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For many of us, romantic relationships can be one of the most time consuming parts of our adult life. If we are in one, they are always a work in progress, a balancing act between both of the individuals involved. If we aren’t in a relationship we spend time dreaming about our ideal would-be partner and we socialize both in person and online with the hope of meeting them.

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But today I’d like to focus on the less glamorous part of relationships, the often awkward and uncomfortable process of breaking up. I certainly cannot proclaim myself as a relationship expert, especially given that I am not even currently in one, but I can say one thing that I know not many others can say: I am still friends with every single one of my exes (unless any of them want to publicly come out and state differently after reading this article). In some cases I am even closer now with a couple of my exes than I ever was with them during our time together.

Here are some of the key factors/ mind shifts that have helped me to accomplish this, and could possibly help you through the end of a relationship:

DISCLAIMER: Through this article I am not suggesting that it is healthy for all of us to look to remain friends with all of our former relationship partners. There are several instances -such as a relationship that involved physical or emotional abuse -where maintaining a friendship would more than likely not be in your best interest.

1. Remove The Idea Of Ownership

Even when in a relationship it’s never healthy to develop the mindset that you own your significant other. Removing the idea of ownership becomes even more important when going through the process of breaking up. Just because you may have once been “exclusive” to one another does not change the fact that you are both individuals fully independent from the other. Maintaining an idea of ownership through a breakup can often lead to unnecessary emotional attachment and reaction to the other’s life post-relationship.

Work on taking ownership of your own life. Remember that the romantic relationship came to an end for a reason and let your ex go down whatever path they choose without unnecessary judgement from you.

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2. Appreciate Rather Than Dwell On The Good Times

More often than not, relationships are founded in some common interests, fun experiences and  happy memories. Rather than letting these happy memories keep you trapped in a loop of wanting what once was, simply appreciate these happy memories for what they were. Just as you were once capable of experiencing these moments, you are still capable of finding equivalent happiness in a future moment -and these future moments become a lot more likely to happen when you stop dwelling on the past.

I still look very fondly upon several experiences and even aspects of many of my exes that I love, but I don’t let my mind run rampant with them. Just as you are easily able to reminisce with a friend without allowing some emotional roller coaster to arise, you can just as easily do the same with an ex.

3. Let Go Of The Bad Times

The fact that your ex once broke your heart or cheated on you does not entitle you to the right of forever labeling them as a “cheater” or “heartbreaker.” You can let those actions drive you to making a particular decision within the relationship, but you can’t let them taint your view of the individual forever. We’ve all done things that we would prefer to not forever be held accountable for, so why not take the high road on practicing that by applying it to your former partner?

You have chosen to move on, so what value do you get in forever seeing them as a particular action that they once took? I’m very happy to still be incredibly close with an ex that I at one point could have come up with a million different labels for. I’m glad I didn’t let that mind chatter get in the way of her and I sharing the friendship that we do now.

4. Celebrate Rather Than Compare

Jealousy is a killer, yet for some reason so many of us love to engage in it, especially surrounding our former partners. Whether we compare ourselves to anyone else that they later go on to date, or we compare our own accomplishments post-relationship to the accomplishments of our ex, the act of comparison is never healthy. What difference does it really make if they move onto a new relationship quicker than you, date someone very physically attractive or accomplish something incredible with their life?

Rather than cast hatred towards them, remember that you once loved that person. Choose to be happy for them just as you would have been were you still together.

5. Focus On What You’ve Learnt

No matter how emotionally intense your reasoning may be for ending a relationship, work to find peace in what you are learning through the process. Every stage of every relationship offers both individuals something to learn, and the break-up stage is of no exception to that.

Something that I have found particularly helpful with this is to see your former partner as an agreement. You both agreed to come into each other’s lives and have always provided each other with exactly what the other needed to grow and learn even more about themselves in the process.

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This piece is just one of a number of great resources that we have on Collective Evolution relating to relationships, here are some other great pieces worth checking out: Is Your Relationship Toxic? Here’s How To Handle It  |  7 Habits For Healthy Relationships  |  8 Signs You’re In A Relationship Worth Keeping  |  Transform Your Relationship In 3 Minutes (Video)


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