Holding On to a Relationship That Is Over? 10 Ways to Let Go

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Holding on to a relationship that is over

Dive deep into the complexities of holding on to a relationship that is over. Why do we cling, and what lies beyond the pain? Uncover the unexpected truth about how you can survive and what comes next.

We all know the feeling, right? The incessant pull towards someone, even when logic, friends, and sometimes our own gut tell us it’s time to let go. Relationships, much like our favorite pair of shoes, sometimes wear out. The difficult part? Admitting they no longer fit.

Reasons to hold on to a relationship

Comfort Zone: Humans are creatures of habit. The known, despite its flaws, is often less intimidating than the unknown. It’s like re-watching your favorite movie; even if you know the plot, the familiarity feels comforting. Relationships are no different. The idea of starting afresh, baring our souls to someone new, and the potential of facing rejection can be daunting.

Invested Time: Admit it, we’ve all thought, “I’ve given this relationship years of my life!” It’s the sunk cost fallacy in love. We hold onto the past, thinking about all those moments, the shared memories, and the time invested. Letting go can sometimes feel like invalidating that history.

Fear of Being Alone: Being alone in a world that celebrates couples can be a tough pill to swallow. You ever get the side-eye at family gatherings or the dreaded “So, any special someone in your life?” question?

But, aren’t relationships meant to enrich our lives, not just fill a void?

Downsides of holding on to a relationship that isn’t working

Emotional Drain: Constantly trying to fit a square peg in a round hole is exhausting. The emotional turmoil, the repeated arguments over the same issues, and the lingering feeling of dissatisfaction can be draining.

Lost Opportunities: Ever heard the saying, “When one door closes, another opens?” By holding onto a relationship past its prime, we might be missing out on meeting someone truly compatible. Imagine missing a beautiful sunrise because we’re too focused on a burnt-out star.

Self-worth Issues: Self-worth shouldn’t be tethered to someone’s approval or presence in our lives. But in an unhealthy relationship, it’s easy to forget our value. Think of yourself as a rare manuscript; not everyone will understand your worth, but to the right person, you’re invaluable.

So, diving deeper, what keeps us tethered to the wrong ones?

Why do we hold on to toxic relationships?

Humans, by nature, are driven by emotions as much as logic. Often, the heart overrides the head, especially in matters of love and intimacy. There’s a certain comfort in familiarity, even if that familiarity breeds toxicity. We might convince ourselves that things will change with time, or that the moments of happiness are worth the prolonged periods of pain.

Fear is a potent driving force. Many stay in harmful relationships out of fear: fear of being alone, fear of starting over, or even fear of the unknown. It’s a daunting thought to disentangle from a shared life, especially when it’s intertwined with memories, both good and bad. For others, it might be an issue of self-worth, thinking they don’t deserve better or that this is the best they can get.

There’s also societal pressure. The fear of judgment, the weight of expectations, or the stigmatization of being single, especially in certain cultures or communities, can push individuals to endure toxic relationships. Let’s not forget the allure of nostalgia. The past can be tinted with rosy hues, and we may hold on hoping to recapture those fleeting moments of joy, conveniently sidelining the bad memories.

Moreover, psychological patterns can play a role. Some might find themselves in a loop of toxic relationships, stemming from unresolved traumas or childhood experiences. The familiarity of dysfunction can, ironically, feel comforting.

Understanding why we cling to such relationships is the first step towards breaking the cycle. Recognizing and acknowledging the signs of toxicity can lead one towards the path of healing and self-love.

10 ways to stop holding on to a relationship that is over

1. Acceptance: Every ending signifies a new beginning. Just as trees shed old leaves to make way for new ones, sometimes we need to let go of old relationships to grow. Begin with embracing change in your daily routines. A simple act, like changing your morning jog route, rearranging your room, or trying a new coffee shop, can help adjust to bigger life changes.

2. Talk it Out: Remember the breakups from years gone by? Your friends were there. Reach out, as your friends are your anchors. Alternatively, joining support groups or forums can offer solace. The act of sharing experiences can be therapeutic and provide a sense of community.

3. Rediscover Yourself: This might be the perfect time to take up that pottery, coding, or dance class you always eyed. Traveling solo, even if it’s just a weekend getaway, can offer a new perspective and an opportunity for introspection.

4. Avoid Memory Lanes: A digital detox is essential. Refrain from checking old messages or photos. Every time nostalgia hits, divert your attention to something ‘in the moment’, like doodling, cooking, or listening to a fresh podcast.

5. Stay Active: Consider joining a local fitness group. Zumba, Pilates, or even a neighborhood running club can motivate and offer a fresh sense of belonging. Mindful exercises, like yoga and meditation, can help center your thoughts and emotions.

6. Limit Social Media Stalking: Muting updates or stories of your ex can significantly reduce emotional distress. If self-control falters, apps and extensions like “StayFocusd” can be used to limit the time you spend on certain websites.

7. Professional Help: Sometimes the emotional baggage feels too heavy. Therapists can provide you with the tools to process and heal. Parallelly, diving into self-help books can provide insights and strategies to cope.

8. Journal: Freewriting can be therapeutic. Without pausing to judge or edit, pour your feelings onto paper. On the other hand, maintaining a gratitude journal can shift your focus; end each day by jotting down three things you’re grateful for.

9. Stay Open to New Connections: Attend networking events, workshops, seminars, or even hobby classes to expand your social circle. Online platforms abound for making new friends or joining interest groups; explore them, keeping safety paramount.

10. Remember, You’re the Prize: Positive affirmations can set the tone for your day. Begin with phrases like “I am enough. I am loved. I deserve happiness.” And don’t forget to celebrate your milestones, be it a month since the breakup or any personal achievement.

While it’s only natural to seek connection and intimacy, it’s essential to recognize when a relationship has run its course. Holding onto something that no longer serves our well-being can prevent us from discovering healthier, more fulfilling connections. By understanding the reasons behind our attachments and actively taking steps towards healing, we pave the way for a brighter, self-affirming future in love and life.

Photo of author
Cat Cardinal is a veteran of far too many relationships to mention.
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