Hey Austin – Got any advice on how to let go of a relationship? The love of my life and I broke up about nine months ago and I feel stuck. I can’t seem to move on with my life. I spend much of my time living in the past, wondering what I could’ve done differently and accepting the fact that I might always be alone. And if I do find someone else, I will just be settling because there is no comparison to him. To top it off, he has completely moved on and is engaged now. It feels like a dagger in my my heart. Why is it so difficult for me to move on without him? – Jessica
Thanks for the note, Jessica. And I’m sorry to hear what you’re going through. Few things in life can take us down quite like having our heart ripped out of our chest by someone who was supposed to love us forever. It feels like a bomb has gone off in your life and obliterated any sense of peace or happiness you once had. There are days you can barely breathe and sometimes the weight of the darkness pressing down is more than you can bear. I think we’ve all been there…right?
I know I have.
Jessica, the first thing to understand here is that what you’re going through is far more than just emotional trauma. It’s also physiological. There are chemical processes taking place in your body that are making it difficult for you detach from this man. When you’re in love, your body secretes high levels of oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine, all of which are hormones that bond you with the man who curls your toes and rocks your world. When that love is taken away, your body responds in the exact same way an addict’s body does when you take away their booze or drugs….
It FREAKS out.
Few people know this, but recovering from a break-up is like kicking an addiction to a drug. In fact, a recent study conducted by Rutgers University found that when broken-hearted test subjects were shown a picture of their ex, the parts of their brain that lit up were the same parts associated with cocaine and nicotine addiction.
As if that weren’t enough, the area of the brain that processes romantic love lies right next to the area that orchestrates hunger and thirst. So romantic love, like hunger and thirst, is an innate biological need. We NEED it. It’s one of things that drives us to mate with one another. Without love, our species just wouldn’t survive. So when we lose that love, it’s devastating not only from an emotional perspective, but from an evolutionary perspective as well. Our brain thinks we are missing out on life’s greatest biological prize…a mating partner.
That’s why you feel so devastated.
Now I’m not comparing you to a meth head, but it is important to understand that what you’re experiencing is a CHEMICAL reaction to your loss. It’s real, it’s raw, and it HURTS…right? So you’re NOT crazy and you’re NOT losing your mind. Even if it feels like it.
So how do you regain your sanity?
Well, the FIRST first thing you need to do is treat this loss as you would any addiction.
And how do you treat an addiction?
You first cut off the supply.
This means you absolutely MUST cut all ties with this man if you haven’t already. And I do mean ALL ties. I’m talking complete radio silence. Now I know this is easier said than done, but the FASTEST way for you to get over this man is to cut him out of your life entirely. Again, remember that you are chemically addicted to him. This is scientific fact, not conjecture. If you were trying to kick a cocaine habit, you wouldn’t hang out with someone who candies up their nose with the finest booger sugar, would you? Of course not. You would steer clear of any temptation that could lead you to using again. Same thing if you’re an alcoholic. You might THINK it’s ok to have that one weekend cocktail, but the next thing you know that one drink has progressed to ten and before you know it you’re off the wagon and face down in the dirt.
I think you get my point.
The bottom line is that this dude is your poison and must be removed from your life at all costs. Put as much distance between Mr. Morphine and yourself as possible. The relationship is over. It ended for a reason and nothing good is coming from you holding on. Trying to figure out what went wrong or what you could have done differently is just going to drive you batshit crazy.
It doesn’t matter anyways.
The only things that matters is your peace of mind.
I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is that you cut the cord completely and walk away with your head held high. And when I say COMPLETELY, I mean it! That means no social media…no texting…no phone calls…and ESPECIALLY no booty calls! If you do this, you can take solace in knowing that your wounds WILL heal sooner than later. In fact, the notion that time heals a broken heart is born out by the research study I mentioned earlier. The researchers found that after the break-up, the more time that passes by without contact, the less activity there is in the brain region associated with both attachment and addiction. So the lesson here is that you need to cut the cord for your own sanity as well as for your own well-being.
And believe me, it WILL free your soul.
Jessica, it’s important to realize that getting over a heartbreak takes time. So it’s ok to cry and mourn the loss. But don’t dwell in that negative space for too long. Yes, you’re grieving. Yes, you’re miserable. And yes, you’re barely surviving but YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS! So put one foot in front of the other and know that every step forward propels you further down the healing road.
Also, if you haven’t gotten the closure you need, now is the time to speak up. Sometimes you can’t get over the hurt until you know you’ve been heard. So give yourself permission to express your feelings to him. It doesn’t matter how you do it. A well-written email or letter is always good because it gives you time to collect and compose your thoughts.
Another option is to vent all your frustrations IN PERSON and get them off your chest. There’s nothing worse than regret, so say what you need to say and then wash your hands of it.
Above all, remember that it’s not how you communicate it that’s important, what matters is cleansing yourself of the toxic energy that’s eating you up inside. And don’t be surprised if he doesn’t respond to your letter or email. In fact, it’s better if he doesn’t. And if you unload on him in person, don’t be shocked if he has a smirk on his face or tells you you’re crazy. That’s just his way of saving face. His response (or lack of one) doesn’t matter anyways…you’ve said your piece and that was your intention all along.
Lastly, I want you to take back control of your life by making it all about YOU. Don’t let a bad experience keep you down or prevent you from believing in love. NOW is the time to rediscover the things that bring you joy. Go dancing! Read erotica books! Take some girlfriends to Vegas for a weekend of unholy debauchery! Whatever floats your boat. It’s time to fall in love with yourself all over again and become comfortable just being YOU…without a man by your side. Believe me, learning to make yourself a priority is the best investment you’ll ever make.
Jessica, you can either go through life angry or jaded or you can live a life full of love and laughter. I would much rather see you do the latter. Laughing and loving is the only way to go.
All the best to you, my friend.