How to Get Over Denial about a Breakup

Take action to move on with your life.
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After a breakup, it can be hard to believe that your relationship is really over. Although it’s normal to be in denial after a relationship ends, it’s important to eventually accept that that part of your life is over. Be open to ways to get over the denial so you can move on.

1 Expect and Understand Denial

A breakup is a loss, and you will go through some of the same grieving stages that you do when mourning a death. Along with denial, these stages include anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, notes therapist Jennifer Kromberg in “The 5 Stages of Grieving the End of a Relationship.” You may believe that this is just a temporary break or you may hold on to the hope that you will get back together. When you are in denial, you might want to continue to text and call your ex as you did when you were together. In “The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman's Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce,” psychotherapist Rachel Sussman notes that denial is necessary to protect you from the overwhelming shock that comes with a big change like a breakup.

2 Talk About It

The more you talk to people about the breakup, the more real it will become. While you are having a hard time accepting the end of the relationship, talk to your loved ones about your feelings. Rely on close family and friends to give you doses of reality when you need it. If they have been through similar experiences, they may be able to relate and reassure you that the denial you are feeling is normal. Their support will also help you dissect the relationship -- the good and the bad -- and come to the realization that you broke up for a reason.

3 Let Go of the Past

Your refusal to believe your relationship is over may be because you are still holding on to memories. Although this stage takes time to get through, you can start taking steps to let go of the past. The article “Surviving a Relationship Break-Up: Top 20 Strategies” from the University Health Centre of the University of Alberta, suggests using symbolic rituals to get some closure without contacting your ex. Get rid of photos, gifts or texts that remind you of the relationship. Write a letter to your ex about how you feel, but don’t send it. Actions like this may help you internalize the fact that the relationship is really over.

4 Look to the Future

After getting getting rid of relationship reminders that are holding you back, look ahead. Your life will move on regardless of whether you live in the present or are stuck in the past. Remind yourself that you still have a future ahead of you with many exciting possibilities. In “It’s a Breakup, Not a Breakdown Workbook,” relationship coach Lisa Steadman suggests envisioning a positive future where you have moved on from your ex and are living a better life.

Sarah Casimong is a Vancouver-based writer with a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She writes articles on relationships, entertainment and health. Her work can be found in the "Vancouver Observer", "Her Campus" and "Cave Magazine".