How to Let Go of a Relationship

Dear Neil:  My boyfriend of six and a half years broke up with me and married another woman.  Before they married, she decided she didn’t want to work, so he supported her, bought her a car, etc.  Do you think he forgot me that quickly after all the years we were together?  Was he on the rebound?  Do you think their marriage was made in heaven?

Heartbroken in Cincinnati

Dear Heartbroken:  I can’t tell you what happened to your ex-boyfriend—but I’ve got a guess as to what has happened to you:  you haven’t let go of him yet.

For the record, ridiculously few marriages are made in heaven.  The rest are made right here on earth, and they go through all the trial and tribulations—all the peaks and valleys—all the anger, passion, hurt feelings, hopes and dreams—that most relationships go through, and that no doubt you and your ex-boyfriend went through as well.

Here’s how you can assist yourself in getting over him and moving on:

  • Write a letter to your ex-partner in which you express the full intensity of your anger, rage, hurt and sense of betrayal.  This letter is not to be sent to him, as nothing constructive will come from it.  It is for your eyes only, because it’s purpose is to allow you to release your hurt, anger and disappointment wisely and effectively.
  • What did you gain from the relationship?  How are you richer, deeper or wiser because of the experience?  What did the relationship give you that you are grateful for?  Make a list of everything you can think of.
  • What was your role in causing the problems in the relationship, or in assisting the relationship to fail?  Be honest with yourself in answering this question, and be complete.
  • Concerning the relationship with your former mate, what are you willing to forgive?  What are you wanting to be forgiven for?  What are you willing to forgive yourself for?
  • What did the relationship teach you?  What lessons have you taken from the experience?

After you have answered these completely, set some specific concrete goals about what you’d like your near and a medium range future to be like.  Then go and make those goals happen.

Dear Neil:  I am very concerned about my best friend, who is in a relationship with a man she does not love, but she feels unable to leave him.  She deserves a lot better.  What can I do to help her get rid of him?

A Concerned Friend
Christchurch, New Zealand

Dear Concerned Friend:  It sounds as if you are more invested in her leaving this guy than she is.  She will leave him only when she feels the need, and until then you can bang your head against the wall and it will still not make an appreciable difference in her behavior.

It may be that she is more attached to him than she has let on to you.  Help her explore what she is getting from the relationship, and what she fears will happen if she lets go of him.  Then, accept whatever decision she makes.  Good friends help us with our life choices.  They don’t make the decisions for us.

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