Relationship Advice

15 March 2012

5 ways to let go of the past

by eHarmony

One of the most painful aspects of love is when it doesn’t work out. The pain caused is sometimes increased because we simply can’t move on even though there is no chance of the situation changing. It’s important to learn how to let go.

The end of a relationship can leave you feeling rejected, hurt, angry, confused, betrayed amongst many other painful emotions. It is often hard to let go, not just of the person, but also of the memories and the feelings of sadness that your dream of love wasn’t fulfilled. If you are re-entering the dating scene that is a good sign that you are ready to move on with your life but before you can welcome someone new in you need to let go of the past, here are five suggestions to help you do that.

1.      What did you learn?

Often people are reluctant to let go of the past because they feel that by keeping it alive they will have some protection from being hurt in the same way again. It is important to learn the lessons so that you don’t make the same mistake again while still letting go of the person and the relationship. One way of doing this is to look back over your entire history with this person and see where you could have done something differently.

  • Did you feel uncomfortable about things but not say so?
  • Did you stop giving the relationship the time and attention it needed?
  • How have you changed as a result of your experience?
  • If you had a friend with a similar problem what advice would you give them?

This isn’t about apportioning blame, or beating yourself up, but about finding the valuable things you could learn which will benefit your future relationships.

2.      Take off your rose-tinted glasses

The further away from a relationship we get the more perfect it can seem and what we are holding onto is not the person so much as a fantasy about what could have been. You need to look at the facts:

  • Why did you break up?
  • What was it about the other person that drove you crazy?
  • Do you really believe that this was your only chance at love?
  • Are you ready to move on yet?

Asking yourself these tough and challenging questions can help bring you back to reality and see that actually things weren’t all that great after all. At the same time you will begin to see what you want from a future relationship that wasn’t there in the old one.

3.      Transform the experience

There are many ways we can turn what looks and feels like a bad experience into something positive through the art of transformation.

  • If the relationship left you with low self esteem do something to make you feel good about yourself again, maybe take up a forgotten hobby or exercise regime.
  • Could you channel the hurt into a creative project like writing or painting? – some of the greatest works of art and literature are the on the subject of love and loss.
  • Look at how you are thinking about the experience. Are you using it as a stick to beat yourself up? If so it is time to change your thinking and begin to see it as a stepping stone which you went across to get to the happy, healthy relationship you can have in the future.

4.      Have an ending

Sometimes we can’t let go because there has been no real ending for us. Maybe someone died or left you and you had no choice or say in the matter. There are many things you can do create an ending yourself:

  • Have a clear out of all photographs, emails, letters and anything that remind you of that relationship. If they are treasured memories put them away in a box but if they are painful dispose of them completely.
  • Delete contact details, phone numbers and remove the person from your friend list on social networks.
  • If possible stop going to places where they are likely to be.

Doing these things will have a strong cleansing impact and you will have a much better chance of moving on. Reading someone’s social network status; checking when they are online or going to places where they hang out will only keep you in pain

5.      Move forward

Take your attention away from the past and start focusing on your future and what you want from it. Looking at the past will only fill you with regret but looking at the future will help you feel hopeful and optimistic once again. Join a dating website and start working towards a happier future.


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29 April 2012 12:21

To point number 1. What if there was no mistake made, what if there is no real lesson to learn(that you are awere of).
What if you both grew appart?
What could you take from that failed relationship, except the hurt, the pain and the dissapointment of love lost to time?

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2 May 2012 15:39

maybe the only thing that can be learnt in a situation like that is gratitude that you recognised that you had grown apart and, although it is terribly painful, you have survived. Being able to let go of something when it is no longer serving us – rather than holding on out of fear of being alone – is a great lesson to learn.
I wish you well

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15 May 2012 00:40

My ex had only just ended a 23yr marriage where his partner was unfaithful,felt he was clear and ready to move, met me whilst looking for friendship only, said I was too good to let go, but after 9mths of turmoil, felt he needed to go solo to find himself. In situations like this, should be always move on and forget them, don’t hope they will get their head together and want to reconnect after declaring their love and soulmate connection with you. How do we determine moving on is a must do and simply not look back? How long do we give ourselves time to heal alone before looking to date again especially when we are still crying over them occasionally?

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20 May 2012 13:34

good article … I confide that while I might feel I don’t wish to be in a relationship,I don’t actually fall out of love … be easier … I met a pretty lass when 18, we were together for almost 20 Topsy turvy years, divorced, then she become ill and died. I’d never been sadder, think about her daily … and when a later relationship ended i felt so annoyed that we couldn’t at least exchange post cards saying how we were … it felt like another ghost … but when I mislaid a very good jacket she had given me, I didn’t go back and retrieve it …

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5 June 2012 13:32

Good article… With the exception of joining a dating site to find a happier future, I have not met one person, not even a hello… Katie please don’t waste your tears on this man that hurt you… And never take him back. He seems to be a player and to be honest most men wisper sweet nothing’s to women because women are seduced by what they hear. Taking him back won’t work, you’ll be hurt, resentful and distrusting AND he’ll use it as an excuse to do you wrong again. Be happy and find someone that is worthy of your love. Best wishes :-)

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16 September 2012 01:57

Well said Lucy. I think Katie that this man wasn’t ready. I was in the same situation my ex was married and never resolved issues with his wife. He had been separated for only a month when we met, treated me like a princess. Did the same thing, went to find himself and I waited 6 months for him.. But all he really wanted to do is play the field.. Unconditional love is a rare thing….

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14 October 2012 08:45

All men listen up

through my past experience of hurt and having 2 selfish partners in the past .I felt a mountain of weight being lifted off me after i told my ex good riddance…… forget the hurt and everything that goes with it ……
move forward spend time alone and find yourself play relaxing music and chill then ……..

go and get yourself an Asian
least they are kind and come from a background of caring and kindness
i wish i had done what i have earlier
has only been a few weeks and i feel like a god being with an Asian

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30 October 2012 02:47

Scott, I’m assuming you have fallen for your Asian lady because she treats you the way you want to be treated, not necessarily because she’s Asian. A whole race of people cannot be the same. Its not practical advice to tell every man that’s ever been in an unfulfilling relationship to go out there and get himself an Asian. Just as it wouldn’t be wise for me to tell women to try a man based on his nationality. We fall in love with the person, not the background, real love is deeper than that or should be. Just my two cents worth. Glad you’ve found happiness.

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13 January 2013 03:08

Relationships are the personal experience of heaven and hell. The loss experienced is painful, but illusionary. The past is a memory and cannot be taken from you but the future never happened and this is what feels like a tremendous loss. Even though it is an illusion, but you can’t lose something you never really had. When its over, its time to nurture yourself.

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11 February 2013 01:25

Scott, Some men might take your advice & have their needs met, be it physical or other. Great your happy.
I just wonder, what is it youre looking for now if you are still on here. This acticle is about letting go of the past. Do you seek answers for emotional hurt and are you avoiding, giving your heart to someone now… I wish you well.

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21 July 2013 00:31

Definitely hard to let go. Even if the partner cheated on you. I’ve had a full-on experience of this and for some stupid reason I keep wanting him back. I think it’s the fact that he keeps throwing me a line of “I still see us together in the future”. I have to let go of the feeling that it might happen and get hold of the fact that he is using me. I need to get the anger happening to make me able to move on. Unfortunately Adelaide is such a small city and we “bump into” and cross paths often. I’d live to be able to tell him I’m too busy to see him, or “I’m out if range” this weekend. When I take hold of my feelings like this I realise how much of a mongerel he is to me. I tell myself “you go girl” and keep trying to move on. Maybe one day it will actually happen hey?!

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1 May 2014 02:24

Hi Amanda,
it is hard to move on especially if your partner has cheated on you. Trust can’t be bought and is earned, as my partner used to like to drum into my head…something I knew well anyway…I guess that was during a time when he did not trust me but now, the tables have turned and I’d say we both trust eachother rather implicitly…I’ve been in a couple relationships where I was cheated on and the pain is unbearable especially as these mongrals “say all the right things like – it won’t ever happen again baby, I’ve leanred and I’d never want to hurt you like that again…As far as I’m concerned once a cheater, mostly always a cheater unless the said-cheater has had a powerful epiphone. Unfortunatley Amanda, he is using you and it’s time to kick him to the curb. I too live in Adelaide and it’s tiny and you’re right it’s hard not to cross paths with the ex in this city of churches lol. So you keep up your strength and you “go girl”because it’s time to reclaim your love of yourself and kick him to the curb. i’m fortunate to have a partner who is loyal but he plays mind games with me a little too much for my liking. We try to be true and loving to each other but we communicate very poorly leading to yelling matches and screaming sessions…not at all healthy! until we can get on top of this, I am currently thinking about whether we are suited as a couple and am in the now in the process re-evaluating my life as I am undergoing many life changes ATM. I know that we love eachother but we are not suited, the more and more I think about it. So our dreams I guess are aligned but I don’t see how we will get to our end ‘destination’ together. Good luck girl, and I hate living in Ads too for the same reason as you..if you ever want a pen-pal or e-pal, one of my emails is

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