As someone who recently had their heart veritably ripped out and stamped on I think I’m reasonably qualified to say that clinging to the hurt caused by a painful relationship breakup is neither healthy nor sensible.

There’s nothing more wonderful than being with someone who makes you feel 100% happy with your life. You wake up in the morning, roll over and see them sleeping beside you and smile. Filled with contentment you get up and go about your daily life knowing that you have someone to love who loves you in return.

Then something goes wrong. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is, or what caused it but somehow you have ended up alone. Whether you are male or female, it hurts just the same. Suddenly everything in your life has been turned upside down and you’re not quite sure how to fill your days. Spending hour after hour staring at your mobile phone, willing it to ring. Hoping for a text message that says “I’m sorry” or “I miss you”.

Now let’s be honest. The relationship broke up for a reason. However happy you were in the beginning – something changed.

My most recent heartache was caused by falling for an American who ended up having to go back home to the USA. I spent a good few days, possibly even a couple of weeks, crying and bleating about it to some very patient friends who all had the good grace to let me get it out of my system. That was just what I needed. I discovered though, during some profound soul-searching (and sulking) that I am perfectly fine by myself. I may want a man, but I by no means need one. This guy and I remain good friends, we talk often, and I wish him well. Do I still love him? Yes, but I don’t need him in order to carry on with my life.

The point I’m trying to make is that if and when a relationship ends, spending your days lying on the sofa singing ‘All by myself” and drinking copious amounts of vodka isn’t going to make any difference. It’s over. Deal with it and move on.

Let me be clear though. I’m not a fan of the ‘tough love’ approach. We all need time to grieve. It would be unrealistic to expect anyone to suffer a traumatic break up and then just say “Oh well, life goes on” however true that may be. Bottling up emotion is not what I am suggesting here.

What I am suggesting is putting a time limit on the teary days spent poring over old photographs and dwelling on what might have been. I would say no more than a month. After all, you need to accept that that part of your life is over and start embracing your new life as a single person.

Is it really so bad to be single after all? I think not. You can go out with your friends and not have to explain to anyone why you got home at 5am with one shoe missing. You can spend Friday night laid on the sofa in your pyjamas eating pizza or Haagen Daaz and there is no one to raise an eyebrow at the amount of calories you might be consuming.

You can also walk around your house/apartment totally naked and not worry whether your ass looks big.

I know none of the above compare to being in love, but at the risk of repeating myself I’ll say it again – It’s over. Deal with it and move on.

How many of us have stayed in a bad relationship just because we think it’s preferable to being alone? I did it for over three years. During that time I think I managed to feel lonelier than I ever have whilst single. It’s a sad fact that a large number of people rely on being part of a couple in order to be happy.

What would I rather be doing right now? Would I rather be with a man who I loved with all my heart and have him love me in return? Of course I would! Do I want to be with someone just for the sake of it to avoid the supposed stigma of being single? Hell no!

The problem with clinging to the hurt and pain caused by the end of a relationship is that you aren’t allowing yourself a chance to be happy.

I sat down one afternoon, about a week after the guy I was in love with flew back to the United States and I was staring at a photograph of us both on a rollercoaster, heads back, laughing, completely happy. A tear rolled down my cheek as I wished he was still here. I spent the rest of the day in a melancholy mood until the time difference meant it was OK to call him.

I phoned him and when he answered his cell phone there was a lot of background noise. He’d gone out to play pool with his friends. After speaking to him for no more than five minutes it was blatantly obvious that he was perfectly happy. He was back where he belonged and had his friends around him. We chatted for a while and after I hung up the phone I sat there in silence for a while. Call it thinking, call it soul-searching. Whatever it was I came to the realisation that I had obviously had a lot stronger feelings for him than he had for me. Had the situation been reversed I wouldn’t have left him. I would have found a way to stay and make it work. The fact that he didn’t want to made it perfectly clear that our ‘relationship’ wasn’t as wonderful as I’d thought. I’d been wearing rose-tinted glasses.

So I gave myself a good stern talking to and resolved to shed no more tears for a relationship that wasn’t mean to be.

The point that we all should remember when we sit around crying over someone is ‘Que Sera Sera’ (Whatever will be, will be.) If we were meant to be with that person, then we wouldn’t have broken up with them.

I don’t believe there is only one person out there who we are compatible with. I believe in soul mates (to a degree) – but who’s to say we each have only one?

How many people do you know that married their first boyfriend/girlfriend and stayed with them until they died? I personally don’t know any.

Do we enter into a relationship with someone knowing we are not attracted to them, or have no feelings for them? I never have, and I’d highly doubt anyone else would either.

Have you only ever had one painful break-up? I know I’ve had several, and so have most of my friends.

The point I’m making with these questions is that we’ve been hurt before, and got over it after a certain amount of time, enough to meet the next person we fell for. The same will happen again. By clinging to the pain you feel you are only extending the healing process.

My advice? Have a couple of weeks to mope around, but no more than a month.
Talk to your friends; ask them to be brutally honest with you in response to any questions you might ask.

At the end of your moping period, put away the photos and keepsakes. Get yourself a little diary and fill it with as many social events as you can.

Keep yourself busy and, most of all, having fun. Don’t allow yourself to dwell on the past, but look to the future.

For you sceptics who wonder just how long I’ve been single – it’s been two months since he left. The advice I give is that which I have followed and it’s made it a lot easier than any other break up I ever suffered.

This post was contributed by Serendipity.

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