Moving On After A Breakup (Even When It Seems Impossible)

So, you broke up… now what?

Whether we find ourselves at the end of a "situationship" or a long-term relationship, it all feels very painful. In fact, we spend weeks after the breakup wondering where we went wrong and questioning if we will ever feel ready to move on.

Eventually, though, the dust settles, our heart begins to heal, and we long to find a partner to connect with once again.

Yet oftentimes, we second guess ourselves and feel overwhelmed by the idea of putting ourselves out there again even months after we part ways with our former love.

If you just went through a breakup, you may feel like nothing will ever be right again. You may feel heartbroken and convinced that you’ll never find love again. Trust me, I’ve been there, so I know firsthand just how awful it feels to experience heartbreak.

However, with some solid advice and a nudge in the right direction, you can start moving on after your breakup and, in time, find love again.

How long should you wait to move on with a different person?

While you may want a timeline to help you count down until you can start dating again, most experts say it doesn’t really work that way.

In fact, New York-based relationship expert Susan Winter claims that it’s more about how you feel versus how long it’s been since the breakup.

According to Winter, “If you’re still in pain, obsessing about your ex, or suffering from emotional whiplash, you’re not ready to date.”

While we can sometimes bounce back from a breakup quickly, other times, it can take us months to fully heal.

This doesn’t mean that you need to erase your ex from your memory to move on completely. Instead, Winter offers this:

“The best post-breakup dating is done when you’ve accepted the fact that your ex is an ex for a good reason.” 

In other words, you should first evaluate the former relationship and fully learn from what went wrong before you move forward with someone new.

You must recover, regain your confidence, and feel ready to reenter the dating world.

“If you’re reactive, fearful, hurting, or moody from heartache, you’re not ready to bring someone new into your life,” then Winter says you are probably not ready.

But if you find yourself excited by the idea of meeting someone new or creating a new dating profile, then you’re ready.

However, if you’re looking for a specific timeline, then consider this piece of advice from Dr. Paulette Sherman, also known as The Relationship Doctor:

“Most people need a month or two to process the breakup, to mourn, and to integrate lessons before jumping back in if they were in a fairly serious relationship.

If you dated someone for a year or more, you may need three to four months.”

How can I stop missing my ex?

As Susan Winter said, we must stop missing our ex and break out of the cycle of grief before we can move on. So, how do we stop missing our ex after an emotional breakup? Psychologist Dr. Sherrie Campbell actually claims that you can stop missing your ex with seven basic rules.

1. Be Patient With Yourself

Finding yourself after a breakup requires time, which means it’s important to remain patient with yourself as you process the breakup and, ultimately, heal your broken heart. This looks different for everyone, so don’t hold yourself to a specific timeline.

2. Work Through Confusion

Breakups often leave us feeling conflicted. We question ourselves and often look for ways to blame ourselves for the events leading up to the end of the relationship. 

Before you can truly move on from a breakup and stop missing your ex, you must work through all of that confusion and stop allowing your ex to take up so much space inside your head.

3. Identify Silver Linings

While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the grief after a breakup, it’s important to push yourself to instead focus on what you gained from your ex and the positives that came with the breakup. 

You grow from each relationship with the self-awareness you gain, so take time to find the silver linings.

4. Remove Reminders

One of the easiest ways to stop thinking about your ex is by removing any reminders from your life. Delete old messages from your phone, take down pictures of you together, and unfollow them on social media. Removing these reminders will help you think about them less.

5. Stay Busy

The hardest times right after a breakup are often the ones when we are alone with our thoughts. You can reduce the amount of time you spend with your thoughts if you stay busy as much as possible. 

Consider a new hobby, community service, or even just journaling or yoga. You’ll be surprised how little you find yourself thinking of your ex when you keep yourself occupied.

6. Socialize

Many of us lose touch with friends and family when we get involved in a serious relationship. However, you can bounce back from your breakup much sooner if you jump right back into your old social circle. Don’t stay tucked away in bed; get out there and live!

7. Hit The Gym

Everyone knows that physical activity can help us work through even the most stressful times. Exercise not only releases endorphins, but it can also help you burn off your feelings of anger and pain.

woman crying after relationship ended

Does the no contact rule work?

In case you aren’t familiar with it, The No Contact Rule essentially means that you don’t call, text, or message your ex for any reason after the breakup.

Additionally, some people go so far as to not talk to any mutual friends about the breakup as well.

While this rule requires a lot of willpower and personal restraint to put into practice, many people say it’s an extremely powerful tool to help you move on after a breakup.

First and foremost, the No Contact Rule helps you learn that you can, in fact, live without your ex after a breakup. What’s more, it helps you rebuild your self-esteem and regain your independence.

Most importantly, though, cutting off contact saves you from trying to rekindle the romance immediately after the breakup or desperately cling to your ex.

It lets you put the pieces of your life back together and gain a fresh perspective on what it is you really want in a relationship.

If you’re ready to try the No Contact Rule or just want more information on how it work, relationship experts from Love Advice TV have compiled a video that explains the entire process along with common mistakes to avoid.

How long should "no contact" last?

Just like any other aspect of a breakup, timelines on implementing the No Contact Rule vary from person to person.

However, most experts provide recommendations on duration based on your situation and goals.

For most people, relationship expert and author Nick Bastion says that most people need at least four solid weeks of no contact to start to process the breakup.

Anything less than that doesn’t provide enough time for you or your ex to gain perspective on the breakup.

If your ultimate goal is to move on and heal completely, therapist and relationship expert Brian Tomasio recommends that you use the No Contact Rule for a minimum of six months. 

Inversely, if you hope that a period of no contact will help you rekindle the spark that once existed, relationship coach Lee Wilson says that you should reach out if your ex hasn’t tried to contact you within four to six weeks.

What should I do if my ex tries to come back after no contact?

While you process the breakup, your mind will likely find interesting ways to rationalize why you should contact your ex. Even if you have the willpower to resist, your ex may not.

In fact, as your ex recovers from the breakup and starts to miss you, there’s a good chance that they will reach out to you.

However, it’s ultimately up to you to decide the best way to proceed and keep the odds in your favor if your ex tries to reconnect with you after a period of no contact.

You must first look at where you are in the healing process and decide if responding is in your best interest. This can look different from person to person.

If you don’t want your ex to feel ignored but aren’t yet ready to reestablish communication, be honest with them.

Let them know that you’re working on improving your life and working towards healing. After this, express what you need and stand firm on the boundary you would like to set.

If you
don’t feel like you handled the breakup very well and communicating with your ex could stir up complicated emotions, then ignoring them might actually be the best option for you. 

This allows you the space to continue healing and also sends the message that you are over them.

Ultimately what you decide to do if your ex reaches out is up to you. However, most experts recommend that you keep any communication with your ex brief.

What should I do if I'm still hurting years later?

While we all know that healing a broken heart takes time, there are times when it feels like it’s taken too long to move on after a breakup.

However, there are some very specific reasons you could still be hurting even years after you and your ex split up.

According to a research study completed by psychologists at Stanford University, your self-esteem and self-image could ultimately be what’s holding you back from moving on.

Often times, we internalize the rejection that comes from a breakup, and this hurts our self-image.

This is why many experts stress the importance of putting yourself first immediately after a breakup. 

However, if you still feel rejected and scared to move on months or years after a breakup, then it’s time to seek professional help.

Find a therapist who can help you process grief and rebuild your self-esteem so that you can eventually move on.

What To Remember

I know that heartache is a heavy burden to bear. However, I also know that regardless of what caused your relationship to end, you are a strong and capable person who will find the courage to move on when the time is right.

Remember that there’s no specific timeline you’re required to follow after a breakup.

There’s also no rule about how long you have to wait to move on. What’s most important is that you listen to your heart and follow your feelings every step of the way as you move on.

Once you stop missing your ex and the pain inside your chest lessens, then you’ll know it’s time to put yourself out there and start the exciting process of finding someone new.

Remember that you are worthy of a love that lasts, an amazing love that makes you feel happy and puts butterflies in your stomach.

Although breakups suck, know that you will eventually find your forever partner and move forward from your ex and finally feel at peace.