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How To Get Over a Breakup

Reader Dating Question About Breakups and Moving On

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Sally asks: "My ex and I dated for three years. It was a rough ride for the most part, and he wasn't a very good person with or for me. Still, its been weeks since he ended it and I can't seem to let go. I'm crying constantly and lonely, miss him terribly and try to come up with stupid ways to connect. How do I move on from this relationship once and for all?"

How have you dealt with a really bad breakup? Share your story: How I Got Over a Breakup

First Sally, let me give you a huge, virtual hug. We've all been there, and I think oodles of folks and understand and appreciate exactly what you're going through. Breakups are never easy, especially when you know it's time to move on but your body and brain have different ideas.

Over the years I've worked through a few breakups of my own, and have supported numerous readers through their own difficult breakups. Although I've never undertaken a scientific study, and have yet to find one that specifically gives concrete advice on how to get over a particularly difficult loss quickly and with ease, I have found a few tactics that seem to work almost universally. They may seem weird or out-of-synch as to where you're at right now. Try them if you can, just a few minutes every day, and after a week or so, feel free to comment on this article and let me know if they worked for you, or if you found something else.

Step One - Start Clearing the Clutter

No, I don't mean in your house or even to purge yourself of your ex's things. Instead, let's take a look at your mind, and what's cluttering it up with regards to your relationship.

This tactic came from a book by noted UK hypnotist Paul McKenna, I Can Make You Confident (Buy Direct). In the book, he devotes a very small chapter to abused spouses and partners struggling to detach themselves from a damaging relationship. Now, I'm not saying that your relationship was abusive in any way, because it doesn't sound like it was. But what I am suggesting is that you try out an idea that has worked for people in one of the worst relationship situations, and has enabled them to move on peacefully.

I highly recommend purchasing or taking McKenna's book out from the library if you want more information. In a nutshell however, here's a paraphrased version of what he suggests:

Take a moment to close your eyes, and think about a negative experience you and your ex shared together. Really put yourself in those shoes again, as if you were living it all over. Use all of your senses and make the experience even brighter and louder in your mind. Now, think of another negative event with your ex, and do the same thing. After you've really it up, string the two events together and tie them, as if no time had passed. Do this again for another two incidents, so you have four altogether. Now think of all four over and over, round and round, until they don't seem to have as much weight in your mind anymore. Then, push the images of those events away from you, as if they were in a picture far, far away. Turn the picture into a black and white photo, and push it back even further. Then, let the picture fall, and allow it to gently float away from you and disappear.

Another visualization exercise that I learned years ago, is one where you "cut" ties to your ex. Not in a mean or malicious way, but rather, to untether yourself from your ex and the relationship. I can't remember who shared this nugget of wisdom with me, but here's how to do it:

Close your eyes, and picture yourself standing up next to your ex. Now, imagine a line between the two of you that connects you somehow. It could be a rope, electromagnetic force, or anything outside of yourself that really represents your connection. Whatever comes to mind, think about that connection for a few moments. Is it rock-hard, or really easy to break? Is it malleable or only flows in one direction? Does it extend a fair distance, or does it keep you close together? Once you've fleshed out this connection, I want you to imagine some scissors,a hacksaw, or another cutting implement, and for you to sever the connection between you. If more tendrils show up, cut them too, until there's nothing left between you. Once you're sure everything has been cut, imagine yourself walking away from your ex, and into a bright, beautiful future full of the things you've always dreamed of.

More about visualization for relationships:

Hopefully, those two exercises have helped you feel moderately better. You can do them as much as you'd like, although I find most folks only need to do them once or twice to feel good.

Step Two - Feeling Better

Now that you've cleared some of the residual feelings and negativity from your mind that has surrounded you since the breakup, it's time to start feeling better. I have a huge list of ideas and inspiration in the article called Feel Better After a Breakup, and I urge you to take a look after reading this. Either way, I suggest you find at least two, and up to five, things that you can do every single day for yourself that make you feel great, and that help you fill your time. Keeping busy, even if it is a bit cliche, does help, and soon enough you'll have so many new things going on that you truly love and are passionate about, you won't even have time to think about your ex. Instead, you'll be focusing on your future.

More: Letting Go Lessons

Readers Respond: Readers Share Their Letting Go Techniques for Bad Breakups

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