How To Move On
"He’s just not that into you." "She said she just sees us as friends." "We’re going in different directions in life." "He wasn’t interested." "She didn’t see a future with us." "He wanted kids, and I didn’t." "She’s interested in someone else." "There’s no spark there." I once read “Dating: either you get married or you break up. No pressure.” While quite the shocking statement, it’s pretty funny and true. Most of your dating relationships are going to end in a breakup. In fact, all but one of them will. That’s okay and it’s normal. But just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. Some breakups feel worse than others making you think you did something wrong. Dating is one of the things in life that can hurt worse the better you get at it. It means you cared about the relationship and were invested. Good. Good for you. It’s better to give your heart an opportunity to find love rather than keep it locked away due to fear of possible pain. Good for you.
When it comes to rejection and heartbreak, I’m not a rookie. I humbly suggest these tools from the trenches, not from a textbook. I’ve been here more times than I’d like to admit, but I celebrate each of them because I lived, went for it, and got the necessary healing afterward to be able to go again. While there’s a myriad of stories and circumstances that have led to your specific ending of the relationship, here are a few overall principles I’ve found that may help. Remember, "Rejection is never a reflection of your value." - Andrea Alley
ADMIT IT WAS SOMETHING.
Whether you were engaged for a year, you just went on 3 dates, or you never “dated” but were in a pseudo-relationship that you can’t officially recognize as a relationship, admit it was something. If it hurts now, then it mattered to you. It was a fun time, great learning experience, and source of joy. It happened. It existed, it was fun, and now ...it sucks because it’s over. It’s okay to admit it to yourself.
GIVE IT TO GOD.
Not to sound overly religious, but this is paramount in your process. It’s being very honest with God about what you’re thinking and feeling. Say it out loud or write it down, but don't keep the thoughts inside. When you finish being honest, then listen to what He has to say. In this, you are giving up your ability (and what many of us often believe is our right) to control or determine the outcome of the breakup. Ask God to lead you through the process and take care of what you need and what the ultimate outcome will be. Everything you do from here on out is with God in communion with His comforting Spirit (John 14:26; Romans 8:26).
ASK YOUR HEART WHAT IT NEEDS.
If you’re not used to asking your heart what it needs, this could be a whole new world of discovering what’s going on inside of you. It’s great practice for overall emotional health (not just after a breakup). Ask your heart what it needs. It will let you know when you need to talk it out and be heard, need a good cry, need to laugh, need a hug, or need to unplug from the seriousness of it all for an evening.
WATCH WHAT YOU REACH FOR.
Asking your heart what it wants is for its health, recovery, and growth; it’s not to numb the pain and pretend it isn’t happening. Distracting yourself from dealing with the pain is what we call “self-medicating.” You can go to food for comfort, binge-watch Netflix to zone out, watch porn to feel powerful and wanted, or throw yourself into work to feel successful and worthy. Self-medicating isn’t helpful; it only prolongs the pain and pushes the hurt further down. When you feel yourself wanting to ignore the pain, stop, thank God for self-awareness, then ask God and your heart what you really need and how to get it. Take steps to get that need met in a healthy way.
SURRENDER THE WHY.
Man, this is probably the hardest part and where I think we get stuck the most. Why didn’t it work out? There are more reasons for breakups than there are stars in the sky: Maybe it was fear on her end. Maybe there was father wounds on his end. Maybe there just wasn’t a spark. Maybe it’s not the right timing. Maybe it just felt "off" to him/her.
I don’t always know why, but I do know while we’re in pain searching, the devil likes to talk. “It’s probably because you’re not pretty enough, too fat, too tall, not strong enough, not manly enough. There’s probably another woman. It’s because you’re too needy, too self-sufficient, too nice, too ….something.” I know the devil just likes to point the finger and degrade us. I also know the Holy Spirit is our promised Comforter. And I know scripture tells us He is near to the broken-hearted (Psalms 147:3). It doesn’t say He corrects and rebukes the broken-hearted, it says He heals them. Sure, we all have issues that need work, but God is not going to be correcting your mistakes and shaming you in the middle of heartbreak. He’s a kind Father who comforts you and leads you out. He’ll address your issues when it’s time, but not when you’re brokenhearted at His feet needing comfort.
Instead of asking why it didn’t work out or what I’m lacking, I like to ask God “what does my wife have that this person doesn’t have?” It allows me let go of her and the why with no condemnation towards her, then gain hope, and stretch towards His future plans for me.
BREAK UP WITH YOUR DREAMS, IDEALS, AND SOUL TIES.
You need to make a clean break - make it a solid no. Either due to uncertainty or insecurity, we can tag on a phrase at the end of our break up to soften the blow. “It’s over...for now.” “It’s not going to work out...but maybe in the future?” In reality, it just leads to false hope and leave us hanging on for longer than we should. No more maybe-one-days. Despite what they may have said, solidify in your heart that it's not going to happen.
No matter which side of the breakup you were on, you probably had made dreams and plans with this person in your head and heart. Although it’s painful, you’ll need to let go of and mourn those trips, dates, events, and other plans that won’t be happening.
In a similar manner, he or she is not your ideal anymore and you need to break up with them as your ideal. They are no longer your standard you’re comparing other people to. Instead of every girl not being as pretty, or funny, or caring as your ex, you need to give other people permission to be themselves. What I try to do is see people as different flavors. One flavor is not better or worse than another, but they’re just different and I can expect and enjoy different things out of them. This allows each person to be themselves and enjoyed for who they are rather than a hierarchy of how they compare.
A soul tie is a deep emotional bond created through intimacy. While it does happen during sex, it doesn’t have to be created through physical intimacy. After a breakup, you can break any of those ties you made. Simply say “God, I break all soul ties with _________ I made intentionally or unintentionally. I release them from anything they owe me and ask you to release me from them. I give back anything I took from them and take back anything they took from me. Bless them and me as we move on with our lives.” Done. Doesn’t have to be complicated.
GIVE IT TIME AND SPACE.
Time is NOT the healer of all things. If you’re waiting for time to heal your heart, you’ll end up two years down the road, still hurt, and now bitter about the whole ordeal. Taking time away from him/her is a great idea though. Take as long as you need to be with friends, feel the pain, work through the broken dreams and get hope again. How long do you need? As long as you need. Don’t feel like you “should be over it by now.” When you’re able to think about or talk to that person without your heart fluttering, then you can be friends.
Oh, and P.S. You don’t have to be friends afterward. Yes, it would be great, but depending on how the relationship went, it may not be a good idea to be friends again. That’s okay. Take as much time as you need. It's also SUPER helpful to let the other person know "I just need some time. Let's take a break from talking/texting/hanging out/ messaging, etc. That would really help me."
In the same way, be kind to yourself. Don’t be on their Facebook or Instagram. Stop texting them all the time. Give your heart some space breathe. No, you don’t need to check on their mom or how their trip went. They’ll be okay. Rom-coms are great (not-so-secretly love them), but they’re not your best friend right now. It’s time for you to start a new chapter and the first page doesn’t have to have romance or your ex on it.
Each situation, relationship, and therefore breakup is unique. Don’t force yourself to make it look a certain way. Don’t run from the pain, but don’t unnecessarily sit in it forever. Surround yourself with people who love you and will encourage you. Get what you need, feel all the feels, and move on to a whole, full life. Although it hurts now, celebrate the fact you gave love a chance. You gave yourself permission to dream and try, and it just didn’t work out this time. It’s okay. The pain isn’t forever and in the end, it is all worth it. Good job living and going for it.