Why It's OK To Miss Your Old Relationship

Breakups are, without a doubt, one of the most agonizing, emotionally draining things known to man. After months or years of being invested in your future with someone, it's disorienting and painful if it suddenly comes to an end. Naturally, going through a breakup brings up a whole host of conflicting emotions: grief, anger, betrayal, shock, numbness, or even relief. But through all this emotional turmoil, there's one important thing to remember in the midst of a breakup: You can miss your relationship without missing your ex.

That might sound impossible — when two things are so inextricably linked, how can you separate them in your mind? The key is to focus on the big picture, and allow yourself to mourn the loss of something so significant while also remembering why the breakup took place to begin with. While it's certainly easier (in theory) to move on if you're the one who ended it, that doesn't mean you're doomed to mope for months on end if you got dumped. It's healthy to be sad, and it's totally normal to be devastated by the loss of an important relationship.

What's not healthy, though, is to dwell on the memory of the person who is causing this pain. It might sound like a cliche, but when you're reeling from a breakup, it's easier to say "I miss my ex," rather than admitting that you really only miss the idea of him or her. It's not easy, but it is possible to mourn your relationship without missing your ex — here are six ways to get on the path to a healed heart.

1. Remember Why You Broke Up

Although it's not fun to relive a breakup, it's important to gently remind yourself of the catalyst for the relationship's end. Maybe your partner cheated, lied, or otherwise broke your trust — none of those are small problems, and speak volumes about your now-ex-partner's character. As the saying goes, when someone shows you who they really are, believe them. Don't reminisce about your honeymoon period with rose-colored glasses and forget how painful or nasty things were at the end. If you want to move on, accept the fact that your ex changed, and realize that your sadness doesn't mean you miss them — you miss who they used to be.

2. Think Of Your Goals Moving Forward

One of the hardest things about going through a breakup is that you suddenly have tons of free time that you'd normally fill with your now-ex. Although it can be easy to spend all your leisure time wallowing in bed, the best thing you can do for yourself is look at the bright side (as difficult as that is), and think about your future. Maybe your ex wasn't supportive of you joining a writing workshop you were really interested in, or maybe they discouraged you from taking a promotion because they were worried it'd distance you from them. When you're single, you have more time to take on the world, and you don't have to answer to anyone else. Instead, you're free to put your goals first, and grow into a better, more successful you.

3. Don't Torture Yourself Via Social Media

This is arguably the hardest advice to follow, because it's so damn easy these days to stalk our exes online (it's even been called a millennial trend!). However, it's not good for you at all. Like I mentioned, you're allowed to miss your relationship and all the happiness it once brought you, but there's nothing to be gained from being up on your ex. The fastest way to exacerbate the pain you feel is to spend hours Insta-stalking and checking his Twitter for shady subtweets. Not that you are obligated to block your ex on social media, but it's not advisable to make a hobby of checking up on him or her. Focus on you, not them.

4. Explore New Interests

Another sh*tty thing you deal with post-breakup? Carving out a new place for yourself that doesn't include all of you and the ex's mutual friends. The easiest way to do this is to find a new hobby or interest that allows you to take some time away from the social circles that might include your ex. Join a book club, start rock climbing, go to a cooking class — there are tons of fun things to explore that will get your mind off your relationship status. And who knows, you might even meet a cute stranger that distracts you (even temporarily) from your singlehood.

5. Spend Time With Loved Ones

When you're heartbroken, it's easy to withdraw from people so as to avoid talking about what you're going through. Although it might be hard to relive things, it's also necessary to lean on people you love and trust, to remind you that not everything has changed in the wake of your breakup. Whether you want to vent or just want someone familiar to watch Downton Abbey with, your friends and family will be there for you in a tough time. If you don't want to talk yet, it's as simple as saying "I'm not ready to talk about it yet, but it would help me heal just to be around you." I guarantee it will put you at ease to spend time with your loved ones rather than pushing them away.

6. Enjoy The (Safe) Rebound Sex

Don't be ashamed to engage in a little safe, consensual rebound sex. If you feel emotionally stable enough, there's nothing wrong with a rebound relationship, even if it's just a FWB. Moving on to someone new will help you stop obsessing over your ex, and give you the confidence to get back out there and remember how much of a catch you are. Sure, it might take time to truly feel ready to find a new relationship, but you have to start somewhere, right?

A word of caution: If you're only sleeping with a rebound to make your ex jealous, it might not be the best idea. Make sure your heart is ready for a rebound before you dive back in.

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