So by now, you’ve decided that it’s time to let go of whatever relationship you’re in. Whether you’re being held back, you’ve just lost the magic, or you’re being disrespected… you’ve decided it’s time.

Now comes the hard part: Actually letting go. No matter how ready for it you are, it hurts like hell.

As someone who’s let go of her fair share of friends and lovers, I’ve picked up a few tips from both the Internet and therapy to help cope with this type of loss.

Allow yourself to grieve.

There is no shame in this, whether you’ve been with the person for years, months, or days. If you need to cry, just let it happen. Even if you’re the one initiating it, you’re saying goodbye to someone who was important to you for some length of time, and you not only need to respect that, but also, you need to respect yourself and your needs.

Find a lesson.

Think about this as “looking on the bright side.” It doesn’t matter what they did, or what you did, odds are there is something productive you can take away from this experience. Something you can learn. I personally have found this to be the most helpful way to accept what happened, and that it’s over.

If you’re having trouble figuring it out, ask a friend or someone you trust. Their third party perspective and knowledge of how you were prior to the relationship is likely to bring some great insight.

Focus on what you’re gaining.

My mom’s favorite quote is “Every time God closes a door, he opens a window.” Now, whether or not you subscribe to the religious aspect, this remains true: When something ends, it gives way for something new and wonderful to begin. It’s cliche for a reason; It’s true.

You may not be aware of the opportunities you’re gaining at first, but trust me, they’re there. Ask yourself what you can do, now that you’re no longer with that person and get excited for these new opportunities! Maybe it’s as simple as having more time to yourself or with your friends. If you feel like you can’t fathom what might happen, take a deep breath and embrace that uncertainty.

Set boundaries.

Boundaries get a bad reputation… often because many of us use them in the beginning stages of a relationship (guilty). However, when you’re trying to get over someone you’ve had a relationship with, boundaries are just what you need.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends down the road, but you don’t go from being in a romantic relationship with someone to being their “pal” in a split second, and you certainly don’t do it just because you’ve switch your relationship status to “single.” In order for you to maintain a healthy relationship in the future, you’re going to need to take some time apart.

Focus on yourself and your healing. Then, once you both have had your time to heal, you can revisit the idea of friendship.

Out of sight, out of mind.

For many of us, the first reaction to a break up is to throw away everything that the other person gave us, everything that reminds us of them.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is something strangely thereputic about getting rid of old t-shirts or burning letters… I’m not sure why. If that’s what you need to do, then by all means, do it.

Not all of us want to trash (or destroy) everything, though, and that’s ok too.

Let’s be honest: Us girls have tons of ex-sweatshirts in our closet (because they’re comfy AF). I know I do. Just make sure that if you’re keeping something, you store it away in what I like to call a “boyfriend (or girlfriend) box” for a while. Trust me, you don’t want to see it while you’re trying to heal.

Do something you love.

Something that will help release your emotions. For me, that’s usually writing or dancing… doing something creative. For others, maybe it’s running or singing or… whatever! We’ve all got our “things” that we do whenever shit hits the fan.

So whatever your thing is, focus your time and energy and feelings into that.

Trust yourself.

I will say this until I’m blue in the face. We all need to have faith and believe in ourselves.

Most of the time, we’re just pretending we do (unfortunately).

But when you’re trying to get past something and move on from someone, you need to focus on YOU and YOUR needs. You know yourself better than anyone, even your closest friends, so if you feel like you need a few nights in watching chick flicks with pizza and ice cream, then don’t let your bestie talk you into a weekend out, flirting with guys for drinks. You’ll just end up hungover and upset… or worse. And if you’re being pressured to go about the town or do anything you don’t feel ready for, you should feel empowered to tell them to back TF off and be supportive of what you need during this time, not what they THINK you need.

Remember that everyone grieves differently. 

Read this cool LifeHack article on letting go, and in my opinion, how to actually rely on yourself.

Forgive.

Easier said than done, right?

YUP. And what’s more, is I don’t just mean you need to forive the other person. Forgive yourself for any guilt you might have surrounding the relationship (how many times have we heard “I wish I’d never met him”?) and accept that you’re both only human. We fuck up sometimes, and the only way to fully get past that is to forgive everyone involved.

It takes time, but you’ll get there. When you do, I swear it’ll set you free.

Know when to ask for help.

Ending any relationship is going to be emotionally draining. The first few days and sometimes even weeks can seem to go on forever. Lean on your friends and family; You don’t need to do this alone.

Sometimes, it may take more than just a short time and your besties. If you’re really feeling like there’s no hope, you may want to consider counseling.

There is absolutely no shame in seeking professional help… take it from someone who’s been there… and has a shrink for a step-dad.

Don’t let the cost of therapy be an excuse, either. There are plenty of hotlines (literally, just do a Google search for “relationship hotline,” “depression hotline,” or throw local in there if you’re near a large city) that you can either call or text, and you can chat with someone who is trained to talk you through your issues and honestly… just listen.

My personal favorite is loveisrespect. Not only do they have a phone number to call, but they also have a number you can text as well as an Instant Messenger platform on-site (super handy if you’re in a situation where you can’t be on the phone or even texting…yes, I’ve used this at work). I’ve used every medium they offer, multiple times, and have yet to have a bad experience. They also have a great, interactive website with a slew of articles on healthy relationships and how to let go of those that aren’t healthy.

 

Giving up this piece of your life is bound to be tough, so just be patient with yourself and trust the process.

Not all love stories are lengthy sagas with happy endings. Some are short stories. Some are tragedies. No matter what your story was, just because it’s over doesn’t mean it was pure fiction. At the end of the day, just remember that you need to respect the story you had. The good memories. The issues. Everything. Letting go is difficult, but now you’ve got a fresh page and a new story to start. Forgive, and take that brave step out the door and on to your next adventure. 

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