It's one of the most difficult situations we face in our life: letting go of an intimate relationship that has ended (for whatever reason). After all, we have invested a lot of energy into this person and we thought it was going to be a love that would last forever. We believe that the reason our partner gave us for ending the relationship — as we claim to anyone who will listen — can't be significant enough to justify the breakup. When we don't get a clear answer as to why the relationship ended, we struggle with the lack of closure and don't know how to move on.
But regardless of how we feel, the bottom line is that the relationship is over and we need to come to terms with moving on. But how do you do just that? You have to shift your thinking from having a victim mentality ("I am the one who is hurt" ... "It was not my fault") to learning to be accountable for your behavior.
This kind of thinking will only prolong your feelings of rage and loss and keep you connected to your ex for longer than necessary. Where a person is in the face of accountability will greatly determine how long it will take to move on from a breakup.
Here are some thoughts to help you recognize where you are on this accountability continuum.
The first step is to admit to yourself that the breakup was your choice, regardless if you were the one ending it. You selected this person with all his/her characteristics. The ending decision was not a mistake, but merely a reflection of you and your ex. If you dated a puffed up little boy who denies his fear of commitment, it is no surprise that he may come on strong in the beginning and fade away just as quickly.
A second consideration is that all relationships are successful for what they are and we need to stop fantasizing that they are more than that. Someone who has a track record of three-month relationships will end the relationship with you according to that schedule. If you don't realize this, you will end up missing a relationship that never existed.
Another way to assume accountability is to ask yourself why you still want this relationship. Perhaps it is the part of you that wants a long-term committed relationship. So ask yourself, does the partner you are grieving over have that to offer? Probably, most of the time the answer will be "no." If you can let in this truth, your tears will become a thing of the past when you admit that this relationship is not what you really want.
Typically, people who are upset about a relationship ending give all the responsibility to the other partner. To support accountability, you both need to ask yourselves, "What role did I play in the demise of this relationship?" If you say none, then you will be setting yourself up for prolonged anguish. It takes courage to admit our part because most of us prefer giving the other the major blame. Well, it takes two to get into a relationship, it takes two to participate in a relationship and it takes two to end it. So be honest with yourself and ask what role you played — whether it was through dishonesty, characterizing or holding back. Failure to see this will definitely keep a person from moving on, as it allows the voice of our victim part to have a field day with our emotions. In contrast, see what happens to your sadness and your pain the moment you look in the mirror and say, "I am equally responsible for this relationship ending."
In supporting moving on, it is vital that we totally accept our partner's hurt and disappointment without countering it, defending or arguing it away. Just allow it. Disappointment is an essential part of the breakup journey. It is not a problem. It is the nature of ending a relationship and experiencing the loss.
A final point to consider is that a lot of endings are just threats and are not true endings. So before you regard a termination, as the truth, see if the words sustain beyond the emotional moment. We tend to over listen to the verbiage in this area, and get hooked into the emotional chaos of premature endings. Slowing down can be your best friend. If the one who is ending the relationship can say "I love you" and "I no longer want to be with you" and display no hostility or blame, then you are looking at an ending that you need to take seriously.
If you can integrate this level of accountability into all of your relationships, you can make the moving on process much less dramatic and painful for yourself, and help you to prepare and improve your confidence and trust in creating the meaningful relationship that you desire.