How To Start Living Your Life Again After A Painful Breakup Or Divorce

You can heal your broken heart.

How To Move On & Live Your Life After A Breakup Or Divorce getty

Going through the dissolution of a marriage or the breakup of a long-term relationship is one of the most agonizing experiences you'll ever face. With deep emotions of grief and loss swirling around, figuring out how to move on, love yourself and rebuild a life full of happiness after divorce can sometimes feel impossible.

When you’re right there going through it, you yearn for answers to a nearly incessant barrage of questions, such as:

  • "How can I heal my broken heart?"
  • "Is having a happy life after divorce possible?"
  • "Will I hurt like this forever?"
  • "Will I ever feel normal again?"
  • "Can I survive this?"

RELATED: How To Move On After Divorce When It's Tearing You Apart Inside

Logically, you know that others have been through breakups or divorce before, so there must be a way for you to get through it, too. Emotionally, you’re not so sure you’re going to make it.


But, you will make it.

Here's how to move on after a breakup or start a new life after divorce by overcoming your emotions of grief and loss, learning how to love yourself and re-focusing on your own happiness.

1. Have compassion for yourself.

You can’t force, cajole, or talk yourself into getting over your breakup or divorce. You have to go through it and feel the heartbreak.

It’s an exhausting process. Your ability to function physically and mentally will decrease dramatically as you wrestle with this dramatic change in your life. You may even have problems sleeping and eating.

With all the stress you’re going through, you’ll need to take care of yourself and be kind to yourself. When you do, you’ll discover that you’ll slowly begin to have the energy for your healing journey.


2. Allow yourself to grieve.

Many people are surprised by the intensity and depth of the grief they experience after a breakup.

There are so many things — both large and small — that you lose when a relationship ends or you get divorced, and it makes sense that you will feel bad about having to say goodbye to them.

Allow yourself to grieve your losses and release your feelings of disappointment and sadness, rather than bottling them up or trying to rationalize them away. It’s OK to cry — a lot. In fact, it’s probably necessary for your healing.


3. Maintain as many of your routines as possible.

A breakup or divorce feels like it turns your entire world upside down. Maybe your schedule has changed. Your living situation has changed. Your marital status has changed. The list of changes goes on and on.

However, if you can keep a few of your routines unchanged, then you’ll have pockets of "normal" that you can retreat to, instead of remaining caught up in the whirlwind of change.

4. Redefine the meaning of forever for yourself.

When you think you're going to be with someone forever, coming to terms with the fact that your relationship over is hard to do. However, forever isn't going to happen for this relationship, whether you were still dating or married for 20-plus years.

Rather than beating yourself up because you didn't have a fairy tale relationship that made it to the mythical destination of happily ever after, instead think about what forever meant in terms of your relationship or marriage.


Maybe "forever" meant until your love dies, until your relationship had run its course, or something else entirely. The more gentle you are with yourself about accepting the end of your relationship, without unnecessarily judging yourself harshly, the easier learning how to move on after a breakup will become.

5. Don’t seek happiness in the past.

Part of getting over your breakup is trusting that you will feel happy again. The past is the past, and you may have been very happy for the majority of your relationship or marriage.

However, you can’t live in the past. So, as uncomfortable as it is, going through the tumult of your emotions and the repercussions of your breakup or divorce is the only way you’ll find happiness again.

RELATED: The 5-Step Strategy To Stop Feeling Like A Victim During Your Divorce


6. Vent to family, friends, your therapist, or a divorce coach.

Taking your feelings of anger, fear, and upset out on your ex or yourself will just keep you trapped in the misery of your past relationship. This won't help you heal.

But it's important not to bottle up your emotions either — you need to express them. Choosing the right people to talk to about your grief can help you process it and move on.

7. Remind yourself that you're worthy of being loved.

"Am I lovable?" is one of the most difficult thoughts nearly everyone struggles with after a breakup. But you are lovable.


Even if your ex doesn’t love you anymore, you have plenty of family and friends who do. And if you weren't, your friends and family wouldn't love you.

So when you struggle with thoughts of loneliness and self-doubt, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you are both loved and lovable. Then, start treating yourself with love, too.

8. Reaffirm your values.

When you go through a painful breakup or divorce, your whole perspective of life can shift. It’s natural to begin questioning what’s truly important to you.

When you take the time to gain clarity about what you want out of life and how you want to interact with others, you’ll be able to start creating a meaningful life for yourself after your breakup or divorce.


9. Reframe your pain.

After a breakup or divorce, feeling so completely at odds with someone you once shared a life with can be an immense source of pain.

But when you keep focusing on the pain of your breakup, you're giving it power over you — instead of letting your connection to your ex go.

You’ll know you’ve let the connection between the two of you go when you feel indifference toward your ex.

10. Take responsibility for your part.

This is a tough concept to deal with — but it's a critical step in learning how to move on after a breakup.

When you take responsibility for your role in the breakup, you stop being the victim and start becoming the hero in your own healing story.


11. Forgive yourself and your ex.

You can’t change the past.

When you forgive someone, it doesn't mean that you approve of what they did or why they did it. It just means that you’re choosing to no longer be controlled by it.

12. Reconnect with your dreams.

Do you have dreams you put on hold for the sake of your relationship or marriage?


Well, now’s the time to dust those dreams off and see which of them still inspire you. Allow yourself to have new dreams and goals for yourself, too. Image a new life for yourself that doesn't include your ex.

13. Find meaning in your loss.

You might not be ready to hear it yet, but your painful breakup experience can help you be a better partner in your next relationship. Being able to learn from your past — so you don’t repeat it in the future — is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as you figure out how to move on after a breakup or divorce.

You might discover you’re no longer a co-dependent person. You might discover you have new relationship skills to learn. You might discover what you want in your next relationship.


Whatever it is you learn about yourself, embrace it. And use it's insight to help you move on after your breakup and keep healing.

RELATED: The Life-After-Divorce Checklist You Need If You Want To Find Happiness On Your Own

Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach who helps people with their journey of healing from divorce heartbreak. She regularly shares helpful tips with her newsletter group and offers free 30-minute conversations for those interested in learning more.