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How To Move On After A Relationship Ends

Updated on July 19, 2012

When A Relationship is Over

We've all been there and done that in terms of the relationship we thought was so perfect we couldn't imagine it ever coming to an end.

Then one day, it's as if we suddenly see it for what it is. We've been deluding ourselves into trying to make something work that's impossible.

It doesn't matter if it's a friend, a husband or a wife or a relationship within your family or at work. Everyone has relationship issues and some of the time or even most of the time, with some good old fashioned work (usually by both parties) it's possible to salvage many relationships.

However, there are some relationships that are just plain toxic but for whatever reason, we allow them to hold us or bind us in ways we know really aren't healthy. They create no positives in our lives, yet we can't let go.

Why do we try to keep a failed relationship alive?

Because most of us don't like failure. That's the perception when you have a relationship that no longer works.

One or both parties doesn't want to give up and let go because that would mean there's something wrong with one of them. They will then fail at something. The something is a huge deal because it's a relationship.


Signs of a Failed Relationship

There are many telltale thoughts and feelings that signify something isn't working between two people.

Red flags:

  • There are more bad times or troubles than good times
  • The good times seem like a better place to be in your mind
  • "If only the other person would change" is your constant mantra
  • You wish you could be different - then you would be loved more
  • You deserve to be treated badly because you aren't a good person
  • He or she deserves your worst because they aren't worthy of you
  • There's always tomorrow - things could improve
  • If you try hard enough, you can change him or her
  • The other person can't live without you
  • You can't live without him or her
  • If he or she apologizes, it means everything is okay
  • Some people are just not good at relationships
  • Where would you go from here?

Self Esteem and Self Confidence

This seems like a good time to point out that the person with a healthy self image, good self esteem and self confidence will probably figure out how to be in a healthy relationship faster than the person who doesn't have these qualities.

The way to be in a healthy relationship is to have a healthy self image. However, even then, you can become hooked by the lure of some relationships. Some people attract other people like moths to a flame. They're flashy, they're charismatic, they exude charm. Yet, after you get to know them a bit more, you find it's just a sham and you realize that you have absolutely nothing in common.

Trying to hold onto a relationship that brings one or the other person in it (or both) unhappiness or uneasiness simply isn't worth it. Trying to pretend that everything is okay is a road leading nowhere. If you're uncomfortable, chances are the other person is uncomfortable too.

Mixed signals are hard to undo once you've given them so once you realize that your feelings for this person aren't going to go the duration, it's best to cut your losses and walk away. Or if you're on the receiving end of some confusing behaviors, be honest with yourself and with the other person involved. The end of a relationship isn't the end of the world.

People who end up in healthy relationships do so because they figure out what works for both parties. They put away the blame game and learn when to move on. It takes a certain degree of self confidence and self esteem to do that but on the other hand, walking away from a bad relationship can be the start of building that self confidence and positive self image.

The End of a Relationship

Getting through a breakup with a friend, a lover, or even distancing yourself from a self destructive relationship with a sibling or a parent can be rough.

Especially if you start to analyze your reasons for staying in the relationship and discover much to your alarm that you've got a pattern of behavior that's causing you to allow relationship problems repeatedly.

Life can be a series of patterns. You get used to being treated a certain way or you adopt a certain philosophy about the kind of people you "think" you should be with. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and somehow you pick the same people over and over.

Stop the madness! Either take some time to settle down and figure out what you truly want and need in a relationship that will bring you happiness or talk it over with a counselor.

An idea that sometimes can really pay off is to try to involve yourself with someone who has the opposite traits of the person you are usually attracted to. While not always 100% effective, it can work and effectively break you of the habit of picking exactly the same person over and over.

Many times, the desire to be "with" someone and not be alone overrides our common sense. We settle for relationships that probably don't have a future or at least a meaningful one because we can't stand the thought of being alone.

Taking the time to figure out what went wrong in the previous relationship before jumping with both feet into another one will prevent regrets.

Things to think about and work on when you decide to move on:

  • What went right in the relationship? Be honest
  • What things were wrong in the relationship? Again, true facts
  • The glass can be half full but you need to face reality - why didn't it work out?
  • The past is the past so examine it, analyze it and let it go!
  • Even though it's uncomfortable, pain is a necessary part of growth
  • Why should one relationship define who you are or are not?
  • Is there only one person who can be your soulmate or your friend? No!
  • Consider moving on a positive step for both parties - growth potential
  • Ask yourself what you want most in life and decide to get it
  • Work on you - your self esteem, your goals, your dreams
  • Everyone is a work in progress - you can't change anyone except you
  • Ask yourself what you want in a friend, a companion, a family member
  • Stick to your list (within reason) and don't "settle" for less
  • Decide if being alone is something you can't handle - why?
  • Think of each solid relationship you have and ask yourself why it works
  • Remember every relationship you have is part of the whole - look for patterns

For more tips on some do's and don'ts on how to break up, watch the following video.

What is a Failed Relationship Like?

When you're in the middle of a failing relationship or one that is ending, it's hard to look beyond sometimes but it's a necessary step in healing. Moving on means walking away from the past, not living in the future but pursuing it, and being in the now. Live for today.

Whatever kind of relationship it is, people need mutual respect to have a healthy coexistence with each other. No one wants to feel that someone is constantly beating them down to make themselves feel better or look better. No one wants to be in a relationship where they feel like they need to change.

Relationship problem examples:

  • Ted drinks to excess and Marge keeps the battle going to make him stop. It goes on for year after year but Ted feels like he's fine the way he is. Isn't it about time Marge moved on and found someone she didn't feel she needed to change?

    Analysis: Ted is happy being who he is and doesn't want or need Marge's "help." What's the point in wasting years trying to see eye to eye when it just isn't possible?
  • Brenda is married to Brian. She had a violent childhood and she continues to ruminate about that but can't see the value in counseling. Her demons follow her through life and she has developed a huge anger management problem. She lashes out and beats Brian down verbally as well as sometimes becoming physical. She always says she's sorry. Brian forgives her because he knows she doesn't "mean" it and she "really isn't like that" most of the time.

    Analysis: Again, why waste precious time trying to make something work that is obviously dysfunctional for both parties? Repeat offenders who do not get help keep abusing. Sometimes you have to "man up" and move on.
  • Sherrie and her sister Ruth have had a roller coaster relationship. Sometimes they get along but most of the time, Ruth is neglectful of Sherrie, staying in touch only when it suits her. At other times, she's selfish and manipulative, always having to have things her way and never allowing Sherrie to have any say in their interactions.

    Analysis: Why keep doing this? It's not a healthy relationship for Sherrie or Ruth. Neither sister is getting anything positive from this situation and if talking it out can't resolve the issue of one person bullying the other, it's time to move on.

Thought: A soggy potato chip isn't a real potato chip.

What is a Good Relationship Like?

A healthy relationship on the other hand is one in which both parties are equally respected and enjoy mutual benefits.

Neither person feels put down, ridiculed, abused. Neither person feels that they are giving up their needs, wants and dreams at the expense of the other person.

Regret and denial have no place in a relationship of trust because boundaries are respected and both parties respect each other.

While evolution and growth are part of the future, there is no pressure to improve or "be better." Both parties are acceptable just as they are and loved for who they are.

No one has to try harder to make things work because they already work.

Whereas a failed relationship brings pain and rumination about past events or a bleak future, a healthy relationship teaches both parties every day how to move forward, upward and onward.

Starting over doesn't have to be the end of the world. Especially if you consider the bonus of finding a long term relatiionship that can work for both people.

No one likes "failure" but is it truly failure when you learn from something and turn a negative into a positive?

Staying in a rut or a failed relationship seems a bigger failure than having the fortitude to say enough and begin the process of starting over.

Change isn't easy in most cases but in reality, moving on from toxic relationships can refresh someone's life in many ways and give them a new lease on life.

Sometimes the hardest part isn't letting go but rather learning to start over.” - Nicole Sobon


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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      I completly agree, Savvy!! Thanks for stopping by.

    • savvydating profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent advice. Ending a relationship that is toxic is not the end of the world; it's a second chance for a better life. Great hub! Voted up.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I think self esteem plays a big part in it for me, the old saying you have to be able to love yourself before you can love or be loved by others is very true in my life. great article thamks.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Hi BJ - yes indeed - I've mainly experienced the breaking up with friends over the past years and thankfully not my main squeeze - but it is still hard to do. But unfortunately for most of us, toxic relationships are just not that healthy. When it's time to move on, it's time to move on and I do believe it's best for all parties concerned. I personally like to listen to These Boots Are Made For Walkin'....ha ha~ Thanks for stopping by (as always).

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Mellony - I think you are right and that's why I mentioned that. I think even as women though we have to be able to say we CAN stand on our own 2 feet without someone to "complete us" to achieve full emotional independence. Otherwise, that sets up a pattern for jumping from (possibly) one bad relationship to another. Any time we let someone else set the rules for the definition of us (meaning we can't be okay all by ourselves), we still run the risk of not having as fulfilling a relationship. Thanks for pointing that out!

    • Mellonyy profile image


      6 years ago

      Great presentation!

      It’s true that most of us don't like failure, but what about the fear of being alone? Almost every woman is afraid of that.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      Did you ever hear that catchy tune, Audrey, called "Breakin' Up is Hard to Do?" I'm listening to it now as I read your clever hub. Breakin' up is very hard to do, but your well-thought out analysis and suggestions should help immensely anyone who finds himself or herself in that situation.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      OMG no - what would I do without him? And better yet, what would he do without me~ Nope - we're stuck like glue me thinks.....

    • Austinstar profile image


      6 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

      You had me worried for a bit. I was thinking you might have broken up with your husband, Bob!


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