How Can I Move On From A Breakup?

Updated February 2, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Breaking up with someone you had strong feelings for can be difficult. It may leave you feeling hurt, lonely, and unsure of how to move on. It's normal to struggle to address lingering feelings or wonder about next steps in life. If you’re living with complex emotions after a breakup, there are several things you can do to process them in a healthy manner and thrive during your post-breakup life. Below, we’re going to cover the process of grieving a lost relationship and discuss how you can move on from a difficult breakup.  

You Deserve Support During A Breakup

Processing Grief After A Breakup

Grief is a normal response to a major loss in your life, and that includes the loss of a relationship. There are several common stages of grief. Knowing what to expect in each one can help you work through them in a healthy way.

The stages of grief may occur in order for some people, while others may go back and forth between stages until they feel they have recovered from the loss and are able to move on with their life. The stages of grief are as follows:

  • Denial

This is a period where you may feel in shock or as though the situation isn’t real. You may tell yourself or others that you’ll get back together or that you didn’t actually break up with your partner. You may be confused about the situation, or you might simply avoid discussing it.

  • Anger

It's normal to feel upset after the end of a relationship. During this time, many people feel angry—with themselves, their ex, or others who they believe may have been responsible for the split. While anger is a normal emotion, it can be harmful if it isn’t expressed in a healthy way. 

  • Bargaining

Often, especially if a relationship lasted for a long time, one partner will attempt to make a deal with their ex; for example, they may say, "If you give me another chance, I will do whatever I need to in order to make things work." This partner might offer gifts or other things to try to win their ex back. 

  • Depression

Sadness, fatigue, loneliness, and similar feelings associated with depression often arise when one is grieving. You might have trouble getting out of bed at times, or you could start to withdraw from your friends and family. While you may not experience a full depressive disorder, this can be a difficult stage to get through. 

  • Acceptance

Eventually, you may realize that the relationship is over, and you and your partner are unlikely to get back together. You may start to accept that you and your ex are different people, with different goals, or that your communication styles conflicted too much. Acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve moved on, but it often means that you understand that the relationship is over and have made peace with that fact. 

How To Move Forward After A Breakup

After a breakup, you may feel guilty or question how things could have been different. It’s normal to have trouble processing your emotions regarding the end of a relationship. During this time, it can help to tend to your own needs, limit interaction with your ex, and do other things that will make the process of moving on easier. Keep the following tips in mind as you navigate life after a breakup. 

Avoid Jumping Into Another Relationship

Looking for a new relationship before you have recovered from your breakup can make it hard for you to form a solid connection and may negatively impact your mental health. Allow yourself time to grieve the loss of your relationship before you try dating or finding love again. Most of the time, we feel stuck and ask ourselves, "Will I ever find love again?"

If you start a new relationship before you are over a breakup, you may carry your unresolved emotions with you, which can keep you from being as connected as possible with your new partner. You may also miss out on some of the benefits of getting to know yourself more now that you are no longer in a relationship. Explore your interests, do things you may not have had time for before, and have fun with single life. These things can help you process your emotions from the breakup and grow. Once you’ve done that, you may be ready to fall in love again.

Utilize Your Support System

After a breakup, you might feel like withdrawing from others. While personal time to process your thoughts is okay, avoiding people entirely can have adverse effects. You may not want to socialize with large circles of people, but spending time with friends or family who are close to you may reduce your feelings of loneliness. This can also help you see how rewarding your post-breakup life can be.  

Limit Reminders Of The Relationship

While you may not need to get rid of everything that reminds you of your ex, putting away things that may lead to uncomfortable emotions can help you heal. If you don’t feel like you are ready to get rid of items like photos or gifts, you can put them in a place that is out of sight until you feel like you’ve moved on. If you have a specific song saved or have a way to messages from your ex on your phone, these are things that you may want to remove. You might also want to temporarily unfollow your ex on social media so that you aren’t reminded of them as frequently.  

Set Boundaries With Your Ex

As tempting as it may be, contacting your ex, at least during the initial stage of your breakup, can make it harder to move on. Consider setting boundaries as far as how often you see one another, how you’ll act when you do see each other, and what kind of communication is appropriate, if any.

If you have children with your ex, some interaction will likely be necessary. However, try to keep it minimal and avoid expanding your boundaries. This may feel especially challenging if you have unresolved feelings, but it can help you take the step toward getting over the breakup. 

Practice Self-Care

After a breakup, giving yourself the attention and support you need can help you move on. Getting plenty of rest and eating a balanced diet can provide you with energy and improve your mental health. 

Consider exercising regularly as well. Physical activity releases endorphins, which can boost your mood. Self-care can include journaling, meditating, creating a morning/night routine, and doing other things that nurture your body and mind. 

Talk With A Therapist

You Deserve Support During A Breakup

No matter where you are emotionally after a breakup, there may be times when you need to talk to someone who is objective and can help you move forward in life. There are several options for therapy. You may choose to seek the services of a local therapist whom you’ll visit in person, or you can participate in therapy remotely, through online therapy. 

Research shows that online therapy can help individuals manage common emotions that often arise as a result of a breakup. For example, in one study, researchers found that online cognitive behavioral therapy could reduce feelings of loneliness in participants. The study also noted that there were improvements in overall quality of life and in symptoms of social anxiety. 

If you’re working through a breakup, online therapy with a platform like BetterHelp can help you process your emotions and navigate your newly single life. With online therapy, you can work with a therapist remotely, through video call, voice call, or in-app messaging. Online therapy is an affordable option—BetterHelp subscriptions start at $60 per week (billed every 4 weeks), and you can cancel anytime. A qualified mental health professional can help you manage grief and other complex feelings after a breakup. Read below for reviews of licensed BetterHelp therapists who have helped others with similar concerns. 

Therapist Reviews

"Rachael has helped me navigate the grief of a really tough breakup, listening to my concerns, and trying to answer my questions. Quite literally saved my life."

"Sabrina is helping me so much through my breakup, and I am so excited for her to help me along my journey of self-love and discovery. Thank you for helping me detangle my inner problems and guiding me to the end of each and every string!"

Takeaway

A bad breakup can be a challenging experience that may leave you wondering whether you’ll find love again. With the right support, you can address emotions that have arisen as a result of being hurt or feeling alone. A mental health professional can help you on your way to improving your emotional well-being and living a full, happy life. 

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