When a relationship is no longer building up the couple, instead it’s generating unhappiness and unhealthiness in one or both of the partners, it may be time to move on. This is a challenging endeavor. The people involved must undo the enmeshing of their lives, which may include shared housing, finances, children and support networks. It is a painful process but there are ways to let go and move on.

Setting the break-up in motion is the beginning of the end and the start of something new. A decision is made by one or both partners to exit coupledom.

If a person is breaking up with their partner, they need to be clear on this decision and be able to stand firm in it. They will have to watch, as their decision to leave a relationship may negatively impact their partner causing sadness, anger and resentment.

They owe it to their ex to provide space and time to come to terms with the new imposed reality. It’s important and respectful not to send mixed messages or participate in flirtations or sex with the former partner. We want to make the decision to let go and then ensure our actions align.

If we aren’t behind the decision to end a relationship, it can be a real challenge to accept the end of it. Embrace the feeling of powerlessness over your ex’s decision. It is not our job to change their mind — and it would be futile.

At this point, it is now our responsibility to take care of our own selves. We can help this process by letting go of the other person. This may need to be a very conscious decision, which may need to be made over and over again initially. If we move past the “what-ifs” and embrace the “now” — we will be okay.   

Regardless of who broke up with you, both people in the relationship were active participants in it. This isn’t about placing blame or finding fault. It’s about taking account of who and what you were in the couple. We need to figure out what we brought into the relationship, how we behaved, what were our strengths and weaknesses. This fact-finding mission is about taking responsibility for our share of the pairing. If we want to stay aware of everything that comes to mind during these various thought processes, one way to do this would be to begin journaling our thoughts and feelings as we feel them.

Part of the break-up process is getting and keeping perspective of who our former partner was and how our relationship truly functioned. It’s important that we reflect on the union as a whole, not just the positive parts.

This is a trap that many people fall into when trying to navigate the end of love. It’s essential to keep a clear and full picture of what the relationship was — not only remembering the easy and good elements. Make sure to take an inventory of what didn’t work in the relationship. Perhaps our former partner was passive-aggressive, conflict-avoidant, co-dependent or in active addiction. Although the former may seem easier to come to terms with than the latter, 23.5 million people in the USA are considered addicted to drugs or alcohol. Some of these qualities may be hard to accept, but if we put a bit of focus on how the disagreements, interactions or possible hardships that occurred within your past relationship, it may be helpful to connect ourselves with what exactly went wrong. Sometimes when we are mixed in with the problems it is hard to separate ourselves from what actually is happening.

Once the role in the former relationship is identified, focus on what you can change, or in other words, not focusing on what your ex has said or has done. We have to remember that we were not in control of their actions and thoughts — we never were.

It is important we concentrate on ourselves and what we need to work on. Practice self-care, get enough sleep, eat nutritious meals, drink water and stay active. We are in control of ourselves and our actions. Let that be empowering.

Forgiveness for the actions we may have made (or didn’t make) in the relationship can be empowering. Forgiveness is also very freeing. If we resent our self or our ex, it will only trap you in anger and bitterness whereas having compassion for the other person will lighten your perspective.

Try wishing your ex well, hoping they receive all that you hope for. Try it, even if you’re faking it at first. Practice this everyday for a week and you’ll find your outlook on yourself, your ex and your old relationship has shifted.

By accepting the past (and letting it stay in the past) will allow the main focus to be on today. Take the lessons learned from previous experiences and do the best to not repeat them. Be mindful and present in the now as you take one step at a time — focus on what comes next. If you are present in your current life, informed by the knowledge you’ve gained from your past (but not wallowing in it), you move forward and forge ahead with confidence. 

Now let go again.

Healing from a breakup is not a linear journey where conflicted feelings decrease in a steady and orderly fashion. There are peaks and valleys in the process of letting go and moving on. Embrace the process and know it does get easier.