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Experiences

Letting Go of the One You Thought You’d Love Forever

When my two-year relationship ended, I was totally fine with it. I had expected weeks of tears, sleepless nights, and pain, but all I felt at the time was serenity. Fast forward two months, the pain had grown significantly. After finding out my ex had a new girlfriend, my peaceful state of mind was replaced with sadness, anger, and resentment. I started harbouring negative feelings toward him and as a result, stopped my healing process dead in its tracks. 

Letting go of someone you once loved with all your heart is a very difficult thing to do. When my ex told me he had a new girlfriend and didn’t love me anymore, my stomach dropped. Sure, I was over the relationship and had no intention of ever getting back together with him, but it still stung. I’ve never been one to fall into the “who won the breakup” mindset, but the idea of him moving on so quickly didn’t sit too well with me. But, after getting over the initial shock from this news, I decided that I finally needed to let him go for good. Here are the stages I went through to help me heal:

No contact period (including social media!)

The no contact period is well known but, in my opinion, under-appreciated. I didn’t block my ex right away when we ended our relationship because I didn’t think I needed to. And honestly, a part of me still wanted him in my life, even if it was just on Instagram. But every time he posted, liked one of my photos, or even watched my stories, I started hurting all over again. By blocking him, deleting his phone number, and putting an end to our sporadic text conversations, I started getting used to not having him in my life. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a popular phrase that holds true. If you want to let go of someone completely, you can’t continue keeping tabs on them via social media. 

Mourning the loss

Obviously, my ex isn’t actually dead. But in a way, he is. Your ex will most likely act differently toward you after a breakup than they did before. Whether they’re cold, distant, rude, or mean, they often seem like a completely different person once you’re not together anymore. It’s definitely a strange feeling to see your ex in a new light, but it’s important to realize that they are no longer the same person you fell in love with. After our breakup, I went to seek closure from my ex. That was a big mistake. He wasn’t the same person I fell in love with anymore, and as a result, couldn’t give me the closure I so desperately wanted. I ended up feeling worse than before, but the experience helped me realize that I needed to mourn the loss of my ex as if I were mourning a death.

Forgiveness

Forgiving someone who hurt you badly is really difficult. Anger can often cloud your judgement, and sadness sometimes feels impossible to overcome. For me, forgiveness was a necessary step to move on. Of course, I was hurt by a lot of things my ex did to me throughout our relationship and beyond, but I had to find a way to move past the breakup and prevent it from consuming my thoughts. Staying mad at my ex was, frankly, super exhausting and didn’t benefit me in any way. Trying to remember the positives of our relationship really helped me realize that no one is perfect, and I shouldn’t let his actions from our past define my current feelings toward him. 

Validating your own feelings

It hurt me when my ex told me he stopped loving me. At first, I felt uncomfortable knowing that I had feelings for someone who didn’t reciprocate them. But eventually, I came to terms with this new reality. People look at the world through different lenses, and my ex and I were no exception. Personally, if I say “I love you”, I mean it for life; not necessarily romantically, but I will always feel love for that person no matter what. It took me a while to realize that while that was my stance on love, it wasn’t the same case for others. Love shouldn’t be withheld out of spite. So although I don’t feel the same romantic love for him that I felt before, it’s still a stable form of fondness that I have no good reason to suppress. It may fade eventually but, for now, I’m comfortable with my feelings. 

Breaking up with someone I still loved was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in my life, and watching him move on was extremely difficult. But in the end, I don’t regret my choice. Letting go of someone you love is very draining and painful, but trust me, you’ll come out much stronger in the end.

Gwen is a third-year health science student at uOttawa. Her interests include yoga, zero-waste living, and latte art photography.
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