How I Got Over a Broken Heart and Learned to Forgive Myself (and My Ex)

Updated on March 2, 2018

I'm Single Again on Valentine's Day, but This Time, It's Different

Today is Valentine's Day, so, Happy Valentine's Day! Or as my friend would say, "Happy Single's Awareness Day!" I'm fully aware, and thanks, Dawna! :)

I am honestly not trying to be sarcastic, but I think that a little self-deprecating humor, said with the best intentions (i.e. to uplift one's spirits and have a laugh) every once in a while is much better than sulking and dwelling on negative, unhelpful thoughts.

I have to be honest. I thought this year was going to be different. I thought, or more accurately, "hoped," that this year, I was actually going to celebrate Valentine's Day with my "special someone."

You see, a few months ago, I met a nice guy. He had a lot of the good qualities I am looking for, but long story short, it didn't work out.

Yes, of course, I'm sad and disappointed it didn't work out.

Yes, it sucks that I am alone again.

Yes, I miss the phone calls, the text messages, the company, and the "idea" or the "potential" of "us."

And yes, I have no date on Valentine's Day . . . again.

But, I can honestly say that I am single, and I am proud.

I am proud that for the first time, I chose to stay true to myself, that I believed in myself enough to know that I deserved better.

I am proud of myself for recognizing and accepting early enough in the relationship that we wanted different things and it did not seem it was going to go anywhere.

I am proud because I gave it my all, and have no regrets. I didn't hold anything back. I allowed myself to love with my whole heart and though it hurt, I survived it.

I'm okay. I'm more than okay.

I am finally . . . WHOLE.

I have not just found "me," but I believe that I am a better, stronger, happier, more "whole" version of me. And this is a BIG deal. It's HUGE.

Because now I know that I will be okay, and that my happiness is not dependent on whether I am in a relationship or not. Most importantly, I am no longer afraid to make decisions that significantly impact my life without procrastinating on them because I now know my worth and the value of my time.

I love myself and I respect myself.

I am still a work in progress.

I still have a lot of growing up to do and definitely a lot of things I need to learn as well as unlearn.

Actually, I really like the perspective the term "Single's Awareness Day" brings. Whether you are in a relationship or are currently single, having self-awareness or simply being "aware" is something to celebrate.

It's Worse to Be Lonely in a Relationship Than to Be Lonely on Your Own

Some of us are either in a hurry to be in love or are so tired of being alone that in the process of trying to find external love, we choose to get into relationships with our eyes half closed. We choose to be blind to the red flags while finding and even "feeling" something that simply isn't there. We stay in relationships for the wrong reasons. Most often, it's because we'd simply rather be with someone, anyone, even the wrong one, than be alone.

But how many of you have been in relationships, even long-term ones, feeling so alone and lonely the whole time while faithfully clinging onto the relationship and knowing that it really isn't going anywhere?

Today, celebrate Valentine's Day, or, if you prefer, "Single's Awareness Day," and celebrate yourself, celebrate freedom, and celebrate love.

How to Get Back to Reality If You're Regretting Breaking Up With Your Ex or Want to Get Back Together With Him

If you are single, have just recently gone through a breakup, or are re-considering the relationship you are in right now, you are probably dreading Valentine's Day.

This time of the year is also what some people refer to as the "Breakup Season." It starts right around Christmas time and it goes all the way up to Valentine's Day.

When you are in the process of healing from a broken heart, you tend to exaggerate everything.

You exaggerate how much your life sucks while magnifying how much everyone else's life "seems" to be "perfect." But is this really the case? Are single people really lonely and is every "couple" in love?

As strong as your desire is to run back to your ex, take a moment to ask yourself:

  • Whether the feelings were truly mutual.
  • Whether your partner put in as much effort to making the relationship work as you did.
  • What the "red flags" were that you had to constantly overlook and/or made excuses for.
  • Whether you felt respected and appreciated for who you are (alternatively, how many times did you feel disrespected, unimportant, or not a priority).
  • Whether your partner bring out the best or the worst in you?
  • What would you have advised your sister or your best friend if they were dating your ex? It is easier to give advice than to take advice, so it sometimes helps to visualize things from a third person's perspective.

You can survey all your friends and ask for their opinions, but the only validation that really counts is yours.

Before running back to your ex, take this time, use this day (Valentine's Day or Single's Awareness Day). Take the space and time you need to heal, to breathe, and to reflect on the relationship you really want. What does it look like?

How I Got Over My Breakup

My go-to relationship coach is Matthew Hussey, author of the New York Times bestseller "How to Get the Guy."

When my long-term relationship ended (and looking back now, I am SO GRATEFUL that it did!), transitioning back to the single life, going home to an empty apartment, and simply being alone by myself, was indescribably painful.

It wasn't so much about the fear of being alone, but more about the trauma of the abrupt change, a break in the routine I'd gotten used to with a person I once loved and who I (mistakenly and self-deceivingly) thought loved me back.

I knew very early on that this was not a healthy relationship, that he didn't respect me and that he was not someone I should have trusted. But my self-esteem was so low that the only thing I was sure of at the time was that I could not find anyone better, and so, I stuck around . . . for five years.

I stayed for the wrong but very common reason—I did not want to be alone.

The reality, however, was that being with the wrong person, with someone who neither loved nor respected me, was the loneliest and most alone I'd ever felt in my life.

This relationship was so wrong and so toxic that not only did I feel bad, I looked bad. I gained a lot of weight, looked much older, had bad skin, and even my hair was brittle and looked unhealthy.

A routine of five years is hard to break. I needed help.

I called friends, read books, joined support groups, started support groups, listened to podcasts, and watched YouTube videos.

I took this "in-between-relationships" time to not just heal my heart but heal ME. I lost ME and I needed to find ME again.

I cut my hair. I worked out. I ate healthier (with occasional indulgences). I moved to a new city. I needed a fresh start.

I worked on regaining my self-esteem and self-confidence. I kept a journal. I joined meetup groups. I took walks. I focused on ME.

I did not go looking for a relationship yet because I knew I wasn't ready. I needed time to reflect on the life I wanted to have, the kind of friends I wanted to keep in my life, the relationship I deserved, and the qualities in a partner I would allow in my life.

I needed time to be happy with myself and by myself.

I needed time to be happy alone.

And I it worked. I found ME again.

How to Define Your Relationship Standards

These are some of the questions that Matthew Hussey suggested women ask themselves when defining our relationship standards.

  • What do I want in the man I'm going to be with?
  • What standards do I have for this person, for their behavior, and for how they treat me?
  • What are my standards for the way he would be around my friends and family?
  • What are my standards for how they are in their energy, their politeness, and their level of generosity when they meet my family?
  • What are my standards for this person's level of chivalry? Do they open the door for me? Do they go out of their way to look after me?
  • What are my standards for their level of affection?
  • What are my standards for the amount of time that they will give me?
  • If I screwed up, how would I want him to react to my mistake?
  • If they make a mistake, if they did something that hurt me, how would I want them to react to it?

You can add to this list, but the point is to really take this time to reflect on your past relationships and the people you have been in relationships with to not only reflect on how you can be a better partner, but also, to reflect on your values and on what's important for you. As Matthew Hussey would put it, you should reflect on what your standards are in a relationship and in the person you are going to be with.

Time is the only resource we cannot recover. Do not waste any more of your precious time, energy, and heart with someone who does not meet your standards just because you don't want to be alone. It is the wrong reason to stay in a "relationship." It is a recipe for a broken heart and a life of sadness and loneliness.

My friend Dawna's Valentine's Day Chocolate-covered Strawberries
My friend Dawna's Valentine's Day Chocolate-covered Strawberries

How I Moved on and Forgave Myself (and Forgave Him)

A few years ago, I could have chosen to be bitter, to not trust men again, to guard and protect my heart so I don't risk getting hurt again and to just "eat my hurt away." Instead, I chose to give myself permission to indulge in many weeks of pity parties, several kilos of Cheetos Cheese Puffs, bags of M&Ms, a diet of medium-sized meat-lovers pizza, KFC, Chinese take outs, and re-watching Bridget Jones Diary a dozen times. I started to get a weird Asian-British accent!

I gave myself about a month and after that, I vowed to no longer talk about or even think about my ex (it was easier to not talk about him than not to think about him, I admit, but not talking about him helped speed up the healing process).

I've gone through three different counselors until I found one who I was compatible with and really helped me. After nine intense counseling sessions, I took a hard and objective look at my relationship and saw my ex for who he really was and how he treated me.

More healing. More forgiving (of myself).

I finally was able to go through all the five stages of the grieving process and got to the final stage: acceptance.

More healing. More forgiving (of myself and my ex).

The hardest part for me to accept was my role in it, on how I long I allowed myself to be treated badly, on the lies I successfully told and convinced myself to make in order to make the relationship more palatable.

A lot of healing. A lot of blaming (of myself—after all, I chose him and to stay with him) and more forgiving.

It took a lot of patience, but I was determined to work on myself first, specifically, on learning to love, respect, and accept myself.

I know it doesn't seem like it right now, but you will be able to move on, be ready to date again, and to love and fall in love again, or at least, to have a great time with someone and laugh again.

Dating and Dealing With Breakup Again. But This Time, It's Different.

When I was ready, I started dating. I met a nice guy who I felt attracted to, who made me laugh and to whom I felt connected with intellectually and even emotionally—at least at one point in our brief relationship.

Although the relationship didn't work out as I had hoped, I was grateful because I didn't hold anything back.

I allowed myself to feel attraction and to enjoy the relationship. As scared as I was to open my heart again, I took a chance. If I were to fully embrace life, I had to allow the full range of feelings that come with being in a relationship.

I was afraid to get hurt, but I was more afraid to live a life of regrets. With everything that I've learned in the past few years, I know I can survive hurt and heartache, but it is much harder to live with regrets.

You can't shut down pain without shutting your heart all together. There is simply so much more to life and love, and it's worth taking the risk.

My most recent relationship also made me realize that not only could I allow myself to fall in love again, but most importantly, I could also let go when I needed to let go because I knew I would be fine, and by choosing to let go, I was making myself available for the right person to come along.

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    • marialinacastro profile image
      Author

      Maria Lina Castro 3 months ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Hello dashingscorpio!

      Thanks very much for your comments and thoughts. I appreciate it. :)

      I hope that whoever reads this post gets that my "single and proud" comment was not about me not wanting to be in a relationship anymore but it was really more about working on myself so that not only willI be more ready when I meet someone again, I will also be okay no matter what because I have my own "internal well of happiness" to pull from.

      I think man or woman, we could always work on becoming better, happier, stronger and healthier versions of ourselves.

      I am striving to be in a much better and more stable place, and by "stable," I don't mean "jaded." It just means that I am strong and stable enough to feel hurt or sad, and get disappointed and know that I won't fall apart or allow self-defeating thoughts overcome me.

      I really appreciate your insights and perspective. I really LOVE what you said about "failing our way to success." I LOVE that so much! I think I will use that in my other articles! Wow... that's awesome! :)

      Love and pretty much every aspect of life is like that - you just have to keep trying and even when you fail, you still gain something - experience, wisdom, connections/new friendships, etc.

      Thank you also for the reminder that marriage should not be our goal. I agree with you completely! I think that marriage should be allowed to unfold more organically ast a natural progression of a relationship that has matured freely. Love that! Thanks dashingscorpio! :)

      Also, marriage is not "the final destination." Couples need to continuously work on and investing on themselves, each other and their relationship beyond marriage. I think marriage is another level in any relationship which requires new skills, experience, knowledge, and more "failing to success" efforts on both sides.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 3 months ago

      " I will be okay and that my happiness is not dependent on whether I am in a relationship or not." - Very true!

      The problem with most people is they do not have an actual "mate selection/screening process" or must haves list which they have the self discipline to stick to.

      Young people tend to pursue relationships before they have figured out who (they) are let alone know what they want and need in a mate for life.

      It's the equivalent of going shopping without a list!

      Secondly they're too immature to realize that they are "playing adult" without having the wisdom and life experience to approach dating with complete awareness.

      In the U.S. the average person loses their virginity around age 17. The average age of a first time bride is 27 and 29 for grooms. This means on average most people will have 10 years or more sexual experiences prior to getting married.

      Odds are very low anyone will find their "soulmate" in their teens.

      And yet it's during this period in our lives that most of us experience our "first love" the one where we're "all in".

      Our parents tried to warn us by telling us to just date for "fun" and focus on our studies but we ignored them. Many of believed we could maintain a long-distance relationship with our high school sweetheart while attending different universities for 4-6 years.

      We simply didn't know how unrealistic our expectations were!

      When it comes to love and relationships most of us (fail our way) to success. Very few people hit a homerun their first, second, third, or fourth time up at bat. If this were not the case we'd all be married to our high school sweethearts!

      If one simply focuses on dating and having fun while being happy with them self everything will work out.

      No one should have a relationship or marriage as a "goal". What should happen is "the person" you're dating is the reason why you're suddenly having thoughts about becoming "exclusive" or getting married!

      In other words things {evolved or progressed} in that direction.

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