Handle Post-Breakup Regrets With Our 8 Best Tips

When a relationship has reached its expiration date, it's natural for a tidal wave of contradicting emotions to surface. Perhaps you've been considering a break-up for months, realizing you've fallen out of love, or maybe a difficult event has made it clear that you two aren't destined to be together forever. Sometimes we grow in opposing directions or the compatibility was miscalculated.


Whatever the case may be, breaking up is tough. It can even lead to feelings of regret –- which might feel even worse. And if you were the one to initiate a parting of ways, then you may feel deeply confused if you're crushed by an onslaught of second thoughts. Sometimes, we may still be in love after a breakup even if the reason for ending the relationship was valid.

"All change comes with some grief," therapist Dennis Nguyen, LCSW, told Mind Body Green. "When we break up with someone, many folks may see that person less, have to change their living situation, or figure out how to navigate any shared friendships. Humans love routine and patterns—even when they're not helpful—and to disrupt this can lead to anxiety and fear about a new and unknown future." So, how do we navigate post-breakup uncertainty and regret? Let's take a deeper dive into the confusing feeling.


Allow yourself a grieving period

It's only human to feel a deep sense of loss when going from spending nearly all your time with someone to, well, none at all. The grief may signal to your brain that a wrong decision was made –- but that isn't necessarily the case. Some of us may have the tendency to quickly romanticize what worked well in the relationship and block out what wasn't healthy or nurturing. Giving yourself time and space to process the loss without jumping to conclusions is an important part of the recovery process.


"Our brains are built for partnership," marriage and family therapist Nicole Richardson told Elite Daily. "We have learned through brain scans that our brains respond to breakups the same way they respond to broken bones and other forms of physical pain." So, be gentle with yourself as you feel the absence of this person in your life. Practicing self-compassion and engaging in a spiritual practice may be helpful for those who aren't ready to move on rapidly.

Devote time to other passions

If you find you need to do the deep emotional processing and grieving in small doses, it may be wise to take this time as an opportunity to once again explore some of the things you love that might've fallen to the wayside during your relationship. Maybe you were a social couple and spent many of your evenings out on the town, letting your stack of novels you'd love to get to go unread. Or vice-versa. If you became a homebody in your relationship and are craving to reawaken your sense of adventure, take this time to get back out there. Picking up an old (or new) hobby is a great way to channel pain. Whether it's something artistic or physically active, focusing your free time on a productive, healthy outlet will help your mind, body, and spirit process the start of this new chapter.


"Romantic relationships can sometimes take up enormous amounts of emotional energy. Sometimes our friends get left behind in the whirlwind," Dr. Alisha Powell, Ph.D., LCSW, a couples counselor, told INSIDER. "You might find yourself regretting not reaching out more as your friends may have moved on with their lives without you." Use this time to take inventory of the habits and passions you may have lost during your relationship and see if you can reintegrate them into your life once more.

Take personal responsibility for your part of the relationship

This one can be tough, but when you're ready to examine your part of the relationship's downfall, it's healthy to do a deep self-reflection. You may ask yourself how you could've been a more active listener if the workload at home was equally shared, if you expressed your love for your partner often enough and if you apologized when necessary. Once we can reconcile with our own shortcomings in the relationship, we may feel less resentment towards our ex-partner and more gratitude for what we learned along the way.


"... take personal responsibility for your role in the breakup and make a commitment to change things that you personally want to change," relationship coach Sheila Darling, LMSW, told INSIDER. "Not to change for someone else or to please a partner, but for yourself because you want that personal growth." Try not to think of this examination of the self as a way to best prepare for your next relationship, but as an avenue to becoming more whole independently.

Examine if your regret is actually fear of the unknown

We are creatures of habit and relying on the security of the known is only natural. When leaving a long-term relationship, the fear and doubt about the future are likely jolted into overdrive. Housing, friend circles, finances, custody of children -– it all comes into question. And this can feel super scary. It may even cause some panic and leave you urgently questioning if you made the right move or not. But if it's solely the unfamiliarity that's bringing up regret, then chances are high that you didn't make the wrong decision about ending your relationship.


This is where a lot of trust and faith needs to come in, so you don't backtrack on a choice that was for the best. Trusting you'll be okay and taken care of when life is up in the air is no easy feat. But, some short-term pain and discomfort are typically preferred to long-term relationship misalignment. "The problem with the unknown is that it is precisely that: unknowable. We may not know answers to these questions for a while, if ever. All we can do is routinely ask ourselves what we need and try to walk toward that as much as possible. Sometimes we find out more information and have to change course, and that's OK," Nguyen told Mind Body Green.

Remind yourself why the relationship needed to end

If you tend to wear rose-tinted glasses, this one may be particularly important for you. While you may be walking through the grief stage, reminiscing and entertaining feelings of regret, if the decision was the right one, you likely also feel a deep sense of peace and relief. Focusing on that feeling, above all else, will deeply aid with the healing period -– and prevent you from revisiting the relationship as a possibility. "If you have only been broken up for a few days and you are second guessing yourself, be patient," Richardson told Elite Daily.


So, if nostalgia tries to take the wheel and leaves you doubting whether or not the break-up was the right move, try your best to remain grounded and rational. Talking through the nature of the relationship with a trusted friend or therapist could be extremely helpful in keeping tethered to your rational mind.

Ask for more closure if needed

Sometimes, we aren't given a chance to say all the things we need to say or ask the questions digging at our hearts when a relationship ends. If you feel things have been left undone and you can't properly move forward without one last conversation with your ex-partner, explore the possibility carefully. Closure can be really healing when done properly. Lay some ground rules for the closing conversation. Meeting during the day is best and even setting a time limit on the visit could be wise, so as to keep you both focused on the closure and not veering into the territory of re-hashing moot arguments.


We also need to accept the possibility that we may not get the closure we were hoping for. Perhaps hearts are too broken or the resentment is too strong of a barrier for conscious communication to exist. If this is the case, it's best to practice surrendering the best we can.

"Accept that you made a decision based on the limited information available," Nguyen told Mind Body Green. "No one will ever be able to get a full and impartial view of what happened. Give yourself some empathy that you did the best that you could with what you have."

Celebrate your evolution and newfound freedom

For a time, healthy distraction may be our best bet in curbing break-up regret. It's the time to dream of the future and celebrate your freedom to indulge in life's possibilities. Success stories are everywhere and if it helps you remain hopeful to see thriving single people or a divorced friend partnering up in a more aligned union, then focus on that. Your personal evolution is something worth noting and you are no longer anchored down by what doesn't support your best self.


If you weren't the one to end the relationship, but you're experiencing a breath of fresh air being alone and feel it was ultimately for the best, then it's key to not give into the regrets your ex-partner may have. If they're attempting to make you jealous in a bid to win you back or sharing hints of remorse on social media, try and give them the space to walk through their own grief and stay focused on your new chapter.

If the regret is deep, explore getting back together

What about the scenario in which the regret isn't letting up? What if we know, in our heart of hearts, that parting was the wrong choice? What if ample time for grief has passed and you still firmly desire your partner back? If this is the case, then reaching out to your ex-partner might be the right move. Perhaps things ended hastily in an argument or you felt outside pressure from family to end the relationship, all the while intuitively knowing the union was actually the right one for you. In this case, do some prep work before meeting with the one you desire in hopes of reconciliation. There are likely hurt feelings to mend. Asking for a second chance can be intimidating and you'll also want to emotionally prepare for the answer you don't want to hear. If this is the outcome, accepting the rejection and truly moving on is the next step.


"[If] you are still second guessing your decision to end the relationship, it might be worth it to reach out to your ex and see if you can meet up (no alcohol) and talk," Richardson told Elite Daily. "If you feel clear that you know why you spooked before, and you have a plan for how to not do that again, it's OK to reach out to them."