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How to move on after a bad break up

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A serious break-up often leaves us overwhelmed with negative feelings. Instead of avoiding them, it is important to work through them. In order to really get over your ex, it’s best to accept the loss and to go through the process of mourning, which can obviously be extremely difficult.

Don’t go looking for trouble

In the first days and weeks, the absence of your ex is difficult, sometimes unbearable. You may feel you cannot live without him. You may feel the irrepressible desire to call or send them a text or check their Facebook page. But to begin getting over your ex, it’s essential not to have contact or news from them. Consider returning their objects, clothes or photos that make you think about him or her, as well.

Take time to reflect

It’s also important to try to understand why it did not work. You may be haunted by the question, “Why did not it work between us?” or “Why did he leave me?” When you do not understand what happened, it is even more difficult to grieve. Often, when a relationship ends, we tend to idealize it. But usually, if it’s over, it’s because it did not work out for a reason. Begin by asking yourself: “How did we get there? What was wrong and what caused it to end?”

If this exercise proves difficult, try to reflect on these questions in writing. Try writing the story of your relationship. Write about how you met and about your respective personality traits, your behaviors towards each other, the milestones in the relationship, and how it ended.

This exercise is not only important for the work of mourning, but for recognizing your relationship patterns. Sometimes, our own multiple relationships and break-ups have an uncanny resemblance. When we wonder about failures in our love life, it is useful to reflect on our patterns that lead us to repeat life scenarios. Is there a pattern of distrust (ex. “people will betray and disappoint me”)? Of imperfection (ex. “if others knew who I really am, they would not love me”)? Of dependence (“I can not fend for myself”)? This task is always difficult. It may be useful to seek help from a psychologist.

Don’t forget to mourn

Most importantly, take the time to mourn the loss. A break-up is a source of great pain that can linger for a long time—don’t let people tell you to just “get over it.” Sometimes it can take up to a year to really recover.

You know you’re getting over your ex when you can think about him or her without feeling totally weighed down, or when you start to have feelings of goodwill toward them and think it did not work, and that’s all. It’s not black and white thinking; the goal is to be lucid about what your ex brought to the relationship, but also about what was wrong about it. This helps with grieving and helps you learn from this relationship, with the hope that things might work out better in the next one.