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Let’s face it, breakups trigger a particular form of grieving. You are forced to let go of someone with who you spent extensive time, maybe even built a life, and who was special to you. The catch is, they are still there – on social media, sitting in your contacts, and hanging on your wall in a frame. Your body and mind have grown accustomed to seeing, hearing, touching, and wanting this person, and yet in the snap of a finger, your access to them is nothing more than a “follow” button, that trivial 10-digit number, a snapshot of some memory. It. Is. Painful. But that pain is proof of life and that you have the capacity to love – and there’s nothing more beautiful than that.

a woman wearing black clothes leaning on the edge of a long table with a sad face

To prove you have the strength to get through this, and that you are far from being alone in the process, I have curated expert responses to the top breakup questions that you (and others) were too hurt to ask. These experts took part in our Let Love Begin Summit, sharing their knowledge and tools on how to find love again after a breakup. I have broken the main questions down into four recurring categories:

🖤 Ending a Relationship

🖤 Pain, Betrayal and Resiliency

🖤 Letting Go, Healing, and Moving Forward

🖤 Dating and Loving Again

We are all worthy of the love that is meant for us, and I trust you will find courage in these expert responses, commence your healing, and let love begin again! 

In previous breakups, did you feel prepared to let go?

Ending a relationship

Breakups can be emotionally draining. It doesn’t surprise me that many people ask if there’s an optimal way to part with their loved one, with the least amount of pain. 

Is there a conscious way to begin and work through a breakup? Are there specific questions that should be asked to assist in the closure of said breakup?

Susan Campbell honored us with her presence on day two of the summit. Its theme: Ending Things Consciously: Being More Resilient in the Face of Emotional Pain. Here she explains the benefits of ending a relationship.

“Relationships can be a growth opportunity. It’s not just about performing and being liked. It’s about learning about yourself, learning about the other… Most endings are so painful for people that they’re left with all kinds of unfinished business. Ending things consciously suggests that, when you’re getting involved with somebody, you…make an agreement that if one of [you] wants to end things… [you’ll] talk about it. If ending the relationship is an inevitable outcome, [you] will create time to have a conversation…about why it ended, what needs weren’t getting fulfilled. ”

Here are three great questions Susan Campbell suggests you and your former partner should discuss. This will assist in closure for both parties:

🖤 What will each of you miss about being together?

🖤 What will each of you not miss about being together?

🖤 How did each of you grow in this relationship?

Our guest, Lori A. Davis, from day eleven of the summit, focused on Getting a Fresh Start on Life After the End of a Relationship – How to Move Beyond the Fear of Failure and Loneliness to Love Again

Lori’s invaluable advice offers steps that can support all parties at the beginning of the breakup:

“This is a great time to evaluate your life. What’s working for you?  What’s not working for you? Are you happy with your career? Are you happy with your job? Are you happy with your friends? What about your spiritual life?” 

Asking yourself the following questions can impart wisdom on what your next chapter should look like – be specific and trust your instincts:

🖤 What do I want to take with me into this new life?

🖤 What do I love about my life? 

🖤 What do I love about myself? 

🖤 What do I want?

Pain, betrayal, and resiliency

Why are breakups so painful? 

This is one of the most common questions received on the topic of ending a relationship. Why is it so hard to get over the hurt of a breakup and find love again? How can one major loss, like a breakup, awaken so many other losses in our lives? Is it possible to gain resilience for future pain?

On day one of the summit, Linda and Charlie Bloom spoke on the theme of Letting Go: Why It’s Easier Said than Done. They admitted that even when we know it’s best to separate, there is still mourning over what could have been. The Blooms explained that, upon meeting someone, people tend to launch into fantasies of the potential relationship that is forming. The issue here is these imaginings are not  “grounded in reality because [you] don’t know each other.” 

“When we fall in love, on an intellectual basis, we know we’re not really good together,” said the Blooms, “the only intelligent thing to do is to free that person…free [your]self…find somebody who would be a better match for [you], who has similar values, similar interests, similar life goals.  But…that’s when [your] primal feeling of being rejected, feeling insecure… is activated. That’s why it can be very difficult to just let go.”

Another valued summit guest, Susan Bratton, shared on Day 3: Your 4 Relationship Values! that getting over the hurt of a breakup is particularly hard when we’re looking backward, rather than forwards: 

“One of the biggest things I see holding people back from having the intimacy, the passion, the connection that they crave, is betrayal. Hurt from the past that they just can’t get over. A lot of people have a hard time moving through past hurts and into their future potential.”

Dr. Debi Silber suggests in Episode 45: How to Trust Again After a Betrayal, that “Rebuilding is a choice.” When we set our minds to the past, our capacity for receiving is blocked. It is important to heal, and the first step is committing to moving forward, if not despite, then in spite of the hurt.

person sitting on the floor with arms around knees

The reason many of us feel so vulnerable at the end of a relationship is partly to do with the opening of old, unresolved wounds. Break-ups can awaken past losses in our life! As the Blooms put it, this can trick us into thinking other people can help us heal — that our partner will “redeem us of our suffering.” The real opportunity that presents itself here is “to go back and heal some of the losses from before, which may be compounding the grief.” If we can learn to do this on our own before committing to someone else, we will be less likely to select a partner out of desperate attempts to fill voids and mask past grievances. 

According to the Blooms, “One of the biggest challenges in this process of recovery is to be compassionate and patient with yourself…We’re not talking about a permanent condition, but a temporary condition…It’s so important to keep that in mind – this too shall pass… My job is to take care of myself as best I can, which might mean developing some practices that I hadn’t relied on before.” 

Have you ever felt blindsided by a breakup?

Susan Campbell agrees: “A tool for creating resilience around emotional pain is called compassionate self-inquiry, but it starts with recognition. So now we’re just holding space for our own emotions and letting them be there.” 

This brings us to…

Letting go, healing, and moving forward

There is much to be said about letting go and the process of healing. For efficiency’s sake, let’s discuss some best practices for moving forward. If you follow the advice of these experts, you will be delivered from the painful post-breakup period most of us navigate messily. 

For example, many of us want to know if there’s merit in the painstaking no-contact approach?

Lori A. Davis, for instance, believes that if keeping contact with your former partner is causing you pain and reopening wounds, it’s best to create that boundary for yourself. During the summit, she shared alternative and constructive outlets for your pain, such as finding a trusted person or professional to discuss it with; allowing yourself to access your feelings by way of speaking or journaling. She also mentions that sitting down to evaluate the former relationship – creating a list of likes and dislikes – can bring you clarity on requisites of future relationships. She adds that if you’ve been married and have children, a no-contact approach may not be viable; however, you can still set boundaries. 

“I will not read or respond to any text that does not involve making plans,” Lori offered as a personal example.

When it comes to healing, Jill Sherer Murray, from Day 21: It’s Never Too Late to Find the Big Wild Love, states “You’re forced to look at some really hard truths and some hard questions about yourself, things like, why did you stay for so long? None of the journeys that we encounter in love or life, in general, are about anybody else but us, why we’ve chosen it and why we’re bringing it in, and how we can make those internal changes so that we can do better the next time for ourselves.” 

Her teachings include explaining the magic of her concept of  Big, Wild Love:

“Big, wild love is self-love with intention. It is self-love that gives you the safety, the courage, and the confidence that you need to make, frankly, the bold moves in life.” Jill explains that you must experience the big, wild love for yourself first! “You cannot have it for another person without having it for yourself. 

a woman wearing a white loose long sleeves in the middle of a field of yellow leaves or flowers with her eyes closed and arms widely spread open

We talk about self-love a lot, but what’s the end game?  

What do we really want from all that? 

Self-love is the intention behind letting go… And so in order to cultivate that big, wild love, we really need to take a good, hard look at ourselves and our beliefs. We need to be willing to feel bad. We need to be willing to be alone because that’s where all the magic happens in cultivating people… here’s the thing: when you have your own big, wild love, the outcome doesn’t matter because you’re not seeking happiness or joy or validation from an external source. [The big wild love] would tell me, no matter what happens to you, whether you find love, whether you don’t find love, whether you get married, don’t get married, you’re going to be fine. You’re going to have a happy life because you have you, and you’re always going to do what’s best for you.” 

Dating and loving again

So, you’ve let go, healed, and are ready to find love again… How can you ensure that past mistakes won’t be repeated in a new relationship? 

According to Susan Bratton, “what’s important if you’re single is to understand what your relationship values are so that you can assess potential mates to see if they can provide those things for you. And what I have found is that people really love it when you are super clear about what is important to you; when you say to them, you know what, here are the top four things you could do to make me incredibly happy with you.” 

Susan also states that “when you’re first dating…just get a sense of the person and check on the fundamentals such as reliability, integrity, honesty, and communication, looking to make sure that they don’t have any issues or problems like drama, lateness, financial problems, health issues, etcetera.” She continues by explaining that compatibility lies in surface similarities, such as enjoying camping or appreciating when the other dresses nicely. Core values, however, are different. “Values are things that make meaning in your life, right? They are the things that let you know that your needs are being met.”

After you’re clear on what your values are, it’s important to embrace your singledom. How does this help your chances of loving again? After working with singles, Lori A Davis found that “the happier you are as a single person, the happier you are with your life, the faster you’re going to attract somebody new and the faster you’re going to attract the partner you want to attract. If you’re feeling needy, if there are things in your life that aren’t going well, and you’re trying to fill that need with a partner, you’re not going to attract the partner, generally speaking, that you want to attract. So, it’s time to say, Okay, I’m going to invest in me. I’m going to get my life together.” 

a couple dating and lying on grass under a big tree

When, then, is it okay to start dating again? How, in fact, can you tell if you’re ready and if a person meets your needs?

Lori A. Davis advises that you’re ready to get out there “when you can go on a date and not talk about your breakup. [Also], don’t look for somebody that’s just like your ex; absolutely go out and meet different people. Push the boundaries, meet people that are different from what you are used to…It’s your chance to actually explore different personalities, different kinds of people, learn something about what you like, what you don’t like.”

To wean out potential partners who can’t meet your needs, Susan Bratton suggests having a conversation that begins with, “I’m pretty clear about what I need… Do you want to hear about it? And if you know what you’re looking for, I’d love to hear it because I think it’s really good to be upfront.”

And when the day comes where you feel ready to love again, Susan Bratton has something to say about this:

“You’ve probably heard of something called the golden rule, do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Well, the golden rule is great, but I don’t think it’s the right thing for relationships. You don’t want to treat your partner the way you want to be treated. You want to treat them the way they want to be treated because we are all so different.

“Even if we have a lot of similarities, even if we grew up in the same place, in the same socioeconomic world, we still, even if we have the same religion or culture, we still at our root are entirely different people who value different things and have different needs inside of the container of the relationship. So I like to play the platinum rule, which is the higher game, which is to treat your partner the way they want to be treated and have them treat you the way you want to be treated. Which begs the question, what do [you] want? And that’s really what relationship values are: what you find most important in a relationship!”

Is there one tool you can take from this article to help you with your breakup today?