Almost everybody has at least one past relationship that they can't seem to let go of. There's always that one love that left under unpleasant circumstances, that one person whom you still long for. While these feelings are by no means uncommon, they can have some very adverse effects on other aspects of your life.

Not only does a messy heartbreak get in the way of properly forming a new relationship, but it can also cast you into an indefinite state of misery. Plainly put, this is a horribly unproductive and unpleasant way to live. This situation can effectively consume your entire life if you're not careful, but luckily we're here to offer some advice on how to let go of your past relationships. For organizational purposes we've split them into two categories; tips for forming a new relationship and broad tips for dealing with past loves.

Tips For a New Relationship

Some of the most prominent effects of a past relationship tend to manifest themselves as the person attempts to form a new relationship. This can obviously lead to a slew of problems, from stress and arguments to break ups and a general inability to form a partnership with someone. Nobody wants that, but we're here to help. The following advice can help safeguard you against the pervading effects of a past relationship.

1: Reset Your Expectations

When many people partner with someone new - especially after a particularly painful heart break - they tend to feel that their new relationship doesn't quite match up to their previous one. This in turn can drive someone back to their ex time and time again, usually creating a laundry list of problems in the long run.

It's assumable that in your previous relationship you were probably somewhat happy and comfortable. This general fulfillment isn't necessarily saying that your last partner was great, but rather that your relationship had endured enough time for you to be comfortable with your partner overall. This is a perfectly normal feeling, but many people tend to turn this into an expectation for how all relationships should be right from the beginning.

This subsequently leads to them feeling uncomfortable in a new relationship when it doesn't meet these highly inflated expectations. They forget that their past relationship took a lot of time and effort to become as fulfilling as it was, instead comparing the new with the old and seeing a a noticeable and unsettling deviation.

The solution to this is to simply reset your expectations when you enter a new partnership. Don't expect it to be as fulfilling as your past relationship was right off the bat; 2 months simply can't compare to 2 years under any circumstances. You're with a new person, so enter into the relationship with totally new expectations. This gives your new partner a fair chance and also saves you from ensuring your own disappointment.

2: Don't Compare Partners

This piece of advice would seem like common sense, but so many of us make this fatal error when entering a new partnership. Instead of looking at the new romance with fresh eyes we make comparisons about every aspect, inevitably leading to disappointment and another break up.

The problem is that in our comparisons we usually tend to unnecessarily glorify our past relationships. It's important to remember that your last partner wasn't perfect by any means, so putting them on a pedestal and comparing them to your new love interest is a recipe for disaster.

The same solution for point #1 applies here; a new partner should equal new expectations. We can't stress this enough; never, NEVER, let yourself compare your previous partner to your new one. Your mind is naturally biased to glorify someone that you previously had a deeper connection with, so the results of any comparison will always be skewed. Save yourself the trouble and learn to look at your new partner with fresh eyes.

3: Let it Come Naturally

One of the worst things you can do when entering into a new love affair is to try and rush the relationship. Whether you're trying to meet unnecessarily high expectations (see #1) or trying to show off a new, developed partnership to your ex, rushing things will only cause problems.

A simple thing to remember is that all relationships should be independent of one another. That means that each one should be entered with fresh expectations and a willingness to let things flow naturally. Trying to rush things will only speed up another break up, so sit back and let the relationship follow whatever course it chooses.

4: Don't Pander/ Don't be Hypercritical

After a particularly devastating heartbreak people often tend to choose one of two paths; they either become incredibly anxious when entering a new relationship, or they become incredibly critical towards their new partner. Both of these are extreme and dangerous emotions for any love affair, so they should avoided at all costs.

The anxious type will often pander to their new partner, changing any aspects of themselves that they perceive to be one of the weaknesses that contributed to the downfall of their past relationships. This wouldn't be so horrible if we were accurate judges of our own faults, but sadly we are not. This means that many will become noticeably insecure in their new relationship, essentially tip toeing around their partner in an effort to avoid making any mistakes. This insecurity in turn makes the person in question appear less attractive (and less mentally stable) to their partner, potentially bringing an early end to the partnership.

On the other hand, the critical person is one who has become jaded based on the perceived misdeeds of their last partner. They'll usually think in generalizations such as "All men/women are just like him/her". This leads them to become hypercritical about certain things in a new relationship, often flying off the handle over small incidents that they incorrectly perceive to be deal breakers.

With a clear head it easy to see that both of these paths are unproductive ways to lead a relationship. The solution, like many, can be found in the middle ground; a general comfortableness. Remember, you're dealing with a completely new person; the negative norms which you've come to accept about relationships should be tossed out the window. All the good's and bad's from your previous love affair should be left at the door, allowing you to treat your new partner with a fresh, unbiased opinion.

5: Don't Base Your Whole Life Around Your Relationship

Plenty of oldies singers croon about how they've built their whole world around their partner. While this may be a cute idea, it's anything but healthy. You're essentially storing your most precious possessions in a glass box. Any relationship is somewhat fragile by nature, and following this practice means that you stand to lose your very purpose in life if the relationship should end.

Unfortunately those aren't very good odds to play, especially considering the high break-up and divorce rates. This isn't to say that it's unwise to invest yourself in the relationship at all, but rather that you should only invest what you're safely willing to lose. Remember that you're still your own person with your own life and goals, so make sure to keep those separate and intact.

General Tips for Dealing with Past Relationships

Not everyone chooses to enter a new relationship right away after a heartbreak. However, this doesn't mean that they're exempt from the curse of previous relationships; they still suffer as much as those who find a new partnership. Below we have tips to help exorcise a haunting past relationship and move on with your life.

6: Don't Forget That You Exist Outside of Your Past Relationship

Some people are in a relationship for so long that they completely forget how to live on their own. This is fairly common, but still rather troublesome for somebody who's trying to let go. Readapting to your own person can significantly help you move on with your life.

Try to remember how life was when you were single. You were probably relatively happy and fulfilled, even without a partner. While losing someone important to you may indeed leave a gaping hole inside of you, it is possible to somewhat "fill" this metaphorical void. As explained in our article on why we miss others, these feelings of emptiness are mostly caused by a lack of the hormones provided by a happy relationship. Some of these - such as oxytocin and vasopressin, the hormones that create attachment and bonding - can't be easily replicated, but plenty of the others can.

Reintroducing these hormones into your system can do wonders in healing love's wounds. The full article goes into detail about some strategies for this, so for our purposes here we're just going to list a few quick ways to bring fulfillment back into your single life.

Exercise regularly
Pick up a hobby
Do something creative (writing, drawing, making music)
Listen to music
Do something that helps you to better yourself (Learn a new language, take a class in something, practice what you've learned from this site)
Do something productive and rewarding (I actually started this website in the recovery stage of a messy break up)
Not only are all of these activities fulfilling in their own ways, but they also give your brain an increased dose of the feel-good hormone known as dopamine. While this may not completely erase all thoughts of your past relationship, I can personally vouch for the fact that practicing these will have you feeling perfectly content with living the single life.

7: Accept Impermanence

Although nobody wants to admit it, nothing in life is permanent. This includes the people we love; as sad as it is, they're bound to change, leave us, or pass away at some point. This can't be stopped, but it's possible to ease the parting blow by adjusting your own attitude towards change.

Change isn't necessarily a bad thing; without change there could be no progress. That means that the loss of the love in your life isn't necessarily negative; remember, it also opens up all of the benefits of being single. You have more time for friends, more time for fulfilling activities, and the ability to pursue an even better relationship if you choose.

Your previous partner's page in your book has simply come to an end; it's not objectively bad or good, just a fact of life. Accepting life's impermanence allows you to move on and see the positives you gain, especially the adventure of an unknown future.

In our articles Stepping out of Your Comfort Zone and Overcoming the Barriers of Change we mentioned how the unknown can either be terrifying or exhilarating depending on how you view it. Here at the New Renaissance Man we wholly support the latter option; the unknown has more secrets and rewards than can be imagined. In this sense change could be the best thing that's ever happened to you, but you'll never be able to realize it by sitting around and moping about any past relationships.

8: Separate Completely

While this may not be what many people want to hear, the world has proven time and time again that very few people are capable of remaining "just friends" after a relationship. It takes a truly remarkable person to properly handle this kind of "friends after break up" agreement, and unfortunately most past relationships don't consist of two people who are capable of such a feat together.

This means that for you own sanity it's usually much more beneficial to completely cut off contact with the other person. That means de-friend them on facebook, delete their phone number, whatever else you need to do. If you work together, guess what? Somebody will have to quit (hence why they say never to enter a relationship with a co-worker).

I can't stress enough this idea of total separation. This just isn't an aspect that you can cut short; you're never going to be able to forget your past relationship with the person still in your life, so save yourself a lot of unnecessary grief and burn that particular bridge as quickly as possible.

9: "It Wasn't Really Wasted Time"

One pervading idea possessed by many broken-hearted souls is that their past relationships were nothing but wasted time since they inevitably ended. In this case it's important to remember that while the partnership may indeed be over, that fact testifies absolutely nothing towards the quality of the time spent together.

Surely you had some happy times with the partner in your past relationship? You also probably learned a lot about life and grew as a person too. That certainly doesn't sound like wasted time to me.

Too many of us carry this idea that time spent in a relationship is an investment, and that it can be considered a waste if the relationship doesn't pan out. In reality it can be considered a remarkable benefit if you gained anything from the time spent, and I can almost guarantee that you grew in at least one way thanks to your past relationship.

Remember, the only real wasted time is all the minutes you spend lamenting over time that wasn't really wasted. You did gain from your relationship, so think of that as a payoff for the time invested and allow yourself to move on.

10: Keep an Objective Perspective

Objectivity and feelings don't often mix together well, but luckily you have us to present the situation in a more realistic fashion. That being said, I can promise you beyond a shadow of a doubt that your last partner wasn't absolutely perfect for you. Statistically speaking there's probably a good number of people in the world who you would actually match much better with. It's very important to remove the "one and only" mentality from your head if you actually want your broken heart to heal.

Remember, there are about 3.5 billion people of the opposite gender on the planet right now. If you think that the 1 person that you found was the best match for you, I feel that I'm perfectly justified in calling you crazy. On that note, it's also not fair to make generalizations about an entire gender based on a bad experience with one person. Not only will this seriously hamper your ability to start a new relationship, but it's also completely unfounded. You're making an assumption using a sample size of 1 with a total population of 3.5 billion; all that can be derived from this is that a statistician is probably going to beat you up if they ever have the opportunity.

Given that you're (presumably) a human, you have a life of about 29,000 days to live. Why waste any one of those lamenting over any past relationships? Humans are actually very replaceable; if you don't like one of us, simply find another one. You have quite a reservoir to choose from, so don't waste any time crying over a lost love. I guarantee that you can find another, and I further guarantee that you can find fulfillment without a significant romance in your life if you choose that path instead.

Author's Bio: 

Dakota is the founder of, a website created to help visitors unlock their true potential and become more well-rounded in all aspects of life. When not writing or working on improving himself he spends his time making silly faces, creating merriment, and otherwise frolicking.