There’s no easy way to say it—breaking up sucks. Ending a relationship is sad, exhausting, and emotionally draining. But it’s hard to know how to move on when you’re feeling like a failure and still thinking of your ex. When you’re really feeling lost, it can help to have a little structure. To help give you some, here are six steps for how to move on from the end of a relationship.
1. Reflect on your role in the relationship.
Thinking about your relationship might be the last thing you want to do right now, but it’s important to evaluate what kind of partner you were. Did you demand a lot from your partner, or did you always concede to their wishes? Did you stop making an effort, or were you left needing more? Did you enjoy stirring up conflict, or were you overly passive? Did you communicate well, or did your signals get constantly crossed? Understanding your behavior in your last relationship can help you understand what you’re looking for in your next one, help you grow, and help you avoid making any repeat mistakes.
2. Enlist your support system.
You know those friends and family members who keep checking in and asking how you’re doing? They’re not just doing it to be nice; they genuinely care about you and want to offer support however they can. Take them up on their offers of grabbing drinks, having dinner, or seeing a movie. If you want to talk about the breakup with them, they’re all ears. If not, just enjoy the company; they’ll be there when you’re ready.
3. Avoid contacting your ex.
There comes a time after your breakup when you’ll wonder, Can I be friends with my ex? And in most cases, the answer is no. Simply put, trying to form a friendship with someone after ending a romantic relationship with them never works out quite the way you picture it. No matter how positive your intentions; someone will inevitably end up getting hurt. If you’re feeling the urge to text your ex when you’re sad, or call them just to hear their voice, put that thought out of your mind. Instead, call a friend to talk, turn on music to distract your thoughts, or take a walk to get some fresh air. Your heart will thank you.
4. But if you have to see your ex, keep it brief and professional.
Of course, every situation is different. For example, if you share kids with your ex, it’s probably not a viable option to cut them out of your life completely. But what you can do is set boundaries and stick to them. Here’s a trick: Treat your ex like they’re a business associate. Would you call, email, or text about a matter relating to your kids? Sure. Would you call, email, or text if you were feeling sad or just wanted to hear their voice? Probably not. Keep it professional and you’ll be less likely to get hurt.
5. Do something nice for yourself.
They say you shouldn’t make any big purchases or life decisions immediately after a breakup. You can, however, indulge in small changes that will boost your mood and put you in a different mindset. Treat yourself to a new haircut, a spa day, or those new shoes you’ve been eyeing. A little retail therapy never hurt anyone. You deserve it!
6. Take your time.
Unfortunately, there’s no set amount of time it takes to get over the end of a relationship. All you can do is take things day by day and move at your own pace. Try not to compare your healing progress to anyone else’s (especially your ex’s) and don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel down.
Healing a broken heart takes time, and you’re entitled to as much of it as you need. Just know that it won’t always be sad. One day, you’ll wake up and things will be easier. And they’ll keep getting easier until you’re ready to open yourself back up to love again.