Deciding to end a relationship can be just as painful as being the one who is broken up with. You may feel guilt or regret afterwards, and you’re automatically labeled as the one who broke someone’s heart.
I recently ended my relationship with my boyfriend of more than four years. It was not an easy decision—he was my best friend and all of my favorite memories in college included him. But it wasn’t working.
I enjoyed one month of being happy to finally focus myself, explore the city I had recently moved to, and meet new people, until one day it hit me like a brick wall: We were broken up. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts to patch things up and get back together, it became clear to me that I had broken his heart and there was no turning back.
After ending a relationship, you may feel like the worst person in the world for hurting someone you loved and cared about, but trust me—you’re not, and you should never think that you are. Here’s why.
1. You’re not a quitter
After it hit me that we would never get back together, I found myself Googling “dealing with a breakup” or “how to move on from a breakup” most days. Most of these articles were geared toward those who had been dumped, not the “dumper.”
A common piece of advice they gave was that you don’t want to be with a quitter – the person quit on your relationship, and you deserve better.
Most likely, you ended it because neither of you were happy and you had exhausted yourself mentally for months trying to repair what was broken. You recognized an issue, tried to resolve it, but couldn’t. What were you supposed to do, hang in there for a few more months while both of you were unhappy? You took a risk and decided that going your separate ways (for now at least) was in the best interest of both of you.
2. You did what you felt was right
It’s likely that you didn’t just end things on a whim. And if you did, it’s probably because the problems had been building up and you couldn’t take it anymore. Something in your heart told you it wasn’t working, and you acted on it. And you saved each other a lot of pain in the future from delaying the breakup.
Down the road, you may have found yourself regretting your decision. “But what if this time he really meant it when he said he would change?” You can’t think like that. You need to constantly remind yourself why you ended it. In time, you’ll realize that it was for the best.
3. You need to forgive yourself
I’m still struggling with this step, but it’s an important one to overcome. You need to forgive yourself. You need to remind yourself that you did what you felt was right and that you’re not a terrible person. Many exes and their friends and family will make you out to be the bad guy, that they did so much for you and you left them. You didn’t leave them, you left a relationship that was no longer serving you, and remembering that is key.
It’s inevitable that you’ll look back on the relationship with rose-colored glasses, but avoid it at all costs. There were problems (on both sides) and things weren’t getting better. Think of the bad times, the times where thoughts of ending it were going through your mind. Remind yourself that you ended the relationship because you were no longer happy.
4. Things will work out in their own time
It can be hard to imagine, but the feelings of regret and sadness will dissipate over time. There will be bumps in the road – seeing your ex with someone new or struggling to meet someone that deeply cares about you, but trust me, it will work itself out. Going through a breakup, regardless of who was the one to end it, is a time to grieve. It’s the end of a chapter in your life and you need to grieve the loss of this person in your life. But, you need to focus on yourself and your future, learning valuable lessons throughout the pain.
One day, you’ll look back on your decision to break up and it will make sense to you. It will be a path that leads to your greater journey in life. When one door closes, another door opens, maybe not immediately, but it will.