August 1, 2017 |Gideon Hanekom

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Breaking up with someone you’ve been in a relationship with for quite some time can be hard. Knowing how to move on after a breakup can be even harder. In this post, we look at how to look forward and move on from a breakup without overcomplicating things even more.

“One of the best times for figuring out who you are & what you really want out of life? Right after a break-up.”

Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

We’ve all been there – breakups.

They suck.

And what makes them worse is the fact that it can take quite a while to get over it and moving on with your life.

Also, at the end of a relationship, it’s easy to become stuck in the past.

When someone broke up with you, you can also find yourself wondering what you could have said or done differently to avoid that last fight.

You replay your favourite song over and over to relive the good times.

You may even fantasise about how to win back your old partner.

When you did the breaking up, you might also find yourself struggling to move on, even though you want to.

Perhaps you had mutual friends which are now making things a tad awkward.

Maybe your ex keeps texting you looking for some explanation or closure, but you can’t give it to them because there are no easy answers.

Whichever side of the fence you’re on this one, it is easy to find your life coming to a standstill and still revolve around a relationship that technically doesn’t exist any longer.

So what do you do?

How do you move on after a breakup?

How do you look forward and hopefully find some happiness again?

move on after a breakup

In my experience, the only way to move on and start the “healing” process, is to accept a few things about breakups first and foremost.

Things we can’t get around.

One, some sadness is natural.

But while a certain amount of sadness is natural, the sooner you accept the situation the sooner you can reclaim your life.

Two, breakups typically suck.

I’m not talking about getting out of relationships that sucked; those are easy to leave behind.

I’m talking about those that you actually enjoyed for a while and grew close to your partner at the time.

Any person with a heart will admit that breaking up with someone isn’t the best of experiences.

But, putting off the inevitable because you’re scared of some pain is only going to result in even more heartache later on.

Three, life does go on.

Unless you’re dead, there’s always another chance for love and happiness.

Life does not end because a relationship has; even if it feels that way at the moment.

My first breakup was gut-wrenching and hurt more than I can explain (or understood at the time), but you know what – I got over it and am happily married today with two beautiful kids.

It doesn’t matter how much it hurts at the moment, you have to trust me when I say that life moves on and there is a way to look forward after a breakup.

And I will show you how to do that here today with a simple formula that always works if you stick to it.

Now, please hear me; I don’t promise it will be easy. But I do promise that it’ll work if you give it a shot.

So, with that said, let’s consider a few proven strategies for how to look ahead after a breakup and move on.

You have to change your perspective on a few things

Take some time.

It’s important to take some time to feel sad (grieve even).

It’s a natural process you have to go through in order to take your power back eventually.

Don’t rush into making huge decisions or major changes right away (you can later on if you want to), but just take some time to breathe and be alone for a bit.

It’s not that scary and actually very healthy being alone from time to time.

And once you’re ready, start working on the next steps.

Affirm your worth.

Splitting up can leave you feeling guilty or rejected.

Instead of thinking that you’ve failed or are not good enough, focus on what you’ve learned.

Every single relationship has some good lessons we can learn from.

It’s super important that you remember that you deserve happiness and fulfilment no matter how bad you feel right now.

Take responsibility.

At the same time, acknowledge the role that you played in any conflicts.

By examining your actions when you’re ready to do so, you can discover what you can do differently next time.

That’s a lot more powerful than being a victim. I appreciate that playing the blame game is easier, but at the end of the day, your happiness is your responsibility.

You have to take control of your life by accepting your part in the breakup and committing to NEVER making the same mistake again.

Not by avoiding life, but by showing up better next time. 

Face reality.

Chances are you’d still be together if you were really soul mates.

When you stop idealising your old flame, you’re more likely to notice other interesting opportunities … and people. 

It didn’t work out and I truly feel for you, but if you want to move on you have to face reality.

You have one life and can choose to waste it feeling sad or angry about something that didn’t work out, or you can decide to step up (when you’re ready) and create an awesome life again.

But it’s up to you.

Let me be very blunt, and maybe you know this maybe you don’t; if you choose to stay curled up in a corner, NOBODY is showing up to save you.

People have too much of their own shit going on to worry about yours.

They will empathise with you for a bit but then move on; and leave you as a bitter, lonely person if you choose to be that.

So, step up and take control of your life, happiness and future.

Talk it over.

Connect with family and friends who want to support you at this difficult time, and talk to them about it.

They may have similar experiences and fresh insights.

I’ve always found that a really good friend can tell you what you need to hear to take control of your life again and move on.

If however, you feel you can’t talk to any of them, then find a good counsellor or coach.

Sometimes by simply talking to a professional stranger about it and getting a fresh perspective is all we need to put the past where it belongs and move on with our lives.

Identify triggers.

This can be a tough one to overcome and avoid.

Everyday sights, sounds, and smells may bring back disturbing memories.

And they tend to show up at the most unexpected times and places.

There are no easy answers for this one except giving it time.

It may help to expose yourself to new people, places and experiences to fill up your “memory bank” with new triggers, but even then you might find yourself going back when smelling certain perfume years later (hopefully by then you have moved on).

The brain is an incredible thing. In fact, if you really want to we could anchor “old” songs or smells to “negative” feelings in your brain rather than “sad” memories, but I wouldn’t go there right off the bat.

Also, and hopefully, this goes without saying, take your ex’s photos off your phone.

Deleting their number might also help. I did for me. I never saved any of my ex’s numbers.

And avoid them on Facebook if possible.

Set goals.

The great thing about breakups is the sense of a fresh start that comes with them.

You have an opportunity to “reinvent” yourself if you really want to.

I would encourage you to empower yourself by setting some ambitious and bold goals and going after them.

Use your extra “free” time to start creating a new life rather than curl up in a corner feeling sorry for yourself.

Also, use this time to reflect on your purpose and priorities now.

Maybe you want to devote more energy to your career or community activities.

Perhaps you want to volunteer.

Maybe you want to move to a new part of the country or a new country completely.

NOW is the time to do that.

We live once – why waste it on someone who doesn’t want you anymore?

Care for your health.

Does a broken heart make you lose your appetite or drive you to seek comfort in a bottle of Merlot?

I get it if does.

But let me ask you a question – is losing yourself really worth someone that walked out on you?

Conversely, is your health and happiness worth feeling guilty over walking out on someone who wasn’t good for you?

No, it’s not!

So, look after yourself.

Protect your emotional well-being by protecting your physical well-being.

Eat well.

Drink plenty of water.

Get some sleep.

Move more and especially outside in the sun and fresh air if you can.

In nature would be ideal but I know that’s not possible for everyone.

Just make sure you’re taking care of your health.

There’s no point in losing a partner AND yourself in the process.

Consider counselling or coaching.

Whether you initiated the breakup or it came as a surprise, you may be feeling overwhelmed.

A therapist or coach who specialises in relationship issues can help you cope with your loss and replace your previous patterns with more rewarding behaviour. 

When you’re going through a breakup you typically end up “in your own head” at some point.

And once you’re there it could become very hard to get out of it and move on.

A good counsellor or coach would be able to help you get clarity, regain focus, set positive goals, deal with your unhelpful feelings, and start moving to look forward again.

Trying Doing Something New 

Redecorate your surroundings. 

Our environment can be filled with unconscious triggers of the old relationship and you would want to get rid of them as much as possible to move on.

So, if your apartment reminds you too much of your ex, restyle your space.

If you can’t afford to replace the furniture, there are plenty of low budget solutions, like a fresh coat of paint or building a headboard out of an old door.

If you’re trying to move on after a divorce, download the free reports below (no optin) with some specific tips for divorcees:

Expand your interests.

You may have been neglecting your hobbies if your last partner didn’t share your passion for dancing or volleyball.

Now is a good time to find yourself again and resume the activities you love.

It’s also a great time to discover some new outlets and potential passions.

The worst thing you can do is lock yourself in a room and avoiding the world. That is a perfect recipe for depression and bitterness.

Get out and get moving. 

Schedule a makeover.

It’s easier to reinvent yourself when you’re comfortable with the way you look.

When we feel good about ourselves our confidence soars.

And confidence fills us with the courage needed to go beyond our comfort zone and experience new things in life again.

Therefore, to get you started, browse magazines for ideas or start small if you’re still figuring out what you want to look like.

If a tattoo seems too radical, shape your eyebrows or get a pedicure.

Get a haircut or a shave.

Whatever works for you as long as it makes you feel better about yourself and not worse.

Travel the globe. 

Now might be the time to travel for the first time in a long time.

Pick a destination you’ve always wanted to see, save some money, and go for it.

Look forward to seeing new places, experiencing new things, and interacting with others who see you as an individual instead of half a former couple.

Also truly savour the feeling of enjoyment that comes from feeling capable on your own as you figure out foreign currencies and sample the local cuisine.

Also enjoy the fact that you can do what you want when you want, and with whom you want.

Stay busy.

There’s a difference between accepting your grief and wallowing in it.

The more you do, the less time you’ll have to stare at the phone.

Staying busy redirects our focus and that’s a good thing.

Energy flows where focus goes and it’s therefore vital that you direct your focus to more constructive things than staring at your phone or inbox.

Find some you used to love doing and get back into it.

Last Thoughts on How to Move on After a Breakup

This is the time to bounce back after your breakup.

I get that it sucks but you must find a way to soothe your hurt feelings or pride, and shift your attention to the future if you’re serious about moving on with your life.

By using your old relationship as an opportunity to work on yourself, you’re laying a foundation for an even happier, healthier and more interesting life. Now is not the time to play safe and curl up in a corner.

This is YOUR time to be bold and step up and recreate a life that’s awesome!

And it can be again. Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, it can be if you allow it to be.

Yes, take the time that you need but, don’t take so much time that you wake up one morning wondering: “where the heck did my life go?!”

I truly hope this served you in some way or another. I want to see you happy. But I also know it’s not up to me … but only you.

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below or on my Facebook page so that I can personally respond to you.

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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