Unfortunately, the quest for love is not always smooth sailing. At some point, most of us will have to endure the heartache of a breakup. Whether you have been in a relationship for years or a few weeks, getting over your ex and moving on can be both a laborious and emotional process. During this time, it is important to remember that you need to take care of yourself and proactively move forward in a healthy direction.
- Manage your expectations. Most relationships were not built in a day, so it is unrealistic to presume that you can get over your ex overnight. Give yourself some time to work through your feelings. This is important because you will not be able to move on if you have not dealt with your past. If you are having trouble coping, reach out to your friends and family or seek counseling. If you are not in the mood to talk to others about your situation, write your thoughts down in a journal. Suppressing your feelings at this stage in the process can be unhealthy and can cause you more emotional strain later down the road.
- Accept that your relationship is over. You cannot move on with your life until you let your ex go. If you feel haunted by old photos and/or belongings, get rid of them. Stop communicating with your ex and resist the urge to respond to him/her. Try to avoid running into him/her around town and at social gatherings. The less you see your ex during this period of grieving, the better.
- Look on the bright side. Remember that there are positives to being single. Often, in relationships, we spend an extensive amount of time catering to the needs of our significant others and we forget about our own needs. Take this opportunity to focus on yourself and cater to your own needs.
- Stay busy. It is natural to feel lonely after a breakup. Instead of dwelling on what your ex is doing, make plans to hang out with your friends and family. This will help you to take your mind off your breakup for a while.
- Embrace new experiences and try new things. Whether you go camping, hiking, join a club, take a cooking class, learn to surf, or just make some new friends, you are creating new memories that don’t revolve around your ex. This will help you remember that you can live a happy, healthy life without him/her.
The Phases of Moving On
Once a divorce is finalized, you may decide to move on. Some people may also have family or friends that encourage or force them to move on. It must be noted, forcing oneself to move on can make it harder to recover, we outline some stages people may go through if they do force it. Even if your are ready to take the plunge, you may notice your actions in some of our phases.
- Bunny Hop - This phase can be seen just as a person starts divorcing or is finalizing their divorce and we call it the “bunny hop” phase, where the person hops from this to that. They may date different people, start internet dating, remove old friends and make new ones, travel, get a new job or try new jobs all together. This period can be necessary to understanding your new self and trying things you never would have before – which is healthy. The problem can substantiate if you never step out of this phase and grieve your marriage. Confronting your failed marriage and the pain or anxiety that comes from it is a necessary step to moving on.
- Wallowing - This stage is complicated. A recently divorced person has decided to grieve but life has just caught the better of them. Their new relationship ends, they can’t support themselves financially, they bounce from job to job for a significant amount of time, depression sets in and they feel nothing will ever get better. This stage of wallowing is where one can get stuck in cynicism and sullenness. Getting trapped here can be very lonely. Getting the right support, either through friends, family, therapists or joining new social groups can really help someone in this phase.
- Phoenix - Actually moving on is the phoenix phase, and the symbolism is certainly on purpose. Rising from the ashes of ones divorce having moved past both of the above phases – they have let go of their marriage, they have become self-motivating and accept themselves as a flawed person but forgive themselves for it. This self-realization is empowering and allows them to find their true self. This person is open to new love, never adventures and is happier for it. This doesn’t mean this person will never feel pain or sorrow again or that they won’t think about their divorce one morning and send those old emotions right back to the forefront, but this person has an easier time moving past those moments. One day they realize they haven’t thought about their ex or their marriage for some time -that alone offers comfort and relief.
Moving on isn’t an exact science. It’s a maze one needs to navigate on their own. Our phases above can be experienced in no particular order. Obviously, other factors such as co-parenting children can be a reminder that forces movement from phase to phase as well. In this instance, remember that children grow up at some point. Our takeaway is divorce is a journey that will end eventually and we encourage our clients or anyone going through one to take comfort in that.
There is much to prepare before filing for divorce. To learn what steps you should take before filing divorce, contact our firm and set up a consultation with an attorney.