If you are here you are most likely trying to figure out how to regain your confidence after a failed relationship. Quite possibly a relationship that meant a ton to you. I’ve been there.
I’ve dealt with so many types of relationships that didn’t work out. I’ve been the dumper and dumpee (if that’s a word). In either case, your self-confidence can take a major hit. I did some research to find out the best ways to regain your confidence after a bad relationship and combined them with my own experiences to give you a list of the do’s and don’ts.
So, how do you regain confidence after a failed relationship? Give yourself some space to heal. Create some distance between you and your ex. Find the compassion to forgive yourself and your ex. Work really hard on restoring your sense of wellness. Focus on things that make you happy.
I will never forget the tall, lanky cashier at Books a Million. He said, “Good luck.” I was locked and loaded with 7 new self-help books to help me rehabilitate my self-esteem after the breakup with Tom (name changed).
He was handsome, and we had a fiery relationship. When I found out he was seeing someone else, I was devastated.
I needed to get him back or get over him. The books were designed to answer all of the questions.
The best book I remember from the time was: Act Like a Lady Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey.
I liked it so much that when I got the opportunity years later to hear Steve Harvey speak at a conference, I drove nearly 4 hours and paid for an expensive hotel to be there.
A Look at What Makes Breakups Messy and Recovery Messier
Breakups can be really messy. Sifting the rubble to determine what was real and what wasn’t can be daunting. So I want to show you how to sort some of it out.
If you were the one to end the relationship, you may have felt unappreciated, unloved or worse yet abused. If the relationship was abusive, then there will be some additional work to do. I’ve gotten out of abusive relationships and can tell you first hand that it’s not easy to get your head screwed on right after you’re messed up.
Here is a list of the things I have tried with different levels of success. You can run down any of these bunny trails like I did to discover them for yourself. Further down in this article, I have a list of do’s and don’ts that I’d recommend you review first.
How I tried to regain my self-esteem after a breakup
The first thing I wanted to know was whether it was meant to be. Maybe I had a shot at getting him back.
- Researched Zodiac compatibility
- Researched Chinese compatibility
- Went to a palm reader, tarot cards, etc.
- Went to a psychic healer and spent $500 on my own crystal, which was a special import from Brazil so I could get my past cleared of the bad luck I had in relationships. (No offense, but I didn’t see a difference.)
When I decided that the chances of us getting back together again were slim to none, I started the work to get over him. Here are some of the things I did to make that happen.
- Went to a psychotherapist, and I got on meds.
- I punished myself on purpose. I drove by my ex’s house every day to see his new baes car parked out front, so it would hurt enough that I’d stop hugging the cactus. (Ok, maybe I wanted to see that relationship fail, to see whether I had a shot at rekindling the relationship, don’t judge me.)
- I signed up for a dating website hoping I’d be free from the old by the new. (I learned there are serious creeps on dating sites, and they may be trying to date your friend while they try to date you.)
- I went to see someone to get Raiki.
- I got into Buddhism.
- I got into Christianity.
Even after all of
So here is my personal list (if I had to do all these relationships over again.) I hope it helps you reignite your self-confidence after a bad relationship so you can move on.
25 Do’s and Don’ts to regain confidence after a bad breakup:
I am going to outline what I did that worked and didn’t work out so well.
1. Create Space (and distance from your ex)
During the first couple of weeks, create some distance between you and your ex.
This may require you to ditch the cell phone
I literally took the battery out of my phone (back when you could take the battery out) and threw it in my messy closet.
I knew that it would take a while to find it and the mess would keep me from digging. I figured anyone that really needed to get a hold of me could call my mom.
While this might not be quite feasible for you if you use your cell for business, there is a lot of technology out there today that can help you create some barriers.
Use call blocking and similar alternatives. You can also get a temporary “burner” phone and have your calls forwarded there. Don’t load the contact info on the temporary phone.
Whatever it takes, be comfortable creating some barriers.
2. Don’t drive by your ex’s home.
(Unless it helps you remember that it’s over.)
Yet after another relationship in which I was left for someone else, I drove by his house every day to remind myself that it was over, and that I had to let go.
Every time I went by his house, I saw her car in the driveway. It stung, but I reminded myself, “He’s gone
I don’t really recommend to much of this because it is a bit like hugging a cactus to learn you don’t want to hug a cactus.
It hurts and hurts. But, I do think there might be a place for it, if you find yourself in a similar situation.
Of course, you may be doing so just to see if you think you might have another go at the relationship (should she choose to leave.) Get clear on what your motivation is, and let the grieving process run its course.
3. Get some alone time.
Allow yourself to decompress. The danger of too much alone time is depression.
For me, it was just that.
I ended up having to see a counselor and get on an anti-depressant after one of my failed relationships. While I have always thought that anti-depressants are never a good thing to start, it was exactly what I needed.
On this particular occasion, it was after an abusive relationship ended. I still remember the moment I dialed 911. I had no fight left in me.
Oddly enough for me, calling the cops was the hardest thing for me. I had a strange sense of failure, weakness and vulnerability.
I think it was at that moment when I lost my confidence
4. Journal: Take time to journal.
In my mind, there are two ways to journal. I think both are appropriate in the case of a failed relationship.
The first way to journal is to set a timer and just dump every thought that occurs to you. I always feel this is the best way to air your soul. It lets the feelings out, and releases the tension in your heart.
The second way is to reflect on what you are writing. This takes much longer and is more of an exercise than ridding yourself of the emotion that is plaguing you
5. Talk to someone: a therapist can be extremely helpful during the post-breakup season.
During this time, it’s important to take inventory of the relationship. You need to get clear on your contribution to the failure of the relationship and what is your ex’s to own.
This can get quite mirky, and really knowing where the pieces all fit together may be virtually impossible for you to discover on your own. However, it is crucial to get this sorted out so that you can help create a better relationship with your next love interest.
My therapist helped me understand how my upbringing forced the hand of fate. There were things I was doing (unconsciously motivated) that led to more difficulties.
You have to remember you are a co-creator in the relationship. A friend of mine recently complained that her husband doesn’t help her do the dishes. “When he offers, I tell him no because then I wouldn’t have anything to complain about.” She confessed.
Look at weird little things that you might do in romantic
As human beings, we love to be right. If we can prove to ourselves that our partners aren’t holding up their end of the bargain, we may get a sick payoff.
I’m not saying that this true for you. I was just surprised to discover some of the things I was unknowingly “up to” in the relationship.
Discover your flaws so you can catch yourself in the action and spare yourself and your future partner the misery of it all.
6. Take up a new hobby:
Taking up a new hobby after a failed relationship can set you up to recover your emotional health, and (when you are ready) get you back out there meeting new people.
If your hobby is fitness related then you can skip over number 7, but it really doesn’t have to be. The reality is that there are only so many hours you can spend working out. There are too many tempting moments when you are alone with your thoughts that it might be easy to pick up the phone and reach back out to your ex.
It’s time to move on. One way is to make sure there are some hobby projects that you can focus on when your mind wants to gravitate to those old thoughts.
7. Get in the gym, but more importantly sign up for an athletic event of some sort:
I joined an MMA gym and signed up for the Hero Rush athletic event.
There are two aspects of using the gym as a tool to regain confidence after a failed relationship. I will cover that in just a moment, but
Remember, during stressful times it’s easy to fall into old habits or create really bad new ones. Take my husband for example after his divorce.
He found himself just lying in bed with cuttling with a green bottle of Jaeger. This didn’t exactly help him head in a new direction in life. We can all have a tendency to look for the path of least resistance in order to cope. This is not a good time to do that.
If you set a goal to go to the gym it often isn’t enough. Studies have shown that people who have done the best for themselves in terms of losing weight and transforming their physique have also set a goal of attending an athletic event. This might be a 5k, a marathon, C
In order to reinvent yourself after a break-up, creating a new healthier you
8. Focus on you.
We hear the terms “focus on you” quite frequently these days, however, I’m not convinced we really know what this means and how to do it.
The first thing that is important to focus on is doing some things that help put a smile back on your face, however, it is also important during this focus time to start thinking about what you contributed to the failed relationship.
It’s easy to put the blame over there on someone else, but since a relationship takes two, you’ve got to be willing to at least look at what you did to either attract someone who treated you the way he or she did, and what the common denominator is for your behavior that encouraged the inappropriate patterns in your relationship.
When you are ready to unpack this, you can do it with a counselor or therapist. You can start writing these things down in your journal.
A good place to look first is at your primary care giver, and how that looked. Look at the problem in your relationship and ask the question, “How is this similar to my relationship with my mom or dad.”
I’m sure you can see where I am going with this. I discovered that I never really felt valued by my dad. He worked overseas to provide for our impoverished family, and I always secretly thought that if I mattered, he’d be with me.
Likewise in relationship, I create scenarios with my partner that give rise to the question, “Do I matter?” Unconsciously I create scenarios for my partner to prove his love for me. My goal is to create the ultimate scenario whereby he fails. This way I can prove to myself that I am unlovable and that is why I didn’t have my dad with me growing up.
Sick I know. But until you can recognize what is at play, you have no chance of not repeating it in the next relationship. You bound by the eternal fate of reliving the experience over and over just like a scene out of Groundhog day or the series Russian Doll. (If you haven’t seen these, the story line is that they wake up to repeat the same day over and over again until they learn invaluable life lessons.
9. Create solid “me” time.
You may have heard that we are either introverted or extroverted. These are fancy words that basically mean that you either recharge your batteries by being with people or by being alone.
For extroverts who have dealt with the end of a relationship, being alone can be scary and the reverse is true for introverts.
Figure out if you are extroverted or introverted and give yourself permission to recharge however you need. It will do you some good to simply create a really positive environment for yourself.
You can’t make anyone else happy if you aren’t happy. Make sure that the time you spend here helps you rekindle a sense of freedom and peace of mind.
If you find the experience draining, then you can be sure that you are on the wrong path.
Check in on your emotions frequently. Ask yourself, does this make me feel good or not. If the answer isn’t an overwhelming, “heck yeah.” It’s a signal that it’s time to adjust.
10. Get a pet.
Years ago, I was buying honey on the road from a guy who liked to raise bees as a hobby. He was
The older dogs lead the younger ones and there is lots of action and fun in the home. They are always happy to see you.
Egotistical as it might sound, you may need someone who loves you who is low maintenance. Pet therapy has been used for people who are dealing with post traumatic stress, and well, why not.
Certainly, there are things that are inherently important to taking care of a pet, but choose a pet with needs that are consistent with your ability to provide care.
You may need to think goldfish not golden retriever.
I have a
If you get the appropriate pet, they can give you someone to talk to, and they are always ready to listen.
11. Get on with your nutrition
I think the fitness industry would agree that getting your health and your mind right involves eating right.
Maybe it’s time for a cleanse and some vegan vanity. Do what you need to in order to clean up your diet even if it is for a short time.
Food is fuel and on your road to discovering balance and beauty after the harshness of a breakup, what better way to reward your body and mind than to give it proper nutrition.
During the stressful days of post-breakup, it’s easy to do what I did and reach for the comfort foods. But, set a limit to it. Give yourself a week of Bingefest, but make sure that it doesn’t become a habit. Habits are usually formed around the 3 week mark. So, a few days won’t hurt you. Anything over 21 days, might set you on track to a point of no return. So be careful.
Go online and find a nutrition plan that works for you. Use a calorie tracker to make sure you aren’t over doing it.
12. Redesign your wardrobe
I’m not saying you should go overboard, but recently I went through all of my clothes in my closet.
I held each one and looked for a “spark of joy.” Now that may sound a bit odd at first, but Netflix ran a series called “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo.
She uses the Kondo method and wrote a book on her process for cleaning up your life.
She teaches you to gain a profound connection with your clothing. We often take what our clothing does for us for granted, and it is easy to ignore the value in having clothes in a western civilization.
The basic process is:
- Remove every article from your closet
- Hold each item (one by one) in your hands and look for the spark of joy, or the absence of the same.
- If there is a spark of joy, put it back in your closet, if there isn’t assign it for donation and thank the item of clothing for its service to you.
I found this process to be fun and difficult at the same time. The bottom line is that at the end of the process, you will walk into a closet where each one of your possessions actually brings you joy.
Now, when I walk into my closet every article has the potential to put a smile on my face because I like them or have a special memory that they trigger.
What I found interesting about the process was how many articles of clothing actually kind of reminded me of negative experiences. It was nice to remove them and let someone else have them. Even if they are nice, hardly worn, you may do yourself a favor by donating them.
13. Reinvent yourself.
You may have never taken the time to ask who you are in this world, but this is a good time to figure out what the heck you are doing on planet earth.
You can use something like the “accountability mirror” described in David Goggins book Can’t Hurt Me: Master your Mind and Defy the Odds. I recommend this book on audio because there is a version where David himself elaborates on his experiences in addition to the narrator.
The point of the book is that you have got to get real with yourself and who you have been being in your life. He says, “If you are fat, tell yourself you are fat.” Once you get honest with yourself, you can do something about it.
If you are fat, tell yourself you are f’n fat. If you are dumb tell yourself that you are dumb.David Goggins
Overall his point is that we are too soft. We need to harden up and the only way to do that is to face your demons. Face the things you fear the most.
It’s a worthy read. It will help you go to work on the foundation of who you are. If your foundation is flawed then even the most perfect relationship doesn’t stand a chance because you will be building something valuable on a shaky foundation.
14. Surround yourself with positivity.
Remember the discussion on the wardrobe? Part of the point of this is to make sure that you are surrounding yourself with the most reliable system to create happiness in your life.
Start looking at the relationships in your life. Ask, do these relationships serve me? Choose the ones that are right for you and nurture those.
You may just want to take a break from the others. It’s okay to be honest about where you are at.
When my husband experienced failure on the job, he needed to take a break, and he just told people the truth. He told people he is hiding from the world.
It was surprising how much understanding people had for this. He just wanted to let people know that it wasn’t personal and that just because he was sucking wind, didn’t mean he didn’t want to be connected.
Surround yourself with people who are “for you.” Understand that after a breakup, you are a bit broken.
If you had a broken arm, others would understand that you couldn’t play sports, likewise, just let people know you are trying to recover from what you have been through (without playing the victim).
15. Clean your house, room, closet, garage and clean up your finances.
In one of the personal development courses I took, they required us to clean up and organize our lives. It wasn’t limited to our bedroom. They wanted it all cleaned up.
The reason turned out to be your relationship with yourself. Here’s a scenario to show you what I mean.
You have a big homework project due. You show up to the classroom and the teacher asks if everyone in the class has their homework ready.
You know you didn’t and feel awful. The teacher asks everyone who did it to raise their hand.
You may choose to raise your hand so you aren’t singled out. The point is that the relationship you have with your own self-confidence at that moment is weak.
Now imagine the alternative. You come to class and everything is done. How high would you hold your hand up when asked if the assignment was completed?
It’s a very different experience.
Likewise, when you know that your house is in order and that everything is tended to appropriately, your sense of self increases in power and strength.
As you tackle all of the loose ends in your life by cleaning these areas up in your life, you will feel empowered and have a sense that your life is under control.
16. Forgive: Forgive yourself and your ex.
I probably should have listed this near the top of the list, but I didn’t because I think that we all need a little distance from the relationship before we are ready to forgive a failed romance.
You will need to look at what you need to forgive your ex partner for. Make a list. This comes in handy so that you can be intentional about what areas led to most hurt, and I recommend saying it out loud.
I forgive Tom for cheating on me when I loved him so much.
Then there are areas that you need to confront concerning yourself. You may be mad at yourself for myriad of reasons.
I forgive myself for not seeing this sooner.
Get clear on all the areas and attributes about yourself that make you mad. Maybe you were careless with your words or found yourself being selfish or lazy in the relationship.
Whatever it was, list it and forgive it.
The art of forgiveness comes from not only saying it, but releasing it. Forgiving is about releasing someone from a debt. I like to think of it as if someone owed you a lot of money. You come to terms with the fact that you will never be repaid.
You release them (or yourself) from the “I owe you.” You can also write a letter to your ex (but may not want to send it).
Forgiveness is about reclaiming space in your heart and in your head. As you forgive you create more freedom for yourself. Even if you are right about how wronged you were, it’s like drinking poison hoping the other person will die.
It doesn’t help you to hold on to the bitterness.
17. Don’t drink
My husband comes from a long line of alcoholics. His natural was to numb the pain. He had a friend remind him of this rule early on after his divorce. He put the bottle down, and replaced the tendency with working out.
I recommend that you remain aware of what the negative outlets and temptations are for you, so you can steer clear early in the process.
It’s easy to fall into a bad place, you are going to need to guard your heart from the wrong outlets.
The sooner you get intentional about it the better. While it may initially numb the pain a bit, it will screw up the odds for you in the next relationship. If you have dealt with an addict, you know that it can get tricky.
Do yourself and your next romance a favor, get clean, stay clean.
18. Don’t wallow or play the victim
Don’t play the victim here. It may be tempting to blame your ex for everything that happened, and there is a place for it as we will see in the grieving process, but don’t go too far down that road.
The problem is that if you get to blame your ex for everything, you can avoid responsibility and stunt your personal growth and the inherent learning that is available to your after the trauma.
19. Grieve the loss of the relationship
You may have heard of the 5 stages of grief. A breakup is the death of a relationship, and you need to give yourself the room to grieve it.
The 5 stages are:
- Sadness / Depression
You may not go straight through each one of these emotions. You may find yourself bouncing around a bit. One day you feel sad, the next angry. Or you plead with God to restore your relationship then you get sad.
The key is to accept and embrace the emotions as they come. Don’t just them. Just let them be.
It’s important not to resist the emotions that come with the process so that you can come out healthier and happier on the other side.
I like the Grief Giraffe (you can search this up on YouTube). I think adult swim did a good job of outlining the 5 stages.
20. Take a vacation
It doesn’t have to be expensive. You may just go stay with a friend across town. But a change of
This can help you create the necessary distance between yourself and your ex to start the process of dealing with the trauma.
If you can afford it. Go a bit further to a place that offers some quiet for you to truly reflect on what went right and wrong in the relationship so that you can be prepared for the next romance to have a better chance.
I like to find places with quaint coffee shops within walking distance, and tell myself that it’s okay. Accept the new circumstances and focus on enjoying this moment.
21. Don’t date right away.
I joined a free dating site after one of my breakups. I thought it was a good way to move on.
The problem is that when you are desperate to repair your heart, you may do things that are counterproductive that leave you feeling worse.
This is my overall experience with dating too soon after a failed romance.
I’m just not rational, and I’m not ready for rejection. Sure it may feel good for a bit, but the opportunity for more trauma to your self-esteem is just too risky.
Get healthy then get back to it.
22. Fall in love with yourself.
Figure out what you love to do. Start looking to get to know yourself on a new level. We discussed this briefly in creating new hobbies and reinventing yourself.
But what I am talking about here is self-love. Get connected to the unique being that you really are. Do you know that there is not another human being out there that is like you?
If you find yourself starting to yawn about now, then you may not have really truly ever gotten connected to why you are unique and why you are lovable.
Study yourself, study what makes you unique. Change your self-talk away from only being critical to reminding yourself of the things that you love about yourself.
If you find the voice in your head reminding you of all of your shortcomings, ask whose voice is this anyways.
You may be shocked to discover that it is the voice of a primary care giver scolding you for all of the things are doing right.
Time to change the voice in your head and rewrite the script on your self talk.
23. Establish your non-negotiables.
This is a good time to figure out what is super important to you.
Spend time writing down what you really want in a relationship and get clear on what things you won’t tolerate or the thresholds of negativity that you aren’t up for in future relationships.
Draw a line down a sheet a paper. On one side list the essential things that you want out of a relationship and on the other side the things that you don’t want / or won’t tolerate.
Once you see it in black and white, it will give you a sense of direction that can help you navigate the next relationship and see why this one failed.
24. Spend time reflecting on what went right and wrong.
Again, on a sheet of paper with a line drawn down the middle, list the things in your relationship that went right and the things that derailed communication, love, romance, connection and intimacy.
You might find it useful to create several lists. Look at each area of the relationship and run through the exercise with those in mind.
For instance under the communication maybe you list:
I loved it when we laid under the stars talking about our hopes and dreams, or I have a hard time being yelled at.
If you get clear on what is workable for you, you will be able to communicate this to your partner in the future in a way that gives them clues of areas that are sensitive for you.
25. Find music that supports your journey.
One of the things that helped me was to listen to a sad song that reminded me of the failed relationship over and over again. I cried and cried, but found that there was a point at which it stopped.
This helped me find some level of resolution in its own right. You may have to repeat this process for several days, but it always helped me purge my soul.
If you need inspiration, there are three songs that helped me.
- The first was, “I’ll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me” by Expose. (I’ll never forget my sister yelling at me to “get over it already.” Since she had to hear me play that song so many times.)
- The second song that always helped me was “Someday” by Nina.
- The third song is “Better in Time” by Leona Lewis.
Once you feel you have adequately purged of all the negative feelings, it’s time to create a new list. I usually started with “Bye, Bye, Bye” by Nsync followed by “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes and then moved on to “I Will Not Bow” by the Breaking Benjamin.
Your playlist may look different to mine, but I’m sure you get the drift.
It’s time to come up with a new playlist that supports your freedom. There are tons of songs out there that focus on regaining independence after a bad relationship breakup.
Napolean Hill, an author, who studied 500 millionaires and wrote about the key principles that governed their lives noted that music has a powerful influence on the subconscious mind. It can give individuals newfound strength and confidence.
Get your confidence back after a bad breakup
In conclusion, the best book I read was Steve Harvey’s book. It helped me realize what I was doing in relationships that set me up for failure.
I started getting connected to the fact that I do have value, and I shouldn’t be bringing my question of value to guys, who inevitably disappointed me because I could create a scenario, in which the best would have virtually no choice but to reject me.
Another book I read was. Why Hasn’t He Called by Matt Titus and Tamsen Fadal.
I learned I need to wait 2 weeks before contacting my ex to give myself and them some space.
Make sure you don’t go into debt trying to solve your sleepless post-breakup nights. Remember my $500 mistake buying the crystal. When you are desperate you have to be careful because you can be conned into virtually anything.
I got purposeful about telling myself that I needed to let go.
I had to let go of the concept that it was going to work out. Otherwise, I’d be stuck holding on emotionally to something that was just causing me pain.
The last thing that really helps is time. Time is on your side. It will help you heal. Unfortunately there isn’t anything fast about time. But it will help.
Good luck on your journey towards healing a broken heart gaining confidence after a failed relationship or bad breakup.
What should I do to regain confidence after an abusive relationship?
If you are coming out of an abusive relationship, you may want to seek professional help. There are many nuances to why you got into that relationship in the first place.
A trained therapist can help you navigate the darker areas in your life that propel you to get into relationship with the “wrong” person, especially if you have a pattern of it.
If this was an isolated event, then the therapist will be able you to discover this as well.
Regardless, I recommend professional help so that you are better equipped to recognize the right kind of person for you.
Is it my fault that he or she left?
This can be tricky and often leads to self-blame. If you are finding yourself beating yourself up after a failed relationship, get some help. Let someone help you look at it more objectively so you can distinguish what is yours to own.
You can’t underestimate what the other person is dealing with as well. They may have been dealing with issues that were going to send them packing regardless of how you treated them.
An unbiased third party can help you sift through the noise on all of it. Harvest the good and throw out the bad.