How You’re Still Gaslighting Yourself About Your Last Relationship

You can’t get over a breakup until you let the breakup happen. Unfortunately, most of us get stuck in a blame cycle where we obsess instead of letting go. We cycle through the same feelings again and again and wonder why it’s taking us so long. This is a list of mistaken beliefs it’s common to find yourself holding after a breakup. Once you are aware of them, you can stop trying to see through rose colored glasses and grieve the loss of the relationship you are leaving behind.

You tell yourself you ‘imagined’ the loving feelings. Our culture encourages us to deemphasize the role that feelings play in our lives. It’s common to look back at the feelings you had for someone and say they were “just feelings” after a breakup. But, like a powerful memory of a time when you felt especially happy and safe, this relationship was real simply because it can inspire those feelings in you. A smile is measurable, tears are measurable. You don’t have to pretend that it was nothing. You can admit that it mattered to you and that it makes you sad to be moving on to the next thing. Avoiding this admission only prolongs the icky breakup feelings.

You tell yourself that you have a particularly unlucky time in love. You cannot compare your romantic history to anyone else’s because you haven’t lived the experiences of anyone else. If you do this, you’ll end up comparing your innermost hurts and failures to someone else’s highlight reel. Not only will the grass look greener, but you’ll walk away from this thought process feeling that your own grass is fundamentally barren, broken, and unworthy. Remember that your past relationships probably looked perfect to some people on the outside too. Not everything looks the way it really is, so don’t waste energy comparing yourself to something that might just be a mirage.

You think something must be wrong with you. You cannot take romantic rejection (or any rejection, for that matter) as a rejection of your worth. Your worth is not up for debate. You are worthy just by virtue of existing. There are hundreds of reasons relationships fail: your schedules don’t align, one of you is moving, one of you isn’t over and ex, you miscommunicated or lost trust. This isn’t about there being unworthy because then no one in a relationship would ever feel unworthy.

You think the way people treat you is a reflection of your worthiness. Not only is your worthiness not up for debate, but other people are usually really bad at mirroring our own worth back to us! This means that when someone mistreats another, it’s because of that person’s previous life experiences, values, and how love has been modeled for them by their parents. They don’t mistreat you because you deserve it. If a person has had bitter, angry experiences with life up until the moment they meet you, that’s what is going to spill over into your relationship. The same goes for someone who mistrusts all their partners: they will find a reason to mistrust you.

You remember the good times, and forget about the arguments. Ask your friends what they didn’t like about your ex, there the ones who had to hear all the vents without the luxury of being attracted to them. You don’t have to turn your ex into a monster villain in your head, but just be realistic. Don’t build them up just because you can’t have them anymore.

You mistakenly think you’ll never meet someone like your ex again. The biggest lie your brain tells you after a breakup is that the person was irreplaceable. You think you’ll never meet someone so smart/outdoorsy/attractive/politically engaged/rich/good with your kids again. Whatever it is that made them special is now a cement block holding you in place. You have to trust. And if you can’t trust that you will meet someone else when you have moved on, you just have to try to be willing to act as if that’s true. Put one foot in front of the other. Keep moving on.

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