friends when you begin to socialize again. And once you are ready to date, keep it simple and casual so that your partner knows that you are just looking for an interesting evening and no more. This is not to say that you should close yourself to any romantic possibility but only that it is better to wait till you feel emotionally ready for a relationship again.