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How to make a healthy break with your ex

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Antonio Guillem - Shutterstock

Cecilia Zinicola - published on 04/26/21

There’s a great temptation to stay "connected" with an ex after having ended a romantic relationship.

There’s a great temptation to stay “connected” with an ex after having ended a romantic relationship, especially if it’s recent, has lasted a long time, or has left a strong impression on us. We know that it’s in our best interest to keep our distance, but we can barely avoid slipping back into contact in a way we’ll regret later.

Maybe we have the best intentions. We want to know how they’re doing. We still want them to think well of us and to leave some form of contact open. The problem is that keeping an eye on their life (even from a distance) can trigger feelings we had—or still have—which can do us more harm than good.

Continuing to talk, seeing each other from time to time, exchanging text messages, or simply following each other on social media can make the fallout from the breakup linger or worsen. Also, staying connected can keep us from moving on. 

Every breakup requires a real “break.” This change can be experienced as a great opportunity when we do it charitably with the purpose of freeing ourselves to love more.

If we feel connected to our ex, it may prevent us from finding love elsewhere or simply enjoying life to the fullest as a single person.In order to avoid falling back into old routines that can sabotage our ability to move on, we need to take some preventative measures.

New routines 

One difficult part of ending a relationship—besides the loss of each other’s company—is the major change in our routines. This is especially true if it’s been a long relationship and we have certain ingrained shared habits, such as shopping on the weekends or having an evening drink after the day’s activities. 

We can and should change these patterns that we’ve become accustomed to and somewhat dependent on. The key is to make conscious and decisive changes to our small daily habits, coming up with our own new weekly plan.

The idea is to find new, healthy rituals. Maybe we can start getting together regularly with a friend for a drink, or even consider taking on a hobby we’ve always wanted to try, or focus on learning new things. We should identify the most difficult or challenging time of our day or week and find something new to do during that time. 

Take some things out of circulation

Many things can remind us of our ex, such as certain songs, a random thought that comes to mind, the anniversary of the day we met, a street name, and so many more. Maybe someday we’ll be able to think about these things in peace. For now, however, it can be helpful to avoid additional reminders and emotional fallout while we’re healing our wounds.

Many people do this by removing photos, letters or gifts from sight. We don’t need to get rid of them completely, and it’s not about erasing our past either. But let’s remember we need space to bring new things into our life and to take a healthy distance from the past. 

While this may seem extreme, especially if the relationship ended amicably, this is a good way to spare ourselves an excess of painful feelings, which can accompany reminders of our former romantic interest.

Remember the reasons for the breakup

While getting back together may seem like a wonderful thing when we think about it, we need to remember that there are reasons why the relationship ended. Keeping the door open indefinitely can confuse us. We may end up going back to our ex without taking into account or working on the causes that led to the breakup. 

Sometimes a relationship isn’t over forever, but this point is important. Many couples get into a vicious cycle of breaking up and making up, or feel somehow trapped because they don’t take this temptation into account. They haven’t fully accepted the reasons why they decided to distance themselves in the first place. 

The temptation to think that there’s no one else for us, or that it’ll be too difficult to find them, can cloud our focus. If the reasons that led us to end our relationship are good, we shouldn’t be afraid to hope for something better.

Stop following them on social media 

Following our ex on social media will make it harder for us to cut ties. Although much of what happens on networks is superficial, deep connections can be created and maintained every time we see funny pictures, stories and anecdotes from someone. This can generate a lot of stress, distress or negative feelings. 

Having so many resources available and at our fingertips on our smart phones makes it very easy to fall into the temptation of wanting to know how they’re doing or what’s happened in their life. Social media platforms, however, generally tend to show the positive side of someone’s world, only exposing a curated part of their reality and not the whole picture. 

We don’t really know what our ex or anyone else on social networks may be experiencing in their hearts or what their reality is actually like. Even though it may seem heartless, we need to unfriend or unfollow them (at least for a while). Let’s seek to focus our attention beyond the virtual world. 

Find support from other good people

A very positive thing to do is to look for people who’ve also gone through similar situations.Even if everyone has a unique personal story, the solidarity of someone who has “been there” or is even living through a similar situation now can be a great source of support. 

We shouldn’t hesitate to be direct and open our hearts to someone we can trust. Most people are willing to share their experiences, especially if they know they can help others. 

We can look for people like this among our family circle; friends; and people with whom we don’t have such a direct relationship but who are experts in the field, such as a therapist or a spiritual guide. The important thing is that they be loyal, seek the truth and want what’s good for our life.

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