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10 Ways Of Letting Go Of A Past Relationship Peacefully And Moving On

10 Ways Of Letting Go Of A Past Relationship Peacefully And Moving On

Letting go of a relationship that you were certain would last forever or that you just knew was ”the one” is painful. At the same time, letting go will be the most empowering thing you’ll ever do. Loving another is a lesson, in and of itself. Learning to let go and make peace with things you cannot change is vital. Letting go may involve you rethinking boundaries and negative relationship patterns, becoming more assertive or deciding to end contact with toxic people or others who have harmed you. Learning to understand that you can’t force people to do things, or to love you in return, in the way you want, will set you free.

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote many years ago, ”Let us forget with generosity the people who cannot love us.” Some people won’t have the ability to love in a healthy way. We can heed Neruda’s advice and wish them well on their journey, while saying farewell. Letting go of a past relationship is a lot like mourning a death. You’ll notice denial, anger, rationalization, obsessive thoughts on the relationship and the other person, among other things, and eventually, acceptance.

Here are 10 ways that you can let go of a past relationship and move on.

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1. Accept that the relationship has come to an end.

This is the hardest but most important step in letting go of a past relationship. If you are not aware and present to the fact that it’s over, you won’t be able to process the grief and loss. You need time to get in touch with your pain and understand your feelings. Acceptance is a form of closure that you shouldn’t ignore. Mindfulness-based meditation could be helpful. During this time, you may find solace in making art, embracing your favorite hobbies and friends.

2. Take your time to process the pain.

It’s your right to mourn the relationship, grieve its death and release the ensuing sadness. Let yourself process the rejection. Don’t avoid the more intense parts of this transition. Don’t force yourself to get over it in a rush. This will help you understand yourself better. If you are a more sensitive person than most, and struggle with issues of abandonment, this may be a good time to seek out a counselor or psychologist that can support you and help sort out remaining wounds from past relationships. Do remind yourself frequently that healing is not a race.

3. Don’t internet-stalk or make plans of revenge.

Confucius once said, ”Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” And in matters of heartbreak, this is very fitting. You may be so hurt and confused that you want the other person to experience what you are going through, and some may even encourage you to do so. No one wins in the game of revenge. Trying to hurt another because you are upset is immature, dangerous and a waste of time. If you are busy making revenge, you are not healing. Avoid obsessively following and finding them on the internet and in real life. The last thing you need to see is them off doing things you once enjoyed together, or pursuing another partner. Reading their posts can also keep you stuck in false hopes.

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4. Don’t try to be ”just friends”, if the relationships end was not mutual.

Pushing for a platonic friendship right after the breakup of a romantic relationship is too much, too soon. No one can turn their emotions on and off like that. If you or the other person can, this can be a marker of an emotional issue that may require professional help. Remind yourself again that you cannot fix, change or do someone else’s healing for them. Suddenly reseting the relationship back to a casual friendship is not helpful in letting go. If the other person is pushing you to be their friend and remain in constant contact, it could signal their own issues with abandonment, control or poor boundaries. They may also be pushing for your friendship so they don’t have to feel bad or guilty for breaking up with you. You are not required to be friends or in contact with the person. If the relationships’ ending was mutual, you may choose to attempt a friendship with the person later on, but you’ll still need your own time and space to decide what is in your best interest. Keep in mind, some people will need to be loved from afar.

5. Don’t maintain an intimate relationship with your ex.

This seems obvious to some, but for many this can easily become a pattern. Someone breaks up with you, and you agree to continued intimacy after they’ve rejected you as a partner. This is unfair. It not only keeps you stuck in the dead-end relationship, but may give one of you the idea that the other person does want you back and the relationship will come back to life. The person initiating the intimacy may be thinking that this is just until they find someone else they want to pursue. This is heartbreaking for the person who was convinced it meant something more. Continuing an intimate relationship with your ex also won’t allow for you to make room for other relationships that may be presented to you. You will experience love again, and with someone who wants to commit to you and be in your life, not just for the “fringe benefits”. Don’t settle.

6. Fall in love with your life, again.

Reconnect with your friends, family and favorite hobbies. Do something you’ve avoided doing out of fear. Refocus your energy. You may have given so much of yourself to the relationship that you neglected yourself and your favorite things. Be aware that your self-esteem will be fragile, and you may do a fair bit of crying as you get through this. It’s ok. Make lists of dreams and goals for the coming year, and go out and do them. Volunteer in your community, go on a road trip, hike a mountain, get in touch with nature, write poetry, read a book, sit in silence, take a class, focus on your career, go back to school — the options are endless. Be who and what you’ve always wanted. Write down things you are proud of yourself about, and revisit the list when you feel down. As you start on this journey of self-love and acceptance, you’ll find yourself attracting quality friendships that allow you to be your authentic self.

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7. Reflect on what didn’t work in the relationship.

Once you’ve made it past the grieving and acceptance, you’ll be able to see things more clearly. It may be that when you think about the relationship, you may realize there were red flags or things that didn’t work well for you. Use this to better all your relationships — romantic or otherwise. Maybe you or the other person were passive-aggressive, conflict-avoidant, co-dependent or people-pleasing. Endings can be amazing beginnings.

8. Don’t rush into another relationship.

Some might try to replace the last relationship as soon as possible to avoid feeling loss, loneliness or any pain. Some will keep another person waiting in the wings, as one relationship is ending. Don’t be the other waiting in the wings, and don’t make someone else your rebound. It’s unfair to use others as you try to get over your ex. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to game the system of a broken heart. If it was simply that easy, no one would ever need to read an article about letting go and moving on from a relationship that’s ended. When the time is right, you’ll know it. With the time and space you’ve allowed yourself, you’ll be able to better understand if this new relationship is one that will be healthy and positive.

9. Remove their photographs, gifts and love letters.

Waking up to their photographs and love letters won’t aide you in letting go and moving on. You’ll continue to romanticize them and the relationship, even if it was not a great one. You may want to put the photographs, letters and gifts out of reach in a special keepsake box, under lock and key. If this is too much of a temptation or the person was particularly toxic, you may want to burn the treasures as a symbolic way of releasing all of the negative energy. You can also repurpose the items and turn them into an art piece expressing what’s occurred. Donating or recycling the items are other options.

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10. Remember that there is not always a “one true love” for everyone.

Some people come into our lives for a brief period of time to teach us a lesson or expose us to a new way of thinking. We will keep reliving the same things until the lesson has been learned. While you may have loved someone, and continue to do so, they will likely not be the only person you will ever love. If it is supposed to happen, it will. You don’t need to beg someone to love you or care for you, in the way you do for them. Open up yourself to the possibility that this ending is the beginning of something far better than you’ve ever experienced before.

Featured photo credit: PictoQuotes / Trudy Bloem via photopin.com

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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