Breakups and rejection are an inevitable part of dating. It doesn’t matter whether you’re absurdly hot or not, whether you’ve never had a date in your life or your social life puts Hugh Hefner’s to shame; you’re going to get your heart broken at some point or another. You’re going to be miserable. You’re going to feel like the one shot you had at love has gone and now you’re destined to never know anything other than pain. And one of the things that people are going to tell you over and over again is: “Dude, you need to get over her.”
Of course, if it were just so simple to get over someone, everyone would do it, right? Nobody’d be getting cases of Oneitis and getting hung up on their exes and we’d all just be laughing and dancing through fields of wildflowers, blissfully leaving the ruins of our hopes and dreams behind, tra la tra la.
Except… yeah, it is pretty simple. It’s not easy to get over someone, don’t get me wrong. But it is simple. The problem is that, more often than not, we’re making it harder to get over the pain. So if you’ve loved not wisely but well and had your heart torn out of your chest, it’s time to stop sabotaging your own recovery process. This isn’t going to be fun, but it is necessary It’s time to learn how to let go and get over her.
Let Yourself Grieve (But Stop Poking At The Wound)
The first step to letting go and being able to get over someone: stop hurting yourself. Pain is inevitable, but suffering tends to be self-inflicted.
There’s a certain trend to some of the letters I get from readers who’ve had their hearts broken: everything they do reminds them of just how bad they’ve been hurt. Of course, more often than not, the reason for this is because they’re often doing all the things that remind them of The Incident. They’re listening to sappy love songs or watching shows about happy couples. They’re revisiting all the old familiar places that remind them of her (or him or them or…). They’re replaying what happened in their mind over and over again, trying to find some answers or looking for a way that things could have been different.
Admittedly: this makes my job fairly easy. It’s the romantic equivalent of an old joke:
“Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this.”
“Well, stop doing that.”
Small wonder people have a hard time letting themselves get over it. If you want an injury to get better, you have to leave it alone, let it scab up and repair itself. When you continually pick at the wound, it can’t heal; you’re continually reopening it and forcing yourself to re-experience all that pain over again.
Now this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t grieve, or that your pain isn’t real. Holding it all in and pretending that it doesn’t hurt is just as bad as constantly bemoaning your heartbreak. But there’s a difference between letting yourself feel all the feels and finding new and exciting ways to relive your heartbreak. See, the problem isn’t the pain.
The problem is everything that comes with the pain. Reminding yourself over and over again that you were rejected is just reinforcing all the negative and self-limiting beliefs that come with it. You’re not just replaying the memory, you’re replaying all that shitty self-criticism that tells you that you’re an awful person. All those sentimental sad-boy songs and woe-is-me moments just dig the groove that says “you’re a failure, that you’re unlovable, that you fucked this up and you deserve to suffer” deeper and deeper into your brain. The deeper the groove, the more you’re going to believe you deserve to feel awful, which encourages you to wrench open that hole in your soul again and make yourself even more miserable.
Abandon All Hope
The second step is a harder one, because it’s the one nobody wants to do: you have to give up on them.
Part of why it’s often so damn hard to get over someone is because there’s always that tiny kernel of hope left that this is just a temporary setback. Somewhere in your mind, you’re holding on to the idea that maybe, just maybe you can pull out a win. Sure, it may take a while. It might take years and a radical reconstruction of your entire life. You’ll have to spend your years trying to find a way to hit that cosmic reset button on your relationship with her… but it just. Might. WORK.
Allow me to spare you the time and effort. Here’s how it’s going to go:
Whether you realize it or not, much of the self-destructive, friend-annoying behavior that we indulge in after we’ve broken up with someone is because we’re holding onto the idea that there’s still a chance. Trying to be friends immediately after the break-up? Let’s be honest: you’re trying to pull the Platonic Friend Backdoor Gambit. Maybe you have the best of intentions. Maybe you honestly believe you’re trying to be just friends. But then you get pissy every time she mentions another guy and you’re always trying to get her out on “friend dates” alone with you and wanting to discuss just what happened – y’know, for closure…
Stalking her Facebook profile? You’re watching for signs of opportunity. As long as she’s single, then you know there’s still a chance. She’s seeing someone? Now you’re watching for signs that their relationship is in trouble and there’ll be a window of opportunity for you to sneak back into her life. Yeah, it tears you apart every time you see pictures of her with her new beau on Instagram, but… is her smile looking just slightly more forced? Is he not showing up in as many status updates? Maybe this is your shot…
Those overly public declarations of misery? You’re hoping that it’s going to get back to her and she’ll realize how much you miss her and it will melt her cold, cold heart.
You’re holding onto hope, and until you let that hope die, you’re never going to get over her. Yes, I realize this sounds cold. I realize it’s quite literally the last thing you want to do. But until you accept that it’s over and that your dream isn’t going to come true, you can’t move on. You won’t let yourself. This is part of why the Nuclear Option is such an important part of letting go and learning to get over your heartbreak. Every barrier you can put between yourself and the person who broke your heart makes it that much harder to cling to the thinnest of reeds before you let go and accept the inevitability.
But then we come to what is often the hardest part in the process of learning to get over someone…
Practice Some Radical Forgiveness
This part trips more people up than I can count. It’s often the hardest item in the process, but it’s also the most necessary. You’re going to have to forgive her.
Yeah, I know what you’re already saying: you shouldn’t have to, she’s shown no signs of remorse, she fucked you over, bla de bla de bla. You’re hurting, you feel wronged and you believe that, in a just and fair world, there would be some accounting for your pain. Thing is though? Most of the time, the people who break our hearts aren’t doing it intentionally or maliciously. Most of the time, that pain was an unpleasant but unavoidable part of life; it’s more or less impossible to end a relationship without hurting someone. It sucks that it happened, but the best anyone could do is to try to make it as quick as possible and avoid inflicting unnecessary pain. That doesn’t always pan out, sadly. Sometimes people are careless. Sometimes they have a hard time working up the courage to do what needs to be done, or do it in a way that causes more pain than was needed. Sometimes they’re in a bad place and don’t realize that what they’ve done hurt someone. Sometimes they didn’t have anything to do with your pain at all except stubbornly refuse to love you the way you wanted them to.
That doesn’t mean that they wanted to hurt you or that they don’t wish it didn’t have to happen that way. Sometimes shit happens and that’s life. It sucks and it hurts and it feels like you want to scream to the heavens about it… but hanging onto that pain and that resentment isn’t doing you any good. All it does is curdle you up inside. It blackens your soul and makes you bitter and holds you back from finding someone else who will love you the way you want.
Forgive her for shattering your dreams. Forgive her for breaking your heart. Forgive her for not being the fantasy you had, but being a person instead.
But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that this person deliberately wronged you. They chose, with malice aforethought, to shove their fist into your chest and rip out your heart.
Maybe she cheated on you to be cruel, or broke up with you in a way that she knew would destroy you. Maybe she wanted you to hurt worse than anything you’d ever known before.
Forgive her anyway.
Yeah, I know. Why should you? What has she done to deserve forgiveness? Honestly? Probably nothing, and may well never do so. Which then asks the question: how long are you going to cling to your resentment? A year? Two? Ten? Until they receive their just punishment? We don’t live in a world where karma is going to get people or divine justice is meted out with an appropriately ironic twist. There is no fairness, no court of last resort to appeal to; there is just life and it goes on regardless of how we feel. Hoping for revenge just makes you unpleasant. Trying to get revenge (even if you pretend it’s “justice”) makes you as bad as them and continues a cycle of pain and anger that will just end up consuming you.
Holding onto anger and resentment does nothing for you. You’re not an oyster; no matter how long you cling to this irritant, you’re never going to turn it into a pearl. It’s just going to be a shard in your gut, making you angry and hateful. Forgiveness, though, breaks the cycle. Forgiveness soothes. Forgiveness is the balm that eases the pain. Because that’s the secret: you’re not forgiving her for her sake. You’re forgiving her for yours.
Forgiveness isn’t about healing others, it’s how you heal yourself.
Get Over Them By Making Your Own Closure
One thing that makes it hard to get over people is the need for closure. It’s only natural to want some sort of an answer, something that provides a clear delineation of what happened and why that wraps everything up in a nice little bow. Sadly, it’ll never happen. You will quite likely never get closure – not in the way you want. The answers you’ll get right now – assuming you get any – are the wrong ones. They won’t resolve anything for you. They won’t make it any easier to understand. They won’t make you feel better or provide insight or teach you what you need to fix things or make sure it never happens again.
The problem is that you’re too close to your pain. You’re caught up in the moment and it’s carrying you away; you don’t have the distance and perspective and experience to understand what’s really going on. You’re so caught up in the flash and immediacy that you’re giving all the attention to the wrong things. It’s the emotional equivalent of the Oscars; trying to get closure now is how Dances With Wolves gets Best Picture when it should’ve gone to Goodfellas or Shakespeare In Love instead of Saving Private Ryan. It will likely take you years of growth and maturity before you realize the real reasons things didn’t work out the way you hoped they would.
Maybe you were in the wrong place in life. Maybe you were just fundamentally incompatible. Maybe you needed to do more, grow more, before you could be in a relationship with anyone. That’s for the future. All you need to know right now is that it happened and that you need to accept it. The rest will come in time.
Get your closure by deciding you have closure, and let yourself move on.
Realize That There are More Women In The World
The reason why it’s often so hard to get over someone is because it’s so damn easy to fall into a scarcity mindset. When you get hung up on somebody, they can become your entire world. You make them larger than life – turning them from a person into an almost saintly figure that nobody else could ever come near. You begin to believe that they were your last, your only chance; nobody else could possibly love you or be as wonderful as they are.
And in fairness? You’re not wrong. At least… as long as you’re holding onto them with both hands and your teeth besides. If you refuse to look around you and realize that the world is full of people who are just as amazing, if not more so, then, yeah, they’re your one shot at love. Not because you’ve been uniquely fucked over by the universe but because you won’t go and find someone else. As long as you won’t let yourself get over her, you can’t find love; you won’t have room in your heart for it.
Trust me, I know this intimately. When I had my worst case of Oneitis – at a time when I should have known better – I made a point of dating other people. After all, you get over someone by getting under someone else, right? But it didn’t matter; I was never honest with the people I was seeing. I always held myself back. I never gave anyone a chance to get to know me or to let myself risk connecting with them. I was dating with belief that I couldn’t date anyone that I wasn’t willing to leave behind as soon as She, with a capital S – gave me the nod. All I had were shallow connections, surface dates that never went anywhere because I never gave them a chance. I was going through the motions of getting over someone so I could say I’d done so; I never really intended to let her go and move on.
But all that did was prolong my misery. That’s all it’ll do to you, too. Until you let go, until you let yourself get over her, you’re robbing yourself of your future happiness. You’re stealing time that might you might use to find someone who is right for you, who does love you the way you want.
It’s scary, I know. You’re clinging to that reed like a man trying to avoid going over a cliff. But when you let go, you won’t fall, you’ll fly. You’ll be free.
I know it’s hard. But it’s time to let go and get over her.