How to Forgive an Ex-Boyfriend

by Emma Wells

    After your ex-boyfriend broke your heart, it may seem impossible to move on or forgive him. However, forgiveness actually has more to do with your happiness than his. Holding a grudge against someone actually increases your heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension, while practicing forgiveness leads to better immune system function, fewer stress-related health issues, and better self-esteem, according to MayoClinic.com. Make a commitment to compassion and forgive your ex-boyfriend for his mistakes.

    Take Time to Process

    Confrontations are less likely to be conflict-oriented if you have already taken some time to process the breakup and your emotional reaction. You should process deep wounds privately through journaling and alone time, with a trusted friend, or with a professional therapist, according to an article by the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. Processing your wounds gives you time to reach an objective understanding of your breakup and may help provide closure.

    Confront Your Ex

    Forgiving your ex does not require that you confront him or that he apologize, but some people might find it useful to have a conversation. You might write him a letter explaining your feelings and asking questions about why he did certain things, you might call on the phone, or you might arrange a time to meet. If you do confront your ex-boyfriend, it should be with the goal of resolving conflict, finding answers, and/or getting closure.

    Be Specific

    If you confront your ex, be specific about how he hurt you. Name specific events, words, or actions instead of making over-generalization like “You never…” and “You always…,” which tend to invite hostility from the other party. Avoid name-calling, as well. Focus on “I” statements, such as “I felt that…” or “I interpreted your actions this way…”

    Let Go

    Your ex may not apologize, and if he does, the apology may not satisfy you. Regardless, your forgiveness does not lie in the hands of the other person; it is in your control. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of “The How of Happiness,” says that forgiveness is not reconciliation, which requires two parties working together toward a mutual goal, and forgiveness is not justice. Though you may not be able to resolve things with your ex, you can find compassion in your heart and let go of your anger toward him.

    About the Author

    Emma Wells has been writing professionally since 2004. She is also a writing instructor, editor and former elementary school teacher. She has a Master's degree in writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology. Her creative work has been published in several small literary magazines.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images