Un-Break My Heart: 8 Reasons You’re Not Moving On
Breakups are never easy, but if you know you should have moved on by now and haven’t, you need to explore why.
Breakups are hard. There are tears, frustration, confusion, and doubts. You have questions and might not get answers. You have to get your things back, or split your belongings if you lived together. There’s nothing simple or quick about a breakup.
But there’s always a point where you start moving on. That point is different for everyone, but you usually know where it is for you. You know when you’ve crossed that line and should be moving on. So what if you aren’t?
Some relationships are harder to get over than others. They lasted longer, you had kids, or the person was just that damn special to you. How do you know whether you just need more time or whether you’re doing it to yourself?
There are ways you can hold yourself back from moving on. Take a look at these and see if any of them describe you.
You’re stalking them on social media
You keep scrolling their Facebook, looking for a post that indicates they might be missing you. You inspect every Instagram photo, looking for clues about where they are and what they’re doing. You read every tweet twice, certain there could be a hidden message in there for you.
Even worse than just stalking their social media, you stalk others in their online circles. The girl that commented on his photo? You’re analyzing her Facebook to see if they’re dating. That guy in the photo with her on Instagram? His says he has a girlfriend and you’re trying to figure out if he means your ex or someone else.
Stalking social media is perhaps the worst idea after a breakup. Aside from the fact that people only post the best of their lives on social media (usually), what is shared often feels like an intimate view of their life. This leaves you feeling like there’s a connection between you that isn’t there anymore. Or, when you’re looking at pictures of them with a new partner, it can lead you down a rabbit hole wondering if they were together before you broke up or just how soon after the breakup.
How to move on: Stop stalking! It’s really that simple. Block them on social media so you can’t see them. Remove their contact info from your phone and email accounts. If you have mutual friends who are posting photos and information, unfollow the friends for now so you don’t see what they share but you don’t lose the friendship either. If they have a new partner, block the partner. Find better ways to spend your time.
You keep reminiscing about the good times
That day at the beach. The Valentine’s Day dinner. That Christmas Eve with the lights. The day they surprised you after a job interview. Yeah, you had some really great times together, didn’t you?
Those great times weren’t enough to stay together, though, so why do you keep reliving them? Why do you keep reminding yourself of them when you could remember that argument over the dishwasher turned into three days of not speaking to each other or the night they got blackout drunk and didn’t come home until 3 a.m. and you’re pretty sure you smelled perfume on them? Why think about the good times when they dumped you?
Of course, turning your attention to the negative memories isn’t going to help you move on, either. But the real point here is that when you keep reliving the good times you had together, you just give yourself more reasons to wonder why it ended. More reasons to try to convince yourself it doesn’t have to be over or that your ex was wrong.
How to move on: Stop reminiscing. Memories may come up on their own, but you don’t have to let them play out. When a memory comes up, turn your attention away from it to something else. You can try tricks like putting a rubber band on your wrist and snapping it when a memory comes up, too. The main thing is to stop reliving all the memories.
You’re still journaling (or talking) about them
I recommend journaling as a great way to move on after a relationship ends. But there does come a point where it’s no longer therapeutic and can become harmful. Journaling is a wonderful way to get all your thoughts, feelings, memories, and frustrations out. Especially when we so often don’t get closure with our ex, a journal can help us work through everything and find our own kind of closure.
But when your journal becomes filled with the same things over and over again, with no progress being made, it’s no longer helping. If you’re stuck in the same thoughts, feelings, memories and frustrations, then you’re probably using your journal to keep the flames of those things burning instead of to move on.
The same applies to talking about the ex. If you and your friends are still having the same conversations about your ex weeks or months after the breakup as you were in the days immediately following it, you’re not using the conversations to vent and move on — you’re using them to stay stuck in the breakup instead of moving on.
How to move on: Stop journaling and stop talking about them. If you really feel like you can’t stop, or you stop and still feel like you’re not moving on after a few weeks, make an appointment with a therapist. A therapist can help you truly get to the root of things so you can move on.
You keep listening to music that reminds you of them
Whether it’s sappy songs about love and breakups that remind you, or songs that you listened to together, or their favorite music, listening to music that reminds you of them keeps you wallowing in misery. Don’t get me wrong: music can be a great way to get through a breakup. And we all listen to music that makes us cry or get angry as we move through our breakups.
But there comes a point where your musical choices are a way of punishing yourself. You’re not listening to heal, you’re listening to increase the pain, or at least make sure it doesn’t get better. There will come a day when you can listen to that music again without pain. You might even remember your ex with a smile when you hear that song. But right now? No.
How to move on: Stop listening to that music. Delete the songs from your playlists for now. Explore new musical genres. Find old favorites you haven’t listened to in forever that don’t remind you of your ex or the breakup. If a song comes on the radio, change the station. Find upbeat, happy music or at least music that doesn’t bring up feelings, thoughts, or memories associated with the ex or the breakup.
You have too many mutual friends
In a divorce, you divide belongings, finances, and even custody of the kids. But in a divorce or a breakup, one thing that’s never divided is the friends. You don’t sit down and decide which friends belong to whom, and most friends will insist they want to remain friends with both of you. Unfortunately, that works better for the friends than it does for the couple splitting up.
Mutual friends tend to say things like, “Did you hear…” and “I saw…” and fill you in on your ex’s doings. Even if they don’t, you’ll be far more tempted (and give in to temptation) to ask what your ex is up to. It’s easier to avoid this problem if you have just one or two mutual friends — you can just avoid those friends. But when a huge chunk of your friend group is made up of mutual friends, it’s harder to avoid them and harder to resist the urge to ask how your ex is.
How to move on: You don’t need to end friendships. You do, however, need to cut down on how often you see and talk to those mutual friends. If you need to, be honest with them about your need for space so you can move on. If this leaves you feeling friendless, get out there and make some new friends. New friends who don’t know your ex — who don’t even know you went through a breakup — can be an excellent way to move on.
You’re trying to keep a routine/lifestyle that no longer exists
You had date night every Wednesday night. Saturday mornings were errands and the dog park with your ex’s dog. You had breakfast together at the diner near your work on Monday mornings to get ready for the week ahead. There are lots of routines that come with being in a relationship, and when the relationship ends, the loss of those routines can leave us feeling empty.
You might even try to keep some of the routines. You might continue going to the diner for Monday morning breakfasts, or driving to the dog park on Saturdays. While it might seem like a good thing, this just drags out your pain. It reminds you of what used to be, rather than being a healing measure.
How to move on: It’s time to create a new life. Fill time that was once spent with your ex engaging in new hobbies, joining new groups, and rediscovering old interests. Change your routines. If you still run errands on Saturday morning like you did with your ex, change it to Saturday afternoon or after work on Thursdays. Make your former date night a girls’ or guys’ night out. Fill your life with new activities and interests so you aren’t tempted to keep trying to live a life that doesn’t exist anymore.
You keep seeing them
The gym. The lobby in the apartment complex you both live in. The breakroom at work. The grocery store you both frequent. The dog park. The daycare where you both have kids. If you can’t get away from seeing your ex, you’re not going to get over them.
Whether it’s once a week at the store or daily at the gym, running into your ex over and over prolongs the pain. And you might try to convince yourself that since your ex ended things, it’s their responsibility to avoid you — but they probably don’t have the same feelings about seeing you.
How to move on: Stop going to places where you see your ex. It’s that simple. If you need to, make a list of all the places you see them. Then find alternatives. Change daycares or gyms. Go to a different grocery store. Find a new dog park. If you live in the same neighborhood, think about moving — or at least change your route to and from your house so you don’t pass theirs anymore. Consider changing jobs if you work together, particularly if it’s more than just working for the same company or in the same building. If you work together on projects, you should at a minimum try to change departments.
You refuse to accept it, let go, and move on
Sometimes the main reason you can’t move on is that you refuse to move on. You refuse to accept that the relationship is over, let it go, and start getting on with your new life. If this is the case, you might be employing all the things listed above in your attempts to keep something alive between you and your ex.
You might hope that if they keep seeing you or hearing about you, they’ll change their mind. Or you might think that if you listen to the right song or keep journaling, you’ll suddenly gain some insight that will let you get back together with them. But it won’t.
How to move on: Accept the breakup. It doesn’t matter if you saw it coming or not. It doesn’t matter if you agree with their reason for ending it or if they didn’t give you a reason at all. Accept that they no longer want to be with you and the relationship is over. If you don’t feel like your refusal to accept it is a conscious choice, meet with a therapist to help you start working through things.
The end of a relationship is complicated and messy. There’s no set timeline for exactly when you should have moved on. But you know yourself. When you know that you’ve been holding on longer than you should, it’s time to figure out why and act. Don’t linger in misery.
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