Letting Go of Your Ex to Build Your Own Happiness


Jen Ainsworth

After my breakup, I spent so long questioning how it was fair that my ex’s life seemed to carry on uninterrupted while mine felt like it was falling apart. I read into every little thing that he did or said and when he was silent, my mind started to fill in the blanks.

But the truth is, we’ll never really get the answers that we’re looking for. We’ll never really know how they’re feeling. And not only is it out of our control, but it’s not our problem. So forget about what your ex is doing. Because whatever it is, it has nothing to do with how they feel about you and everything to do with how they feel about themselves.

Just because your ex seems happy doesn’t mean that they are. Just because your ex seems like they don’t care doesn’t mean that they don’t. Just because your ex has moved on to a new relationship doesn’t mean that it’s any better than yours was. And just because your ex seems like they’ve forgotten about you doesn’t mean that they have.

No matter what your ex says or does to make you think otherwise, you meant something to them. Those feelings don’t just go away overnight. Chances are, they’re hurting just as much as you. But every second that you spend worrying about what your ex may or may not be feeling is a second of your life that you can never get back.

By refusing to let go of the past, you’re refusing to open yourself up to the future that is waiting for you.

I know that it’s hard to accept that the future that you had planned is gone. But if you choose to let go and love yourself, you can have any future that you want. You may not be able to see it right now, but you have to trust that things will work out. And they will.

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” – André Gide

The universe has given you an opportunity to learn and grow, and even though it hurts, the best thing you can do is embrace it and not try to run from it. So shift your focus back to you. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you for exactly who you are. Learn to love yourself in the ways that your ex never could. Create a life that you’re excited to live. And once you do, you’ll find that you stop caring about what your ex is doing.

“Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open.” – Alexander Graham Bell

At first, I couldn’t imagine a life without my ex. I didn’t even want to. He was my home, my future, my reason for living. The pain was so excruciating that I didn’t know how I was still alive. There were days when I wished that I wasn’t. But now, I can’t imagine a life with him.

The thing is, when we’re hurting after a breakup it’s easy to forget that we were hurting before, too. The grief and withdrawal take over and we convince ourselves that we were so incredibly happy and we’re now destined for a lifetime of misery. But what about the misery that our relationships caused us?

When I find myself feeling lonely and missing my ex, I remind myself that it’s just my primal instincts trying to trick me. Sure, we had some good times together. But mostly, I just felt more lost, scared, empty, and alone than I ever had in my life. And even though I feel sad now, it’s nothing compared to the deep, soul-crushing sadness I felt when I was in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable partner.

So if you’re fantasizing about a reconciliation, it’s likely that it’s just that – a fantasy.

The reality is, your ex just isn’t the person you wanted them to be. And the sooner you begin to accept that, the sooner you will begin to let go.

Before, I would’ve done anything to get my ex back. Now, I would much rather be alone forever than be with someone who isn’t right for me. And the right person wouldn’t have walked away. We all deserve to be with someone who won’t leave when things get hard. So never forget the reasons that you broke up. If your ex wasn’t capable of putting in the effort in the first place, what makes you think it would be any different the second time around?

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

So what can you do when you find yourself permanently stuck in the past, paralyzed by fear of the future and unable to let go of the idea that you’ve lost your only shot at finding happiness?

Be kind to yourself. Your ex might not have died, but you are still grieving a loss. There’s no timeline for grief. Take as long as you need. Remember that everyone’s journey is different and don’t let anyone put pressure on you to “get over it already.” Allow yourself to feel what you have to feel and don’t push yourself too hard. Treat yourself like you would if you were physically sick—get a lot of rest, eat well, take long baths. And when you have days where you feel like you’re going backward, remember that healing isn’t linear.

Date yourself. When my ex left me, I didn’t want to leave the house, let alone go out and do things by myself. But slowly, I started to push myself out of my comfort zone. Now, I do things that I never even dreamt of doing before—like going to the cinema alone, going for lunch alone, going to classes alone and even going traveling alone. And not only do I have a better idea of what I want out of life, but I’m also more confident than I’ve ever been. Write a list of the things you miss about being in a relationship and how to cultivate those things on your own, and I guarantee that you’ll find there’s nothing your ex can give you that you can’t give yourself.

Try new things. This breakup is a chance for you to rebuild your self-esteem and rediscover who you are outside of a relationship. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Think of the things you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time/money/courage to do and do them. For me, these were going on a yoga retreat, joining a meditation group, and starting a blog. Once you open yourself up to new experiences and connections, you’ll realize that life is about so much more than just a relationship.

Keep yourself busy. Even though the idea of doing anything other than moping around in your pajamas watching Netflix, eating junk, and wallowing in self-pity seems impossible, there comes a time when you have to force yourself to start living again. So make plans with friends, join a group or a class, sign up for a course, start a new hobby, or book a trip. Because when you have things to do and look forward to, you don’t have the time or energy to worry about what your ex is doing.

Learn how to be single. You will meet someone new, but only when the time is right. And if you’re going on dates out of loneliness or boredom, then you’re probably not ready. When the infatuation wears off or it doesn’t work out, those feelings of dissatisfaction and emptiness will only come creeping back in. But if you learn how to be happy on your own, no one will be able to take that away from you.

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