Moving on from the end of a relationship can be really hard on anyone, especially if the person who is now your ex was once someone you once really believed could be "the one." Sometimes, rather than facing that it's really over, we're tempted to just to ignore it and refuse to accept that the breakup is final. It may feel like the least painful option in the moment, but in reality, denial is just a recipe for prolonging your own suffering. This means it's time to get real about the signs you're in denial about your breakup, so that you can finally move on for good.
Getting over heartbreak sounds great, but unfortunately the first step is hard, and that's recognizing that you're in denial. In order to properly begin the healing process, you have to let go, which means recognizing "optimism for a reconciliation" is actually just plain old denial. If there's no chance for reconciliation, it's not healthy to convince yourself there is. I reached out to relationship experts for their takes on what being in denial about a breakup looks like. Here's what they say are some common red flags of someone holding onto a relationship that's over.
1You’re still pushing them to get back together.
One of the hardest things to get over during a breakup is feeling like you’ve lost control of your life as a result. Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, tells Elite Daily that folks who are in denial about the relationship ending may keep fighting for something that's gone. She says if “you spend a lot of time working on changing your partner's mind. You plead with them, email and text them, and write them a lengthy letter explaining why they should change their mind,” it’s a sign that you're refusing to accept that the relationship is over.
2You pass up new opportunities to stay available.
Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent relationship therapist in Los Angeles, tells Elite Daily, that another sign of denial is when you give up opportunities and put your life on hold in order to remain available just in case your ex wants to get back together. For example, if “you are offered a new and exciting job in a new city that you would love to be in and that will absolutely be a career enhancement — and you turn this opportunity down because you are still in denial that the breakup is not real or permanent,” Dr. Brown says that’s a major red flag that you're in a serious state of denial.
3You only focus only on the positive parts of your relationship.
After a breakup, it’s tempting to look back on your relationship with rose colored glasses. While it's good to be optimistic, Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the breakup BOOST podcast, tells Elite Daily, “when you are only focusing on the great pieces of the relationship or holding onto the fond memories,” it’s a sign of denial, because, “this shows you are not wanting to hone in on the bad parts because that would feel too scary.” Leckie explains this is often the cause of people saying things like, “‘I have no idea what happened…everything was perfect,'” when clearly it was not perfect, or the relationship would still be intact.”
4You try to make your ex jealous.
If you're trying to make your ex jealous to remind them of what they're missing, I totally get it. Been there, done that. But when it becomes an ongoing obsession and you start going out of your way to do things you hope will get under you ex’s skin and maybe even make them come back, it becomes a problem. Chlipala warns that if you do things like “find a hot date or friend and post pics on social media of the two of you,” with the express purpose of making them envious, then that’s a clear sign that you haven't moved on.
5You minimize your ex’s new relationship.
It can be painful to see your ex move on before you, but if “your ex has already found someone else... and yet you find yourself minimizing the relationship they have with their new partner,” then Dr. Brown says this is another sign you’re not being realistic about the state of your connection to your ex and you haven’t fully let go.
How to let go and move on
The first step in moving forward and getting out of your state of denial, says Dr. Brown, is to “realize that you are, indeed, in denial. That’s a significant barrier to get over.”
Leckie agrees, saying, “You have to snap out of Fantasy Land and face reality. See the relationship for what it is.” To start that process, she suggests you write down "all of the things that were not working in the relationship, right down to the nitty gritty — and how all of those things made you feel.” The reason this is helpful, Leckie says, is because "it is easier to get clarity and harder to be able to justify why you are fighting so hard to keep the relationship.”
Dating coach Erika Ettin tells Elite Daily your best weapon against denial is “space, and lots of it. Both physically and mentally. Easier said than done, of course, but a little space goes a long way.”
Chlipala says the most effective way to get over an ex and move on is to do "novel things,” because “novelty increases dopamine, the ‘feel good’ chemical. Take a solo vacation, try something that you've never done before, or get out of your typical routine for a couple of weeks. Doing anything different will help you feel better.”
Ultimately, your best defense against denial and most direct route to moving on is, as Dr. Brown says, to “embrace your own self respect.” While he acknowledges that breakups are a painful loss, you still have to “to love yourself enough to work through the pain, discover through the pain what your real needs are, and move on so you can give yourself the very best chance to recover and be in a relationship that will help you and your new partner get the love you both want in ways where you are truly more compatible.” That right there is the best reason of all to break out of your state of denial and heal — so you can move on to the bigger and better love that you deserve.
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