How Can I Forgive My Ex?

We’ve all been hurt in a relationship, and when the damage caused is great enough to call it quits on love, working up the will to forgive your ex can be like trying to open a bolted vault door. However, as strange as it may sound, forgiveness has more to do with your happiness than it does your ex’s, and holding a grudge can have negative effects on your mental, physical, and emotional well being. including; an increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, and extra muscle tension. On the other hand, forgiveness boosts your immune system, lessen stress, improves better self-esteem, and best of all, allows you to move on.

Forgiveness can be tricky to give, especially when it isn’t being asked for. At the same time, carrying around old hurt won’t help with rekindling love but rather will rob you of joy and the opportunity to see new doors opening. Whether you’re looking to get your ex back, or want to move forward and find a new love, here are six ways to practice forgiveness.

Be Patient and Process the Situation

When someone you love hurts you it can take time for the reality of the situation to fully set in. Once it does it’s important to forgive your partner, but for this to happen you must first take time to process the situation and get in touch with your emotions.

To do this, give yourself some alone time to cope with the situation; try journaling your thoughts, or share your feelings with a trusted friend or professional therapist. In order to truly forgive your ex you must be patient with your emotions and find a way to release the hurt you’re feeling. Doing so will allow for proper forgiveness and will also avoid further damage. If you’re not ready to forgive or work on the relationship, then simply say so. Have the courage to tell your ex that you want to find a way to handle the situation but that you need time.

Understand What Forgiveness Means

For many people, forgiveness is hard because they believe that forgiving means they’re “okaying” the situation or relinquishing their pain. That is not the case. Forgiveness is about removing the heavy burden of anxiety and the stress of waiting for things to smooth over.

To forgive your ex, accept that the only person being hurt by holding on to the offense is you. When you find it in your to forgive, you’ll start to feel a sense of relief and healing you may not have thought possible. Most importantly, offering forgiveness will allow you to let go of all the negative feelings that don’t serve you, and embrace a new beginning.

Confront Your Ex

confrontationWhile confrontation isn’t for everyone, some people feel better after addressing their feelings to their ex. Don’t be mistaken, confronting your ex doesn’t mean that you have to meet them for coffee or small talk about how you’ve both been. In fact, you could choose to confront your ex by simply writing them a letter that explains your feelings or picking up the phone to get your emotions out in the open.

Don’t feel obligated to say certain things or share particular information with them – you do not owe your ex anything. Instead, do and say what makes you feel comfortable, but remember that the end goal isn’t to put down your ex, but rather to resolve conflict, get answers, and provide personal closure. Even if you want to get back with your ex, wrapping up your previous relationship is crucial as it’ll make room for a new and improved love to blossom.

Be Honest and Specific

No relationship can ever hope to move forward without honesty, so tell your ex how you feel. To do so use specific events, words, or actions to explain how and when they hurt you. The most effective method for doing this is to choose a couple specific examples of times your ex let you down. Regardless of if there were 12 incidents or 112 incidents, only pick a few to discuss. After all, you want your ex to communication with you and that won’t happen if they shut down or feel attacked.

When talking about specific incidents try to avoid over-generalizing with phrases like “you always” or “you never.” Instead use “I” statements to express your personal opinions. For instance,  “I feel like,” or “I was hurt when…” Remember, communicating with your ex can be tough, especially with they’re sensitive or stubborn. To avoid further conflict, keep hostile behaviour and name calling out of the conversation.

Let Go of Resentment

A common misconception is that forgiveness lies in the hands of the culprit, and that it’s up to them to apologize. However, the truth is that when it comes to forgiveness, you’re in complete control. Whether or ex apologizes, doesn’t apologize, or tosses you an insincere “sorry,” it’s important to forgive and let go of any bottled up resentment.

letting goLetting go of bitter feelings isn’t easy, but a helpful way to do so is by acknowledging that your grudge or withholdings of forgiveness may be selfish or childish. Accept that if you wait for your ex to apologize you’ll be stuck in the victim role and could be waiting a lifetime. Why be stuck in the past holding on to feelings of anger, hurt and bitterness when you could be living in the present and creating a new future?

Learn from Your Experience

Life is a series of lessons and opportunities, and though we may not know it at the time, there is something to be learned in every experience. When working on forgiving your ex, put your focus on all the reasons you should be grateful for the experience you shared together, and think about the things you’ve learned from the relationship. Even if it ended poorly, hold onto the lessons you’ve learned and know that you are stronger because of it.

A big part of learning from experience is being accountable for the issues you caused or actions you regret. By identifying the areas of the relationship that didn’t work so well, you’ll be able to make better choices in the future. As tough as forgiveness may be, you can never leave your past behind you until you make peace with it and accept it for what it was. Then and only then can you rewrite your story.

About Amy North

Amy North is a women's relationship coach and best-selling author from Vancouver, Canada. Her high-acclaimed programs include "Text Chemistry" and "The Devotion System", both of which have helped thousands of women from around the world find (and keep) the man of their dreams.

2 Comments

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  • Is it normal to be hatin’ on ur ex and stuff but still check their facebook page every once in a while? The breakup happened 3 yrs ago but I’m not sure why I still seem to be mad at her even though I thought I already forgiven her. What am I not doing right?

    • You need to figure out why you’re mad at her. Is it because you miss her, or did she do something that hurt you?
      As far as checking her Facebook page every now and then, that’s normal. Many people like to “check in” on their exs to see what they’re up to and how they’re doing – not because they necessarily miss them, but because that person was once a big piece of their life.

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