So, you broke up with someone last year, and still can’t get over your ex. It happens. You know what you should do, though? Get over your ex.

Out with the old, in with the new. A new door cannot open if the old door does not close. If it is not meant to be, it is not meant to be.

Trite cliched sayings aside, life truly is too short to dwell in negative feelings for long. While getting over someone is not as simple as turning a light switch on and off – trust me, I wish it was too – it is possible to try getting over your ex by using the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross model.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a Swiss-American psychiatrist who wrote the international bestseller book, On Death and Dying, in which she discussed the five stages of grieving. These stages can also be applicable to processing the death of a relationship.

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Whether it was an amicable breakup or a bad breakup, here’s how to get over your ex through five stages of emotion: 

1) Denial 

Denying that you broke up with your partner. Image: Unsplash/ Andrik Langfield

It can be hard to suddenly have a human-shaped hole in your life, one that used to be filled perfectly by your ex. There is a whole new routine to get used to, and a huge part of you can sometimes be in denial about this fact.

This is understandable as you transition from “being in a relationship” to “being single” again. Little things seem to remind you of your ex, and make you miss the good parts of your ex tremendously.

Your goal in this stage is to stop living in denial as soon as possible. Even if you both decided to remain good friends, you should cut them off for at least a few months so that their presence does not hurt you.

This means blocking them on social media, refusing to see them or give them the time of day, deleting their number, and asking your friends not to discuss your ex. If you allow your ex’s presence to linger on, that human-shaped hole in your life is never going away – you’re effectively denying that the breakup happened.

2) Anger

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After a breakup, it is normal to feel angry about the breakup. Whether the breakup was planned or not, you had dreams for this relationship that did not come true.

Be careful not to engage in self-destructive behaviour when you feel angry. If you feel like punching something, why not join a kickboxing class, take up karate lessons, or try new hobbies?

Do not repress the anger, as it can come back worse and make you do things you regret – such as texting your ex with things you really should not say to them. Find healthy ways to express this emotion instead. 

3) Bargaining 

You might be tempted to bargain to get the relationship back again. Perhaps, if you changed, your ex would come back and you could do over the relationship again. 

However, it is not advisable to change who you are as a person for a relationship. You would find yourself resenting them eventually, or unable to forgive them for what caused the breakup in the first place.

While a breakup is painful, it is even more painful to keep poking the wound. Let it heal by leaving it alone. Distract yourself with other activities if you need to, and make plans that do not involve your ex. As time goes on, you will find that you think of them less and less.

4) Depression 

Feeling depressed after a break up is normal. Image: Unsplash/ Raychan

This stage is a no-brainer. There will be moments when you are sad you have lost a relationship, no matter the reason why you broke up.

Just like the anger stage, do not repress your sadness. Again, do not reach out to your ex – remember, they’re the one causing this sadness. Talking to them would just prolong your sadness.

While it’s easier said than done, ask your friends to keep you accountable and in check. Treat “getting over your ex” like a journey with a goal. Celebrate each milestone by treating yourself to something you like, e.g. taking yourself out to a lovely meal when you realise you did not think about your ex for an entire day.

Remember, your ex is not the only thing in this world that can make you happy, no matter what your negative emotions tell you.

5) Acceptance

Accepting a break up Image: Unsplash/ Courtney Cook

We arrive at this stage at our own pace. Some people arrive here faster, and some people take a longer time. Whatever our speed, it is just important to keep moving towards this goal. With that being said, it is good to set a time limit so that you do not waste years of your life dwelling on a failed relationship.

At this stage, you would hopefully have completely moved on from your past relationship. Thinking of your ex does not hurt you anymore, and you would not want to run and hide when you run into them on the streets.

May you achieve this stage this year. You can do it.