One of the things I get asked a lot is how to move on. Here is the first draft of my Moving On chapter in the Happy Endings Section of my Relationship Book
Letting go of the past
For many people one of the hardest things when a relationship transitions is to move on and let go of the past. Humans tend to live in our past and our future and forget that the most power and satisfaction comes from living in the present. How do we do that, when we are in the midst of transitioning from a relationship to hopefully a friendship? It’s easy to want to dwell here. Rehashing all the good or the bad. Guess what? It won’t change anything. It’s just going to make you miserable.
Find one good friend that you can vent to about anything and use them as your “past regret” friend. When shit comes up, call them. And the most you can vent is for five minutes (which to your friend may feel like forever). Then stop. ( I used to set a timer for myself when I caught myself feeling sorry for myself over relationship transitions. For ten minutes, I was supposed to wallow in self-pity and do nothing else. After three or four minutes, I’d start laughing.)
When you find yourself mired in the past, stop and think about all the good things in the present. No matter how crappy you feel there will be good things out there if you just look. Take the time to write them down, so you can revisit them when you’re feeling stuck.
Be forgiving of yourself and the other person. We all make mistakes and we all grow and move in different ways. Seldom is there truly a “bad guy” when relationships transition. Usually we grow apart or our lives take sudden twists and the relationship is no longer what it was. And sometimes that means moving on. Being able to forgive yourself for what seems to be your part in this, is the first step. Forgiving them is the next. Human beings make mistakes and you and your partner are humans. Don’t make them into an evil person or a hero.
Take time apart.
Usually one of the people involved hopeful that there will be some sort of reconnection and that everything will go back to normal. That seldom happens. I’m a huge advocate of staying friends if at all possible when you transition out of a relationship. The best way to do that is to take time to be apart. If both of you are in agreement, set a date for lunch or coffee at least two months into the future. Then meet and check-in with each other.
Of course, if there are kids involved or other things that require you to interact then a different tactic will be needed. The best thing to do in these circumstances is to have only contact as necessary and to take even a few more months before that solo lunch date.
Nothing is forever
We get caught up sometime in the fairy tales of relationships and when they are over, we feel like a failure because we didn’t find “the one”. Which means we negate all the good of the relationship and act as if we’ve wasted our time on the one that just “failed”. You didn’t fail, you lived. And living has its ups and its downs.
Nothing is forever and we need to remember that the impermanence of life is what gives us a reason to live and explore and to celebrate. Instead of looking at the future with dread, look at it as the next adventure.
Every relationship brings you gifts. Even the worst relationships bring you gifts if you take the time to look at them. Acknowledge the gifts that you received.
Celebrate your awesomeness (which is what attracted the former partner in the first place). Know that you are whole and complete just the way you are. That while you may want someone else in your life, you don’t need them.
Don’t rush into a new relationship.
No matter how tempting, don’t start a new relationship for a while. This is time to go through the grief process and to spend time on yourself. Hang out with good friends. Volunteer places. Stay busy. Just don’t start anything new for a few months if not longer. If you do, you may start comparing them to the former partner or put aside some of your relationship requirements because you feel desperate or unloved. Take your time.