What to Do if You Regret Breaking Up With Someone (With Expert Insights)

So you’ve just ended a relationship, and now you’re second-guessing everything. Did you make the right call? Should you have given it another chance? What if you never find anyone else?

If these thoughts sound familiar, don’t worry — you’re not alone. That’s exactly what this article is all about. I’ll talk about practical ways to deal with regret, figure out what your heart really wants, and emerge stronger and wiser.

Whether you’re hoping to get back together or simply looking for closure, keep reading — I’ve got some insights that might just help you find your way.

Reflect on the Reasons for the Breakup

After a relationship ends, sometimes we’re left with a suitcase of “what ifs” and “should haves.”

I think taking a step back to unpack these thoughts can reveal a lot about why things actually ended. Consider the issues that were in play — disagreements, differences in life goals, or perhaps a feeling that something was missing. These reasons, no matter how small they may seem, contributed to the decision to part ways.

Ask yourself: Were you truly happy? Did you both want the same things?

Sometimes, when we’re honest with ourselves, we find that the breakup was a conclusion drawn not in haste but with deep consideration for everyone’s well-being.

Give Yourself Time to Process Your Emotions

Breakups can hit you like a ton of bricks. That’s why it’s crucial to allow yourself enough time to grieve and feel all the big emotions.

This isn’t just about feeling sad; it can also be about:

  • Anger.
  • Relief.
  • Confusion.
  • Guilt.
  • Sometimes even happiness.

These feelings are all part of the rollercoaster ride called healing. Rushing through them or pretending they don’t exist? Not the best idea.

So, I encourage you to give yourself the grace to process each emotion. During this time, what you need most is patience with yourself. Healing isn’t linear, and it’s okay to have good days and bad days.

"Sometimes it’s difficult to sort through the guilt that can accompany a breakup, especially if you called things off... Give yourself time to look critically at what went wrong and the permission to assess what you want for your future. Even though you are hurting, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you made the wrong decision, but you do need time to heal.”

— Dana Hall, LCPC, CCTP, ICATP | Relationship Expert | Private Practice Therapist | Author, “Beyond Words: A Child’s Journey Through Apraxia

Assess Your Feelings and Motivations

Have you asked yourself, “Why do I feel this regret?”

Take a moment to really dig into what’s stirring up these emotions. Is it loneliness, or is there something more? Sometimes, regret is just us missing the companionship, the comfort of having someone by our side, or the routines we’ve grown accustomed to.

Here’s what you can do: Jot down your thoughts. What exactly do you miss? The person, their laugh, the way they made tea, or just having a plus one for outings?

Understanding what’s driving your regret is like a map to what you truly value. And who knows, it may point you to what you want in any future relationships.

See if you can identify the thoughts driving your regret. For example, if you're telling yourself, "I'll never find someone else," your regret might be fear-based and have more to do with your own self-esteem than with the person with whom you broke up.

Similarly, "I hate being alone during the holidays" or "I miss the intimacy" might be about wishing to be partnered rather than missing a specific person.

— Ricki Romm, LCSW | Psychotherapist

Acknowledge that Emotions Are Normal and Temporary

You know those waves of sadness, the sudden bursts of nostalgia? They’re like unexpected guests popping up at your doorstep. It’s okay though; these emotions are just part of the deal when you say goodbye to someone who was once a big part of your life.

But here’s the thing — just like guests, these emotions don’t stay forever. They come and go.

What matters is what you do when they visit. Do you dwell on them or do you acknowledge their presence and then gently show them the door? Remember, it’s not about controlling your emotions; it’s about controlling how you respond to them.

"Post-breakup emotions can range from mild to overpowering, and they often appear without warning... Our brains and bodies don't like experiencing negative emotions like sadness and fear (of being alone). That's when the sense of regret will come over you. When your partner is no longer physically present in your life, your brain and body need time to adapt and "reset"... This is normal, and these emotions are temporary."

— Kim Saeed | Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coach | Author, “10 Essential Survivor Secrets to Liberate Yourself from Narcissistic Abuse

Use This Time for Self-Reflection

Think about who you are and what you want without someone else’s influence. Then, reflect on these things:

  • What lessons can you pick up from your relationship experience?
  • How have you grown?
  • What’s truly important to you?

Self-reflection isn’t always easy, but it is definitely a step toward knowing yourself better and having a better grasp of what you need and want.

Work on Personal Growth and Self-Improvement

Breaking up doesn’t just mark the end of a relationship; it also opens the door to a unique time for personal evolution. It’s like hitting the restart button on a game, except this time, you have all the experience from the previous rounds.

Start small: maybe revisit an old hobby that used to make you feel alive. Perhaps it’s time to set new fitness goals or read that book you’ve been putting off.

Each step you take helps build a version of you that is not only healed but is stronger and wiser.

Rediscover Who You Are as a Single Person

Before you jump to any conclusions about your breakup, take a moment to rediscover your individuality — the “you” that’s not attached to someone else.

  • What brings you joy when you’re by yourself?
  • What are the activities that light up your spirit? Maybe it’s taking that early morning jog or cooking up a new recipe?
  • What are your own likes and dislikes, separated from the influence of a partner?
  • What have you been itching to do but never got around to because you were part of a pair?

This is your chance to explore and indulge in those things.

"After a breakup, it takes time to return to your single self. Relationships change our sense of identity, our daily routines, and our social circle. After a breakup, people usually go through a transition period during which they rediscover who they are as a single person."

— Dan Rosenfeld | Social Psychologist and Dating Expert | Founder and Director, The Match Lab

Look at the History of the Relationship

Glancing back at the relationship as a whole can give you clarity. Remember the laughter, the shared dreams, but don’t overlook the disagreements and the disappointments either.

Here’s what you could do:

  1. Trace the journey from the start to the end.
  2. Identify patterns that made you happy or unhappy.
  3. Think about the highs, the lows, and everything in between.

Doing this can often bring new insights to old problems and might just help you figure out whether those issues are fixable or if they’re deal-breakers.

"Step back and look at the history of the relationship: Were things breaking down for a while? Did the breakup happen in the heat of the moment? Write down all the issues in the relationship… As you look through the list, think about the kind of relationship you want to be in. Do you see the future you want for yourself?"

— Dana Hall, LCPC, CCTP, ICATP | Relationship Expert | Private Practice Therapist | Author, “Beyond Words: A Child’s Journey Through Apraxia

Make a List of the Good and Not-So-Good Things While You Were With Your Ex

On a piece of paper, draw two columns. One for the positives and another for the negatives you experienced within the relationship. Write freely and honestly.

This exercise might sound simple, but it can be surprisingly revealing! You’ll see in black and white what worked and what didn’t. It’s also is a great way to measure whether the good outweighs the bad or vice versa.

A list like this can often remind us of why we made certain decisions and help us stay grounded if our thoughts begin to wander back.

Write Your Feelings Down in a Physical Journal

Sometimes we carry so much inside that it gets hard to sort through it all. I think grabbing a physical journal and writing down your feelings can work wonders. It’s like a conversation with the page where you can be completely open without holding back.

  • Today I felt…
  • It’s difficult when…
  • I get happy about…

Use simple prompts like these and just let the words flow. This isn’t about crafting perfect sentences; it’s about unloading burdens. When your feelings exist on paper, they become easier to understand and manage.

"...Consider writing your feelings down on paper in a journal. This will help to 'get them out' without the risk of another person taking advantage of you or manipulating you while you're emotionally vulnerable."

— Kim Saeed | Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coach | Author, “10 Essential Survivor Secrets to Liberate Yourself from Narcissistic Abuse

Seek Support From Friends, Family, or a Therapist

There’s a saying I believe really fits here — a problem shared is a problem halved. Reach out to those around you, be it friends, family members, or even a professional like a therapist. Sometimes, all we need is a listening ear or a different point of view to shine a light on what we can’t see.

What to do when you talk: Be honest about what you’re going through. Ask for their thoughts, but remember, you don’t have to take every piece of advice given.

It’s surprising how sharing your story can open up new insights and help you feel less alone.

Be Kind to Yourself

Going through a breakup is tough, without a doubt. So, treat yourself with the same compassion you’d offer to a good friend in distress.

Being kind to yourself means:

  • Not beating yourself up over the past decisions.
  • Allowing yourself moments of relaxation, maybe with a good book or a warm bath.
  • Celebrating small achievements that make your day better.
  • Reminding yourself that it’s okay not to have everything figured out.

It’s these gentle acts of self-compassion that can fuel your journey to recovery.

Set a “No Contact” Rule

Creating some space after a breakup can clear your head. That’s where the “no contact” rule comes in handy. It means:

  • No calling or texting.
  • No social media stalking or updates.
  • Giving each other the space to reflect and heal independently.

This pause on all communication prevents old wounds from reopening and gives you the clarity to consider your next steps. It can be tough at first, but many find this space essential for healing and gaining the perspective they need.

"In most cases, it's best to set a "no contact" rule... Generally, a "no contact" period should last at least one month. In some cases, this period may last up to a year. For most relationships, 2-3 months of no contact should be enough to allow for healthy separation and healing after a breakup."

— Dan Rosenfeld | Social Psychologist and Dating Expert | Founder and Director, The Match Lab

Re-Evaluate Things After You Have “Reset” and Healed

Now, once you’ve given yourself enough time to heal and your emotions have settled, you’ll likely reach a point where it feels right to take stock of where you are now.

Think about questions like:

  • How do I feel about the breakup now?
  • How have I changed since the breakup?
  • What have I learned about what I want in a relationship?
  • If my ex came back into my life, would it align with who I am today?

This is about seeing your past relationship through the lens of the person you’ve become, not the person you were when it ended. This re-evaluation is key to making choices that are right for you now.

"If some time has passed, you are happy being alone, and you still miss their positive presence in your life, then it might be worthwhile to give the relationship another look or chance. But you cannot see things clearly without being happy alone first and dealing with negative emotions healthily and productively."

— Kim Saeed | Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coach | Author, “10 Essential Survivor Secrets to Liberate Yourself from Narcissistic Abuse

Look at the Relationship From a Different Perspective

When you think back on the relationship, try to step out of your shoes and view it as an outsider might.

What might you notice that you didn’t before? Seeing things this way can often reveal patterns, issues, or even dynamics that weren’t so apparent when you were in the thick of it.

Next, what would you tell a friend who was in a similar situation? What advice would you give them?

Approaching things from this new angle can shed light on things you previously missed and help point out whether the regrets you have stem from genuine loss or just the discomfort of change.

"Examine the relationship from a different perspective: 
- Was the relationship unhealthy? 
- Were there things about the relationship that led you to breaking up? 
- What would you have done differently in the relationship?

"...Use this time for self-reflection and exploring things you want to do differently in the next relationship, eventually."

— Kristin Davin, PsyD | Psychologist, Choosing Therapy

Consider Your Ex-Partner’s Perspective

When we’re wrapped up in our own emotions, it’s easy to forget that breakups involve two hearts, not just one. Take a moment to consider your ex-partner’s side. They have their own set of emotions and thoughts that may differ significantly from yours.

Consider these possibilities:

  • How might they have felt during the relationship?
  • How did they react to the breakup?
  • What might they be going through now?

This isn’t about making excuses or placing blame—it’s about understanding the full picture.

Focus on Putting Your Own Needs First

While it’s important to think about how your ex might have felt, it’s just as essential — actually, it’s even more crucial — to sort through your own feelings. After all, breakups can sometimes make us forget the most important person in our lives: ourselves.

Now’s the time to shift the focus back to you:

  • Are you taking care of your health?
  • Are you pursuing your goals and interests?
  • Are you allowing yourself to be happy?

When you put your needs and well-being first, you’re more capable of making healthier decisions when it comes to relationships — past, present, or future.

Accept That Your Ex May Not Feel the Way You Do

It’s hard, but you’ve got to brace yourself for the possibility that your ex has moved on emotionally.

They might not want to get back together. They may be at a different stage in their healing process. Or, they simply see the breakup differently.

If that’s the case, it’s important to respect their feelings. It’s part of being fair to both of you. Remember, acceptance is a key part of the healing journey.

Reach Out to Your Ex-Partner for a Conversation

If, after deep reflection, you still feel reaching out is the right move, it’s important to approach the conversation with care.

Be clear with yourself about what you hope to gain from it: Is it answers? A second chance? Or simply expressing your feelings? Whatever it is, honesty and openness are your best policy.

Also, choose the right time and place — somewhere neutral and private, where both of you can feel comfortable to speak freely.

"If, after time has passed, you still have strong feelings of regret, consider having a conversation with your ex. Be open to hearing their feedback and sharing what you’ve learned and what you want moving forward; don’t forget to include your non-negotiables."

— Dana Hall, LCPC, CCTP, ICATP | Relationship Expert | Private Practice Therapist | Author, “Beyond Words: A Child’s Journey Through Apraxia

Be Mindful of What You Say to Your Ex

When you’re having that conversation, each word matters. It’s okay to express regret, but it’s vital to avoid language that places blame. Instead, focus on sharing your feelings without making assumptions about theirs.

Use “I” statements like:

  • I’ve been reflecting…
  • I feel…
  • I hope…

This centers the conversation on your experiences without implicating their actions or emotions.

"If you want to reach out to your ex-partner, think about your communication strategy and the message you want to convey. Make sure that any apology or statement of regret is genuine, and be mindful of what you say to avoid hurting them further."

— Kalley Hartman, LMFT | Masters, Clinical Psychology | Men's Clinical Director, Ocean Recovery

Respect Your Ex-Partner’s Boundaries and Decisions

Now, this one’s crucial. It’s possible that your ex may set boundaries during or after your conversation. They may not be ready to talk, or they might want to keep the relationship as it is — over.

And that’s something you’ll need to respect, even though it can be tough.

Respecting their boundaries isn’t just a sign of maturity; it also ensures that you’re both able to move forward in the healthiest way possible, whether that’s separately or together.

Get Closure

Ultimately, whether the conversation with your ex leads to a reconnection or confirms the end of your relationship, it’s about finding closure.

Closure could mean:

  • Learning from the relationship.
  • Finding self-forgiveness.
  • Coming to terms with how things turned out.

It’s also about making peace with the past, learning from the experience, and starting to look forward. Or, sometimes, closure is simply letting go of the ‘could have beens’ and cherishing the ‘what will be.’

More Insights From the Experts

“Consider what contributed to the relationship’s end and what you envision changing. If there were significant differences that seemed irresolvable, do you now have a different stance?

Sometimes people who love each other have incompatible ideas about partnership, family, career, or other areas of their lives. Imagine how you might feel in the future if you were to compromise. Could you do so without feeling resentful or replacing one regret with another?”

Ricki Romm, LCSW | Psychotherapist

“…Try to figure out why you broke up with your partner in the first place. Did you break up because they were treating you poorly? If so, when you are a victim of verbal or physical abuse, it’s normal to feel an abusive or toxic ex is your only source of comfort or option.

It might be best to gain skills for self-worth from counseling before reconsidering getting back with someone who betrayed you, was disrespectful, or hurtful.

Katie Ziskind, BS, MA, MFT, LMFT | Licensed Holistic Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner, Wisdom Within Counseling

“Use the “Ben Franklin” decision-making model… Basically, it is a take on a pro-con list. Remember, it used to be that if the pros outweigh the cons, then you made the right decision. It is now known as a ‘T-chart.’… After you write down your pro-con list, you rate the importance of each one.

1. Give each pro and con a score based on their importance. Score each of them on a scale of 1 to 5.
2. See which side ends up having a higher score, in the end, to come to your final decision.

If it turns out that this exercise resulted in that you should stay with the person, ask yourself the following questions:

Are the reasons valid? Ask your friends. The regret you’re experiencing might be because you miss the person and not necessarily because you still want to be in a relationship with them.
Did you try to make it work? If you tried compromising, adjusting your mindset, or talking through your problems and things still didn’t work out, then don’t feel bad about ending the relationship.
Do I really miss the person or just miss being in a relationship? If the only reason for wanting to get back together is that you love and miss your ex, remember that all the reasons you broke up are still there even if you get back together.”

Julia McCurley | Professional Matchmaker & Relationship Coach | CEO, Something More

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I wait before deciding if I want to get back with my ex?

It’s generally recommended to allow a significant amount of time to pass — months, rather than days or weeks. This period allows you to gain perspective, experience life without your ex, and evaluate your feelings with a clearer mindset.

Is it possible to miss the idea of the relationship more than the actual person?

Absolutely. Often, we miss the comfort, familiarity, and routine of being in a relationship, which can be confused with missing the person themselves.

If my ex has moved on, should I still tell them I regret the breakup?

If your ex has moved on, it’s important to respect their new situation. Unburdening your feelings may not be fair to them and could complicate both your lives further. Instead, focus on your healing and personal growth.

What if I realize that the breakup was the right decision but still feel sad?

Feeling sad after a breakup is natural, even if it was the right choice. Allow yourself to grieve the loss as part of the healing process. Grief does not invalidate your decision; it’s a natural part of saying goodbye to an important chapter in your life.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with regret after a breakup is a complex and emotional journey. It’s okay to feel confused, sad, or even frustrated as you navigate this challenging time.

Remember, healing isn’t a linear process, and it’s essential to be patient and kind to yourself along the way.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to trust your instincts and do what feels right for you. Whether that means reaching out to your ex, focusing on personal growth, or simply allowing yourself to feel your emotions, know that you have the strength and wisdom to make it through this. You’ve got this!

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Leah is a creative soul with a passion for telling stories that matter. As an editor and writer at UpJourney, she channels her natural curiosity and imagination into thought-provoking articles and inspiring content. She is also a registered nurse dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact.

In her free time, she indulges her artistic side as a hobbyist photographer, capturing the world's beauty one shot at a time. You can also find her in a poor-lit room playing her favorite video games or in a corner somewhere, reading and immersing herself in the rich worlds of fantasy and dark academia.

At home, Leah is surrounded by love and laughter, living peacefully with her partner and their three adorable shih tzus.