Your relationship has broken up and you no longer have the regular experience of being with your ex-partner. It may have been a lot of things, but it likely took up a lot of your time. Regardless of the emotional state you are in regarding the reasons for your breakup, there is now some space to fill emotionally and time-wise.
“Moving on” is a general term used for this time following the dissolving of a relationship, but it can mean many things. You need to decide if you want to be in, or are ready for, another person to enter your life, and you may need to decide how you want to spend your time healing, looking, thinking, and maybe grieving.
When Does The “Moving On” Begin?
After a breakup there is always some period of time you need to recover from the wounds, hurt, struggle, and maybe relief or sense of liberation from the past relationship. This may involve many things you need to do, such as resting, going away (or moving out), getting support from your family and friends or doing some thinking and soul-searching.
At some point, however, you need to stop dwelling in the past and start to think about the future. When you decide to do this is up to you. You may want to “paint yourself into a corner” and plan a trip, or let your friends know you want to date again in such a way that you can’t get out of it. The reason for moving on is so you don’t get stuck in limbo.
If It Doesn’t Happen Naturally, When Is It Actually Time To Move On?
When is the right time to start moving forward and getting out again or even contemplating looking for another person? There is no right amount of time. There are, of course, on-line and YouTube resources you can use (such as a this guide by Sara Davison).
You may want to get your feet wet again in dating or meeting people. Beware, however, of jumping into a “rebound” relationship where you are just trying to replace the person you just left. These sorts of encounters usually only last a few months and might be helpful, but are rarely permanent.
To help you with a strategy for dealing with your breakup, it’s important to understand what’s available. Some strategies are helpful for dealing with your feelings. Others are really more about how to let go and move on. Sometimes these techniques go hand-in-hand, other times they are separate. Ideally, you want to read them both to get a better sense of where you are stuck and the kind of help that’s best for your situation.
Strategies For Dealing With The Break Up & Your Feelings
- Rest up. This whole process is not only emotionally draining, it physically wears you out. Get some sleep, exercise and eat well. Meditation or mindfulness practices are very helpful here as well. This may take a few weeks. Be patient.
- Talk to your best friends. They know you, and they may have had this experience themselves. Listen carefully to what they say, and take their coaching about it. Don’t worry about burdening them with your problems. This is what friends are for, and you would do the same for them if you have not already done so.
- Spend some time thinking. Explore what you learned from the breakup. What did your ex teach you? About yourself, your goals, your life? Did your relationship change you or distract you from your values? Focus on what you learned about yourself and how you behave as a part of a couple. This knowledge will help you in the future.
- Be generous as you work on forgiveness. If your partner initiated the split, see what you need to do in order to forgive and move on. If the split was your idea, what is needed to forgive yourself?
One client, Judy, who separated from her second husband after 3 years in an abusive relationship, was “in shock,” she said, when they first broke up. She questioned herself and felt like she “should have known better.” In therapy, she learned to listen to her inner voice and stand up for herself. Over time, she was able to then forgive and trust herself and her decisions so that she could move forward and get divorced.
Strategies For Moving On
- Get out of the house. Go out with friends, people you like, and have some fun with people who make you feel good about yourself.
- Make future plans more than a week out so you have something to look forward to. The goal with this one is to have an action plan that you can’t quit on even if you’re in a bad mood. Don’t give yourself the excuse to stop going out, because this exercise energizes your hope for the future. Ideally, have more than one thing planned so this becomes a habit.
- Be patient. You may not want to meet the partner of your dreams right away. Give yourself some options to shop around and play the field a little.
- Don’t try to take on too much right now. Minimize your stress level as much as possible.
- Pick things to do that are FUN. Even if you don’t like the people that much, you can still like the activity.
- Love yourself. You are someone’s dream relationship. Be yourself so you don’t get caught in pretending to be something you’re not. Be authentic, and be yourself.
After Judy’s marriage ended (from the example above) to work on moving on, she set up a pool area in her backyard and invited friends over to celebrate and enjoy it with her. She also began learning how to drive a motorcycle, which she had been wanting to do for years. Though it was hard for her to ask for help, she requested assistance from friends to help her learn and even went on a motorcycle trip with them.
Judy also knew she wanted to quit smoking, but she decided it was too much to take on now while she was going through her divorce. To minimize taking on too much, she committed to stop smoking after her divorce was finalized. This gave her time to heal without added stress.
Are You Stuck Or Overwhelmed?
Sometimes all it takes to get unstuck is to talk the whole thing through with someone. Maybe you feel alone or don’t want your friends to know. This is a great time to find a counselor to meet with even just for a session or two.
We do this sort of work often. Call us, and we can try to help or connect you with someone who can offer you the help and support you need. To reach us, visit our contact form or call us directly at 434-971-4701.