The timing of writing this is really something. While I was doing some keystroking, I got a call from one of my clients. They recently broke up with someone and are actually displaying some of the very behaviors that we're about to get into today. So, while it's on my mind, let me just say that if you just called it quits with someone, I'd say around 4-6 weeks ago, this article doesn't necessarily apply to you. Ending relationships can be quite painful and it takes a little bit of time for the "heart scab" to form so that the healing process can truly begin.
Oh, but if it's been a few months now (or more) and you're not able to tell much of a difference between today and how you felt on the day when the relationship official came to a close, this is something I would recommend that you at least skim through. The reality is that, for most of us, heartbreak is indeed sure. A bigger reality is if we don't make sure to fully heal—"to make healthy, whole or sound"; "to cleanse"; "to purify"—from the situation, not only is it going to hold us back, it can also hinder us from getting into a relationship that is so much better.
So, how can you know, for certain, that you've truly healed from an ex? I'm so glad that you asked. Here are some telling signs that you can gauge your mind and heart by.
1. You’re Not Bitter
I'm thinking that one of the most telling signs that someone hasn't healed from shoot, just about anything that deals with relationships (any kind of relationship), is they are bitter. And yeah, bitter ain't good. Whenever I think of that word, as it relates to romantic relationships, the first thing that oftentimes comes to my mind is the synonym "acrimonious" which ties really well into the Tyler Perry movie Acrimony. Yeah, I know that film triggered a lot of folks yet something I did appreciate about it was it showed a very bitter woman and how she came to be that way (because very few are bitter for absolutely no reason). It also revealed an extreme example of what can happen when you don't let bitterness go. Know another in-real-life example of bitterness? A lot of posts that I see on social media. It's like some folks think it's an Olympic sport to dog out Black men all day long. And what's a trip about this particular example is the fact that, when someone is bitter, they tend to, by definition, generalize.
What are some other indications of being bitter? Holding grudges. Being jealous of other people's relationships. Always seeing things with negative slant. Staying stuck in the past. Not acknowledging the good things that are happening in your life. Comparing the next guy to the old one.
To be fair, when you first break-up with someone, there do tend to be stages of grief that can sometimes feel like bitterness (check out "Why You Need To Grieve Your Past Relationship"). Yet if it's been so long since the relationship ended at this point that even your friends, your mama and your auntie are like, "Girl, we're still talking about this?", it's worth asking yourself if there is some bitterness within you that still needs to be addressed. Then resolved.
2. You’re Not Rebounding
The flip side to being bitter? Oftentimes it includes being on the rebound. I've mentioned in articles before that I actually-pretty-close-to-loathe the saying, "The best way to get over someone is to get underneath someone else." One of the main reasons why is because that typically speaks to using another person as a distraction—and, well, as the saying goes, everywhere you go, there you are. Yeah, trying to get over someone by getting involved with someone isn't the best way to heal from the relationship. More times than not, all it does is cause you to compare the new guy to the old one and worse, you can end up making him pay if he shows even remote signs of being like your ex.
What's so wrong with that? Well, say that something you didn't like about your ex-boyfriend was that he wasn't very romantic or attentive. Let the new guy show up 10 minutes late to something and all of a sudden, now he's selfish and too immature for a relationship. And it's all because you're too jaded to see things from a balanced perspective (which I'm gonna address in just a sec).
A healed person is fine standing on their own. That's how healed they are. If you can't imagine getting through your break-up without someone else being around, that's not fair to the-new-him—or to you. Rebounding rarely ever is.
3. You Have a Balanced Perspective
When I speak of having a balanced perspective, this can actually go a few different directions. First, when you're healed from him, you're not holding the guys in your future to "his" standard. You are able to see each person as an individual and "judge" accordingly. Another example of having a balanced perspective is you don't just remember all of the bad times or all of the good. Another sign of being balanced is you don't see only what you want to see.
A great example of this particular point is the movie (500) Days of Summer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel). One of my very favorite scenes is when Tom (Gordon-Levitt) went to a party that Summer (Zooey) threw and it showed his expectations vs. the actual reality via a split screen (you can watch it here). Because Tom was still so hung up on Summer following their break-up, he had a one-sided perspective. He saw what he wanted to see which was Summer inviting him to her party to get back together when the reality is that it was really her engagement party to some other guy.
When you're not healed, you tend to have quite a bit of tunnel vision. More times than not, it's because you're trying to protect yourself—even if it's by doing things that are only putting yourself in harm's way. That said, you know you've healed when things aren't unrealistic or extremely. You can process things for what they are because you've got a balanced insight on matters.
4. You Can Own Your Own Ish
I don't care if it's your BFF, the First Lady of your church or your favorite relationship coach, be careful of listening to people who, when they speak of their own relationships, you never—and I do mean NEVER—hear them say what they did wrong or could've done better. One of the things that is super annoying—and dangerous—about the state of our society these days is how so many people seem to have a total lack of personal accountability. That's why, while I will do it sometimes, I prefer to work with a couple instead of just one person who is in the relationship. Why? Because when you hear both sides, things make a helluva lot more sense as you're trying to figure out how a couple got to where they are.
Whew. I can't tell you how many times a wife will hit me up to provide me with a long list of all of the things that her husband is doing wrong. When I just hear it from her end, it's easy to think that her husband is a living hell. Oh, but let him tell his side and more times than not, I get that what he's doing is a reaction to what has been said or done to him—by his wife. That they both have created the mess that they are in.
When it comes to heartbreak, I've definitely had some doozies and known some asses. The more I heal, though, the more I can see some of my own missteps. The reason why that is so important for me to do is because I'm able to acknowledge how I got into the relationship, along with the poor choices that I made, so that I can avoid getting into similar situations, moving forward. If you're trying to get over an ex and you are totally unwilling to see and then accept what you could've done to make the relationship better/healthier (and I don't mean that passive aggressive "I loved him too much" mess than somehow still soothes your ego; I mean, "I was too controlling" or "I was impatient"…the real stuff), that oftentimes means that the wound is so fresh that it hurts to step on your stuff. The more you heal, the easier it will be able to do, though. Trust me.
5. He’s Not Able to “Double Dutch” in Your Life
There's a guy in my life who, it took me much longer than it should have for me to get over him. I think a part of it was because I lacked that "balanced perspective" that I referenced. Plus, he's super charming (the Bible says that charm is deceitful; don't be impressed with it—Proverbs 31:30), so he oftentimes would do just enough to keep me emotionally invested in some level without him having to fully commit. Because of this, it was very easy for him to Double Dutch (you know, go in and out, in and out) of my life.
Amazingly, after all of that, we've managed to remain a few steps up from just being "cool". I can tell that I really am completely over and healed from the situation because, when he came through to pick up something, saw some roses in my living room and inquired who they were from, my total energy was, "Boy, bye". I didn't care what he thought. The way he tried to flirt to reel me back in was futile. I wasn't mad, giddy or triggered. I was just…over it.
One of the reasons why I'm such a fan of initial break-ups being clean breaks is so that people don't have to go through (or is it send themselves through?) a lot of what I can personally relate to. Sometimes, when it comes to an ex, we keep going around and around and around like Keith Sweat once sang about because it seems easier to keep "some" of the guy in our life than to have none of him at all. Yet that's the thing—break-ups happen because one or both people aren't able to give their all or two people don't mesh well enough to give their all. So, it's really best to just leave well enough alone so that they both can get to their better "fit".
Does this mean that I think exes aren't capable of getting back together? What I will say is, when it comes to healthy and progressive dynamics, that tends to be the exception and not the rule. Either way, being "on" one day and "off" the next, for weeks, months or even years on end, is just wasting your time and causing the attachment to grow deeper. Bottom line, if you keep letting him in and out of your life, you're not being fair to yourself. You're also allowing him to get too many of the benefits without much of the responsibility.
Eventually, more times than not, that is a straight-up recipe for disaster. And could end up taking you so much longer to heal from…it all.
6. You Clearly See Where You’ve Grown
When it comes to most break-ups, there's a season when all you can think about is how the end of the relationship is hurting you. You might even think that it is ruining your life. As you start to heal, though, you begin to notice some silver linings that you probably didn't see coming. Maybe the break-up has taught you to love yourself more. Maybe the break-up has revealed some cyclic patterns that you need to break. Perhaps the break-up has taught you how to be more tolerant or forgiving or—the other side of the coin—to set better boundaries. Maybe now you can see how you've become more sure of yourself and how to not settle. Could it be that the break-up has you more emotionally aware and mentally centered than you've ever been?
The thing about relationships is, if we're really paying attention, they are lessons. And the purpose of a lesson is to teach us something. When we learn, our minds expand. As a result, there is growth. When you're able to step back from a relationship and be like, "Yeah, it hurt. But man, it taught me this, this and this and I'm all the better for it", not only does that also reveal that you've healed—it has taken a lot of the power away that the person and relationship once had in your life. You can thank it and him for how it influenced you to become who you are. So that you can move on—fully and peacefully.
7. You’re Able to Wish Him Well
How many of y'all rolled your eyes when you read this point and then followed that expression up with, "Wish him well…for what?" Listen, author Dr. Wayne W. Dyer once said something about karma that a lot of people could stand to blow up and hang in their office as a daily reality check—"How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours." Some of my exes? When I tell you that I don't ever have to see them again and even never would be too soon, I mean that from the very bottom of my heart. At the same time, I don't want any harm or even hurt to come to them. Why? Because I'm over it.
Folks who tend to hold vengeance in their heart are usually people who are still putting way too much energy into a person or situation. Or both.
While I'm all about setting some boundaries up in here so that I won't be hurt again (and so I won't have to keep reliving a lesson that life has already taught me) when it comes to eh, 95 percent of the people who have hurt me before—whether professionally or personally—I can definitely send light and good energy into their direction because the reality is, at one point, something was good enough about them that caused us to have a connection. And so, just like I was able to grow and move forward, I hope they are able to do the same.
Healing isn't easy. Don't let anyone tell you something different. The only thing that's harder is to think that you've healed when you actually haven't. I hope all of this provided a bit more clarity for if you have fully healed from an ex—or not. If you have, celebrate yourself. If you haven't—be gentle with your being while still acknowledging that there is more work to do—for your greater good.
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