(excerpt from It’s A Breakup, Not A Breakdown)
When you’re going through a breakup people want to give you a lot of advice. Some of it is useful. If I told you there was only one thing you had to do to get over your breakup, would you do it?
Think about that for a minute. You have to do only one thing, and you’re guaranteed to get over the pain of your breakup that much quicker. This one thing will make all the difference, not only in how you handle the breakup but also in how quickly you move on. Sounds too good to be true? It’s not! And that’s what’s so fabulous about it. It is time-tested, practically foolproof.
Are you ready? Here it is. All you have to do to ensure an easier post-breakup recovery is this: Stop thinking about your ex.
Now I know what you might be thinking — I’ve just asked you to do the impossible. But I haven’t, and that’s the brilliance of the secret weapon! When I told you to stop thinking about your ex, I didn’t mean you could never have another thought about him. That would be practically impossible. What I meant was that the key to getting through your breakup as smoothly as possible is to put the focus on you — your healing and your new life, not on your ex and his new life. The sooner you let go of wondering where he is, who he’s with (stop that!), and what he’s doing, the sooner you’ll be able to move on.
But here’s the catch (and I think it’s equally fabulous!): Only you have the power to do this. If you give yourself permission here and now — and I mean today — to let go of your ex and move on from this breakup, you will do it. And six months from now, just imagine where you’ll be.
Reasons why you might not want to let go
If the idea of letting go of your ex excites you, congratulations! You’re extraordinarily brave and bold and ready to move on. And you’re free to skip over this next part. However, if the idea completely terrifies you, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re perfectly normal. Walking away from a significant other, even after a breakup, may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.
The following is a list of reasons why you might be resisting the need to let go. Once we pinpoint the reason, we can identify your breakup persona and figure out how to let go and move on for good.
You still love him
Plain and simple, you’re still in love with your ex. Take heart, my friend. You’re not the first fab female — and you definitely won’t be the last — to harbor feelings for an ex. Your breakup persona is the Hopeless Romantic. The good news is that you’ll definitely find love again. And with the right guy, your heart will be in good hands. A word of caution, though — Hopeless Romantics have a tendency to hold on to relationships long after they’re over. And in doing so, you just might run into your ex’s new girlfriend. Double ouch! Walk away, Hopeless Romantic, while your dignity’s still intact.
You’re worried about him
Are you worried about how Mr. Ex will function without you? Worried that his fragile state has been made more so by the breakup? You’re not alone. Your breakup persona is the Caretaker. Let’s be clear — there’s nothing wrong with taking care of someone (as long as it’s the right someone). But if you’re a magnet for every stray guy who’s out there, you’re in for a lifetime of romantic pain and suffering. And Caretakers beware — ex-boyfriends are notorious for taking advantage of your good nature. D.N.R. (do not resuscitate).
You’re not sure it’s really over
Are you still holding out hope that your relationship isn’t totally over? Do you have lots of unanswered questions and find yourself regularly asking Why? Do these unanswered questions paralyze you, making it impossible to move on? Your breakup persona is the Crime Scene Investigator. CSIs tend to linger too long at the breakup scene. They may even muddy the evidence by going back and sleeping with their ex after all is said and done. But this only leads to more questions, and it’s risky behavior to be avoided at all costs. If you’re a CSI, the best thing you can do for your heart is accept that not all of your questions will be answered and give yourself permission to move on anyway.
You’re afraid no one else will come along
This is probably the most dangerous breakup belief of all because it sells you and your fabulousness completely short! If you feel this way, your persona is the Pessimist. Pessimists tend to settle for less than they deserve in relationships because they haven’t fully discovered their own magnificence. They gravitate toward relationships with people they think can help them or make them happy. But the only person who can ultimately make you happy is — you guessed it — you! If you’re a Pessimist, the best thing you can do post-Big Breakup is take some much-needed time for self nurturing, focus on fixing the cracks in your self-esteem and learn to love yourself as you are. (And stay very far away from your ex!)
Your biological clock is tick, tick, ticking
Afraid to let go of your ex because your biological clock is ticking away like a time bomb? If you think that time is running out on your chance to get married or have a baby, then your breakup persona is Chicken Little. The good news is that just like Chicken Little, not only is the sky not falling, but you are not running out of time. Just look around and you’ll see that women are getting married and having babies well into their forties. And don’t forget, adoption and surrogacy are fantastic alternatives to good old-fashioned pregnancy. The thing I always remind my fab female friends is that if you want to get married, all you have to do is go out there and find some guy who’s looking to get married, too. There’s no guarantee you’ll be happy, but you will be married. Instead, why not set your sights on a more satisfying goal, like creating a happy life for your single self? You’re much more likely to attract a healthy and happy partner if you’re healthy and happy on your own. In the meantime, a word of caution: Ex-boyfriends love to prey on Chicken Little’s paranoia. Don’t give in (and don’t give up — you’re far too fabulous for that!).
Deciphering your breakup persona
The good thing about identifying your breakup persona is that it helps you better understand why you might not want to move on from your ex. It also helps you better understand how you handle a breakup. And now that we’ve identified where you might be having trouble in your post-breakup recovery, we can talk about why it’s still time to move on.
Fact: Like it or not, your relationship is over.
Fact: You don’t have to know Why to move on (so stop making yourself crazy!).
Fact: The sooner you accept the breakup, the sooner you’ll move on (and you deserve to move on!).
Ultimately, you have a choice. It’s up to you. In six months, do you want to still be thinking about your ex and possibly his new girlfriend, or do you want to be living and loving your new life, with nothing but a fleeting thought of your ex and an afterthought of Thank God? Only you know the answer, but I hope you’ll make the decision that has your best interests at heart. For additional breakup resources, visit www.BreakupChronicles.com to share your breakup stories, meet other breakup survivors in the online community, and shop for inspiring, insightful, and/or celebratory t-shirts, journals and more in The Breakup Shop.
Lisa Steadman, a.k.a. The Relationship Journalist is an accomplished relationship writer, speaker, and coach. She is the site creator of BreakupChronicles.com featuring stories of how breaking up with the wrong person is the right thing to do (and always leads to bigger and better opportunities in life – including meeting Mr. or Ms. Right!). Her first book It’s a Breakup, Not a Breakdown: Get over the Big One and Change Your Life – for Good! is available at The Savvy Gal Store.