Moving on from an ex feels impossible because you’re mourning the death of not only your hopes, dreams, the person you knew, and everything your ex and the relationship represented, but you’re mourning these deaths as your ex lives and breathes – in a life that seems so much better now that you’re not in it.
There are few things in life more painful than a loved one physically dying. But due to the finality of physical death (for example, you may believe that the spirit lives on, but it’s indisputable that the physical body is not subject to resurrection), we are able to finally, accept what is.
Certainty opens the gates of acceptance (which is necessary to truly move on) post-breakup.
Uncertainty keeps you locked in a limbo of reality-doubting madness.
Breakups are a death that, just like physical death, we don’t want to accept. And because there are so many things out there that can mess with our levels of certainty (seeing them “thriving” on social media, active on dating apps, etc.), our relationship with acceptance is unable to solidify.
One minute we are certain that we won their absence and they lost us; the next minute we are convinced that we’ll never find anyone as incredible as them.
This makes moving on from your ex seem impossible, self-blame probable, and desperation the only certain thing.
Even if deep down, you’re certain that your ex isn’t capable of an adult, reciprocal relationship, you see all of these things on social media that negate everything you thought you knew! They’re living their best life and doing everything that they only carrot-dangled the possibility of with you.
What can you do at this point other than blame yourself?
Why are you always a better “preparer” than you are a partner (to a now “irreplaceable” ex)?
Will you ever feel good enough?
I’ve written about letting go and moving on extensively. But I wanted to create a quick and simple, straightforward, no B.S. guide that you can refer back to if you’re struggling to move on from an ex.
How to Move On From an Ex in 5 Steps
Every day, I talk to people all around the world who are struggling in figuring out how to move on from an ex. Here are the five most powerful and impactful steps you can take:
1. Feel Your Feelings (And Allow Your Emotions to Identify What You’re Dealing With).
The first step in knowing how to move on from an ex is to acknowledge and accept your feelings. Do not try to fight, suppress, numb, or avoid your emotions. One of my favorite quotes: “Strangely, life gets harder when you try to make it easy. Exercising might be hard, but never moving makes life harder. Uncomfortable conversations are hard, but avoiding every conflict is harder. Mastering your craft is hard, but having no skills is harder. Easy has a cost.” – James Clear.
It’s normal to feel devastated, angry, spiteful, confused, competitive, or even relieved after a breakup. Learn about the different stages of a breakup. Give yourself permission to grieve and really feel your emotions, but always stay on your White Horse. Do not let your emotional triggers, loneliness, and desperation dictate your actions. (If you’ve already fallen off your White Horse, get back on).
As you’re feeling your way through your emotions, allow those emotions to prove to you whether or not your ex is toxic. If your ex is not toxic, YES, the breakup will still hurt. But you will have clarity because there was clear communication. You won’t feel like you need closure from them in order to emotionally breathe. You will both be respectful of each other’s boundaries and focused on yourselves, as opposed to reaction-mongering. With exes who are not toxic, you won’t be questioning why you weren’t “good enough” for basics like respect, honesty, care, communication, love, and mutuality.
I define a toxic person as, “anyone who gets validation by exploiting your hunger for theirs.“
Toxic people are inconsistent. They love promising a future to get current needs met and red flags excused. They will pedestal you to heights you’ve never been before and then, de-pedestal you to the point that you question your value as a human being and sometimes, your need for being on this planet.
The cost of being in a relationship with a toxic person is always, everything you can never afford to lose: your self-esteem, your standards, and your mental health (sometimes your finances as well). They may also isolate you from certain friends and family members of yours who they know can see right through them.
If your ex is toxic, please read or listen to my book, Win Your Breakup: How To Be The One That Got Away, for further help and support. If your ex is not toxic, there is an incredible guest post on this blog about losing the love of your life. Either way, read on…
2. The Most Crucial Step in Knowing How to Move On From an Ex? Cut Contact.
If you want to know how to move on from an ex, this step is crucial. Cut off all access that they have to you, period. Delete their number, unfollow (or block) them on social media, and do not hang out with their friends. Unfollow their friends too. This is not only to eliminate the possibility of them contacting you (which will mess with your levels of certainty and delay healing) but also, to prevent YOU from contacting and checking up on them.
Breakups are not games, and I don’t give tactical advice. But they can feel like one with social media igniting your competitive nature and making you want to prove that you’ve moved on faster. A breakup is the only “game” that you win through withdrawal. You win by giving up on catering to your ego because you’re in a committed relationship with reality. Amateur hour games are exhausting and the immediate satisfaction never outweighs the long-term embarrassment and regret.
No Contact is a time for YOU to heal, gain perspective, and prioritize your peace.
If you work together or have kids together, you need to cut emotional contact. Focus ONLY on the work, your kids, whatever it is that’s connecting you, and that is IT.
Take it minute by minute, until you can day it hour by hour.
And eventually, day by day.
3. Stop Trying to “Let Go.”
When trying to figure out how to move on from an ex, you need to stop trying to “let go.”
If you feel like you need to “let go” and are struggling with it, start with acceptance. It’s too big of a leap to just “let go” immediately – especially when your heart is involved. They don’t have the power they used to have over you because you’ve built personal power. You let go when you need to because you accept what you have to.
Even if it hurts, the truth will always set you free.
4. Focus on the Things You Can Control.
Take complete control over the few things in this life that you have control over, and you’ll stop putting all your happiness, worth, and healing in the hands of your ex (and external circumstances that you cannot control).
What do you have complete control over?
- How much you move your body.
- What you put in your body.
- How you choose to react when emotionally triggered.
Whenever I’ve been obsessed with controlling the uncontrollable, that’s when I’ve been the most out of control in my own head, heart, and life.
The ability for me to tunnel-vision focus has come from certainty. I am one hundred percent CERTAIN that you have complete control over the three bullet points above.
The time is now to prove it to yourself.
Build progress that you become protective of instead of a mental database that watches over every aspect of your ex’s social media life. This is where self-respect and healing start (that no one can ever take away from you) and relational mediocrity ends. Remember, we are ultimately attracted to relationships that mirror the one we have with ourselves.
Don’t ever forget that you have complete control over THAT sacred relationship. You will be in it for the rest of your life.
5. Relieve Emotional Constipation
There was an old yogic proverb I once heard that went something like, “When you can’t move the mind, move the body and the mind will follow.”
When you can’t emotionally flush, you need to physically flush. The emotions will eventually follow.
Before you judge what I’m about to say, please keep in mind that it’s harmless; much healthier than picking up the phone, a drink, or a drug. And it’s extremely gratifying. It’s also funny and laughter really is the best medicine. It doesn’t hurt anyone and it’s private. You can do it anywhere.
Unless you are in a hurry, every time you go to the bathroom, I want you to write your ex’s name on a piece of toilet paper with a marker. Then, throw it in the toilet, do your business over it, and FLUSH.
This doesn’t just work for exes. It’s also great for coworkers, family members, and fake friends.
Written by: Natasha Adamo