How to Let Go When You Know It’s Over


Human beings are built for connection, and our brains need consistent bonding and nurturing. Studies have shown that babies and children don’t thrive without contact and touch. But even after we’ve grown up, we don’t outgrow our need for attachment and the feelings of security and union we experience in a long-term romance. But it’s critical to know when it’s time to let go and move on, despite the pain.

It’s no wonder that you feel terrible when you’ve broken up with a partner. You’ve probably had trouble sleeping, and you might have lost interest in anything else that would typically excite and motivate you. Breaking up even disrupts your body’s circadian rhythms. Breakups aren’t just emotionally painful; they put your body on a physiological roller coaster ride. That’s why it’s crucial to be very careful, and make a good decision when it comes to choosing a romantic partner.

As we’ve probably all experienced and witnessed, it can be hard to stay away from your ex when you’re going through a breakup, even if you know the relationship is over. You may start to doubt that the problems are really as serious as you know they are. After all, you two broke up for a reason. Sure, you miss him and want the comfort of the relationship back, so, understandably, you may try to minimize the problems you can’t ignore. But contact with your ex can delay your grieving process and keep you stuck in a relationship that has no future and must be let go.

You may not want to be alone or sad – no one wants that. But you’re taking longer to move on to Mr. Right when you don’t know when it’s time to let go of a relationship that simply isn’t working. How can you be fully available for a new relationship when you are still emotionally stuck in an old one?

So, what can you do to let go when you know deep in your heart that it’s really over and time to move on with your life?

  1. Be honest with yourself. When doubts creep into your thinking, remind yourself about why it’s over. You may wonder if the problems are really that bad or whether you can work them out. You might imagine scenarios where you get back together, and everything is rosy. But is that reality or just a fantasy to keep you from grieving and feeling lonely or sad? Honesty is critical for knowing how to move on and let go.
  2. Stay away. Rather than reading their social media updates, or continuing to stay friends with your ex, you need a period without any contact. This allows you to detox from the relationship. When you continue to stay connected in these ways, it’s harder to realize it’s over, and you’re alone and moving on. Going “no contact” gives you time to learn how to live and to be happy on your own.
  3. Know you can manage your emotions. Grieving can be an emotional time, but your feelings don’t have to control everything. Do things that won’t remind you of your ex. Find things that can make you happy alone. Even if you feel sad, know that you’re starting a process that will lead to greater happiness. Find out what helps you, whether it’s keeping busy, praying, or spending time with friends or family.
  4. Find happiness alone. Time alone is a time for you to rediscover who you are and what you like. If there were things you wanted to try, but your partner wasn’t a fan, here’s the time to develop those interests. Despite the sadness, this time is an opportunity for you to grow and learn more about yourself.
  5. Accept the pain. Loss is a part of life. We all have to experience it. When you choose a partner who wasn’t right for you, it’s essential to see this process as a learning experience. You still have some things to learn about yourself and your life, and this is the time to rebuild yourself.

Want to read more about the 7 mistakes women make in relationships? Get this FREE report today. When you can accept the loss and forgive yourself and your partner, it becomes easier to move on. It’s hard to forgive yourself and others without really understanding what went wrong. Did you jump into a relationship without protecting your heart or making sure you were making a good choice?

  1. Value the importance of moving on. If you’re afraid to let go, it can be hard to move on to a better relationship. This process can take time, but facing and accepting the pain and the process of forgiveness of yourself and others can free you to be ready for a more satisfying relationship.
  2. Get the support you need. If the previous steps are hard to do, you may need some help to move on. That’s OK. It isn’t a sign of weakness to know you need help. It’s a sign of strength. Here are some resources to help you know where to turn.

How did you survive your breakup? Are you going through one now? Leave us a comment and let us know what you learned or will do differently next time.

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  • Donna says:

    I’m in a long distance relationship with someone I love deeply. But I know that they will never be able to let go of the miserable life that they are leading now, even if being with me would make them so much happier

  • Donna says:

    I’m in a long distance relationship with someone I love deeply. But I know that they will never be able to let go of the miserable life that they are leading now, even if being with me would make them so much happier

    • Dr. Susan says:

      Hi Donna,

      I’m sorry to hear that your relationship has some big issues.

      It must be a very painful situation for you.

      Are you facing the fact that it looks like it can’t work out for the two of you?

      Is it hard for you to let go?

      Do you need more support to help you with the process?

      It’s really important to get the help you need with this kind of difficult situation.

      Please keep us posted.

      Dr. Susan

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