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How to Let Go of Resentment and Forgive Your Ex

Angry Couple

I used to be afraid of the pain letting go of the past would cause, until I realized how much pain holding on has caused.” ~Steve Maraboli

Getting over the pain of a bad relationship is never easy.

Even when I finally felt more in control of my feelings, the pain from my past would still spill over into my present.

I would constantly compare my new partner to my ex who had torn my heart apart. Even though I had moved on from that relationship, I was too afraid to fully trust my new partner for fear of being backstabbed again.

I feared reliving that gut-wrenching pain I felt the last time I was cheated on. The thought of it happening again made my heart race. I’d lose my appetite and feel sick to my stomach. I would feel like I was having a full-blown panic attack.

And the worst part about it was that I had no real reason to distrust my current partner. He was honest, loving, and he truly cared about me. I was feeding off of bitterness from my past.

I refused to let go of resentment.

Not until I realized I had to move on and forgive my ex was I able to change my future and have a fulfilling relationship. Once I changed my approach and adopted a few strategies to help deal with my pain, I was able to live a happier life.

Manage Your Thoughts

When I found out my ex cheated on me, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I could’ve done differently to prevent him from straying.

I thought to myself, Maybe I shouldve tried a little harder, or I shouldve been more attentive to his needs.

I cooked, cleaned, and always made sure he was well taken care of. But apparently, our relationship wasn’t enough.

I soon realized that no matter how attentive or loving I was, he would’ve cheated on me regardless.

I constantly pictured him with the other woman. The thought would infuriate me.

All I could think was, How could he do this to me? Why would he want to throw away all the years we’ve shared together? And while he had moved on and was enjoying his new life, there I was still suffering in silence.

It soon became too much to handle. I had to stop torturing myself. I had to somehow let go.

So I began shifting my focus. Instead of dwelling on my pain, I would imagine myself in a happier place. I would replace every bad thought with a positive one.

Instead of thinking, How could he choose someone else over me? I would think, I’m better off with someone who values me and treats me with love and respect.

The more I did this, the less resentment I felt toward him.

By changing my thoughts, I was able to change my feelings. As time went on, I was able to move on.

Remember What Makes You Smile

At one point, my relationship stressed me so much that I didn’t want to leave the house. I despised seeing happy couples on the street. Even going outside on a sunny day was a struggle. I’d rather it rain to reflect my mood. Thats how miserable I was.

I desperately needed to move on with my life, despite my heartache.

I had plenty of things to be grateful for. I needed to reflect on everything that was going well in my life.

Overall, I had a great family. I knew that regardless of what I went through, they would always be there for me. I had a beautiful daughter. And despite how rejected I felt, I knew she would always love and care about me.

The more time I spent with my relatives, the more I felt loved and wanted.

I also found things to do to make myself feel better. I’d go on dinner dates with my friends and take vacations to different places.

Thinking back now, even working out would’ve been a great way to release some tension.

I realized my life wasn’t over simply because I had a bad relationship. I was still alive and breathing another day. That alone was a reason to be grateful. Each day the sun rose was another chance for happiness.

When we’re hurting, we tend to experience the pain continually in our minds. If we find enjoyable things to do, we can replace negative memories with positive ones.

Find the Lessons

If I could go back in time, I would never erase my past. That’s because my past shaped me into the strong person I am today.

Once I began focusing on the lessons I learned from my experience, I stopped drowning in resentment.

I learned that his cheating was not my fault. No matter how attentive or loving I was, he would’ve cheated on me regardless. He chose his wants and desires over our relationship.

And just like him, I had a choice to move on and be happy. I was only hurting myself by not releasing the pain.

If I wanted to have a healthy relationship in the future, I had to let go of the bad memories from my past relationship. I couldn’t allow my new love to suffer for my past love’s mistakes.

And lastly, I deserved to be happy just as much as anyone else. Holding onto bitterness and resentment wasn’t worth sacrificing my joy.

The lessons I learned were priceless. And once I decided not to allow what a person did to me dictate my feelings, I began to live a happier life.

All the pain, heartache, and tears I experienced turned me into the resilient person I am today. And now I can help others overcome their pain.

Sometimes we go through negative experiences to encourage someone else. Someone’s out there who will benefit from your story. Come out of your pain victoriously so that you can be an inspiration to others.

Take It As a Learning Experience

When I decided to let go and forgive my ex, despite his actions, I was finally at peace. Once I released my anger, it no longer had control over me. I was no longer in bondage to the wounds from my past.

I now have a new understanding of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not for the other person; it’s to heal us. When you forgive your ex, you take away the power they had over your emotions.

You don’t have control over your past, but you have full control over what you do in the present.

When you learn to let go of resentment, animosity, and bitterness, you experience freedom. Freedom from the hurt and pain that once held you captive.

Angry couple image via Shutterstock

About Tiffaney Kennedy

Tiffaney Kennedy is a mentor whose passion is helping women overcome life’s toughest challenges. Sign up to receive your free copy of "56 Motivational Quotes That Will Change Your Life."

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  • Marvina1

    What I struggle with is the lack of closure. I know I’m better off without him since he was disrespectful (cheating, lying, secrecy, verbal abuse) but I guess I’m seeking acknowledgement from him that he knows he is a jerk…a bit of remorse. Instead I see him charming his next victim/mistress who thinks she’s special since she outsmarted me somehow. But the prize she won is a liar and cheater (although he’s very successful in his work). I actually feel bad for her since I know she is being duped since he can never be alone and she fits the bill for now. I don’t know if I can ever forgive my ex because I cannot accept the behaviors of using and devaluing people. However, I can see forgiveness in a different light – that of acceptance – acceptance that one does not have control in the world except for one’s own behavior and thoughts.

  • Hi Marvina,

    I’m happy you now see forgiveness in a different light. Over time, moving on becomes easier. One day you will find someone who will show you the love and respect you deserve.

    Best,

    Tiffaney

  • Laura911

    You have your closure, you know he’s an ass. Case closed, right?

  • shuchi

    Your experience led you to write this beautiful article, and I needed to read this. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Love and Light.

  • Guglielmo

    Lack of emotions

  • Hi Shuchi,

    Thank you for your kind words. You’re welcome.

    Best,

    Tiffaney

  • Peace Within

    We live and we learn. Take it as a lesson and move on. Don’t try to figure him out. Don’t waste any energy on him! Be grateful you got out of the situation. Be grateful you are not like him. I can relate to your story. Just looking out <3

  • Great article. I’ve went through a similar issue and when I would catch myself thinking about him I could simply say to myself “I cannot fix this right now, I’m going to focus on something more positive” and it worked wonders. Thanks for the additional suggestions!

  • Bill

    Good for you……you have solved the mystery. I never thought it was so frick’n easy!!!! I don’t what I was thinking…….

  • Angelina Damian

    wonderful article. I can relate with you. Now I am in the process of healing and feeding my thoughts with positivity. Though, sometimes I can’t help my self to think about him. It was me who chose to move on in our lives, I didnt told him though but I knew he can sense my messages to him. We broke up September last year but still seeing before he left to Japan. He left Philippines and me, but we still had communication through emails. Every time I didnt receive any reply, or received it late, I would tell myself to stop what we are doing since there’s no hope for us. He cheated on me that’s why we broke up, I forgave him already but I always find myself still thinking about what he did to me. Right now, I stop the communication. I hope I can totally move on from him.

    By the way, this is my first time writing here. I just wanna express my feelings 🙂

  • LaTrice Dowe

    I recently saw my ex-boyfriend for the first time in six months at my place of employment. He refused to make eye contact, which was fine, because seeing him was unpleasant. Although I could careless about his opinion of me as a person, he was wrong for cheating on his girlfriend with me. I wasn’t fully aware of being the “other woman.”

    His girlfriend confronted me around 8:00 am. She demanded to know what was going on between myself and her boyfriend. It felt to stand up for myself, so I ended the conversation, by hanging up on her. Despite the name calling (which wasn’t necessary), I didn’t owe her an explanation. My ex-boyfriend made a conscientious decision to cheat. No one placed a gun to his head and forced him to do anything. If he wasn’t happy, he could have ended the relationship. Instead, he wanted to have his cake and eat it, too.

    I dropped my ex-boyfriend like a hot potato. I blocked his phone number, even though he did sent me a few text messages. I blocked him from my social media accounts. What goes on in my life doesn’t concern him. His girlfriend can continue to hold me responsible for his actions, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t my fault.

    I deserve to be someone’s priority, NOT an option.

    Thank you, Tiffaney for sharing your story.

  • Jenny

    My breakup was fairly boring one. Neither of us did anything wrong..we just got tired of trying I suppose. It’s been 7 months but I still resent him. I introduced him to my family and they were so loving and accepted him into the family right away and I feel like he didn’t appreciate that. I also resent that he let me buy him dinner, shower him with gifts, and pay for so many dates. I improved his style and gave suggestions on how he could look better, typical gf stuff. So now we’ve broken up and he’s a better ‘catch’ if you will and it’s all because of me. He’s also lost some weight and all of this makes me angry and resentful. I know it’s so petty, but how do I get over this? I never even got a thank you..but I really want to move on and stop being angry.

  • Chi

    I thought have forgiven my ex and moved on, but I would always go spying on her whatsapp status and she seemed to be making reference to me in some sonI thought… I contacted her afte 1yr and 7months of no contact previously and to my suprise she received me with open arms for a coversation. But as we talked on the phone periodically, the want for her flowed back but not in a relationship way. Also when we talked abouy the past in more detailed she finally gave me closure and aplogized for the numerous betrayals and cheating which ended us. Now I feel I got closure because she admitted her faults and said she was immature, I ceased conversation with her because I felt resentment creeeping back hence I needed to move forward with my life.

  • Su

    I needed this today, thank you for writing this. It’s encouraging me to move into my future feeling liberated and at peace.

  • Adam

    This was an excellent article for me to read right now. I was with my ex for almost 14 years and for 13.5 of those years I thought we had a strong and healthy relationship. After it ended I never got an explanation as to why. I never cheated or was physically or emotionally abusive. I was honest, kind and caring and above all loved my ex.
    When we split I put my son above all else and dealt with it in a mature way for his sake. I never took the time to deal with my own emotions and always felt a sense of betrayal. I felt like I didnt deserve to have this happen and it wasnt something that I ever contemplated.
    The feelings of resentment have grown inside of me and I have never really forgiven my ex. Right now I am on holiday with my son and she is on holiday with her new lover. I am finding it difficult to sleep and I am thinking negatively way too much. I should be enjoying my time more with my son rather than dwelling on something from the past.I know I have to let go of the past and forgive me ex for myself and my son.
    Thanks for your article. It was nice to read. I know it is not going to be easy and will be a lengthy process but it is good to have positive thoughts that there is a potential way to go forward and get through this.

  • Brittany

    I can not thank you enough for this article as this is something that I am going to right now. Thank you for the inspiration and motivation. I do not know when i will out of my dark place but I am looking forward to being an encouragement to someone else. Thanks again.

  • I also got through a time when I resented my ex. I started blaming myself thinking that I am the one at fault. But then I realized that I should look at the lesson that life is teaching me and to forgive her with all my heart.

  • Laurel Durrett

    Thank you so much–it was a balm to read your words.