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Four Signs It’s Time to Move On from an Unhealthy Relationship

Four Signs It’s Time to Move On from an Unhealthy Relationship

When you’re in a transitional phase in life, which may include the entire decade of your twenties and maybe your thirties too, you have to say goodbye to a lot of things: college, your first job, your apartment, your hometown, another town, another job—and before, after and in-between all of those, relationships. Maybe a lot of relationships. Maybe only one or two significant ones. Either way, it’s disheartening when a relationship ends during this phase of life—the crucial phase when we feel pressure to find our spouses. Because of this, when we go through a breakup, we are tempted to leave our hearts with that old boyfriend or girlfriend rather than move on.

I am really good at not moving on, at clinging to my past and a past relationships for as long as possible. But I’ve learned the hard way that this is a dangerous place to be, the not moving on place. It leaves you stuck. It leaves you sad. It prevents you from becoming the person you know deep down you are capable of being.

If you’re grieving a broken relationships and wondering if it is, indeed, time for you to move on, here are four indicators that will let you know:

1. You Are Replaying Conversations and Scenarios in Your Head.

We’ve all experienced this. We begin to replay scenes and conversations we regret in our head and just can’t stop. You know what scene or conversation it is for you. We replay it in various ways, playing various roles. Sometimes we are the calm, cool and collected one that said all the right things and knew that the other person was in the wrong. Or we’re the one that flew off the handle, or didn’t say enough, or said too much—and we can’t stop beating ourselves up about it.

Either way, according to research professor Brené Brown, instant replay is a sure sign that you are feeling shame. Shame is not a place God wants us to be. He’s been trying to drag us out of it since the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve tried to hide from Him. Satan would love for you to camp out in the shame of your past actions and the regrets of those encounters and conversations, but freedom resides outside of shame and in the light.

So next time you feel threatened by instant replay, try pressing pause.

2. You Are Physically Revisiting the Places of Your Past.

Not only are you replaying conversations over and over in your head, you are physically returning to the people and places you used date. And yes, “physically” includes Facebook, Twitter and Instagram stalking. I think most of us are familiar with the social-media check up on a lonely night or when we find ourselves in a sad place. I’ve gotten off Facebook altogether for this very reason.

If you’re revisiting the old, digital photo albums, ask yourself why. I bet the answer will convince you to stop.

3. Your (Wise) Friends Say So.

I’m not talking about the friends who drag you out that first Friday night and encourage you to collect phone numbers from strangers, or the friends trying to keep you busy to make you feel better about your ex.

I’m talking about the friends around you who are wise, who know you, who let you be sad for a time and talk about it all you want and now are gently suggesting it’s time to get out of bed, that your hair smells and you should wash it, and that watching movies alone every weekend is maybe not the healthiest choice at this point. Those are the voices to listen to, and if they’re telling you it’s time to move on, it probably is.

4. The Only Reason You’re Not Moving On is Because You Can’t See What’s Next.

I think we let ourselves dwell on the past because we know what happens there. It’s comfortable. And when you’re in a time of change and things aren’t as clear, you hurry back to familiar scenes and faces. It’s easier to think about your past than it is to face a future that’s unknown. If you’re not moving on because you don’t know what’s next, because you don’t know if there is anyone left out there for you and you don’t know if you’ll ever get asked out again, that’s fear, and fear is never a reason to stay in the same place or with the same person.

I love the lyrics to this song “Out of Hiding” by Steffany Frizzell-Gretzinger: “I’ll be your lighthouse when you’re lost at sea / And I will illuminate everything.”

God as our lighthouse is a powerful image. If He is our lighthouse, He will point the light in the direction we are to go and that direction is always forward. There is a future past this broken relationship. It’s your choice if you will remain stuck in the comfort of regret and memories, or if you will trust God’s light to bring you safely to shore.

Editor’s note: A version of this article appeared in 2014.

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