How to Get Over a Long-Term Relationship in 8 Steps
Being in a relationship is great. Loneliness rarely sets in because you always have someone to spend the day with or talk to when you need to vent. You experience new things with this person, like seeing plays, going to concerts, traveling, exploring new restaurants and shops, etc. You can also learn from this person by conversing and challenging each other to understand different ideas and philosophies. Oh, and there’s sex! Who doesn’t love sex? So being in a relationship sounds great, and on paper, it is. However, in reality, relationships aren’t bulletproof. You’ll argue about trivial nonsense like where to eat, or what movie to watch. Relationships are complicated and stressful so failure is always a great possibility. Now, no one wants a healthy relationship to end; unfortunately, we don’t always get what we want. Like the famous saying goes, “All good things must eventually come to an end.”
Dealing with the aftermath of a failed relationship is always a tough thing to overcome, especially if it is a “long-term” relationship. I’m not a psychologist or a therapist; hell, I have no professional qualifications at all. But what I do have is experience, and let’s be honest, that’s all that really matters. That being said, the following information is from personal experience of getting over a 3-year relationship. Following each step word-for-word will not work for everyone, but, hopefully, the information (if approached with the ability to adapt to your situation) will help some of you get over your recently terminated long-term relationship.
Step One: Accept the Truth
Honestly, there are many things that can act as a catalyst in ending a relationship: cheating, lack of communication, or just plain boredom. It doesn’t really matter where the relationship went wrong, and you’ll only drive yourself insane trying to rework the timeline attempting to pin the exact moment in which everything fell apart. Instead, take a deep breath and swallow the truth. That’s step number one: accepting that it’s over. This will be the hardest step for most people, as optimism naturally takes over when the relationship ends. You’ll try to get the person back, hanging onto the notion that there may be a chance he/she will take you back. Let go. The quicker you accept the truth, the quicker you’ll get over him/her and start dating again.
Step Two: Hang Out With Friends
The worst thing you can do after a relationship ends is become a recluse. You see it in the movies all the time (typically romantic comedies). The protagonist is lying in bed, sulking over his broken heart. His friends then burst into the room — usually throwing back the curtains to let light into the depressing, dark room — and finger through the protagonist’s filthy food scraps and unkempt belongings. The friends say something like, “C’mon dude, you gotta get out of this funk, it’s been a week." The protagonist retaliates, “Just leave me alone," and pulls the sheets over his head. The friends then drag him out and eventually the protagonist finds his next love. If you have friends this dedicated to you, then consider yourself lucky. For the rest of us, we have to be the ones to instigate a “hang out” with our friends, because they have lives too. Also, when you tell someone to leave you alone in real life…they usually do. So be a big boy/girl and call a friend to spend time with you.
When I was getting over my relationship (it has now been two years since it ended), I had a friend who spent the night at my house for the whole summer. We played video games, watched movies and TV, talked, and even went on a road trip. We’ll get to all that later though. Point is, my friend was there for me and I can even say that the relationship I have with said friend has improved because of it.
Step Three: Do Something
This step ties into the second one. Make sure you find something to do. Let me clarify that this step is mostly for times when you are alone. What I did was watch movies, played lots of video games, listened to my MP3 player, and read a bunch of books. I would leave my house (a good idea), take my laptop, headphones, and kindle and chill at Barnes and Noble for the entire day. During the duration of my mourning period I occupied my time by occupying my mind. Of course, hanging out with a friend is a great way to take your mind off of the relationship and your ex, but they have lives too and can’t spend every waking minute consoling you. So, do anything as long as you're not just sitting in your room browsing the internet.
Step Four: Work On/Learn Something
Similar to step three, this step requires you to get up and do something. Where it differs though is what you are doing. Step three gets your mind off of your ex, but it allows you to do unproductive things for the sake of healing. Step four is different in that you should do things considered “productive”. I took the time to write and to learn how to play piano. I also took up the hobby of paper crafting. So do something productive like writing, learning to play an instrument, learning a new language, or taking up a hobby.
Step Five: Work Out
Exercising is not only good for your body, but for your mind. It has been proven to make you more focused and energized. Having focus and energy will help motivate you to do things like those listed in step four. Plus, if you are already out of shape, then exercising will help you tone that body so when you ARE ready to get back to dating, you’ll have a more desirable physical appearance.
Step Six: Go On Vacation
This step may not be possible for some of you. If money is tight, or if you’re young and don’t have a job, then this step may not be too useful. For those who can spare the cash, take a mini-vacation. You don’t have to fly off to Hawaii, Italy or somewhere outlandish. During my recovery, I went on a road trip with my dad and friend — just us three guys. We traveled west from North Texas towards California. Along the way we stopped at the Grand Canyon, went on the Sandia Peak tram in New Mexico, rode the thrill rides on top of The Stratosphere in Las Vegas, and then went to Disney Land and hung out with my aunt, uncle, and mom (she met us there) in California. It’s easily the best vacation I’ve been on. Even my vacation was a bit much, and may be unrealistic for the majority of people reading this. So maybe just head to another city? For example, for a small trip I would travel down to San Antonio (once again, I live in North Texas) and hang out on The River Walk. You don’t have to blow lots of money to escape and have a good time.
When a relationship ends, it’s hard to give complete, undivided attention to work and school. Sometimes you need to shake loose and enjoy life.
Step Seven: Take a Break
Different than going on vacation, this step encourages you to take a break from dating. A common mistake people make after being dumped is to date someone immediately after. That’s a no-no. Don’t make someone your rebound, that’s never nice. Instead, take a break to reflect on yourself. Spend time working on bettering your life through your hobbies, your schooling, your career, or whatever else. Stay away from dating because there are too many things that can go wrong with that. You could annoyingly bring up your ex to your new partner, causing them to question your sanity and attraction to them. If your ex cheated on you, then you will most likely have trust issues with the new girlfriend/boyfriend (I’m guilty of this). So just take a break. You don’t have to wait a whole year like I did before getting back into the dating scene, but at least give it a few months.
Step Eight: Change Your Life
I should note here that these steps don’t have to be followed in any order, with the exception of the first step. In fact, these steps shouldn’t really be “steps” at all. You should continue doing all of them simultaneously or interchangeably until you have reached an emotional state you are satisfied with. With that being said, I believe this final step is the MOST important step, hence why I saved it for last. It’s going to sound a bit harsh and a bit drastic, but I promise it is necessary.
The last thing you need to do is change your life. This can mean almost anything and will differ from person to person, but one thing should always be done. Get rid of your ex’s stuff. Throw away the pictures, videos, notes, presents, etc. or at least hide them away. You cannot completely move forward if you are clinging to the past. Also, I’ve never met someone who was comfortable with their significant other having things from their previous relationships. It’s unhealthy and stubborn. Why would you want to hold onto memories of a failed relationship? I mean, sure, there were good moments in the relationship, but the very fact that it ended means that those good memories were outweighed by the bad. Like in the movie 500 Days of Summer, if you just stop focusing on all the good times from the relationship, you’ll remember all the bad ones.
Next thing to do is get rid of your ex. Wait a minute, that makes no sense…I mean, we are already broken up, right? Wrong. In today’s internet driven age, most people never really get rid of their ex. They keep them as friends on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, Myspace, even on HubPages! This usually happens because both parties agree to “still be friends." Don’t do this! Get rid of him/her. You will only hurt yourself by pretending that you can still be friends. I know it sounds mean, but you’ll regret it when he gets a new girlfriend and floods his Facebook with pictures of them kissing and loving each other or bombards his “wall” with status updates about how awesome the new girl is (the alternative applies for guys as well).
Protect yourself. Stop worrying about him/her. If in the future you decide you can be friends, then go ahead (unless your new partner has an issue, which is entirely understandable), but during the healing process, it’s best to shut them out entirely.
Also, if you are young and can afford to find a new part-time job, then do so. A nice change of scenery and routine will help cast the illusion that things are better. It is an effort to move forward in life and creating major changes to your job and circle of friends will help motivate you to become the person you want to be.
Building off of what I just said, you should also find new friends. Now hold on! Before you call bullshit and close your internet browser, hear me out. If you have friends that are exclusively your friends, who will stick by YOU and not your ex, then keep them. However, if you had mutual friends, then you might want to consider distancing yourself from them. After all, your friends won’t be courteous enough to plan out every “hang out” so that you and your ex aren’t invited to the same event. Not saying that they are bad friends, just that it is not their obligation to ensure this doesn’t happen. How awkward would that be to get invited to a party, movie, or some other event by one of your friends, only to run into your ex when you arrive? Remember, you can always find new friends. And the ones that can’t choose you over the ex are probably not worth being friends with anyway.
So there you go. Some tips on how to get over a long-term relationship. Once again, not all of these will work for everyone. You have to choose which ones feel most natural to you. Maybe you don’t want to get a new job, that’s fine. Maybe you really do want to be left alone, that’s okay too. Just remember that all things heal in time. These tips are meant to act as time-consumers to alleviate the pain of a break-up. So, cheer up, because there really are plenty of fish in the sea. And I know it hurts now, but eventually you will look back at all of this and laugh.
When my three year relationship ended I was devastated. It took me about two months to get over her, and an additional eight months to find a new girlfriend. But that’s okay. You shouldn’t feel ashamed about not having a girlfriend or boyfriend. Instead, use the opportunity to work on yourself. Make new friends, work on personal goals, and play some damn video games guys! It takes work to be happy and to get over that long-term relationship, but when you finally do…you’ll wish it would happen again. No I’m just kidding! But honestly, at least you will be wiser from your experiences and you’ll know how to handle it if/when it happens again. And if you can’t recall the steps, you can always reread this article!
Also, be sure to leave comments below if you have any additional tips you wish to share. And as always, feel free to follow me and leave some feedback. Enjoy!
Which step sounds the most effective to you?
© 2012 Blake J Rudy