Letting Go of a Past Relationship

Are you having a hard time letting go of a past relationship and moving forward?  Recommended Reading: Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends, 3rd Edition (Rebuilding Books; For Divorce and Beyond). (Shown in Amazon list below.)  This book is a turning point for recovery once a relationship has ended.  We highly recommend it.

Have you really let go of your past relationship?  Find out by answering the following statements with either True or False.

  • I think of my former love partner often.
  • I fantasize about being with my former love partner.
  • I find excuses to talk to my former love partner.
  • I talk about my former love partner often to others.
  • I am angry with my former love partner.
  • I still try to please my former love partner.
  • I still have an emotional commitment to my former love partner.
  • I still think my former partner and I will get back together.
  • I become emotionally upset when I think about my former love partner.

If you answered True to at least one or more of the above statements then you may not have completely let go of your past relationship.  You are carrying around some extra baggage that could get in the way of you starting a new relationship and moving forward in a more positive way.

Reluctance to let go of a past relationship is really a sign of unexpressed feelings – feelings that have been suppressed and not fully felt because of the inability to face such feelings.  You may be afraid to let go because it will force you to deal directly with your feelings of rejection, guilt, loneliness, etc.  So, you avoid feeling the feelings by not letting go.  You will probably have to face the feelings directly before you will be able to let go.  Ask yourself “What feeling would I feel the strongest if I did let go of my ex-love?”  Maybe your reluctance to let go is actually covering up your inability to face the primary feeling that is underneath.  If you feel the need for support with this, please seek out a counselor, minister or a friend.

Put your time and energy into investing in your own personal growth instead of investing in a relationship that has ended.  There is no return on the investment in the relationship’s emotional corpse.   In contrast, the greatest possible return comes from investment in you.

The big question remains – “How do you let go?” or “How do I stop loving that person?”  It is much easier to let go, of course, if you have other things going for you.  A good job, a good support system, friends, and relatives who are helpful and supportive, some sort of internal fullness rather than emptiness – all of these will help fill the void created when the beloved person is removed.

Here are some specific things Dr. Bruce Fisher in his book Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends, 3rd Edition (Rebuilding Books; For Divorce and Beyond)suggests you can do to help yourself let go.

1.  Go through your house and remove all of those things that tend to keep you thinking about your former love partner.  Pictures, gifts, and similar mementos can be removed so that they are not a constant reminder.
2.  If you lived together then you may need to rearrange the furniture in the house, perhaps even to make the house look as different as possible from the way it was when you were living together.
3.  The shared bed is often an especially important symbol.  You may need to put the bed in another room, sell it, or at least move it to a new spot in the bedroom.  Change the coverings for a new look.
4.  Make a collection of all those reminders of your former love relationship and store them in a box in the attic, garage, or basement.
5.  Some weekend you may choose to do some implosive grieving, whereby you bring out all of these mementos and set aside a period of time to grieve a heavily as possible.  This period will probably be very depressing and having another person around for support could help.  Becoming as much out of control as possible in your grieving may help you to let go more rapidly.  By increasing the intensity of the grief, this implosive grieving may shorten the number of weeks or months it takes you to let go fully.
6.  Refuse to play the game.  Don’t return phone calls, letters, or emails from the person you are trying to let go of.  You will have to become assertive, or perhaps even start hanging up the phone or returning letters unanswered and unopened.
7.  Whenever you find yourself weeping about that person, think about something painful or something unpleasant in the love relationship.  That will lead you to stop thinking abut the person.  Choose another image to concentrate on, instead of focusing on the past love.

Forgiveness for yourself and for others really does help. To forgive the other person and yourself try the following:

1.  Write down the name of the person that has hurt you in the past.  Explain in detail what they did to hurt you.  Holding on to past hurts and anger only hurts you and keeps you from leading a more positive fulfilling life.  Now read and review the words you have written.  Repeat to yourself and out loud the following.  “I forgive (name names) and I release the hurt and anger I have felt and now go free.”  THEN TEAR UP THE LIST!
2.  Write down all the things you have said or done to this person that you are not proud of and/or are sorry for.  The act of writing things down and putting them onto paper is healing in and of itself.  Now read and review the list.  Repeat to yourself and out loud the following:  “I did the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time and now I forgive myself and go free.”  THEN TEAR UP THE LIST!

Research has shown that the act of writing down all of your feelings and expressing your emotions on paper can help the healing process.  This process helps remove these feelings from inside of you and allows you to view them on paper as an outsider looking in and therefore gives you a chance to read, release, forgive, and go free.  You must try this – it is a powerful exercise and can be very, very effective.  Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself and this gift has the power to release you and lift your spirit.  You can and will have a new beginning in life and a new attitude when you forgive.  Release yourself and go free.