The Hardest — But Most Important — Part of Break-up Recovery

Scott Gilman
9 min readJul 29, 2020

‘Letting go’ is easier said than done, but it’s the only way to truly recover from a break-up, separation or divorce.

In the movie Swingers, Mike (played by Jon Favreau) is consoled by his friend Rob (played by Ron Livingston) about his break-up, and the long path of healing from it.

“It’s like you wake up every day and it hurts a little less, and then you wake up one day and it doesn’t hurt at all. And it’s like, and this might sound a little weird, but it’s like you almost miss that pain.”

The pain one feels after a break-up or separation becomes a companion, wanted or not, a constant presence following you everywhere you go.

That pain occupies the space formerly filled by your ex — and the love you shared.

The pain stands in for an actual person, encompassing every emotion imaginable: sadness, anger, despair, loneliness, hurt, low self-esteem, longing for the past, concern about the future.

While we don’t intentionally choose to hold onto that pain, we kind of do anyway. It’s a way of staying connected to love, to happier times, to something that feels a lot better than pain.

To let go of it would bring on another dimension of loneliness. To let go of it you means you have to fully accept the relationship is over.

To let go means you no longer will feel those feelings of love.

While you still may care for the other person, those feelings of love get replaced by what can seem like a cold-hearted feeling of indifference.

It can feel awkward and sad and even wrong to let feelings of love transform that way.

But that’s what break-up recovery is about, and it’s helpful — necessary — to understand that and fully accept it.

How do you get there? How do you let go of a love for which you fought for years, that you leaned to into with all your soul and being?

How do you vacate that emotion and intensity and feeling?

Letting go requires re-calibrating your thinking, and lots and lots of patience and reminders.

Be Honest in Reconciling the Past

Scott Gilman

Thinking and writing about my place in the world, and making myself (and the world) a little bit better. I can be reached at