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How to Cope With Regret After the Breakup

Feeling regret after breaking up is normal and even healthy – but how do you cope with it? And what if the breakup was a mistake? Here are a few signs to help you decide if getting back together is the right thing to do.

If you believe the breakup was a mistake, read How to Get Your Lover Back: Successful Strategies for Starting Over (& Making It Better Than It Was Before by Blase Harris. If you regret walking out or you’re not sure you want your lover back, this book will help you understand what happened. You might get a second chance – if you know what has to come first.

On Do You Think About Your Ex All the Time?, a reader shared his experience with his girlfriend. He broke up with her once, regretted the breakup, and got back together with her. But then he broke up with her again because he just didn’t feel that they were meant for each other.

He says, “Again [after the second breakup], the guilt, remorse, and regret flared, this time along with loneliness and quite a lot of pain and tears. I know it’s only been a week and healing takes time, but this is the first time I’ve ever broken up with a girl. I guess I’m just confused; I don’t know whether I’ve made the right choice or not. She was so good to me, she loved me despite all of my flaws and I feel awful for hurting her. However, she deserved the best and, being often frustrated with her and our relationship, I could not give her what she deserved. That’s my story, I just felt the need to share it somewhere and receive some sort of feedback. Thanks for your time!”

His relationship with her – including the two breakups – lasted seven months. He’s a lovely, caring person (you can tell from his comment!), but he’s confused about this relationship. He wants to make the right decision, and may be wondering if his regret about the breakup is because he made the wrong decision.

What Does it Mean if You Regret the Breakup?

I can’t tell you if you regret the breakup because you were meant to be together, or if you “just” feel the normal, healthy grief that accompanies the end of a relationship. Even the most difficult, unhealthy, abusive relationships are hard to let go of.

Look at your pattern of relationships and breakups

If you have a history of breaking up and then regretting it – or not being able to commit to a partner in a long-term relationship – then your “breakup regret” may in fact be a sign of something else. Maybe your struggle isn’t with your partner, but with yourself. Maybe you’re not feeling the love because you don’t know how to be in a relationship, don’t know how to settle into a mature, long-term commitment.

Or maybe you’re just suffering the classic “I want it because it’s not mine!” feeling that we’re born with. The grass is always greener on the other side, food always tastes better when it’s on someone else’s plate, and we always regret the one that got away.

Much of the time, we regret the breakup for reasons that aren’t even about your ex or the relationship itself! It’s often about us, who we are as individuals. Read 5 Reasons It’s So Hard to Get Over a Breakup for more info.

Regret and grief are normal, healthy parts of breaking up

If your relationship was fine but you feel you’re not soul mates, then you may have strong feelings of regret about breaking up. This doesn’t mean you should get back together…it just means you’re processing the grief and loss you feel.

You’re in a transition stage, and they aren’t fun! Transitions are hard work, and take time to recover from. Here’s a thought: instead of focusing on the regret and grief you feel, think about the benefits of breaking up! For some reason, your relationship wasn’t working out. Something wasn’t sitting right for you, your partner, or both of you.

If you think your regret about breaking up is because you’re meant to be together, read Should I Give Him a Second Chance?

It’s your turn! What do you think – how can you tell the difference between relationship regret and good old healthy grief that the relationship is over? I welcome your comments below. I can’t give advice, but you may find it helpful to share your experience.

“The only whole heart is a broken one because it lets the light in.” – David J. Wolpe.

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16 thoughts on “How to Cope With Regret After the Breakup”

  1. I broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years a week ago and am now starting to feel the regret I knew would come. I’ve been having a great time on my own but I still love and care for him. There are so many references and quirks between us that keep popping up in my head and I can’t get rid of them. I’m going to give it a few more weeks/months and let this work itself out, but I’m definitely ready to be single for a good year or so.

  2. My girlfriend just decided to end our relationship. I know it was a hard decision for her. I don’t know if she regrets leaving because I haven’t had any contact with her for almost a week. We’ve broken up before but I don’t think she’s coming back this time I don’t trust her anymore. All I can do is deal with the loss and hope she doesn’t regret breaking up.

  3. Hi. So boyfriend and I ended things I believe for the final time two months ago, and I am feeling worse than I did at first. I have to say, we broke up six times over almost four years, and every time, it was me who did the breaking up. We are not youngsters – he is 58, I am 61 – and we have a lot of friends in common, run in similar circles in the music world where we live, and knew each other 30 years ago. We actually had a weekend fling back then. Anyway, I was so in love in the beginning, but some nagging issues, big ones, like financial differences (and I am not a shallow person, neither looking for someone to take care of me), but he just isn’t as motivated to change his situation as I would like. I mean, we are getting close to retirement age, and don’t to be the one carrying the ball. He works, is a hard worker, but most any changes he has made to better himself in the four years we were together was at my pushing. Also, for me, our sex life was never amazing. It wasn’t bad, but we are very different, and I was always left feeling empty emotionally. Understand, this man loved me totally and unconditionally, wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, and I thought I did, too, which is why I kept going back, thinking we could make it work. But I think now, after this last breakup, it is really over, and I am just struggling if I made the right decision, if I couldn’t have worked harder to make it work. I don’t know how, and I always wonder if there’s something wrong with me, but I just couldn’t make it work, and now I need to let him heal and move on with his life. But it sucks. I hate this.

  4. I actually recently broke up with my boyfriend and it’s hard, we’ve liked each other for 3 years and been on and off twice within it.
    But now I broke up with him again and I think it’s for good, I feel bad as it was over text which is the worst way I know but the chance I tried to in person failed but I still wanted it done.
    We made new friends and since week 1 he started liking this girl I’m best friends with now, he doesn’t talk to her but he looked/looks at her the way he’s supposed to look at me and he always stares at her. He denied it every time I brought it up but I never believed him and we argued so much over it. I decided enough was enough but now I miss him more then ever already and idk if it was the right or wrong thing to do. I just followed my gut and for a while I was wanting to break up with him. I keep thinking back to how a month ago I couldn’t wait for Valentine’s Day with him and look how different it is now! If it’s the wrong thing I’m going to feel like a complete fool so I’m hoping that the regret I feel is the grief everyone feels and not just me making the wrong decision. I’m quite young and it’s overwhelming to feel like this.

  5. It’s been just over a year since the breakup, we were happily together for 4 years, both of our longest relationships. Even through our breakup we were compassionate with each other. I still cry nearly every single day. I don’t know if that is normal or not.. We talked about getting back together but it always comes down to us going in different directions, so we don’t. I can’t stop this depression and it’s ruining my life.. I am going to see a psychologist next week, I hope that will change something for me. I hope the best for all of you too.

  6. I broke up (i did the breaking) with my girlfriend of 7 years about 1 month ago. Our first 2 or 3 years together were great. We would go out dancing. Went on trips spent time at her lake house. We got in engaged in our third year. It was like a fairly tale.
    Until her oldest son started showing up. I did not realize that he was an alcoholic. …but apparently he was a problem for her long before I showed up. We had multiple incidents with him at her house. Showing up drunk, swearing at his Mom (my GF). Then we had 2 very serious incidents with guns. Which had me worried. I did hang in there. ..but i put marriage on hold. This hurt her feelings but she reluctantly allowed me to stay and just be her BF. The next 4 years we had more trips and allot more fun….more events with her alcoholic son. While he was not around allot it was always in the back ground you never quite knew when he was to show up. She also had a younger son with learning issues.
    He first husband was a raging alcoholic and you can see why the oldest had become one.
    Things kind of went down hill for me after the second incident with the guns and her alcoholic son.
    I had a lot of resentment towards her. Which we tried to work out thru couples therapy.
    I do feel bad for her and I miss her terribly. I did come up with a plan for us to reconcile but she politely declined. I am hurting over this…even tho it was a dysfunctional relationship I was hoping to make it work. I made allot of mistakes in it and tried to accept responsibility for them. I feel alone and lost with out her.

  7. HI LEFT MY TWO YEAR RELATIONSHIP 6 WEEKS AGO I LOST SELF IN THE REALIONSHIP AND AFTER 8 WEEKS OF NOT SLEEP AND MENTAL TORURW I ENEDED OUT TWO YEAR RELATIONSHIP HE WANTED CHILDREN I HAVE THREE I STILL LOVE THEM IS MAN WERE HAD NO CONTACT SINCE THE BREAK UP ONLY GOT ENGAGED IN MARCH HE WAS MY BEST FRIEND MY LOVERS MY ROCK LIFE HARD BUT I HAVE TO MOVE FORWARD MY HOPED ANS DREAMS GONE I HAVE TO BULID NEW ONES HOW’S EVER HARD I HOPE HE FINDS THE HAPPIER NESS HE DESERVES WHEN we lose self in a relationship we needed to talk more and have think he was pleasing his family life socks sometimes hope he finds what he looking for he was a good man in lots of ways I suppose we both need ed to comprime more ans he needed to grow balls and be himself insread or people pleasing his family wish things turned out differently life a learning curb for us all love is a precious things sometimes we have to lose love in order to know what a rock we have …….good things are hard to find so if I can helpanyone it talk communication and if you love the person be kind to each other in regret my judgement but cannot make ammends have he has erased all contact but want to wish him well ans tell him I loved him dearly ans we all.make mistakes

  8. Shashank Bhardwaj

    Hi me and my girlfriend recently broke up I took the initiative and told her that we should not be in relation anymore because before that we had fights everyday we were in long distance relation.I loved her and I do miss her I am finding hard to moveon because I was so addicted of talking to her everyday.but she ditched me before once by going back to her ex starting dating him which she used to say was a abusive relation i tried so hard to make her understand that the relation was not good she should get out of that relationship.she lied alot to me.she says I will never do anything which will hurt u now.I am so confused and sometime think of going back.and also whenever she is angry she says a lot of inappropriate stuff to me and after sometime she will be normal like nothing happened but I still think about those things and feel bad.it’s just messed up all.

    1. I know exactly how you feel. It’s hard, take time let yourself heal and get past the longing for her and loneliness. As soon as you choose to let go and move on you’ll feel better.

  9. I was with my boyfriend for 17 months…..before that I had been on my own for 10 years….so when we met I thought he was the ONE !!!!. We both loved each other very much and even talked of moving in with each…. Now the flaw in this relationship was….If we ever had an argument or disagreement he would run off and leave me emotionally stranded ….After a few days I would get in-touch and things would get sorted….Only three weeks ago the same thing has happened ….he walked out on me on a Saturday night and not seen or heard from him since…I feel so confused and upset…and am made to feel it is my fault…He obviously wants things to end but hasn’t got the guts to tell me….I really do hope he is regretting it !!!!

  10. I was dating a guy for 5 months.. I always felt like I was the one who cared more.. He was always sending me mixed signals for example.. When I was with him he would make me feel good but as soon as I left his house I would never hear from him until the day after or even two days later sometimes and he wouldn’t just say hello like everything’s okay and I’m just meant to be cool with not hearing from him.. So anyways I had a chat to him this past Friday and I said you have to show me some warmth when I’m not actually with you and he said okay he would try. Anyways Valentine’s Day passed and I didn’t hear from him AT ALL.. Of course I’m going to feel bad? So then the next day came and he messages me just like nothing ever happened? Once again I played along as if it didn’t bother me.. But then I just snapped and I sent him a message saying “I’m just going to call this over because you keep treating me like a push over and you don’t even deserve a girl like me” all he had to say back to that was “no worries” LIKE REALLY??? Did I not mean anything to this guy!!!! Or is his ego just too big for his own good?? The only thing I regret is maybe I didn’t give him a chance to show me more effort I just called it of. Did I do the right thing? I’m so upset and I keep crying because how can someone be so cold!!! :(

  11. Hi Rick,

    I just broke up with my girlfriend of 1.5yrs. Also, things were amazing the first 6 months, we moved in and still live together (broke up right before Christmas, and we’re now in process of splitting things up and doing the move out logistics, etc). I still love her, but I could no longer take the yelling and fighting. I was growing into a person that I was not proud of nor happy being. After we moved in, we started really teaming up and creating our life together, totally committed. It started with her mentioning things that weren’t in line with my values but thought, hey to each his/her own and that I am with her for other reasons. Then there were issues with family (she felt especially uncomfortable around my sister) that caused me to spend less time with them – which was a huge adjustment for me as I am a very family-oriented person. And the same happened with friends. Although she has never explicitly asked/demanded that I do not spend time with them, she offered me little opportunity to do so always packing our schedules and always wanting me to be home – so much so that I had to defend and come up with logical reasons to visit friends and family. Towards the end we broke up 3 times since Thanksgiving after some crazy fights. I lost my sense of self, connection with those I loved, and my overall direction in life and clarity on commitments. Still a mess, but I feel free now to pick up the pieces of my life and get back to being me. With that said, I still love her and feel some regret doing this (especially when I remember the qualities that make her sweet and the person I fell in love with). My closure was that the relationship was not healthy, for either of us – and if she wasn’t going to pull the plug, it was up to me. We deserve to be happy and loved – not controlled and emotionally abused. Just even writing that makes me feel better. Likewise, I am glad to not be alone in this. I appreciate you writing this article and giving us the opportunity to connect.

    Let’s stay strong, focus on silver lining.


  12. Dear Rick,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing your relationship. It sounds like you love your girlfriend very much, and it hurts that she’s now your ex-girlfriend. You regret the breakup, but you know that it’s the right thing to do.

    Sometimes the hardest decisions are the ones that are the “most right” for us. It hurts to know that the right choice for us is the most painful one for others, but we need to do what our hearts and guts tell us to do. This may not ease the regret of breaking up for you, but it may help to know you’re not alone.


  13. I’ve found myself in a similar situation. My gf of 4 1/2 years and I have split (I did the breaking). Its been 3 weeks and each day I still cry and sit disgusted with myself for hurting her. In the beginning we were on fire! Both so into each other and both leading industrious lives. Things went on, we moved into together shared all our dark secrets and really just enjoyed each other. Then she lost her job. Not a big deal these things happen. I got a better job and took over financially and well months turn into a year and then two years, the dependency has only gotten worse. She no longer wants to leave the house everything is an argument. She’s depressed I understand this and do my best to help but I start to lose my passion and attraction to her. This makes things real bad now because she’s frustrated that I never want sex and the negativity trickles down on everything else. So I had to break it off. Its just so hard to do when your whole existence for years was seeing to someone’s happiness. She is my best friend we did everything together and I can’t believe I could hurt her so much. She counted on me for so much and I know she wakes up every night scared alone and in a nightmare. She just wants me back and our life. Part of me just wants to save her, hold her tight and tell her its OK I’ll never leave but the other part knows I’ll never truly be happy if I stay…FML this really sucks..

    1. Hi Rick,
      I just broke up with my boyfriend of three years. Same story. We were even engaged for a short time. We were so happy but things turned sour when he wouldn’t/couldn’t get a job. He was depressed as well. It was hard as I’m a single mother and he wasn’t my two children’s biological father but he raised them and loved them like his own. I hate that I hurt him so much. Maybe if things changed sooner our relationship would have improved. I don’t know if I did the right thing. I just sit around and cry a lot too. He was my family.
      Thanks for sharing even though it was a year ago. I don’t feel so alone.

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