How To Handle A Breakup: Healthy Ways To Move On

Updated December 26, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Once you and your partner have decided to end the relationship, you may wonder how to handle a breakup. There are many healthy ways to move on with your life and recover so that you are prepared for your next romantic relationship. 

Maybe you’ve never experienced a breakup before, or perhaps you don’t know how to get through it this time. Whether you chose to do the split or were surprised by the end of the relationship, finding healthy ways to move on should smooth your healing process.

It’s normal to experience a range of lingering emotions about your former partner. Breakups aren’t just the loss of a person who was likely a significant part of your daily life but the loss of all the plans you imparted with your former partner. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed with the changes, and essential to take time to process. 

Create A Healing Environment

For many people, it can be helpful to be around others. Create a healing environment and surround yourself with people who will support you through the breakup. Lean on your friends and family and let them help you find ways to heal. If you’re comfortable, talk about what went wrong in your relationship and what you could do differently next time. 

Plan A Breakup Ritual

Designing a breakup ritual can be a therapeutic experience. The purpose of creating a regular practice to mark the end of a relationship is to close this chapter of your life and move forward to the next one. A breakup ritual can be as simple as getting rid of all the photos of your ex and packing up their personal items to return. 

If the relationship ended badly, you might consider writing a goodbye letter (that you don’t send), which may let you find closure. Your ritual can be literal or symbolic, but it should mark the transition to the next phase in your life. 

Write About Your Feelings

Recent research indicates that writing about your feelings after a breakup can have positive results due to its focus on cognitive processing. Writing about your feelings encourages you to examine how you feel, which is the first step toward working through those feelings. 

The same study said ideal coping strategies after a breakup should encourage you to focus on the positive aspects of the experience while minimizing negative emotions. The foundational idea is that exploring positive outcomes in the context of otherwise negative events supports personal growth. Study participants reported feelings like confidence, empowerment, and optimism regarding the end of their relationships after writing for 15-30 minutes per day for three consecutive days.  

How Journaling Helps After A Breakup

  • Work through your feelings faster by focusing on the positive aspects of the breakup.

  • Reduce the typical stress associated with breakups. 

  • Find a new perspective to interpret the breakup. 

  • Build confidence in your ability to handle a new relationship when you’re ready.

Grieve The Loss Of The Relationship

Taking time to grieve the loss of your relationship should help your emotional recovery. Studies have shown that breakups can cause the same symptoms as bereavement. Heartbreak can cause significant emotional and sometimes even physical pain, and that takes time to heal. You may experience some or all the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. 

It is important to remember that everyone grieves at their own pace and in their own way. Comparing your recovery with your ex’s isn’t likely to help and could impede your progress. Take the time to process your feelings about the end of the relationship because ignoring or suppressing your emotions could cause problems with future romantic partners. 

Set Healthy Boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries for yourself and the people around you following a breakup may make it easier for you to recover. You should defend your mental and emotional well-being. Remember that you are not obligated to impart the details of the relationship with family and friends. Tell them you don’t want to talk about your former partner but appreciate the concern. 

If you can’t avoid running into your ex, try to plan how you will react and how much you want to communicate with them. Some people are comfortable being friends with an ex once physical and emotional boundaries are set. Still, you may wish to establish a no-contact period after the breakup to give yourself time to adjust to your new reality. 

Practice Self-Care

Feeling down after a breakup is normal, but it is important to take care of yourself. Self-care can feel like a chore, but it is vital to ensure your basic needs are being met. Try to shower, get something to eat, and sleep for a few hours. Maybe call a friend for lunch or take a walk around the park. It’s okay to take small steps; just try not to get lost in the grief. 

Accept That You Will Experience Fluctuating Emotions

Recovery is seldom quick or easy. It may be easier to manage if you accept that some days will be better than others, and your emotions will fluctuate. Try not to be too hard on yourself if you have a bad day and miss your ex more than usual.

“Healing from a break-up is not a smooth, linear process. While you will feel better over time, it's generally not a steady process,” said researchers at the University of New Hampshire.

Learn A New Skill Or Hobby

As you process your grief, use the time to explore hobbies or interests you may have put off to focus on your partner. Try taking a class to learn a new skill, such as cooking or pottery. Indulge in the time and effort for personal development as you work through your emotions about the breakup. 

It may also be an excellent time to think about who you want to be and what you want to do with the rest of your life. Do you want a career change? Are you happy with your current job? Do you want to further your education? Ask yourself and start working on becoming the person you want to be. 

Build A New Routine And Embrace The Change

Your ex was likely a big part of your daily life, so building a new routine after a breakup can be helpful and a healthy way to move on. Embrace the opportunity for change and find ways to make positive differences. Finding a new pattern can help establish a sense of stability for your new life and help you feel in control. 

Try To Learn From The Breakup

One of the healthy ways to handle a breakup and move on is to use it as an opportunity to reevaluate your life and who you are in a relationship. Examine your former relationship when you’re ready and try to learn from your mistakes. Focus on what you can do to make better choices in future relationships. 

Lessons To Learn From A Breakup

  • Do you make drastic changes when you’re in a relationship?

  • Can you clearly communicate your needs and desires to a partner?

  • How do you handle stress and conflict in a relationship?

  • Do you accept partners as they are?

  • Is there a pattern to the type of partner you seek?

Establish A Network Of Support

The friends and family closest to you should form the core of your support network, but it can sometimes be challenging to open up to them about your feelings for many reasons. If you don’t have someone you can talk to about your breakup, consider speaking to a therapist. A therapist will listen without judgment and help you find constructive ways to work through your feelings. 

Therapy Could Help You Find Healthy Ways To Move On

Part of learning how to handle a breakup is finding healthy ways to move on with your life. You may benefit from speaking to a qualified therapist, either in person or online. Therapy can be an effective tool for examining and working through your feelings. If face-to-face treatment isn’t accessible or doesn’t sound like a good fit for you, consider online therapy through providers like BetterHelp. With convenient appointments via phone, video call, and online messaging, choose the format that works best for you. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been successfully used to treat various mental conditions. Recent studies show that CBT can be as effective as in-person treatments, as well as being more cost-effective and promoting stronger relationships between client and therapist. Online therapy offers convenience and accessibility anywhere you have an internet connection, without the long wait times you may face for in-person treatment.  


Planning for how to handle a breakup can be helpful in the development of healthy ways to move on without making the same mistakes. Speaking with a licensed therapist may make identifying what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future easier while providing opportunities for personal growth. 

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