If you feel guilty after breaking up with someone you love, these tips will help you replace guilt with self-forgiveness. Life is too short to spend in a relationship that isn’t right for you!
On my article about healing from an addictive relationship, a reader says she feels so guilty about breaking up with her boyfriend of four years. She can’t be with him anymore – but she can’t quite let him go, either. Does that sound familiar to you?
Escaping Toxic Guilt: Five Proven Steps to Free Yourself from Guilt for Good! by Susan Carrell offers in-depth information about dealing with all sorts of guilt. If you tend to feel guilty about everything, it’s worth reading. Why? Because “this is all you have,” says radio therapist Laura Schlessinger. “This is not a dry run. This is your life. If you want to fritter it away with your fears, then you will fritter it away, but you won’t get it back later.” Are you frittering away your time and energy, feeling guilty because you broke up with someone? Your life is too precious to spend feeling guilty for doing what you think is best for you, and perhaps what was best for your ex. I know it’s easier to say “stop feeling guilty after the breakup” than it is to actually change how you feel. It takes time to change your thought patterns, especially if you’ve been thinking this way for years.
How to Stop Feeling Guilty After the Breakup
Identify appropriate guilt. You should feel guilty about the breakup if you did something wrong, such as using your boyfriend for his money or professional contacts and then breaking up with him. “Real” guilt is an appropriate and healthy response for wrongdoing. If you weren’t your best self in your relationship, then you need to make amends.
This doesn’t necessarily mean getting back together with your boyfriend or girlfriend, but it could mean apologizing for whatever you did wrong. But even if you didn’t act well or make the best choices in your relationship with your boyfriend, you still need to forgive yourself and move on.
Identify inappropriate guilt (you’re being manipulated). Do you feel guilty because your ex-boyfriend is manipulating your emotions with apologies, pleas, or promises for the future? Do you feel guilty because your parents or friends wish you were back together with your boyfriend?
If your ex is threatening suicide, read What to Do When Your Boyfriend Says He’ll Kill Himself If You Leave.
Remember what you did right in your relationship. To stop feeling guilty after breaking up with someone, focus on the things you did well! Remind yourself of the times you were loving, attentive, generous, kind, and compassionate in your relationship. Even if you initiated the breakup, you didn’t ruin the relationship. The relationship was already ruined…you just decided to end it for good and move on. That is not something to feel guilty about.
Remember that the relationship breakup happened for a reason. You had your reasons for breaking up with your ex-boyfriend. Even if your friends, family, coworkers, or ex-boyfriend don’t understand those reasons doesn’t mean the breakup less valid. To stop feeling guilty after breaking up with someone, you need to trust that you made the right decision. Listen to your gut.
There was a reason you had to let go of the relationship. Though it’s painful now, it’s the right decision in the long run.
Figure out who is making you feel guilty about the breakup – and why. Does your best friend wish you and your ex-boyfriend didn’t break up because she has a crush on his brother or best friend? Is your mother crushed that you broke up with your ex because she wants grandchildren? Is your ex making you feel guilty because you made his life sweet and easy, he walked all over you, and he misses you underneath him?
One of the best tips on how to stop feeling guilty after the breakup is to figure out who is behind your emotions. Then, you need to stand up to or stay away from that person.
“When you dare to follow your dreams, dare to suffer through the pain, sacrifice, self-doubts, and friction from the world, you will impress yourself,” says Dr Laura.
Impressing yourself is more important than impressing all the ex’s, parents, friends and coworkers in the world.
If you can’t get rid of the breakup guilt because of the way you broke up, read How to Get Over a Bad Breakup.
Do you feel guilty for breaking up with someone, even though you know it’s better to be apart than together? I welcome your thoughts below. I can’t give advice or personal counseling, but sometimes it helps just to write your feelings down.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.