How To Recover From Lost Love

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated February 21, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Losing a lover is something many people go through at least once in their lifetime. However, no matter how often you have experienced this type of loss, the experience may not feel any easier. It can be challenging, painful, and have a lasting impact on a person.

There is a potential to recover, heal, and move forward with your life with the proper awareness and support. Below are some common struggles people experience when recovering from lost love – and advice to consider if you feel stuck on your journey.

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Losing someone you once loved can feel disheartening

Recovering from lost love

Losing love may be a painful experience. Though recovery can be possible, it may not look the same for everyone. Since all relationships are unique, the processes of moving past those that ultimately don’t work out can be as well. Moving on from someone you once loved takes time, patience, and self-compassion.

Moving on or experiencing grief may involve letting yourself feel all your emotions, even those that are negative. This painful stage may not last forever, however. You may decide to use this loss to propel yourself on a journey of self-discovery and healing that can benefit you in the long run.

The first step: Grieving love

After a romantic relationship ends, it can be tempting to jump into a new one immediately. This quick relief may ease the feelings of hurt or temporarily distract from the pain. However, doing so may not allow you to grieve the relationship you’ve lost in its entirety.

Consider allowing yourself to feel your feelings when a significant and emotionally impactful change occurs. Even if the change was for the best, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t still need time to process all that has happened.

Losing a lover often involves other significant life changes, such as changing social circles, daily activities, and locations. If your relationship was long-standing and committed, letting go can feel heartbreaking.

Allowing yourself to grieve what you’ve lost may help you recover more effectively in the long run, even if it feels counterproductive. No single window of time can be applied to all people for grief. For some individuals, a few weeks is a considerable enough grieving period, while others might need months or even years.

In the case of marriage, you may find that grieving could take a year or more before you decide to step out into a new relationship or consider dating again.

You may decide to take the time you need to sincerely work through your emotions to avoid the consequences of repressed emotions. These not only affect you but could potentially carry into future romantic relationships.

The next step: Self-care

Relationships can require the commitment of at least two individuals. While it may be tempting to focus solely on what your ex did wrong, it can be more productive to focus on bettering yourself instead.

Take this time to focus on your needs, desires, and interests. Setting aside this time may help you determine who you are, what you like, what you expect from yourself and life, and what you want and need from a partner. Activities may be an effective way to learn more about yourself. For example, you might try:

  • Expressive writing through journaling
  • Exercising
  • Spending time in nature
  • Reading a new book
  • Practicing an instrument

Ask yourself the tough questions and make changes if you don’t like the answers you have to offer. You might notice areas of your life in which you’re prone to unhelpful habits or unhealthy patterns. You may have characteristics that make you uncomfortable or no longer serve you.

If you weren’t aware of these things in your previous relationship, it could give you valuable insight into your next relationship if you desire one. When you re-enter the dating world, you may do so as someone you’re proud of. Becoming the person that you’d like to be may take time, but it can be a part of building a life you can be content with.

Be mindful that you may still be grieving and thus enduring the stages of grief, which include:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

There might be ups and downs in your grieving process, and you may navigate each day feeling differently. Working on yourself may be about putting your best foot forward as you move on with your life. Understanding and respecting yourself often takes a long-term, conscious, daily choice.


Step three: Taking time to breathe

While working on yourself after a loss can be beneficial, taking the time to relax may also be. You may feel ready to move on. However, it’s okay if you’re not. With a new world of possibilities available, think about what you want as you move closer to acceptance and healing.

If you are working continuously on yourself or anything that may support future relationships, celebrate your growth along the way and give yourself time to settle into a new routine and a new normal that is supportive of self-love. Relax when you need to.

If you’ve adopted meditation as a healing tool, give yourself time to create a consistent meditative routine. Studies show that meditation can increase self-compassion, which may be valuable during this time.

Whatever changes you’ve made, consider giving yourself time to become comfortable with where you are. Adding too many new things all at once may prove more taxing and emotional than you realize and may set some of your progress back.

You don’t necessarily need to have everything figured out immediately after a breakup, and your heart may need more time to heal. Go at your own pace and try to keep pressure from seeping into your life.

Step four: Moving on

Once you’ve taken time to grieve, work on yourself, and settle into a new routine, give yourself permission to step out and move on. This step may look a bit different for everyone. It could mean going out with friends and leaving your evening open for the possibility of someone new. Or it could mean being bold and seeking out a new relationship, whether via a blind date, a friend, a prospective partner you’ve had a crush on, or a dating app.

Moving on could also mean exploring and learning more about yourself and experiencing life with non-romantic loved ones. Moving on doesn’t have to involve a new love interest to leave the taste of your old relationship behind.

It may be both a heart and a head decision to leave your former relationship in the past. This metaphor means you may focus more on what you want and what’s healthy for you. You may not want to date at all. Some people want more time for self-exploration even after they move on. Consider releasing yourself from the pressure of having to follow a specific timeline.

Navigating setbacks

Although moving on might seem like a linear experience, it doesn’t always happen this way. You might do each step separately, or you might find yourself getting all the way to step four, and then needing to leap back to start all over again. The steps don’t have to occur in order; healing is not always linear.

Lost love can be a painful experience, regardless of the circumstances involved. Recovery is a deeply personal journey that only you may take and determine. It is possible that others cannot control how you move forward from a lover, approach your recovery, or behave during setbacks.

Healing, for you, may be about meeting yourself where you’re at and taking the necessary steps to create a stronger, healthier version of yourself.

For many, therapy can play an essential role in their healing process. Whether you’re experiencing grief, anxiety, or depression from losing someone you once loved, speaking with a professional may help.

Turning to online therapy to aid in grieving may help you move forward productively. One study found that internet-delivered CBT effectively reduced symptoms of depression and grief associated with loss. Participants also reported high satisfaction with their treatment, with the majority showing “clinically significant” recovery in depression and grief.

Through online platforms such as BetterHelp, you can connect virtually with a licensed therapist to receive support and guidance throughout your recovery. The healing process can involve highs and lows that often occur unexpectedly. With an online therapy platform, you may be able to send messages to your counselor throughout the week.

Getty/Halfpoint Images
Losing someone you once loved can feel disheartening


Experiencing the loss of love may take a toll on your mental health and overall well-being. Though it can be challenging to endure, moving forward in a healthy and productive manner is often possible. Some individuals lean on friends and family for support, while others pursue therapy to help them along.

Healing can look different for everyone, and there is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all path to recovery. By allowing yourself to grieve what you’ve lost and challenging yourself to grow, you may begin to shape your future into something you’re proud of.

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