Relationship Connection: How do I move on from a lost relationship?

Question

How do you get over a past relationship with someone you love that doesn’t love you back, while still having to work with and be involved in their life?

Answer

Obviously, you have to move forward with your life and not stay stuck in the regret and longing to be with this other person. Doing so, on the other hand, is easier said than done. Here are some thoughts on how you can move forward with your life even though you have regular reminders of this lost relationship.

One of the first things you can do is accept the finality of the romantic relationship. Even though you may still have to interact, the choice has been made to end the romantic connection in this relationship. Even though you didn’t choose for this relationship to end, you still need to make a choice to accept the decision of your former partner. In the same way we don’t like to accept the surprise of an unexpected auto accident, we still have to get out of the car, assess the damage, exchange information, and move forward in the new reality. Acceptance isn’t agreement. It’s simply moving forward in the new reality.

You can also practice gratitude for what you learned and what you became in this relationship. In the book “Message in a Bottle,” author Nicholas Sparks wrote:

This is not a goodbye, my darling, this is a thank you. Thank you for coming into my life and giving me joy, thank you for loving me and receiving my love in return. Thank you for the memories I will cherish forever.

This isn’t easy to do, but it will help you avoid the bitterness that comes from feeling unwanted and rejected.

The longer you stay stuck longing to be in a relationship that isn’t available to you anymore, the longer it will take you to create space for a new relationship. Learn the lessons from this relationship and be open to what worked and didn’t work. See what you can take with you to the next relationship. J.S.B. Morse once said, “a broken heart is just the growing pains necessary so that you can love more completely when the real thing comes along.”

Though difficult, it’s possible to simultaneously hold opposing emotions. For example, you can allow yourself to feel sadness, gratitude, peace, and regret as you think about your former relationship. Each of those emotions matters and can teach you something about your experience. You don’t need to push them away so you can feel good all of the time. Part of being a healthy person is to allow yourself to feel and learn from the more difficult emotions that arise out of our experiences. Notice each of these feelings and see if you can embrace the lessons that come with them.

As you accept their decision, appreciate the relationship you were able to have, and learn the lessons you need to learn from the experience, you will escape the trap of believing you’re powerless to move forward with your life. This will better prepare you to be an even better partner in a future relationship.

Stay connected!

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Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2014, all rights reserved.

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6 Comments

  • My Evil Twin October 8, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Prevention is much easier. Don’t be stupid enough to get a work place romance going. Very few ever work out.

  • Bobber October 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Fact is: YOU WILL NEVER GET OVER IT…

  • Dana October 8, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Why are you asking for advice from this namby-pamby therapist? All you need to do is pose that question to the posters of SG News and we’ll get to the point without citing another feel good unrealistic namby-pamby book. So, here’s the advice: Get another job. Get away from this person. Move on. And, stay out of a future workplace lust fest. it never works out.

  • Meow Mix October 8, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Here is a tip on how not to move forward with a new relationship. Talk about the old relationship, all the time, to everyone, verbally make comparisons between the former you can’t get over and the hopeful you can’t land. You might erase the risque pictures of your former from your phone as well, unless you intend to use them in your comparison conversations.

    • The Rest Of The Story October 9, 2014 at 12:02 am

      Don’t forget to stalk them on facebook and twitter too.

  • Toby October 8, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    I lost a relationship once and never found it. I did recieve some phone calls about it when I put the picture on a milk carton. She borrowed my car, left me when she returned she wanted to beat me. I didn’t mind the beating but it sucked when I relized she wanted to stay.

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