Dear eNotAlone: I recently broke up with my long-term partner, and I feel completely devastated. We had been together for five years, and during that time, we developed a really close bond. We were planning to live together and even talk about marriage. But at the end of last year, I got a new job in another city, so I had to move away. We tried doing long-distance, but my partner started feeling apathetic towards me. He didn't respond to my messages, wouldn't talk to me on the phone, and rarely initiated conversations. I figured that he had lost interest in me and was probably seeing someone else. Eventually, after months of feeling disconnected, I asked him if he still wanted to be with me and he said no. He told me that he didn't feel the same way about me anymore.
I don't know what to do. I'm trying to stay positive and keep busy with work, but I feel like nothing can distract me from this pain that I'm feeling inside. I know that I should move on and find someone else, but it's difficult to do when all I can think about is my ex-partner. How can I let go of the past and start a new relationship?
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If you're finding it hard to get over a devastating breakup, know that you're not alone in this. Breakups are challenging experiences, and the pain of having a relationship that no longer exists can be debilitating. It's normal to want to cling to your past, but in order to fully recover, you need to learn how to let go of the past and open yourself up to new possibilities.
The first step to recovering from a heartbreak is to accept what has happened and allow yourself time to grieve. Allow yourself to feel the sadness, desperation, and hurt that comes with the loss of a relationship. Many of us try to resist these feelings since they can be painful, but the only way to truly recover is by going through them and learning to accept that the relationship has ended.
After you have accepted the reality of your breakup, it's time to start building yourself up. You may not feel like it now, but you have the strength and resilience to get through this and come out on the other side. Remind yourself of everything you love about yourself—your sense of humour, your generosity, your optimism, your compassion—and focus on improving yourself every day.
Find activities that fill you up with joy and make you feel alive. Going out for a walk, playing with a pet, scheduling catch-ups with friends, cooking a delicious meal, exploring a hobby - the possibilities are endless. Taking care of yourself shows that you are worthy of love and boosts your self-esteem. These activities can also serve as positive distractions, helping you move forward and leaving less time to think about your ex-partner.
It can also be helpful to remind yourself that everyone is different, so your worst fear (replacing someone you used to love) isn't necessarily true. When you're feeling ready, give yourself permission to start flirting, dating and putting yourself out there. Opening yourself up to new people and possibilities will lead to meaningful connections and help you set healthy boundaries. More importantly, it will show you that you are capable of falling in love again.
Above all, practice self-compassion and be kind to yourself throughout this process. Learning how to heal from a break-up can take some time, but eventually, you will find peace and freedom from the pain.