The 5 Stages To Finally Let Go Of Your Ex

By Patricia Oelze|Updated July 21, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Ema Jones, LCSW

It’s Hard To Let Go Of Your Ex

So, you and your ex broke up but you cannot seem to stop thinking of them. Sounds familiar. This happens to just about everyone at one (or more) times in our lives. Unfortunately there is no magic cure of how to let go of your ex. Sometimes it is really hard to start letting go, especially when you have been together for several years or when the breakup was not your idea. Even when the relationship wasn’t good it can still be difficult to get over, but learning how to let go of your ex is an important part of the process. Especially when you're angry and thinking of ways to get revenge on your ex.

No matter who was at fault and who did the breaking up, if you have been together for a year or more, it may be really hard to stop thinking about them. That is totally understandable. This person was a part of your life for a very long time and you shared a lot. You may not even know how to think about yourself entirely on your own anymore because you spent so much time together and so much time acting as a couple, but we will help walk you through how to let go.

Chances are, there are also going to be a lot of things that remind you of them. Whether it’s physical items or even events or places that you pass by you can’t seem to ignore the memories that the two of you had. The problem is, sometimes we forget that losing this relationship is a very real version of losing someone. You actually have to go through the five stages of grief and loss:

  • Denial and isolation: This is a defense mechanism to buffer the immediate shock and it may last for weeks or months.During this phase you may withdraw from others and may refuse to accept that the relationship is actually over and that there’s nothing you can do to change it.
  • Anger: This stage can come and go during all the stages as you let yourself realize what really happened. You may feel angry at yourself for something you may have done to end the relationship or angry at the other person for what they did to end the relationship.
  • Bargaining: You may be thinking things may have been different if you had tried harder or been a better listener or whatever. None of these are true in most cases. You may try to make deals that you’ll change something if only it will bring the relationship back or you’ll give up something to make things work again.
  • Depression: This step may last for a lot longer than any other stage and for some people it may be hard to get over. It involves feeling sad about the loss and for many that’s all that happens. You feel sad or upset and gradually you start to get through it. Unfortunately, not everyone experiences it the same way and their depression can turn into true depression. If you are still feeling severe depression that interrupts your life after a few months, you should talk to someone.
  • Acceptance: This final stage may take a long time to get to and you may not make it here at all. You may need to talk to someone who will help you accept what happened. In this final stage you are able to understand that the relationship is over and you are okay with it. You may not be happy about it yet, but you can feel comfortable with the realization that you need to move on.

If The Breakup Was Not Your Idea

When the breakup was not your idea, letting go can be 10 times as hard. But, you can do it. You may have seen the end coming as you and your partner continued to fight more and more or started to go your separate ways. Maybe you were entirely blindsided and you had no idea anything was going on before they broke up with you. Either way, it can be a difficult situation to be in. No matter what it feels like now, you need to know that you will get over it in time. Just do not give in to the temptation to call him or her because that just makes it worse. You may be sad or angry for a long time but you will get over it and pretty soon you will be wondering what the big deal was.

How to Let Go

How to let go of an ex is not the same for everyone but here are some tips:

No matter what you choose to do, just do not forget that time will help. It takes time but you will learn to let go. The key is making sure you actually move on rather than simply glossing over things. If you try to just pretend that the relationship never happened it can actually be more difficult for you to work through or more difficult for you to overcome with time. That’s because you sweep things under the rug and one day down the road those thoughts and feelings come out when you least expect them to.

You want to feel comfortable and confident with the loss of the relationship and that involves making sure you allow yourself to feel all of the emotions. You’re allowed to be upset and sad that the relationship ended. Even if the relationship was terrible or your ex was bad to you or for you it’s okay to feel sad about the loss you’re enduring. There were likely good times and those all come rushing forward when the relationship is done. The only way you can make sure you move on from the relationship and don’t try to turn things back around is if you’re able to fully work through and process all of those emotions, good and bad. If you don’t, you’re never going to feel like the relationship is completely done.

The Role of Therapy

Even the most “together” person can experience difficulties during and after a break-up. It’s easy to feel like no one understands what you’re feeling. However, there are people who understand and care.

While some people are comfortable seeking in-person counseling, others may feel more comfortable seeking help through other means. BetterHelp offers online counseling options for individuals who need help coping with life changes, including relationship issues. Our staff of licensed, accredited professionals offer a wealth of knowledge and experience, and the platform is completely anonymous.

Figuring out how to let go of your ex can be a challenging thing, so we are here to support you with tips, tricks, and resources to help.

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