• Shona Dee

How to Emotionally Detach from your Ex

How to Emotionally Detach from your Ex

We all know that the heartbreak which follows a break-up SUCKS. When we’re going through heartbreak it can feel as though there is no end in sight - that we will never feel whole, happy or in any way normal again.

There is good reason for this. When we have spent a good portion of our time with another person in an intimate relationship, emotional bonds and ties will have formed - this is a normal and natural process. During a break-up, those bonds are ties must be severed - this naturally hurts!

We naturally don’t like the hurt, so we fight it. We do everything we can to hold on – to our partner and to our memories - and this is where our troubles begin. We simply don’t know how to let go, or emotionally detach. The good news is that with a little time and a little effort, we will get through the hurt and begin to feel better.

Here are some things you can do to help you emotionally detach from your ex:

Accept what has happened

Accepting this change to your circumstances, rather than resisting it, is extremely important in helping you move forward. If the decision to separate is final – whether it was your choice or not - stop wishing it otherwise. You will only prolong the pain, and delay your progress in moving through the grief, if you spend time and energy wishing and hoping for things to be different.

NOTHING is permanent in life – good or bad. Situations and people naturally evolve and change over the course of time, and you will find that once you accept this life becomes a lot less daunting. And, change of any sort is nowhere near as scary as it potentially could be.

Even a grudging acceptance is better than none. Life may not have turned out exactly as you had planned BUT if you can allow yourself to let go of the idea of how it all ‘should be’, you may just create a life more beautiful, and more profound than the one you left behind.

On a practical level … remove all traces of relationship memorabilia from your home and yourself (photos, jewellery etc). This will help speed the detachment process up!

Grieve the end of the relationship

A break-up is a death, of sorts – it is the end of the life you shared with your significant other. And in order for you to move forward with no baggage and create a beautiful NEW life for yourself … the end of this life needs to be grieved, just as any death is grieved. The grieving process cannot and must not be skipped. It can be painful, it can be uncomfortable, it can be a downright agonizing nuisance at times.

Make no mistake here – the temptation to simply block and numb the pain will strike. But for your own good, ignore this temptation. Grieve, and do it well. You will be doing yourself – and your future mental and emotional health – a HUGE favour if you allow yourself the time and the energy to mourn your loss now, by feeling and processing the emotions as they come along.

Grieving is a very individual process and there is no specific timetable or timeline to adhere to. The important thing is to not deny or block whatever feeling arises or to try to numb the pain associated with the feeling with alcohol or drugs or sex or all night partying. When the feeling comes … sit with it, feel it, process it. Then let it go.

Maintain separate lives

This point is especially relevant if you and your ex share family ties (ie. children):

Assuming that you are no longer living in the same house, maintain a respectful distance if/when at each other’s homes. If your ex has come to your home to collect the children, he should be able to wait at the door whilst the kids gather their stuff to leave with him. He should not be entering the house and making himself comfortable! The same goes for you if/when at his home.

If you’re still residing in the same house, this is obviously a lot trickier. However you can still maintain separate spaces and treat your situation as a temporary ‘flatmate’ type scenario. Anything other than this would not be helpful in trying to emotionally detach from your ex. Remember, you are no longer a couple.

On the same note, resist the urge to know what he’s up to, who he’s seeing, where he’s going. Don’t stalk him on social media, and don’t ask others (especially your children!) what he’s up to. If you do need to be in contact – focus on keeping it simple and business-like.

All that should matter to you is that he is treating you and your children with respect and courtesy … the rest is none of your concern. And the same goes in reverse – he does not need to know the details of your personal life.

End the reliance on each other

If you do need to be in contact with your ex – be very mindful of lines getting blurred. Again, remember you are no longer a couple. Do your very best not to act as his wife or partner. Don’t look to him for advice or help on any matter – go to your friends or even a professional counsellor or therapist for this.

Likewise, don’t allow him to overstep the mark with you – you are both independent mature adults who need to learn to function without the other.

This is not to say that you should despise each other, but you certainly should not be relying on each other either. Maybe further down the line these rules can be eased, but for now, look elsewhere for this type of support. It is truly the best way to ensure you do not remain emotionally attached!

Have you ever struggled to detach from a relationship? Tell me in the comments!

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