When a relationship ends, whatever the reason, it can be hard to let go and move forward. It might even be tempting to minimize what went wrong and idealize the other person. This could cause you to drown in regret, to resist getting on with your life, or even be tempted to revive the relationship, even if that wouldn’t be good for you or isn’t possible.
All of this is especially true of INFPs. These naturally romantic types often idealize the people they care about, sometimes to the point that the person who exists in their mind is not the actual person, but an on-a-pedestal version they’ve created. It can be hard to let go of such a paragon, especially after you’ve put so much energy, effort and care into the relationship.
So what do you do when you just can’t let go? Below are a few strategies you might want to try.
1. Take off the rose-colored glasses
Let’s face it: there’s a reason – probably several – that you’re not still together. Be sure to remember that, and don’t minimize the downsides. If you need to, make a list of all the negatives.
Whether it’s something huge, like infidelity, or just a lot of small things that make you incompatible, the list should engage your common sense enough to shake you out of your idealized selective memory.
Even if you weren’t the one to end it, you likely can name several things that didn’t work for you in the relationship. Plus, you deserve to be with someone who values you enough to keep their commitment to you.
If you have to, get an actual pair of dark glasses to put on when you need to remind yourself to see a less idealized version of the person and the relationship.
2. Fill in the empty spaces
INFPs are passionate, caring and deeply principled people. We put much of that feeling into our relationships, but most INFPs will also have something else that they care deeply about, such as a job, hobby or beloved cause – anything that gives us a sense of purpose.
Now is a great time to throw ourselves into the work we love and value. It can be a meaningful, satisfying way to use our extra time, energy and emotion to help us feel good about ourselves, and to remind us how big our life can still be.
We also care intensely about all the people in our lives. Now, with one important person out of the picture, you can pour your energy into your other relationships with family and close friends. Think of the friends you may have been neglecting and make plans together that you’ll look forward to.
Spend more time with your kids, siblings or parents, or the sweet older lady down the street who needs a listening ear and will reward you with her great stories – and home-baked cookies. Spreading your capacity for kindness and devotion around to all the people in your life will make good use of your capacity for caring and make you feel good about giving of yourself.
In return, you’ll feel loved and connected and have less empty space and time for pining over what might have been.
3. Practice self care
Yes, self-care has become a bit of a cliche and can sometimes just feel like more random items to add to your to-do list. However, this is definitely a time to prioritize taking good care of yourself and putting some of that nurturing and loving energy into your own healing.
Start with the basics we all know but may forget to do when we need them most: eat well, get outside for exercise and sunlight, get enough sleep. Also, give yourself the quiet time that all Introverts need and make time to do some things that bring you joy.
If there’s somewhere you love to go or something you love to do that you gave up for the sake of the relationship, throw yourself into those things now.
4. Remember that you are more than your relationships
While it’s natural to feel an empty space in your life when a relationship has ended, it doesn’t mean that there’s something lacking in who you are as a person. While we all need people in our lives, and you have a lot to give, you aren’t defined by being in a relationship.
Use this time to nurture your relationship with yourself and to get to know yourself better. Use the time and space to figure out what you want – and don’t want – when you’re ready to open your heart to someone else.
5. Let yourself savor the good memories
While it’s important not to keep idealizing your ex, that doesn’t mean you have to throw out all the good memories. They’re a part of you now, and you have a right to cherish and savor them, as long as you keep them in their place.
For those times when your feelings or memories overwhelm you, or you really want to call the other person, a journal can be a good place to process the feelings. Write down what you remember or would like to talk about, or just find companionship in your relationship with yourself through the written word.
But here’s the caution: don’t use the journal to further idealize the relationship and wallow in longing for what was. Think of it as a tool for processing your feelings, honoring the good memories, and building yourself up to move forward with your life.
And, it can be a good place for that list of things you won’t miss about the relationship.
As an INFP, you can be a hopeless romantic who idealizes others. You put your all into your relationships. So, when an important one ends, you can feel lost in nostalgia, even to the point of wishing to go back, no matter how harmful that may be.
By remembering the less ideal – even ugly – details you tend to leave out of the story you tell yourself, getting satisfaction from your cherished work, causes and other relationships, and practicing some of your great capacity for kindness and caring for yourself, you can find a way to heal and move forward, happily.