Starting Over: How To Heal And Move On After A Breakup

Updated March 5, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

You Don’t Have To Start Over Alone

The end of a relationship can often feel like the end of life as we know it. When we settle into partnerships, the idea of having to relearn how to be on our own can feel unimaginable. 

While experiencing the hurt that follows a breakup is undoubtedly challenging, it often creates the opportunity to start over. The healing that happens after a relationship ends is often detrimental to building and maintaining our own identity and self-worth. 

Oftentimes, the end of a relationship can signify our readiness for a fresh start. In this article we will explore ways to heal and move on after a breakup. 

Give Yourself Time To Grieve

After a breakup many of us feel pressure to move on quickly. That pressure may come from within or from outside influences. When going through a breakup it can be helpful to remember that the loss of a relationship qualifies as a loss. Like any loss, a breakup comes with grief, and living with grief is challenging. 

While all of us process grief differently, it can be very important to give yourself time to do so. You may not be sure what your grief process looks like. For this reason, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the five stages of grief; anger, denial, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance.  

These stages have no definitive timeline or order, and often come in waves. After a breakup, it can be important to learn to cope with grief in a healthy way. This may look like spending more time with friends or family, allowing yourself extra time to rest, allowing yourself to cry, etc. 

When dealing with grief, it can be important to remember that, while the feelings you’re experiencing are valid, they will most certainly pass. 

Give Yourself Space

Communicating with an ex-partner after your initial breakup can create stress and tension and often leads to making the situation more difficult. If you and your partner share a living space, it may be best to prioritize finding a new place to live. 

Since moving takes time, you may want to separate yourself from your partner as often as you can in the interim. This could look like staying with friends or relatives, spending additional time at work, or working in a nearby coffee shop or restaurant if you typically work from home.

Spending too much time with an ex while emotions are running high can create toxicity. It is possible that even a few days apart after a breakup will allow both of you time to calm down, and process the situation.

Additionally, creating space between yourself and your ex immediately after breakup can be crucial to maintaining any form of a relationship in the future. If you share responsibilities such as pets or children, it is likely a certain level of communication will be necessary. Maintaining the ability to communicate with an ex after a breakup cannot only be useful, but help you to realize your capacity for strength and maturity. 

If your relationship was characterized by toxicity, unhealthy behavior or abuse, it is likely best to cease contact entirely as soon as you are in a safe place to do so. If communication is necessary, you may want to reach out to a legal or mental health professional for help and guidance. 

If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic violence or abuse, there is help available. Reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or visit their website

Adjust Your Focus

In long term relationships we often find ourselves focusing on building our life with our partner.  When a relationship ends it can often feel like we have lost our sense of purpose, but this is not the case. The end of a relationship gives us a chance to re-adjust our focus, and find new purpose. 

Readjusting your focus can look like delving into your careers, developing a talent, working towards health or fitness goals, getting more involved in your community, embracing your creativity, and much more.

Re-adjusting your focus will likely take time. After a breakup you may feel as if you need to re-discover yourself entirely. This is perfectly normal. In these cases, it may be helpful to revisit your favorite music, movies, people, places and things.

You Don’t Have To Start Over Alone

Learn To Navigate And Explore Your Feelings

Learning to navigate and explore your feelings can take time, patience and mental fortitude.  The choice to explore your feelings could be made shortly after your breakup, or later down the road. The process of exploring and navigating feelings tends to take on many forms. This could look like meditation, re-decorating, in-depth conversations with friends, journaling or seeking help from a therapist.

If you are in the early stages of learning to navigate your feelings, journaling is often a great place to start. Utilizing writing prompts such as making a pros and cons list or asking yourself “how is this the best thing that has ever happened to me?” can provoke thought and help get you started. 

Get Help From A Professional 

Moving on after a breakup can be especially challenging to do on your own. If you are having trouble overcoming feelings for an ex, or having difficulty knowing how to move on, a therapist or mental health professional can provide healthy guidance in a judgment free zone. 

Every relationship is unique, as is every breakup. The emotional effects of a breakup tend to differ greatly based on the length of the relationship, shared responsibilities, shared living space, and the overall circumstances of the breakup.  For example if your relationship ended on amicable terms, your grieving process will likely look different from that of someone who was cheated on or left suddenly.

Regardless of circumstance, you may feel intense sadness and anger following a breakup. While these emotions are entirely valid, it is typically most helpful to discuss them with an unbiased party that is qualified to provide healthy guidance.

Through consulting a therapist or mental health professional, you can explain your unique situation and receive individualized help and guidance.

The Benefits Of Online Therapy

Though many of us are aware of the positive effects of talk therapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), post-breakup stress can make the thought of seeking out a therapist feel incredibly overwhelming.

Thankfully, due to a recent uptick in digital mental health intervention, online therapy offers a more convenient alternative to in-person therapy, allowing participants to navigate their unique situations with a therapist from anywhere with an internet connection. 

The Effectiveness Of Online Therapy 

Recent studies have shown that virtual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is equally as effective as its in-person counterparts. Since CBT aims to reframe negative thought processes, it is likely to be helpful and the matters of moving on from a breakup.


Starting over after a breakup does not have to be done alone. Along with therapy, seeking support from friends, family and other trusted sources is certainly advisable. Though what you are experiencing can feel incredibly hard in the moment, it can be important to remember that your grief will pass and it is never too late for a fresh start.

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