If your ex is hurting from a breakup, it’s normal to feel some, or many twinges of guilt.
After all, you cared about this person and are concerned about their happiness. But, if the guilt is getting in the way of your own progress, you have every right to feel upset with yourself.
It can be hard to remember that nobody else has control over how we feel – but in order to make sense of our feelings and move on, this concept is crucial.
Your ex may not welcome your guilt-driven attempts to repair your friendship – and this is okay. They may not want to hear from you, let alone find a new life together.
Whether it’s as a result of your breakup or something else entirely, if you feel genuine guilt following your breakup, there are ways to face these feelings head-on.
Let me share with you the top 9 tips when you are feeling guilty for hurting your ex.
1) Apologize sincerely to your ex
The first step toward moving on is by apologizing to your ex for hurting them with your actions or words.
When you find yourself ready to apologize, it’s a great idea to grab a piece of paper and write your apology down so you will really know how to say what you really feel. Sure, this will prove to be more of an obstacle than an advantage, but there is no question that doing so will help you express your feelings and make amends.
A sincere apology will encourage your ex to forgive you and move on with life again – but it won’t be enough if you’re not prepared to resolve the situation. Your guilt will take over if you just let yourself do exactly what you want and make no effort to change course from there.
Be genuine in your apology.
Don’t say something that doesn’t seem genuine to you, just because it sounds good. If the apology comes from the heart, it will feel right to your ex and you will both be able to move forward in peace.
Plus, an apology needs to be put in the context of what you did. The important thing is that your apology doesn’t sound insincere.
2) Remind yourself that you are not to blame for the breakup
When a breakup occurs, it is usually because of an irreconcilable difference between the two people.
These differences are usually something that one or both people never wanted to see come between them. Unless your ex was gravely disabled, there is nothing you could have done to stop what happened.
You may have tried in small ways, but there was no magic formula for lasting happiness where your ex’s happiness was concerned.
You see, blaming can and will sabotage the relationship you have with your ex if you are not careful. And if your guilt is preventing you from living your life, it may be a sign that you’re keeping yourself in a cage of guilt and blame.
You may also find it helpful to think about how much you loved your ex and what they mean to you. You remember their strengths and how happy they made you at one point or another – despite how it all went down, it’s important not to forget these feelings.
3) Be transparent about how you feel with someone who understands
This may be your best friend, a family member, or a trusted colleague from work.
They won’t necessarily act as a therapist to you either, so don’t expect them to give you advice. Instead, they will help you work through these feelings in your own time. Let them know how guilty you feel and why that is without placing any blame on yourself or your ex.
But, sometimes in life, the hardest issues can be resolved with a help of a professional relationship coach. They just have the right balance of skills, including listening, to help you through the messiness of these situations.
And you can find them in Relationship Hero – they are qualified coaches to help you get through this difficult period in your life. I’m confident to recommend them to you since personally, they were a gift to me during one of the toughest times in my relationship.
They helped me move towards a happier future, and they want to do the same thing for you.
They are the ideal coach to help you if you’re feeling guilty for hurting your ex. They can help you let go of any guilt to make room for forgiveness, so that you don’t have to carry it around on your back anymore.
When you hold onto the pain and anger from your breakup, it affects every area of your life.
If you are able to have someone who knows you well and will also be open to discussing your feelings without judgment, a professional relationship coach is the best option for you.
4) Remember that the breakup was the better thing for both of you
Sometimes, we spend so much time in the world of “what-ifs.” Not necessarily what-ifs about what could have happened, but rather what if we had chosen this or that.
For you and your ex, the best thing that could have happened was the breakup.
The pain of breaking up was in line with what both of you wanted. It was a clean break – no more hiding who you are and compromising yourself. There’s no going back now, and it will be better for everyone involved if you accept this fact and move on with your life.
Would you be better off staying together? Would the relationship have stayed intact? It’s important to remember that there are so many ways a relationship can move past a breakup.
An old friend of mine from high school recently stopped by my apartment and opened up about her breakup, and she told me: “I’ve played out all these breakup scenarios in my head over the years, but none of them play out the same way you did when you met [Mr. Hidden]. You’re a proof that these things can turn out for the best. ”
We can never know for sure what would have happened if our relationships had stayed intact. And if you are finding yourself stuck in the “what-if” scenario, try to remember that you played an important role in your relationship with your ex.
And if it meant it needed to end, then that is okay.
It may not feel like it now, but the reason your relationship ended will only strengthen your future relationships – because they are a result of all the things that came together to form them.
5) Don’t draw out the “we can be friends” card
You might be tempted to say “we can still be friends” when you’re feeling guilty for hurting your ex. But, you know what?
This is a great thing to say if you’re trying to convince yourself of something. It makes it seem like the breakup is not so bad and that everything’s going to be fine.
And, sure, there are cases where being friends after a breakup is possible. But, if you’re saying this because you think your ex will feel better and get over the breakup quicker, this is not always going to happen.
Maybe it was even because of guilt that you said it in the first place!
For either of these reasons, don’t say “we can be friends” unless you truly mean it and believe that you will be able to be friends with them one day.
When you really want to be friends with your ex, work on yourself first. Improve yourself and your basic outlook on life before you try to make things work again.
You might see a lot of patterns that you want to change or think that you can grow past this relationship. But the best thing right now is not to what-if, but rather how-to.
So, perhaps, people who tell me they can be friends with their exes are lying.
6) Show that you’re moving on in a way that will be okay for both of you
I’m sure this is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do – showing your ex how far you’ve moved on without putting undue pressure on them.
You don’t want to be a ball and chain dragging your ex down. But equally, they need to be able to move on too. This is more difficult than it sounds, depending on your ex’s personality.
There are some people who will be content to carry the past with them – if this is the case for your ex, you may need to leave them behind.
However, it’s not likely that you’ll be able to do this without any contact. If your ex is someone like others who refuses to let go of the past, you may need to meet them part way and put an end to it yourself.
You can also decide to cut all ties with your ex through social media or simply stop making contact until everything is taken care of. As long as you’re doing what’s right for your ex, then it’s okay if you aren’t talking.
This is just another way of giving them the space and time they need in order to move on.
Don’t worry. In time and with the ample support, they will be fine.
7) Check on your ex once in a while
I am not saying that you have to stay in contact with your ex.
In fact, it’s better if you don’t. But, again, you need to do what is best for them too.
You should be able to let go of the guilt and the feeling that you’re still obligated to make contact with them after everything has calmed down. You just have to make sure that they have the right support in their lives so that they can move on too.
Here are some ways you can check on them without breaking no-contact:
- Ask a trusted mutual friend how they are doing
- Check up on them through social media
- Send a quick text of concern – but don’t follow up
- Check up on them while you’re at the same place they are
- Catch up with someone who knows them well – like a friend or relative
- Stay up-to-date on their career and keep your eyes open for new opportunities for them
Whatever you do, stick to these rules: Never get into contact with your ex unless they initiate it first. If they do reach out, it means they are looking for support and a way to move on too.
Of course, you don’t have to do all of these things. But, if you’re doing this for yourself, it’s a good idea to make sure your ex is moving on too. As much as you care about them, don’t think of it as a requirement for yourself – rather just as a nice thing to do for someone who helped you through an important part of your life.
If your ex wants to talk about what happened, that’s fine…as long as they do it themselves and not through you.
For me, I left the door open with my ex. Months after our breakup, we began to keep in touch. After all, he was my first serious relationship and it wasn’t always easy letting him go.
8) Remember that guilt doesn’t get us anywhere
Think about it – this isn’t the first time you have felt guilt in your whole life. You probably felt guilty when you tried to cheat at school, your parents had a huge fight or when an old friend drifted away from the friendship group in high school.
That’s human nature.
We all feel it and that’s why you should never beat yourself up for feeling guilty. The trick is to use it to your advantage.
You know you’re hurt, so try to use the guilt as a reminder of what happened and what you need to fix in yourself if this keeps happening.
You can become better at relationships and make sure that whoever you have in your life now (or the next time around) will gladly stay for good. If you want to see someone or don’t want to risk getting hurt by them, you can use your guilt to demystify the entire situation.
You can say “I’ve been there before, I know that this will end badly for me – even if it seems like it will be good for a while”.
You don’t have to do things because they feel right. It’s okay to say no or to walk away.
9) Take care of yourself
You may have understood now that it’s okay if you feel guilty… but don’t beat yourself up over it too much.
After all, the point is to make yourself better and more in control next time, so that you don’t make the same mistakes again.
When you start to experience guilt, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
The problem with being overwhelmed is that it can cause one’s mind to shut down, which is never a good idea when you are trying to make sense of these feelings.
Instead, take a moment and take care of yourself before repairing the damage you may have done.
How? By being patient with yourself.
It may be tempting to start looking for ways to fix your relationship with your ex or to give them a call and admit your guilt.
However, it’s important to remember that these actions might make things worse, so don’t do them.
Take a break. Spend time with yourself.
And sometimes, this is what we do when we feel guilty for hurting our ex. But, as you explore what’s happening in your mind, you will also notice that there is usually an upside to this guilt-based behavior.
I personally use meditation and self-hypnosis to relax and forget about my pain for a little while before I turn to the things I can actually do to fix the situation – like work on my own life or start looking for ways to mend a relationship.
Try to see what works best for you – whether it’s exercise, alone time or talking to someone close to you. Don’t worry about what other people might think of you and be careful not to allow guilt take control of your life.
Hurting an ex is never easy – especially when it was someone you were in a committed and loving relationship with.
However, by having a clear understanding of what emotion you are experiencing and by giving yourself the time to process it, you’ll be able to arrive at your own conclusions.
This will not only help you move on from the past, but it will also help you avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Sometimes, we can’t do anything about our ex or our past… but we can certainly learn from it.
Finding the right way to deal with this feeling is key. You need to do what’s best for all involved, not just yourself.
Once you take a step back and see how your ex feels, you will be better prepared to eventually let go of her/him and move forward with your life.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
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