Ending a relationship hurts, and post-breakup regret is natural. These tips for dealing with regret after a relationship ends will help you let go of the past and move toward a happier future.
But first – why is crucial for you to start coping with your regret? Because your physical health is at stake. Research from Concordia University shows that lingering feelings of regret cause emotional distress (you’ve already experienced this, in the form of sadness, depression, and even guilt). But wait, it gets worse! Regret can affect your physical health by disrupting your hormones and impairing your immune system. This can lead to long-term health problems that affect your quality of life and future relationships. It’s important to learn how to overcome regret so it doesn’t grow into feeling unlovable after a breakup.
By the way, the same study from Concordia University also offered one tip for coping with regrets in life. It’s the worst advice for dealing with a breakup, and I’d never recommend it! The researcher said people who compare themselves to others who are “worse off” will feel better about their own lives.
Comparing yourself to other people is never a good strategy for overcoming regret after a breakup. And, to be fair, the researcher wasn’t “advising” people to compare themselves to others as a way to cope with regret…she just said that it’s a common coping mechanism.
If you do what is commonly done, you’ll get what is commonly got. And that’s no good. Instead, learn how to get over a breakup by doing something different and better…
5 Steps to Overcoming Regret After the Breakup
Here’s my inspiration for this article:
“Do you have any advice on overcoming regret after breaking up with someone?” asks a reader. “I broke up with my ex-boyfriend after being together for a long time. I still feel a great deal of regret and sadness. I think I made a huge mistake. I wish I could turn back time and undo the breakup. Getting back together with my boyfriend isn’t possible. I feel so lonely and sad all the time. My heart just hurts and I hate myself for breaking up with him.”
1. Believe that you made the best decision at the time
What led to your decision to break off the relationship? Take time to explore your reasons. Try to understand what you were thinking at the time. There was a good reason you decided to leave your boyfriend (unless you have a history of ending relationships out of fear, insecurity, or self-sabotage). If you don’t know what led you to break off the relationship, you’ll have a hard time overcoming regret.
I don’t know why you ended your relationship — but I am 100% sure that you had very good reasons for breaking up with your boyfriend. You made a decision that made sense to you at the time. Maybe it was the wrong decision, maybe not. Before you can start overcoming regret for the breakup, you need to explore why you broke it off in the first place.
2. Be realistic about your relationship with your ex-boyfriend
When we look back at past relationships, we often remember only the good parts. We do the same thing when someone we love dies. We idealize them, forgetting their worst qualities, weak character traits, and annoying habits that drove us mad. We focus on everything that was wonderful and forget everything that was bad.
Remember your relationship as it really was, in all its ugliness and glory. If you tend to only remember the good parts, talk to a friend or family member who knew you and your ex-boyfriend. Chances are, your friend will have a balanced view of your relationship with your ex. Take time to remember his weaknesses and flaws. You don’t need to be overly critical or judgmental of him, or call him the worst boyfriend in the world! Just be realistic when you remember who he was…and who you were together.
3. Don’t confuse grief with bad decision-making
You regret the breakup because you think it was a mistake or a bad decision. You believe you made the wrong choice, that you shouldn’t have ended the relationship. This step to overcoming regret requires you to separate your grief from bad decision-making.
It’s normal to feel sad, lonely, and heartbroken after a breakup. Maybe you feel lost and scared. Maybe you’re worried you’ll never be loved again, or you’ll be alone forever. Those are natural feelings of grief after a breakup. Your feelings don’t mean that you made a mistake. You were in this relationship for a long time, and you genuinely loved your boyfriend. You probably always love him at some level. But your grief doesn’t mean the breakup was a mistake.
Read How to Move On From a Relationship When You’re Still in Love for help letting go.
4. Allow the possibility that no decision is all good or all bad
One of the reasons you’re having trouble overcoming regret for ending this relationship is because you think staying together would’ve been better.
But how do you know this is true? Even if the breakup was the result of an impulse decision or heated argument, you can’t say for sure that it was wrong to end the relationship.
The truth is that no decision is all good or all bad. No relationship is all good or all bad. No person is all good or all bad. And — even more important — you have no idea how your relationship would’ve turned out if you stayed together! Maybe it would’ve gotten worse. Maybe your boyfriend would’ve broken up with you a few weeks or months later. Maybe you would’ve had kids, and destroyed their lives with a divorce. You could maybe yourself to death, couldn’t you? Don’t do that. Do yourself a favor, and let it go.
5. Trust that your life is in good hands
Chance are pretty good that you believe in God. Even if you haven’t accepted Jesus, you probably believe the universe or something spiritual has an effect on your life. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just say you believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Take a deep breath, and know that God loves you deeply. He is allowing certain things into your life for a reason. He knows everything that happens to you, and He has your best interests at heart! He is your Father, and He only wants you to live fully, deeply, and richly. Your life is in His hands, and there is no better place to be.
Listen to me. There is absolutely no room for regret in your life — whether it’s over a breakup or the extra pint of cookie dough ice cream you ate last night — when you believe in God. The breakup happened for a reason, and you have to let it go. You have to CHOOSE to let it go.
How do you feel, what do you think? Talk to me in the comments section below. What’s your biggest regret? Why do you think you’re having such a hard time overcoming regret about breaking up with your ex-boyfriend?
Need help letting go of your ex? Read 8 Creative Ways to Start Over After a Relationship Ends.
Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.
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