Why is it so hard to move on?
Posted on 10th February 2020 at 16:51
How many times have you heard one of the following?
“It’s really time you should move on, get on with your life.”
“You should really go out and meet people.”
“Don’t worry, there are plenty of other fish in the sea.”
“What’s in the past is in the past. Stop dwelling on it.”
Even though this is well-intentioned advice, it’s rarely very helpful – if we could move on, most of us would have done it long ago! Here are four reasons why we tend to remain stuck after the end of a relationship.
Even though this is well-intentioned advice, it’s rarely very helpful – if we could move on, most of us would have done it long ago! Here are four reasons why we tend to remain stuck after the end of a relationship:
1. We don’t want to move on.
If we were in a happy relationship with the love of our life and are devastated that it ended, staying attached to the other person – even in our mind – keeps them there a bit longer. We keep the mementos, photographs and everyday items like toothbrushes and clothes where they were so that we can keep loving our partner. Well-meaning friends may see these keepsakes and tell you to get rid of them, to let go, but this might leave you feeling lonelier than you were before. Don’t they understand what it feels like to lose someone we loved so much? You couldn’t bear to do away with personal items because they are the only things you have left. Moving on would mean forgetting the good times that you had together, pretending that the relationship never existed, or admitting that it is really over. It would be far too painful to move on. Hanging on to what we have left feels better.
2. We’ve already tried to move on and it failed.
We’ve all heard about “rebound relationships” not working out, and unfortunately it is often the case – when we try to jump into a new relationship immediately after another one has ended, we take a lot of unfinished business along with us into the next relationship. We may become involved with someone who isn’t really compatible because we’re trying to replace the loss of our former partner. We sign up for an online dating site the week after our breakup or we agree to go on a blind date even though we’re not ready. When these relationships dissolve, we’re hurt all over again – and the wound from the previous loss gets bigger and bigger. Somehow finding a new person to take the place of the person we’re missing doesn’t really work.
3. We’ve been hurt before and we don’t want to get hurt again.
If we have been betrayed by a past partner, physically or emotionally mistreated or even abused, devastated by a death, breakup or divorce, we have not only suffered the loss of a relationship: we’ve possibly experienced a loss of trust, loss of security, loss of safety, loss of control, loss of other friends and family. We swear we’re never going to get in this situation again. We can’t move on because it hurt too much and we still have too much pain to process. We vow to remain single for the rest of our lives.
4. We simply don’t know how.
You may be ready and willing to move on, but you honestly don’t know where to start. There are plenty of resources for attracting the perfect mate or finding the love of your life, but no one seems to tell you what to do when the relationship is lost. We may vent to friends, write letters in our journal, go to a therapist, or try anti-depressants, exercise, or alternative therapies such as energy healing or acupuncture in an attempt to feel better. All of them may provide some short-term relief, and we feel better as we come out of our therapy appointment or burn another letter or photograph. But eventually, the pain comes back. There are still things we wish we would have said or done differently, or maybe we feel unfairly treated and angry. We’ve been trying to move on, but nothing seems to work.
Fortunately, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been holding on to love, scared of the future or lack the tools to move on – there is a set of action steps that are effective in completing any relationship, in all of its complexity and uniqueness. Once you have learned the tools, you have the ability to recover from any future relationship, romantic or not.
Better still – if you do decide to meet someone again, you can do so knowing that the pain of the past will not affect your new relationship. You do not need to forget your previous partner or throw away your cherished memories, nor do you need to fear of being hurt again. You can fully invest in your new relationship and allow yourself a fresh new start.
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