Ask Anna: How do I move on with someone else after a nasty break-up?

·6-min read

Got a burning question about relationships, sex, parenting, dating or mental health you feel too embarrassed to ask? Qualified counsellor, life coach and Celebs Go Dating’s resident expert Anna Williamson is here to help.

She’ll be answering your burning questions for Yahoo Style UK – find out how to submit them below.

This week Anna helps two readers navigate the tricky task of moving on after a relationship ends.

Q: How do I move on with someone else after a nasty break-up?

Watch: Anna Williamson gives her top tips on getting past the end of a relationship and finding love and intimacy again

This week Anna answered questions from two readers who are struggling with the end of their relationships.

Q1: ‘I’m really struggling to move on and feel the click with someone after a nasty break-up with my ex, who I was madly in love with four years ago.

‘He married the girl he left me for and he still messages me and views my Instagram occasionally

‘Now I feel very left behind by all of my friends getting married and having children when I’m still alone and struggling to move on.’

Q2: How do I overcome a mental block with intimacy after being cheated on three years ago?

Anna says:

You’ve all probably heard the saying ‘it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’

I know that may sound like a massive cliche and, when you’re in the pit of break-up grief, you certainly don’t feel that do you? You feel like saying, “that’s it, I’m never going to love again. I’m never going to put myself out there again.”

But here’s the thing: you will, and you should. Life goes up and down all the time – it’s important it does that, because it’s how we learn to recover and to move through things.

It’s how we gain experience and gather evidence on how things make us feel. It gives us a chance to build our resilience and our self-esteem and work out what works for us in life and how we would like to behave.

But being cheated on, or the breakdown of a relationship is, well, really rubbish.

As with any loss or bereavement, grieving is really important

Loving husband comfort upset offended wife, caressing and hugging
The breakdown of any relationship can spark a grieving period for one or both parties

Read more: ‘Sometimes during sex I cry for no reason – is this normal?’

Change can be really scary for a lot of people. That’s particularly one of the big feelings and fears when relationships break down

We all like to be a bit comfy, don’t we? And when things change suddenly it can be frightening. It can completely derail us and we struggle to find our foundations and our stability.

But change can be a really good thing too. And I often feel that, as terrible and as gut-wrenching as it can feel in the moment, you should try – if you possibly can – to have your eye on the future.

What’s life going to be like when you’ve got through this? I’m hoping it’s going to look better and that you can tease out the positives of it.

The main thing that heals a break-up is time. It sounds so obvious and such a cliche and it can be hard to hear, because we want that time to go quicker.

It’s important we allow that time and that grieving to take place. Look after yourself, keep your friends and your family members close – utilise them, ask them for help, ask them to do fun things that make you feel happy.

When you’re grieving the loss of a relationship, it’s important to have those moments where you do feel awful - and you’re going to go through a whole load of different emotions.

Read more: ‘My husband left me and filed for divorce – how do I tell our three kids?

You’ll feel anger, sadness, frustration, regret – all sorts of feelings will bubble up, and that’s ok. It’s completely normal to feel these things, but eventually they should plateau.

Shutting emotions out can sometimes help us in the short term, but it’s important to allow them to seep through as well - and that ensures we’ve resolved any underlying issues.

During this time, just be really kind to yourself. Do fun things.

Don’t listen to sad music tracks or watch sad movies.

I’m a big fan of watching comedy whenever I’ve gone through something bad that’s upset me, because it helps to shift my emotional state, which is important. We need to physically change that mindset.

It’s important to have light and shade with emotions because if we’re too down all the time, it’s then very difficult to pick ourselves back up.

Moving forwards with someone else, it’s natural to feel burnt by your experiences. It’s natural to feel like you’re putting up a brick wall or guard, and that you never want to put yourself out there and you’re never going to trust anyone again.

Side view smiling biracial woman sitting at table in cafe with caucasian man couple talking in cozy coffeeshop drinking tea coffee. Heterosexual friends romantic relationships or speed dating concept
Don't know how to move on with someone else? Put yourself back out there (Getty Images)

Read more: How to date during a lockdown

Get back out there, put yourself first and work out who you are - what you will tolerate, what you deserve, and, most importantly, treat any new potential partner as a blank canvas.

We can’t change the past, but we can work on dealing with it and moving forwards.

What we do have complete control over is our present and our future.

So go in embracing what you’ve been through in the past, but don’t let that dictate or spoil any potential for future relationships, because that wouldn’t be fair on anyone.

Communication is really key. Tell whoever needs to know how you feel, what you’ve been through and what you want moving forwards in life.

And as for your ex, if they’re messaging you on social media and you’re not comfortable with that, or if it’s prolonging the heartache and it’s making you feel worse, you must ask them to stop.

Either block them or say to them very clearly, “I’m going to stop receiving these messages because it’s not fair on me.”

Delete them and block them on social media apps so you don’t have the temptation to ‘social media stalk’ them when you’re having a low moment.

We’ve all done it, but it doesn’t really serve much purpose other than to make you feel worse.

You will find the person of your dreams.

I believe that there is one true person out there for us, so if we haven’t met them yet it stands to reason they’re just around the corner.

Watch the video above for Anna’s full response on this issue.

This is not a substitute for medical advice. If you are concerned about your mental health, please consult a doctor. Information about a range of issues is also available on the NHS website.

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