This piece is written by Hayley Quinn - a top UK Dating Coach in London
Break-ups are disorientating: especially when they catch you blindsided.
You can find yourself confused, broken hearted and trying to make sense of where you are now. I’m not going to lie, it is tough going!
As a dating coach, I often get asked how do you get over a break-up?
The best answer to this is simply that you change and grow as a person, into a new version of yourself, who just can’t have the same feelings and attachments that the old version of you did.
If this feels a million miles from where you are today: try asking yourself these 5 questions to get you on your path to healing.
1) What other interpretations are there for the breakup that don’t involve you?
When a break up happens, it can feel like a spotlight has been shone on any insecurities you felt throughout the relationship.
You may sink into analysis paralysis around what you could have done differently…
If you are shouldering all of the blame for the break up then keep reminding yourself that relationships always have two sides to them.
Spend time with friends and family, who care about and support you. If you had a critical ex this can be particularly valuable in not feeling all the blame for the relationship ending.
You will find as you rebuild your life as an independent person you will also start to build confidence back within yourself. Trust yourself that times will get better, that you can create the change you need, and that you will get there.
2) What flaws did this person have?
It’s time to take off those rose tinted glasses.
Particularly when you didn’t see a break up coming, or perhaps if you’ve been stuck in a perpetual on/ off cycle with someone; your first instinct maybe, ‘how do I get this person back?’
The rejection can feel deeply personal, and you can wonder if you’d have tried harder, said something differently, whether you would still be together.
A lot of valuable time and energy that you need to heal, can be inadvertently poured into trying to mend what is broken. Instead of focusing on ‘the good times’ instead focus on what wasn’t working.
Was there a way that they treated you that you didn’t like? How did they co-create the end of your relationship?
Even if you feel you had an overwhelming spark with your ex, try to uncouple that from the idea that you are ‘destined’ to be together. The spark can be very misleading. Yes it means you feel a strong attraction to a person, but that doesn’t always go hand in hand with having the compatibility to make it in the long run.
Remember this person may have the looks, the brains, the career, the common interests, the sense of humour, that you’ve always wanted in a person; but if they don’t have the willingness to build a relationship with you it’s not going to work.
3) If they don’t love you, why do you think that they are right for you?
Do you feel like they love you, but there’s some reason that’s holding them back from being able to act on that?
Maybe they had a bad break up, they’ve been honest that they’re afraid of intimacy, they’re going through a really tough time at work…
…The list of excuses can be endless, and also very understandable. Infatuation can make us over give. It can make you want to collapse all your own boundaries, and let go of what kind of relationship you actually WANT, all in order to keep this person in your life.
They may pull away, and give endless justifications for why they can’t give you what you want; and you may be quick to dismiss, or compensate for, every one of them.
Instead of trying harder to make it work, you need to look at the objective facts here: regardless of their reasons they have communicated they don’t want a relationship with you, and aren’t taking the actions required to maintain your support in their lives.
There’s a big lesson here, which starts with putting yourself first. Worry about making things ‘right’ for them less, and more about your emotional wellbeing.
4) Why do you feel you need their love so much?
One of the hardest parts about a break up can be the thought that you now have to ‘start all over again.’ If you had a ‘near miss’ with someone you really cared about it can feel like you were on the final square of the relationship board, only to hit a snake, and slide right the way back to square one.
Starting over is tough: you may feel demotivated to ‘put yourself out there’ and going on a dating app might make your stomach churn.
However, this isn’t a ‘sign’ that they’re the only one for you: it is instead and indicator to put dating on the back burner (just for a little bit) until you feel more steady.
See this as your time for some serious self care: invest in your health, personal improvement, new hobbies, and building your social circle. Over time these ‘green shoots’ of developing a new version of yourself will mean you will learn how to get over your ex, by becoming a different version of yourself
5) What might you be trying to escape in your life - were you using the relationship to escape yourself or reality?
When thoughts about how to get back with your ex start to dominate your psyche, also be wary that this could mean that the fantasy of them is helping you to avoid your day to day reality.
That sounds a bit heavy, so let me chunk down what that actually means.
When we’ve been apart from someone for some time, our image of them ceases to align with who they actually are. Put simply, as we’re not spending time with them regularly, we don’t ‘know’ who they are today, we are remembering our image of them.
This can mean that what our ex meant to us can turn into a fantasy that we keep re-visiting. One of the reasons this fantasy can seem so compelling, is because it can distract us from other areas of our lives that we’re unhappy about.
(If any of you have watched my TED Talk ‘Searching For Love To Escape Ourselves’ then you’ll know I’ve previously bought the t-shirt for this kind of behaviour.)
The trick here is, of course, to look behind the mirage and critically ask yourself about what stresses there are in your life. Is there a problem (not to do with your ex!) that you’ve been putting off resolving? Is there an area of your life (work, friends, housing) that’s making you feel unhappy? Often if you can work towards solving this wider source of unhappiness, it can help to remove the attachment you still feel towards your ex as well.