Moving on after breakup

Getting over a breakup – how to let go and move on

You may have started to think about the future and what you want from your relationships. But if you’re still carrying around the emotional baggage of a former relationship, it can be difficult to stop living in the past.

Relationships can have a pull on us long after they’re over. It can be difficult to accept that something that was once a really big part of your life is now becoming a memory. Likewise, unresolved issues can make it difficult to accept that the relationship has ended at all.

Clients often tell our counsellors that they feel stuck going over and over what happened in their last relationship and that makes it feel impossible to move on. It’s also a lot harder now to disconnect yourself from painful reminders of the past: simply logging on to Facebook and seeing updates or photos of an ex can leave you heartbroken all over again.

However, there comes a time when we need to accept that what’s done is done and begin to look forward to what might be coming next.

Talk about how you feel

The cycle of emotions you go through following a breakup can be similar to those you would go through following bereavement. You’re likely to experience feelings of denial, anger, emptiness, and sadness. This is all completely normal and you may even find yourself revisiting some of these emotions several times.

Some clients tell us they worry that they aren’t dealing with a breakup as they should be or that friends or family expect them to snap out of it. The truth is, how someone responds to the end of a relationship is different for each of us: there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The important thing is that you give yourself the time and support you need to feel better.

Relationship Counselling can help you talk over your thoughts with someone who doesn’t know you or your ex and won’t judge anything you say. We’re here to help you sort through how you’re feeling and work out what you want to happen next.

Let go of anger

One of the hardest things to let go of following the end of a relationship is anger.

It can be easy to stuck in the ‘blame game’ – endlessly questioning who did what, what could have been done differently and who ended up feeling worse. But this kind of thinking will only make you feel bitter, regretful and has a tendency to go in circles.

Although it isn’t always easy, it’s much more useful to focus objectively on what the relationship was lacking and how it failed to meet your or your partner’s needs. It isn’t about deciding who was right and who was wrong, but being realistic about what happened and why.

Think about the warning signs that you may have ignored. Think about the things that caused arguments – not just who caused them. And, crucially, try to understand your part in what happened.

Although the answers to these might be upsetting, they will make it easier to let go of the past and avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Embrace your freedom

Coming to terms with the end of a relationship is a very freeing experience. It means you’re no longer fighting to keep things alive or struggling to understand what happened.

This new found sense of freedom will come with a surge of positive emotions – potentially even greater levels of energy – and it will allow you to make plans for what you’re going to do next.

As you enter this new stage, you may find the following tips useful:

  • Look for ways to find a lasting sense of personal happiness. Consider trying out things that would enrich you as a person like a new hobby, or helping others. Learning to maintain good self-esteem is an important part of creating a positive future.
  • Be courageous. Believe you can do what you want to do and don’t put limits on your hopes and aspirations.
  • Think positively. Be ready to catch yourself when negative thoughts pop into your head. Think about what you ‘could try’ rather than what you ‘can’t do’, no matter how small.
  • Try writing out a list of ten positive things about yourself and keep it with you. When a negative thought creeps in, get the list out and remind yourself of everything you have going for you.

How we can help

If you’re going through a breakup or separation there are lots of ways we can support you.

  • Find your local Relate Centre
  • Read Starting Again: How to Learn From the Past for a Better Future

If You’re Ready To Move On After A Breakup, Here’s How You’ll Know

If there’s one thing we know about moving on after a breakup, it’s that there is no norm for how, when, or why it happens. You cannot will it to happen by dating a new cutie or drinking enough champagne. You cannot expect it on a certain timeline. So, how do you know if you’re ready to move on after a breakup? The healing process happens differently for everyone, depending on the person’s personality, circumstances, and the nature of their relationship as well as the way it ended. Still, there are ways to tell when the wounds have started to close, and you’re prepared to dive into this exciting new chapter of your life.

It’s only natural to experience some denial when you’re fresh off a breakup. Part of you doesn’t want to believe it’s actually happening — and you may even be scheming up ways to get back together with your ex in order to quell the heartache. According to Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent dating and relationship therapist in Los Angeles, if you’ve accepted that it’s over, that’s one clear indicator that you’re getting ready to move on. Once you’ve come to grips with this reality, you can stop obsessing over what you could have said or done differently or fantasizing about reuniting with your ex, and start to focus on other things.

GIC/Stocksy

Speaking of which — if your thoughts have shifted away from your relationship, that’s another positive sign. Immediately after the breakup, it’s totally normal to feel like you’re fixated on thoughts about your ex and your previous relationship. Over time, those thoughts will likely become less and less frequent. Eventually, you’ll hopefully reach a place where they are fleeting.

“You are beginning to think more about your life without your ex than your life with your ex,” explains Dr. Brown. “You are feeling hopeful that there is indeed life after your ex.”

So, if you find yourself excitedly planning a trip to Europe with your girlfriends, mulling over some career moves, or spending your free time exploring a new hobby, that could indicate that you’re ready to move on.

Additionally, if you feel as if you’ve gained some perspective on your breakup, that could mean you’ve gotten over it.

“You understand why things didn’t work out and you’re ready to get back into the social scene,” Dr. Brown tells Elite Daily.

That may not mean you’re eagerly re-downloading Tinder or giving out your number at the bar. Contrary to popular belief, dating again doesn’t prove you’re over a breakup. When you choose to start seeing people is up to you, and has nothing to do with your ability to move on. However, if you feel like you’ve had enough time and space from the breakup to understand why the relationship ended, that’s a good sign. It can be difficult to have clarity immediately after a split happens — intense emotions can cloud our judgment and ability to think rationally. When you’re ready to move on, you’ll likely have a more balanced view of what went wrong in your relationship, which will be super helpful as you potentially explore new relationships going forward.

Ani Dimi/Stocksy

If you feel like you’re ready to move on, there are some things you can do for yourself to facilitate that process. For one, Dr. Brown advises unfollowing your ex on all social media accounts. You may think that seeing their posts won’t affect you, but the risk is far greater than the reward. Catching a glimpse of a photo of them with someone new (or even just seeing their face) may be more painful than you expect it to be, and could be harmful to all the progress you’re making in healing from the breakup. So it’s better to be safe than sorry in this regard.

You’ll likely have a lot more free time now that you’re single, and Dr. Brown recommends spending some of that time around family and friends who are supportive. Keep in mind that while it’s definitely healthy to distract yourself and talk about other things besides your breakup, talking about it can also prove helpful, too.

He also suggests planning some things that you can look forward to, whether that means booking a weekend yoga retreat, snagging tickets to a music festival with your besties, or organizing a wine tasting party at your apartment. These are the kind of things that will remind you how fulfilling life can be despite the fact that you and your ex are no longer together.

Dr. Brown notes that writing in a journal can be a useful way to help you gain some closure.

“Focus not only just what wasn’t working but also what you would like in a future relationship where things are working more ideally,” he says. “Having a positive vision for your future can help to make that happen.”

Briana Morrison/Stocksy

Lastly, Dr. Brown emphasizes the importance of practicing self-love. Make time for things that you know bring your pleasure, whether that includes riding your bike around the city, taking a cooking class, indulging in a little pampering, or bonding with your BFF over brunch.

If you’re still struggling to get over your ex and move on after a breakup after an extended period of time, Dr. Brown advises talking to a therapist who can help you navigate through your grief.

As much as you may be longing to move on from your breakup, remember: It is not something that can be forced. Making time for some self-care, spending time with supportive friends and family, journaling about your feelings, and planning things to look forward to can certainly all help to speed it along. But rather than focus on the endpoint, try to enjoy the journey. Healing is a complicated process, and it happens in different ways for different people. The bottom line? When you’re ready to move on, you’ll know. Rather than focusing on your past, your attention will have shifted to your present and future.

For some people, breakups are just a fact of life that we all have to get through from time-to-time — like vaccines or trips to the dentist. For others , breakups feel so awful that they put them off dating completely. Regardless of which group you fall into, you’ve probably had to deal with at least one breakup and may have more in your future.

Though nothing can really prepare you for the sting of a breakup, there are ways to become more resilient and speed up your breakup recovery time. We spoke to several relationship experts and therapists to get some tips for how to get over a breakup with someone fast.

Put it in perspective

Yes, breakups — especially when you’re the person being dumped — hurt. But according to Dr. Tina B. Tessina, psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today, it may be a blessing in disguise. “You don’t have a relationship if the other person’s not really interested,” she tells SheKnows.

Embrace your feelings

After a breakup, no one is expecting you to be all sunshine and rainbows all the time. People understand that you need time to process your emotions — and you need to understand that, too. According to Victoria Tarbell, a licensed mental health counselor, if we try to pretend like breakups don’t hurt by ignoring our heartache, all we’re doing is creating bigger challenges for ourselves down the road. “It’s just like ignoring the sniffle that eventually turns into a full-blown sinus infection because you didn’t give yourself the necessary rest, hydration and vitamin intake,” she tells SheKnows. “Make it somewhat easier on yourself by dealing with it now and knowing that this will be your best bet for long-term healing.”

Swear off guilt

Guilt is like time payments — you can keep suffering forever, Tessia explains. Instead, do the grieving you need to do, figure out how you helped create the problems (or stayed around for them) and decide to change what didn’t work before. “Grieve all you need, but don’t exaggerate your feelings,” she adds.

Think of it as a learning experience

After you deal with the initial upset, review the dynamics of the relationship and analyze what went wrong, what you could have done differently and what you learned, Tessina advises. “There’s no need to give yourself a hard time about it, just process the information, so you don’t repeat mistakes,” she says.

Don’t wait around for closure

Ahhh, the elusive closure. It means something different to everyone, but chances are, you didn’t get it immediately after your breakup. But instead of waiting around for your ex to apologize, or for the two of you to sit down for a relationship post-mortem, try and move on without them.

“Closure requires getting truthful answers to your questions about what happened — to understand why ,” Tessina says. “After a breakup, both of you are upset, hurt and guilty and probably won’t be telling the truth, even if you understand it. Neither of you really wants to hear the truth this soon. Longing to talk ‘just once more’ to your ex is just asking for pain.”

Put away the stuff that reminds you of your ex

This is easier said than done if you lived together, but try, as much as possible, to put away or get rid of your ex’s stuff or items that remind you of them. “You don’t need to throw anything away just yet, but get a plastic tub and put in it everything that your ex gave you and all of your pictures of you both,” Anita Stoudmire, a licensed therapist and dating and relationship coach tells SheKnows.

Don’t play the blame game

It’s easy to blame your ex for everything, but according to Tessina, if you do this, you’ll eventually turn that blame to yourself. So rather than issuing blame, try finding more neutral things to say, like, “we saw things differently,” or “we had some good years, then things changed,” she advises. And if your ex left you for someone else, don’t blame that person, either.

Focus on rebuilding your life

We only have so much time and energy, so rather than wasting it on your ex, work towards rebuilding your life. “Drama is not practical,” Tessina says, “it’s a negative fantasy. Focus on the practical things you need to do and think.”

Part of that involves getting your emotional, personal and financial life together as soon as you can. And consider it an opportunity, Tessnia suggests — think about all the things you now have time to do, and do some of them. Try things you would never have done before, or things you’ve always wanted to do. “Use the energy from your anger and grief, and channel them into doing things just for you,” she adds.

Take a weekend trip somewhere new

Sure, tips with friends are fun, but Stoudmire suggests traveling solo to a place you’ve never been before. “When you are in a new place, your brain is forced to put on hold all of the emotions and feelings you have about your break-up because it needs to take in new information about your surroundings,” she explains. “Your brain has to figure out how you’re going to get to where you’re going and where you will eat and sleep once you get there. It also won’t conjure up any ‘nostalgia’ as you have never been there before and nothing will remind you of your ex.”

Don’t forget about self-care

Breakups are a form of grieving, so give yourself the time, space and care you need. Part of that means surrounding yourself with supportive people. “Talk with sturdy friends and family about the feelings, doubts and worries,” Brittany Bouffard, a licensed psychotherapist tells SheKnows. “Soon, hashing details over and over again doesn’t feel helpful, so utilize others to reflect and reaffirm your abilities to move on.”

Like anything else, resilience takes practice and patience. In the meantime, take care of yourself, give yourself room to grieve and process your emotions and take this as an opportunity for a fresh start.

Photo: Diane Macdonald/Getty Images

Breakups: most of us have been through one. Some breakups are quick and painless, others gut-wrenching and destabilizing. But what should you do after? When you can’t stop thinking about the person who broke your heart, how do you actually move on? Below, anonymous New Yorkers offer advice on how to get over a breakup and the strategies that worked for them.

1. Talk about it with people you trust — or strangers you’ll never see again

My relationship of almost four years ended very recently. What has helped me get through it is talking to everyone about it. My parents, friends, co-workers, bartenders, anyone willing to listen really. When the people who love you know you’re hurting, they really do rally around you. Reaching out to people resulted in more frequent invites to yoga classes, home-cooked meals, movie nights, and day trips. Spending significant time with more people who I’d neglected over the years reminds me that I’m independent and I have everyone I need. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out my new routine as a single person.

Read more about how to get through a breakup without losing friends.

2. Make plans

I had a shitty, 3.5-year relationship with an emotionally abusive heroin addict (I was young and stupid). When it ended, I was devastated at first (again, stupid) but after spending that summer focusing on me — traveling, spending tons of time with friends and family — I ended up being really grateful for the breakup. Everything is a learning experience, and you grow from everything. Spending time traveling and surrounding myself with friends and family and exciting experiences helped. Keeping busy helps. And living YOUR life, entirely for you, helps.

Read more about traveling with friends.

3. Get a hobby

My relationship ended due to it being long-distance. Things that have helped me are getting a dog, going out and trying new things (a new dance class), meeting more people, and taking on new creative projects to throw my energy into. (Of course, I did this after the sadness/crying phase ended, which took a few months.)

Read more about how to find satisfying hobbies.

4. Make a breakup playlist

After five months of dating someone who seemed (truthfully) not that into me, he broke up with me over the phone. I was SO ANGRY. I exclusively listened to Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry” all day, every day, at work. I liked her lyrics about an ex one day seeing me “glow up.” It felt cathartic — I was going to glow up and get even more successful and beautiful and famous while he simply would get more and more wrinkled (the guy needed to learn about sunscreen and skin care).

Read more about the best love songs to listen to during a breakup.

5. Sign up for a few dating apps — or try dating without them

I dated someone for a little over four years, on and off. I think what helped me get over him was first the sense of relief that I had from not feeling controlled and second, pushing myself to go on dates with various types of people. Ultimately what helped me move on was realizing there are other people in this city who are far more compatible for me, who offer many of the same positive qualities he had, just better.

Read more about the best dating apps and how to be good at using them.

6. Work through it with a therapist

I was married for nine years. It ended in separation and finally divorce. Ultimately I did three months of relationship therapy and learned more than I could imagine about myself and relationships. Today I am married almost ten years to an amazing woman and we have yet to ever raise our voices at each other. In my case, I took the mentality that I needed to learn from the experience to better myself. The payoff is finding and being with a true soulmate. I see so many people who cannot point a finger at themselves and work to improve, and I just shake my head.

Read more about how to find the right therapist.

7. Stop texting your ex

My ex knew he messed up by not treating me as well as he should have. After the breakup he’d text me sporadically, in a friendly manner, and one day — some six months after we broke up — I told him he needed to stop texting me. I told him explicitly that he had hurt me, and his texts just reminded me of that pain and shame and all of that. He apologized for everything and agreed to stay out of my life. Just laying it all out there, really, was the key point. I’m not normally one to be so direct, but I felt like I couldn’t move on unless I did (especially if he’d keep texting). And that was that.

Read more about why all of our exes live in texts until we make them go away.

8. Know that it takes time to move on

My one-year relationship ended after Valentine’s Day, when I found him sending the same gifts to his ex-girlfriend. It took a long time to get over it, and we did the whole still talking/hooking up deal for another year. At this point, time is the main thing that helped me move on. Over time you forget about the good memories that were keeping you tied to that person. After a while, you just stop having feelings for them because you are occupied with other things and meeting new people. That person isn’t active in your life anymore.

Read more about how to let go of self-inflected mental pain.

9. Write about it in a journal

I’ve always kept a journal. After breaking up with my first serious boyfriend of one year, I flipped back to an entry I wrote three months into the relationship and saw that I had written something like, Am I even attracted to him? Three months in! Such a red flag. Right then I decided to reread my journal entries more often. Journaling continues to help when I date other people now, and with a lot of other things in my life. I like to turn back to what I’ve written and try to notice patterns. For example: With the person I’m currently dating, one time I saw that I had written the same kinds of sentences I previously wrote about my ex, complaining about the way we were texting. It helped me realize that often if I’m journaling about a “problem,” I’m usually just afraid to communicate what I need from someone. Journaling helps me know when to speak up.

Read more about how to start keeping a journal.

How to Get Over Someone and Move On with Your Life

So this is probably, like, the 57th article you’ve read after getting dumped and now you’re sick and tired of trying to figure out how to get over “the one that got away” already.

I get it.

A lot of “advice” out there tries to deconstruct getting over a breakup into these nice little lists, as if you can get over someone you loved and lost by checking another item off your list like you’re going grocery shopping or something. And sure, you probably should “take time for yourself” and “reconnect with friends” and all that, as we’ll see. But to me, all of these things seem like slapping a band-aid on the gaping flesh wound where your heart used to be: technically, they don’t really hurt to try, but by themselves, they can only do so much.

So before admonishing you to “get back out there,” I want you to try to look at things a little differently first. Getting over an ex has a lot more to do with knowing who you are and the story you tell yourself about your past relationship than it does with trying to mitigate the pain every time you’re reminded of them.

To that end, it’s a process, not a destination. You have to be patient. I know, that sucks to hear, but the only way around it is through it.

So grab that bottle of gin and/or gallon of ice cream and let’s tackle this fucker together.

And I know you probably won’t believe me when I say this, but it really is going to be okay.

WHY LOSING A RELATIONSHIP HURTS SO MUCH

Relationships form the basis of meaning in our lives. And not just your interpersonal relationships, but even the relationships you have with your job or your identity or your possessions. But because humans rely so much on our social lives to survive and thrive, our relationships with each other carry an extra special weight.

Therefore, when you lose a relationship, especially one that was so important and central to your everyday life, you lose that associated meaning. And to lose meaning is to lose a part of yourself. So all of these things are intimately connected — your relationships, your sense of meaning and purpose, and your perception of who you are.

That feeling of emptiness we all feel when we lose someone we love is actually a lack of meaning and lack of identity. There is, quite literally, a hole inside of ourselves. Everything becomes a blank void, empty of any real purpose, and we might even begin to wonder if there’s really any point to life at all.

If you wallow in this kind of thinking for too long, you end up clinging to the past, desperately trying to “fix” everything to somehow get your old life back.

But the hard pill to swallow here is this: part of you is now dead and gone. It’s time to accept that and start rebuilding your life so you can move on.

GETTING OVER SOMEONE REQUIRES NEW SOURCES OF MEANING

Surrounding yourself with people who truly care about you is probably one of the most common pieces of advice for getting over someone. It’s great advice, but it’s not because you’ll just start to “feel better” and then forget about the fact that, oh yeah, you’re going to be sleeping alone tonight, aren’t you? And it’s also not because these people provide an outlet for you to work through the failed relationship out loud, though that doesn’t hurt.

No, the real reason is that connecting/reconnecting with people who care about you will start to add meaning back into your life, the meaning that was so abruptly pulled out from underneath you like a cheap dining room rug.

In order to restore that meaning through reconnecting with people, however, you need to make it about more than just you and your past failed relationship. Yes, you need time to vent and to figure things out, and having someone there for that is helpful. But you can’t start to rebuild meaning in your life until you take the time to cultivate relationships that are separate and distinct from your old relationship and your old self.

SEE THE RELATIONSHIP FOR WHAT IT WAS

Another way to separate yourself from your past relationship and move on is to take an objective look at what the relationship was really like. If part of the story you tell yourself is, “We were so perfect for each other. We should be together forever! Why doesn’t he/she see that?” then I’d bet you’re falling victim to more than a few biases that you’re simply not aware of.

First, we tend to see the past through rose-colored glasses. “Everything was great back then. Well, maybe not perfect, but like 98% of the time, we were just the best couple ever. What happened?”

The truth is, our memories are pretty shitty, and we often only remember the things that fit into whatever story we want to believe right now. In this case, we remember the good times most because that’s what we want our reality to be right now.

And if you can’t objectively see if/when you’re doing this, it’s possible your relationship failed because, in reality, it was a toxic relationship. Toxic relationships only ever survive on drama, and as the drama ramps up to keep the relationship going, you become dependent on that drama, or even addicted to it. And then you’re really fucked because now the meaning you derive from that toxic relationship is skewed and distorted. You start thinking that irrational jealousy or controlling behavior or dickish and snide comments were somehow actually signs of their undying love for you.

So I’m here to tell you this: Relationships don’t end because two people did something wrong to each other—they end because two people are something wrong for each other.

It’s incredibly difficult to see it when you’re the one getting dumped, but sometimes, a relationship needs to end.

INVEST IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF

There seems to be some debate out there about whether or not you should take some time to yourself and just be alone for a while. I think you should, and doubly so if your failed relationship was a toxic one.

If your identity has been so wrapped up in a relationship that’s now gone, well, it’s a good time to explore who you are in contexts outside of that relationship. Rushing out to find someone to fill that void without really figuring out what you want and what you need (see below) is a recipe for recurring relationship disaster.

A lot of times, it’s this very lack of awareness around one’s needs that leads to a relationship falling apart in the first place. So one of the best things you can do is figure out who you are, what you need, and how to get those needs met. And to truly know that, you have to figure it out on your own.

FIGURING OUT WHAT YOUR NEEDS REALLY ARE

Conflicts in relationships almost always arise because one or both people aren’t getting their needs met in some way. And it’s often the case that those needs are either not communicated effectively or someone’s needs are being ignored. Either way, the root cause of the problem is a lack of awareness of one’s needs. Relationships end when someone decides the cost of not getting their needs met is no longer bearable.

Our fundamental emotional needs include:

  1. Status. Feeling important or superior; feeling challenged.
  2. Connection. Feeling understood and appreciated; shared values and experiences.
  3. Security. Feeling safe and reliable; feeling trust.

We all have these needs in our relationships, but we all prioritize them a little differently. And disproportionately valuing one need over the others often causes issues in our relationships that might even develop into long-term patterns.

The key to understanding what went wrong in your past relationships and having better relationships in the future is identifying your needs and your partner’s needs and figuring out ways to meet them.

If you’re someone who can’t seem to figure out why your relationships all end the way they do or you seem to have the same problems in your relationships over and over again, then check out my 28-page ebook that dives deep into emotional needs.

Books on Relationships

Lots of people ask me which books I’d recommend for understanding and creating better relationships. The truth is, most books out on the topic give pretty shitty, vague advice that isn’t all that useful. That said, there are a few books out there that I regularly recommend to people. My top two are The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix.

If you’re the type who likes a more “academic” perspective, John Gottman’s 7 Principles of a Successful Marriage is nice overview of why relationships succeed and why they fail.

And if you find yourself in relationships where you’re constantly fighting with one another, check out Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.

You can also get my free ebook on relationships and learn more about dealing with emotional needs in your relationships.

More Articles on Relationships

I’ve written a lot about relationships—what makes them good and what makes them bad, why they thrive and why they die, and what you can do to start having better ones. Here’s a list of some of the most popular ones and some of my favorites as well.

  • Love is Not Enough
  • Fuck Yes or No
  • 1,500 People Give All the Relationship Advice You’ll Ever Need
  • A No-Bullshit Guide to Meeting the Right Person
  • Attachment Theory
  • 3 Terrible Reasons to Get Married (and 4 Really Good Ones)
  • Compatibility and Chemistry in Relationships
  • The Three Loves Theory
  • Maybe You Don’t Know What Love Is
  • Change Your Mind About Dating
  • 6 Toxic Relationship Habits Most People Think Are Normal
  • 6 Healthy Relationship Habits Most People Think Are Toxic
  • Romance Is Like Alcohol
  • How to Survive a Long Distance Relationship
  • Why People Cheat in Relationships
  • 3 Simple Explanations for Why You’re Still Single
  • 7 Things Sex Education Should Have Taught Us But Didn’t
  • How Disney Ruined Sex For Everyone
  • Sex and Our Psychological Needs
  • The One Trait to Look For In A Partner
  • How to Date an Emotionally Stable and Amazing Person
  • Why Everyone You Date Is A Psycho
  • The Guide to Strong Boundaries
  • Vulnerability and Avoiding Manipulative Relationships
  • It’s Complicated: Why Relationships and Dating Can Be So Hard
  • My Girlfriend Just Dumped Me
  • Power in Vulnerability

How to Stop Fucking Up Your Romantic Relationships

Relationships can be complicated and difficult. But few people know that there are some pretty clear signals to know if a relationship is going to work or not. Put your email in the form to receive my 29-page ebook on healthy relationships.

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Just coming from a bad breakup? Yeah, it’s not easy and there is no shortcut to make the pain go away soon. However, it won’t last forever. Soon you will move on and there is no looking back. And trust me if I say you’ll end up a better person if you handle this situation properly.

A failed relationship can cause self-doubt, feeling of worthlessness, and fear of loving again. People involved in breakups, especially those who were left behind, think they couldn’t get over it and live without their ex. Nevertheless, after months of being on their own, they realized they were wrong.

The Post-Breakup Syndrome

How do you know if you are going through the normal process of overcoming a breakup? Well, you simply experience all or some of the following:

• You can’t sleep nor eat for the first one or two weeks.
• You either lose or gain weight.
• You’re checking your phone every 5 minutes hoping your ex sent you a message.
• You’re asking yourself what you’ve done wrong.
• You think if only you were more beautiful or handsome, then your ex couldn’t have left you.
• Your thoughts are fighting whether you should erase your photos together.
• You remember your ex in every corner of your house, street, or basically everywhere.

These are normal reactions of a normal person in heartbreak, so don’t be afraid of what you’re going through. They will be over soon.

To help you cope up with a breakup better, here are some ways that may inspire you to move on.

1. Fight for your love until you get tired.
This sounds stupid, foolish, and pathetic, but actually it can help you move forward without regrets. If you truly love someone, you fight for him/her even if there’s no chance of winning—at least you’ve done your part. This way, you can move on without asking ‘what if’s’ or thinking ‘if only’s’.

Also, once you get tired from fighting for someone who doesn’t want to come back, moving on becomes easier simply because you get tired of it and the person.

2. Stop being sentimental.
Throw anything that can remind you of the past. It is not easy to do, but trust me, it will help lighten up your load. If you cannot let go of keepsakes, it means you are still holding on. However, if you know it’s pointless to hold on, then be brave enough to burn all the false hopes. Memories cannot bring back what’s gone.

Unless s/he asked you to, don’t return the stuff given to you. They’re already yours. If you do it, your ex would be compelled to return what you gave him/her as well—and seeing those things won’t do you any good. If seeing the stuff you shared with each other or you received brings back memories, then just burn or throw them away.

3. Don’t be clingy.
If what you want is your ex crawling back to you, then stop being clingy. Humans always want to play hard to get. However, when they find out that the one who likes them has stopped running after them, they wonder why and pursue after that person.

Well, this is also good for moving on after breakup though, especially if you don’t want to try the first suggestion. At least, with this, you save your pride and stop hoping.

4. Use this as a motivation to be the best version of yourself.
This is very common among heartbroken people, but mind you, this is really the best part. Aim higher goals for yourself. Shake off your frustrations and be ambitious. Strive to be perfect—this may be not possible—but the pressure can help you correct as many flaws as possible.

Just an advice though: don’t do this because you want your ex to get back to you. Instead, do this because you have realized you don’t deserve to be dumped by just anyone, and you deserve the best because you are the best.

5. Meet new and people, and make more friends.
Meeting new people and making friends will give you an opportunity to find a better person and forget about your ex. I’m not saying you look for a rebound. Before you enter a new relationship, make sure you have moved on completely, so there will be no inhibitions. Nevertheless, it’s not bad to be surrounded with a lot of friends. Their company will help keep you from loneliness.

6. Be career oriented.
Being single gives you an opportunity to focus on your dreams and improve your career. Love can’t keep you alive when you and your kids get hungry in the future. So, strive to be an independent, stable career person. This can help improve your self-worth, and even if you get brokenhearted again, it would still be intact.

Also, being busy in your career after breakup can distract you from reminiscing the past. Without your notice, months have passed by already, and you realize you’ve moved on.

7. Find a new environment.
Do this only if after months following breakup, you still can’t function normally and you’re too depressed. If your current workplace or neighborhood reminds you a lot of your failed relationship, especially if your ex is just around the corner, then moving to a new place is not that bad. You can decide to change environment and begin anew. A fresh start can help you regain direction for yourself.

You have the control
Yes, breakup can be hard and painful. However, it is a normal part of life. As much as possible, don’t let it destroy you. Don’t let your emotions dictate how you should live your life, because you could expect your decisions to be irrational. It must be mind over matter.

After breakup, try to live a normal life. Don’t try anything self-destructive like drugs or suicide. Surround yourself with people who can encourage you. Give your best at school or work. Look at the bright side of life always. With the right attitude, you can move on without being too broken.

ALSO READ: 10 Inspirational Tips to Heal a Broken Heart

Image source: Antranias

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Joan is a freelance blogger who loves writing about personal development. She also loves learning and teaching languages. A Communication Arts graduate, she now pursues a masters degree in Language Teaching. She is into mobile photography, writing poems, and reading for leisure.

There’s literally no better time to rebrand yourself than after a breakup. Sure, it sucks, and you definitely have to take the time to mourn the relationship—you *are* losing someone who was consistently in your life. But you don’t have to continue to dwell on the breakup when your best self is waiting.

Plus, that dumb trope of women staying inside all day, crying, eating chocolate, and not being able to live ever again is so sexist and not true whatsoever. Here’s a list of the most practical, beneficial ways you can fully get over that heartbreak—and we promise, you’ll come out better than before. What, like it’s hard?

1. Buy yourself a big bouquet of pink roses. Put them in a vase, water them, and wait for them to wilt. When it’s time to throw them out, check in with your feelings. Guess what? By the time those roses die, you’ll already feel better. Then, keep buying yourself roses, recommends Veronica Yip, a San Diego resident who swears by this hack.

2. Visit a rage room. It’s…a legit thing. “Get out all your anger and smash objects to your heart’s content,” recommends Lauren Cook, who holds a master’s in marriage and family therapy.

3. Go on that vacation you’ve been dying to—even if it’s by yourself. “Getting away to an exotic location or somewhere peaceful is a potent source of distraction,” says therapist Rev. Sheri Heller. What’s better than lounging beachside with a good book, frozen drank, and the ocean waves? Talk about self-care.

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4. Rearrange your home. Get rid of all those bad memories. “A new look creates space for new memories. Out with the old, inviting the new,” recommends Krysta Monet, creative director for Nine and North Co.

5. Purge your relationship junk drawer. Yes, this includes that ticket stub you’ve kept from your first date. “You don’t need the reminders of a relationship that is no longer,” says Robyn Koenig, professional dating coach and CEO at Rare Find.

6. Write hate mail to your ex. But don’t actually send it (and tell your sister not to either, à la Lara Jean). “The caveat is not to mail the letter but to do a ceremonial burning to get rid of the toxic energy,” recommends Samantha Gregory, author of No More Crumbs: How to Stop Dating for Crumbs and Get the Cake You Finally Deserve.

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7. Say yes to everything. “This is especially useful if you’ve been in a long-term relationship where you’ve compromised and negotiated what you ate, where you went, what you watched, and who you socialized with,” says Trish McDermott, CEO of Meetopolis Dating. “Who are you and what makes just *you* happy? Now is the time to find out.”

8. Eat alone. Whether you take yourself out to your favorite Thai place or make a home-cooked dinner, sit at the table and eat in silence. “Becoming comfortable with newly found silence is part of the recovery process,” says Megan Cannon, owner of Back to Balance Counseling.

9. Sign up for a boxing class—or any other type of fighting class. “Sometimes you need to find an outlet to divert the negative energies you get after a breakup,” says Celia Schweyer, dating and relationship expert at DatingScout. Trust, punching the eff out of something will *def* help with this added stress.

10. Block them from your Instagram/Snapchat. If the temptation to see if they’ve been paying attention to your Stories is too much, just block them. This way, when you do start to get out there and share your day-to-day activities again, you’ll know there’s zero part of you that’s performatively “acting over it” in the hopes your ex will see it.

11. Don’t shit-talk your ex too much. Sure, it feels good to trash-talk your ex with your besties, and hearing that you were better than them from the start feels like a drug, but don’t rely on it. Hearing your friends bring down someone who made you feel shitty feels like it should be justified in the grand karmic scheme of things, but your health and happiness need not be contingent on someone else’s pain and suffering.

12. Don’t immediately suggest to “stay friends”—and if they do, tell them you need to think about it. This is an impulse because you don’t want to seem like you care too much about the breakup. Because you’re so chill. You’re so chill that your heart isn’t beating. Aaand, you’re dead. But truthfully, during this stilted, awkward breaking-up period, it’s hard to tell whether you’ll be able to be friends. Generally, one person wants to be friends and the other wants to be more. Gotta work that shit out before it can be a healthy friendship…if it ever can be. You’re not admitting defeat by not staying friends with them.

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13. If you want to drunk-text, get your friend to take away your phone or throw it in a volcano. Oh, the number of times I have drunk-texted something cryptic to an ex at 2 a.m. and assumed that if he texts back, he still has feelings for me. Drunk-texting an ex is a two-steps-forward-one-step-back slide down the rabbit hole. Him replying “nothing” to your booze-fueled “sup” does not mean you’ll have a spring wedding.

15. Spend a lot of time outside. It’s a cliché, but fresh air really does clear your head. So does, you know, seeing the sun every once in a while. Take at least two hours from each day just to leave your Cave of Forgotten Dreams and interact with The Outside.

16. Know it’s okay to rely on your friends. Breakups can make even the strongest people feel like they’re worthless or not good enough. Hang out with people who appreciate you and remind you of what a good person you are. “This is when having a strong support network is essential because friends can show you that you still matter and that you still belong,” Burns says. “When your self-esteem is at an all-time low, these are the people who can help empower you while you work on defining your own self-worth.”

17. Eat your night cheese. Yep, you have full permission to pull a Liz Lemon and work on your night cheese during a breakup. Fran Walfish, PsyD, a Beverly Hills–based psychotherapist and relationship expert, says that drinking milk or eating turkey, cheese, yogurt, or ice cream before bed can calm you down due to the ingredient tryptophan—a natural calming agent that relaxes you without medication.

18. Rebound with one incredibly hot suitor, if that’s what you want, and then give yourself some time to decompress and remember who you are. If you’ve had one rebound, you’ve had them all, in this woman’s opinion.

19. If you start dating someone else, take it really slow. Dude. You just ended a relationship and your heart flipped over and exploded like a tanker in a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. If you take it step-by-step and enjoy it as a casual thing for a while, that’ll give you some time to evaluate whether you’re actually ready to be with someone again or if you’re just ready to have really hot sex with them in an elevator once in a while.

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20. Establish a bedtime routine. When you’re going through a breakup, learning to be proud of the little things can really keep you going. And honestly, what screams “I have my shit together” more than getting enough sleep every night? Walfish recommends going to bed at the same time and setting your alarm for the same time every day. Avoid looking at screens (TV, computer, cell phone) for half an hour before bed. Not only does the light from screens keep you awake, but how many times has some unexpected drama on the timeline or an innocent Instagram scroll accidentally spiraled into a two-hour deep-dive of their life?

21. If you get a Facebook invite to their best friend’s party…stay home, put on a face mask, eat Chinese food, and watch Stranger Things. There is always a strong temptation to show up with a fresh blowout and a low-cut J.Lo Grammys dress and grind with their friend to make them jealous. Eat your heart out, you think to yourself. But actually, assuming their best friend is someone you don’t really care about, going to that party still makes it all about your ex—not your emotional well-being. And seeing them will just pick open the scab.

22. Don’t scheme to get them back, scheme to get yourself back. Get some solid book recs, join a pickup sports game, go on a trip somewhere with a girlfriend. Paint your bathroom—I don’t care. Just do something for yourself.

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23. Avoid posting the details on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Instagram. Or Tumblr. Live ya life! Airing your grievances on social media is not good for anyone, and it’ll be embarrassing later. Who’s gonna read it, anyway? Aunt Maggie? That girl you met during Welcome Week?

24. Take baths. Baths are half wallowing and half cleansing/pampering and thus are perfect for breakups. When’s the last time you really filled up your tub (clean it first, please) and had a good soak with a glass (bottle) of wine? Showers are not for the recently dumped.

25. Stop blaming yourself and thinking things like, If only I had watched more Bourne movies/had dyed my hair blonde/had given more rim jobs/were cooler. It takes two to break up—the problem wasn’t just you, it was you two as a couple. It’s almost reverse-narcissistic to blame yourself that much! If you try to look at the relationship from the outside, maybe you’ll have an easier time seeing how you both contributed to the breakup. “If only” killed the dinosaurs. (Actually, an asteroid did, but let’s not quibble.)

Related Story Anna Breslaw Writer. Carina Hsieh Sex & Relationships Editor Carina Hsieh lives in NYC with her French Bulldog Bao Bao — follow her on Instagram and Twitter • Candace Bushnell once called her the Samantha Jones of Tinder • She enjoys hanging out in the candle aisle of TJ Maxx and getting lost in Amazon spirals. Taylor Andrews Taylor is one of the sex and relationship editors who can tell you exactly which vibrators are worth the splurge, why you’re still dreaming about your ex, and tips on how to have the best sex of your life (including what word you should spell with your hips during cowgirl sex)—oh, and you can follow her on Instagram here.

(Photo: Getty)

We met in university. Became friends. Eventually started dating and fell in love. We were each other’s best friend. He was my first text in the morning, and my last before bed. When we entered the working world, we got first dibs on each other’s vacation time. We took trips everywhere from New York City to Honolulu, sharing memories scattered around the world. It was six years of bliss.

Everything was great—until it wasn’t.

I’m not quite sure when the cracks started to appear. But they were there. And then one day—after nine years of friendship, six years as a couple—we broke up. I was 28 years old, thinking I’d be married soon, and now? I felt alone.

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This was me a few months ago. And it sucked. In those immediate hours, days, weeks and even months post-breakup, I couldn’t quiet my inner voice that kept asking, “What if this doesn’t happen for me again?”

Girl. Listen to me: that voice? It’s a liar.

I know that everyone copes differently, and I’m not here to give you advice on how to get over your ex or whether or not you should download Tinder. That’s a whole other article. What I can do is tell you what helped me realign my focus in the weeks following my breakup, and if you’re going through the same thing (sorry, girl), then maybe this can help.

All those things you’ve been putting off? Do them now

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I was already actively saving and very close to paying off my student loans while in my relationship, but let’s face it, being in a couple made me a bit lazy. When your life is mapped out and you think your future will look a certain way, there isn’t as much impetus to aggressively tackle you things, because you’re focused on us things. But all that goes out the window with a breakup. It’s just you right now.

In the first couple weeks after my breakup, I paid off the rest of my student loans and credit card debt, went to the bank and came up with an aggressive savings and investment plan that best suited me and my financial goals. Y’all, the relief, coupled with how proud I felt, was huge. I was euphoric.

If you’re in the midst of a breakup, you will have plenty of stressful, overwhelming days. If you can eliminate some things off your life’s to-do list, it can make those days that much easier.

Listen to your gut

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One of the most difficult things to process after my breakup was feeling like I had to “start over.” When you’re on a path to a very specific life scenario for so long, a detour can feel devastating.

Look, it can be hard when it seems like everyone around you is paired up, and it feels like you’re left behind—but that’s the time to focus on creating the best life for you. One of the best pieces of advice I received after my breakup came from a good friend. I had just told her about how I had a pit in my stomach because of the anxiety of starting over. All she replied with was, “so don’t.”

There is no correct timeline for all of this. You will know when it’s time to get back out there. In the meantime, replace When is it going to be my turn? with What do I want my life to look like when it is my turn? If you haven’t truthfully dealt with how you’re feeling and worked hard to make improvements where possible, believe me, entering into a relationship, let alone marriage, is the last thing you should be doing. Your worry doesn’t need to be about when, it should be about making sure you’re the best version of you for that moment.

Pick your team

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Not only are you dealing with the loss of your significant other, but you might also be dealing with the loss of your shared apartment if you lived together, family that you’ve become close with during your relationship, and even (let’s be real, sometimes especially) pets.

For me, one of the most difficult things to figure out was who got custody of our mutual friends. Knowing each other for almost 10 years, and being a couple for more than half that, we had acquired a lot of people between us. Was I now going to lose all these friendships, too? Were people going to take sides? I had to be a grown up, sit these friends down and have mildly awkward conversations about how I hoped that our friendships would remain intact. Some did, and others grew distant. It wasn’t ideal, but it was my reality. I took comfort knowing that I did what I could to ease the situation for myself.

Say “yes” to change

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If you’re dealing with a breakup, I don’t need to tell you that your life is transforming. Everything is in flux right now; from your larger life plans all the way down to your daily routines. Like now I only have to buy one bag of kettle corn, instead of two, when I go to the grocery store. OK, maybe I still buy two, but now I don’t have to share (silver linings?). The goal is to stop feeling like you’re at the mercy of the changing landscape of your life, and to take charge of it.

You’re afraid that you have too much free time now? Sign up for a class that you’ve always wanted to take. You’ll learn new things and get to meet new people. I signed up for a fitness class at my old university with a friend, and the sheer fact that I was in a different environment at least two days a week felt like a boost to my system. Not to mention that exercise does wonders for your mental and physical health, but it’s a simple fact: taking care of yourself feels good. Want a change of scenery? Take a trip to that place you’ve always dreamed about. Three days after my breakup, I booked a group trip to Italy. It was completely spontaneous, totally out of my comfort zone, and most importantly, it gave me something to look forward to. Do you feel like a failure? Ask to take on more responsibility at work. The new challenge will keep your mind busy, and when (yes, when) you start excelling at it, your confidence in yourself will return.

Change begets change. If we let ourselves relax, and accept that it can be a good thing, we’ll see transformations that we never imagined possible.

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Look, I don’t really know if I’m “over it” yet, and frankly, I don’t think that’s the point. Breakups suck. They force you to reevaluate everything you thought you knew. You’re sad, confused, angry, and have to continue living your life. It’s a lot. But if you’re gentle with yourself, and take your time, it will get better. Use this as a reminder that everything you’re feeling is valid and real—but it will pass. You will make it through to the other side, where more joy and love than you can imagine awaits. Promise.

Then maybe we can figure out if we should download Tinder or not.

This piece was originally published on Nov. 9, 2017.

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Imagine your partner unexpectedly changes their Facebook status from “in a relationship” to “single” and then refuses to communicate with you. This sounds awfully cruel, completely robbing you of your right to find out why you have been dumped so that you can get some closure and move on. But it is actually becoming so common that Facebook has created new tools to help people manage their Facebook profiles after a breakup and interact with former partners.

The need for closure doesn’t just apply to relationships. The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, status or a way of life are other examples of painful endings. Letting go of something that was once important can be difficult, and many people seek closure in doing so. But does it actually help? And can you really expect other people to give you closure? Let’s take a look at the evidence.

The social psychologist Arie Kruglanski coined the phrase “need for closure” in the 1990s, referring to a framework for decision making that aims to find an answer on a given topic that will alleviate confusion and ambiguity.

When we seek closure we are looking for answers as to the cause of a certain loss in order to resolve the painful feelings it has created. In doing this, we appear to form a mental puzzle of what’s happened – examining each piece and its relationship to the overall puzzle. Closure is achieved when we are satisfied that the puzzle has been assembled to our satisfaction, that the answers have been reached and it is therefore possible to move on.

When people most need closure it is usually because the termination of the event is significant to them, holding particular value and meaning. Let’s take a breakup as an example. If you find that the explanation is that your partner is choosing to end the relationship to begin another, you may find closure straight away without further explanation. However in the world of social media, where people are often “ghosted” – where someone simply disappears from contact without any explanation – feelings are left unresolved.

Ultimately, having answers about past endings can help us maintain our identity and learn something about the behaviour of ourselves and others. This is partly the reason why we often feel like we are better at picking partners with age. Similarly, many elderly people take a more relaxed view about death than younger people – they have often lost several loved ones and have had to find closure in doing so.

Individual differences

The need for closure exists on a scale – with some more prone to seek it than others. Some people even have a desire to avoid closure at all cost. This could be because they don’t want to end up feeling guilty, rejected or criticised by others. Vagueness has its advantages, as soon as you have established exactly what happened, you are also subject to criticism – from yourself and others.

But even among people with a similar need for closure, what may be a satisfactory answer to one person will not be sufficient for another. Every person’s need for closure is different and appears to vary as a function of the situation as well as personality characteristics and values. When we are under stress for example, our need for closure increases.

Coping without closure. seanbear/

Research indicates that certain types of personalities are different in the ways they approach closure. One study found that people who prefer order and predictability – having a more rigid way of thinking and a low tolerance for ambiguity – struggle when they are unable to find the answers to help them move on. In contrast, people who are more open minded, creative and comfortable with ambiguity are better able to cope with not achieving closure.

Psychologists have also found that people who are consistently able to find closure usually have value systems that can easily incorporate answers to validate their world view. A religious ideology, for example, explains many questions as “God’s will”, with no further explanation necessary.

Individual differences in the need and ability to achieve closure can also play a crucial role in the potentially detrimental effects of not obtaining closure. This includes psychological distress, such as feelings of anxiety and depression, with individuals questioning themselves – in particular their judgements, skills and abilities.

What to do

So what are you to do if someone ghosts you? It is important to remember that you are in charge of obtaining closure – you can’t really get others to do it for you. Even if you get an ex-partner to talk about what went wrong in the relationship, there’s no way of really knowing that they are being honest or correct in their assessment.

A good starting point is therefore to take responsibility for your own actions and interpret those of others as best you can. If someone doesn’t want to communicate with you, that says something too. You also have to accept that you may never have the perfect answer. But you can nevertheless give yourself some time to be sad, try to figure out what happened and finally learn and move on. Research has also shown that a type of writing that allows people to examine their loss through a redemptive lens without blame and which focuses on the positives can be useful useful in helping achieve closure, whereas simply writing and searching for meaning has been found to be ineffective.

Ultimately, closure is a complicated cognitive process and the key is learning to live with the ambiguity when it cannot be achieved. Sometimes, things go wrong and although it does not feel fair, and it is very hurtful, life goes on.

Lady Speak

ALSO READ: I went in search of closure and it left me with even more questions

Often we have been told that closure might help heal our broken hearts. That we’d be able to wipe our slate clean and move on. But the question that is usually in our minds is whether you really need closure.

For many people, closure means so many things.

There are some who want clarification on things that happened within the relationship that they could not understand. Others would be seeking forgiveness for the wrong done to them. And others just want the chance to tell their former partner that they are hurt before they could move on to other things. And there those who only want to mete out the pain they have been feeling since the breakup.

This crowd believes that they deserve an explanation as to why things ended the way they did. To them, if the partner cannot offer such an explanation, chances are that the reason is not sufficient. It could be also a way for them to find out the kind of role they played in how the relationship ended.

However, there is a whole bunch of people who think closure is a waste of time and a way to cling to the past. Or even a way to keep trampling on your pain over and over again.

For this bunch, closure is a way to expose yourself to someone who hurt you. They believe that getting an answer from such a person could never be sufficient because you could be looking for something they can never give you.

They believe that the best thing to do is forgive and forget as this would easily set you free from the past. To them, the approval of their ex-partner is unnecessary since they are already charting a new life.

However, the important thing whether you want closure or not is to be at peace with yourself. That you forgive and stop being too hard on yourself.

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