5 Ways to Deal with the Guilt of Breaking Up with Someone Who Loves You

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We all know breakups suck. There’s just no way around it. After the rush of meeting someone new, falling for them and waking up to realize you are in a full-blown relationship, the end of all that honeymoon period can be rough. Just a year ago you might have thought this would last forever and that the two of you would walk arm and arm into sunset and live happily ever after. Then you realize that you’re all alone and you can’t stand to hear certain songs or see certain movies because it just reminds you of them! Don’t worry—you’re not alone. It gets better.

Everyone thinks getting dumped is about the worst thing that can happen, right? Well, being the one cutting the cord isn’t always a ticker tape parade. It still hurts, plus you can’t go out and get crazy drunk and complain about what a jerk your ex was because… well, you’re likely the jerk (just kidding—you have your reasons). Sometimes people drift apart or it’s just not working. It’s better to end it, even though you’re racked with guilt. Maybe the person you broke up with is perfectly nice, cool and fun but you just don’t feel the connection. You’re only human—you can’t fake loving someone.

Here are five ways to handle the guilt and stop punishing yourself for being the dumper, rather than the dumped.

5 Read This Book

Ok, self-help books can suck it, but there is this one… They’re embarrassing, corny and who wants to admit they read a self-help book after a breakup? Get over yourself though. If you are feeling horrible after your breakup and can’t seem to shake the guilt, you need to get this book “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken.” Yeah, maybe the cover looks cutesy, but read it on your Kindle. It really might help.

4 Think of the Future

Literally, imagine the future you and your ex would be living if you hadn’t ended things. Obviously you probably already did this at some point since a future that doesn’t look so bright usually leads to a breakup. When you’re feeling guilty, envision you and your ex in five, ten, or twenty years. You would likely be miserable and they would be stuck with someone who doesn’t love them. That doesn’t sound so great for either of you. Just remember this scenario and it might alleviate some guilt. You’re kind of doing them a favor—it just might take them some time and a lot of whining sessions with their BFFs to realize it.

3 Get Out of Town

This does not mean “run away from your problems and feelings.” Sometimes a little change of scenery helps in times like this—especially if you and your honey lived in the same town then you might need to get out of Dodge for a weekend. Go skiing, take a road trip and just change things up so you won’t be reminded of your guilt every two blocks. Time heals all things, even guilt, so give yourself a few days away from your normal routine.

2 Give Yourself a Break

Ok, so you’re not romanticizing the past but you are feeling like the worst human being on the planet. You have a conscience and this is a good thing. That means you’re a nice person rather than a sociopath. Be kind to yourself and remember that your ex will live and since you did not love them they will be better off without you in the long run. Stay busy, hang out with your friends and don’t throw yourself a pity party or become a martyr. Stay strong!

1 Don’t Romanticize the Past

After a breakup it’s really easy to forget all the reasons you split up (unless someone cheated—that’s a tough one to forget). But, say you broke up for less dramatic reasons, you might find yourself remembering that time you guys kissed in the rain under a willow tree (just like in that movie Say Anything) or the time you stared into each other’s eyes at the beach for hours. Sigh. In order not to feel guilty you need to stop romanticizing the past. Remember the not so great times; remind yourself why you left. Write it down if you need to! Just don’t make things rosier than they were or you’ll feel awful.

Dina Gachman writes about Hollywood and celebrities for Forbes, and covers film for Red Bull USA. She has written for Splitsider, Thought Catalog, and Hello Giggles. Her comic books about Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor are being published by Bluewater Comics.

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