How to Move on From Your Ex and be Yourself Again

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Last Updated on March 11, 2024

A breakup can feel like the shattering of a carefully constructed world that you’ve spent energy creating and holding space for, and it sucks! When that world crumbles, it leaves behind a void that can seem like you’ll never feel like yourself again, whoever that is. It’s been so long since you’ve checked in with yourself, asking who you truly are and, god forbid, putting your needs first. But in that shit show, there’s an opportunity to reclaim the essence of who YOU truly are that you might have forgotten long ago, or even three boyfriends ago, if you’re a serial “jumper.”

So many people fall back into relationships, even when they know they’re better off single because in the wake of a breakup, it’s easy to lose sight of your identity.

The pain can be overwhelming, and the road to healing often feels lame and confusing, but if you give yourself the space to do it, this can be a great time of profound transformation and growth. It’s a chance to reconnect with the person you were before the relationship and nurture the person you want to become. It will be grueling at first because we want to resist the change, but it’s well worth the effort.

So, I wanted to draw from my own experiences that have worked for me for all of us newly single girls AND GUYS to embark on a journey of self-discovery and healing and become a stronger, more resilient, and authentic version of ourselves. The process may not be easy, but it’s a path that leads to self-empowerment, self-love, and the 2.0 version of yourself you can live with forever. Be your own ride or die for once!

The first step is to cut contact completely; that means no social media stalking! We all want to go down that rabbit hole of “compare and despair” and check in to ensure they aren’t moving on too quickly or having a better time than you. Social media isn’t always the most accurate representation of how people are doing. It’s best not to make assumptions based on perfectly set up pictures and purposefully hidden message pictures your ex posted to manipulate our reaction to suck us back in or rub our faces in what we’re missing. You have to mean it and hold off the contact, which includes stalking your ex, at least until you’re not in a place where it will send you over the edge.

Also, don’t go to places you went together. There is a big chance that your ex will make their way there, too, so avoid them at all costs.

Even if your friends want to go, remind them that you are still hurting and you would rather not do it. Have your friends help you stay away. Which brings me to my next point:

Stay busy! It’s totally okay to want to be alone with your feelings, but grieving your relationship shouldn’t be the main part of your day. “It’s helpful to keep busy and to structure your days in the beginning, just so that you’re not wallowing all the time,” said Dr. Paulette Sherman and family therapist Patrice Le Goy, Ph.D., LMFT. Instead, they suggest trying an activity where you don’t have to discuss your personal life. Take the time to get out of your head. Distraction is the goal here. Make plans to take a workout class or see a movie after work with a friend, sign up for weekend classes at that cute pottery studio you’ve been meaning to check out, or even volunteer at an organization that does work you care about — something that’ll take up space in your calendar so you’re not likely to bail and stay in bed.

That said, you can still give yourself time to grieve the loss. It’s important to be candid about the source of your sadness. By acknowledging and accepting your grief, you pave the way for emotional healing. You don’t want to ignore the pain; it always comes out in one way or another and can manifest into problematic behavior down the road. The only actual growth I’ve ever experienced is when I feel my absolute worst because I don’t want to be there. Just be careful of masking those feelings and looking for a quick fix; that’s why allowing yourself to feel the pain and sitting in it for a bit without expectation of what is to become right away is better because you won’t make knee-jerk reactions and can get a hold of what needs to be done internally.

Stay Close to Family and Friends

Now is the time to get in touch with those bitches you’re always helping through breakups and reach out. The phone can be really heavy, but giving your friends a chance to show up for you can be a beautiful thing that helps reinforce old relationships and gives you a real sense of gratitude for your good relationships. You’ll be surprised at how much your friend wants to show up for you if you’d only let them. That goes for family, too, if they aren’t totally annoying. You need people who will sit and listen and not try to fix everything their way right away. That’s why you should seek out more of a sounding board vibe so you can hear what you think out loud and see if it still sits well with you. They can be the best therapy sessions!

Eat Healthy and Exercise

You need a sound mind base to make good decisions, and there is a whole pharmaceutical company in your brain that is accessed by diet and exercise; it’s true that if you eat like an unhappy person, you will be one. Foods affect your mood; it’s all a drug. Don’t crash and burn or your emotions will be heightened. Your brain tricks you into so-called “comfort foods” that will wreak havoc on your “second brain,” your stomach. Exercise will also give you a grounded view of reality and endorphins to ease the blow. Even a quick walk out in nature for an hour without breaking a sweat will do much for your mental state; your future self will thank you when you return home feeling lighter. It’s science, guys!

Now, let’s take stock.

We have to take a deep dive into our inner world, seeking what didn’t work in our previous relationship and focusing the spotlight on ourselves.

Begin by asking the hard questions: What aspects of your last relationship made you uncomfortable, and what boundaries do you wish you had set or pushed? Can you identify the pit of your anxiety and frustration? Consider creating a list of your must-haves and deal-breakers for your future partner and a personal inventory of what you love about yourself and areas you’d like to enhance before re-entering the dating scene down the road. This process isn’t about assigning blame but taking accountability for your growth.

The new you needs you!

The relationship was your priority and a big part of your day-to-day. Now that you have time to give to other things, you should celebrate it.

Put your energy into doing things you enjoy. What are your hobbies? You can do whatever you want. You no longer have to update your partner on where you are and what you’re doing. There’s good in this. You can give a lot of time to understand yourself! Appreciate the many good things in your life, binge-watch your favorite shows, go to the beach, or work on the parts of yourself you couldn’t focus on before.

If you can be patient and know that hard work always pays off, without reaching for another personality band-aid that doesn’t fit, you will get through this; it’s always darkest before dawn. And let’s not forget that while it does feel shitty, we only grow through pain. Process it wisely unless you want to keep going back to the same place with the same partner. Let’s get more selfish and become whole; that way, someone who aligns with who we truly are can find us.

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