January 28, 2017

A Buddhist Approach to Getting over an Ex.

I was going through a breakup during my Introduction to Buddhism course in India.

The teachings of the course played an essential role in helping me move on.

Although I didn’t deliberately enroll in the course to get over my ex, it indirectly helped me deal with the breakup.

In the Mind and Life dialogues, the Dalai Lama refers to Buddhism as “the science of the mind.”

I couldn’t agree more.

From my own experience, Buddhism helps me deal with day-to-day problems. The Buddhist teachings don’t directly discuss our intimate problems; however, the philosophy can be applied in every area of our lives.

The reason why I seek advice from Buddhism is the approach to tackling the problems our minds face.

Buddhists consider the mind as the original source of almost all of our emotional and physical problems. If we take a closer look at the teachings, we can see that they explore the roots of our suffering and investigate accessible solutions.

Breakups are one form of emotional suffering.

Frequently, we’re oblivious to the reasons that make us suffer and to the solutions that can put an end to our misery.

The good news is that Buddhists know why breakups are arduous. Because of this, they can help us get over an ex-lover faster than we think.

Here are a few Buddhist thoughts on this matter:


Buddhists believe that attachment is the cause of all of our suffering—and this is the main reason why I believe we suffer during breakups. Not only are we attached to our former partner, but to the relationship itself.

When we break up, the daily routine to which we grew accustomed has changed. In order to handle this sudden change, we must detach. The first step toward detachment is to realize the reality of attachment—we eradicate the bigger part of the problem when we shed light onto it.

To complete the detachment process, it’s advisable to remember how exactly the relationship made us unhappy. During breakups, our emotions are at their highest frequency, so we’re prone to focus on the happy bits and forget about the bad ones. Recalling reality as it was aids us in understanding what we deserve—and we all deserve happiness.



Another major part of not moving on is the inability to forgive—I know it was a major problem during my breakup. I was over him, but I wasn’t over the memories. Consequently, I couldn’t move on due to my inability to forgive him.

The Buddhist advice on forgiveness boils down to understanding the other person’s (or our own) emotional state at the time of the damage. We need to understand that it’s how much our partner—or we ourselves—knew back then.

In other words, we must understand other people’s lack of knowledge and generate feelings of compassion toward them instead.

Also, I’ve realized that by not forgiving my partner, I was only hurting myself. The burden was too heavy to carry and eventually stopped me from enjoying a peaceful life. That said, I forgave him for myself.



Buddhists have good news in store for us: everything changes.

There is absolutely nothing in life that’s bound to stay the way it is.

When we reflect on this profound awareness, we’ll perceive breakups we go through differently. Instead of deeming ourselves unfortunate or miserable, we can see this break-up as life expressing itself—because life wouldn’t proceed without the cycle of birth and death.

Not only is this breakup bound to end, but our dismal emotions will too.

Impermanence also introduces change. Buddhists believe that in order for something new to emerge in our lives, we must create space for the old to die.

Things aren’t entirely within our control.

Here’s another piece of good news. We do have control over things but only to some extent—but we don’t fully control everything. After breakups, we tend to blame the other person or feel guilty. The truth is, it’s nobody’s fault.

Some things are just bound to happen, and there is nothing we can do about it. No matter how much we analyze and think about it, we can’t change the fact that this event or situation is destined to end.

Acceptance of endings is the only solution. We need to accept (and believe) that things fall into place without our insistence.



Mindfulness means to thoroughly engage our minds in the present moment.

Buddhists trust that if we do everything with mindfulness, we’ll be capable of eradicating our suffering and thus, live happily and peacefully.

We suffer so much during breakups because we keep thinking about what could have happened in the past or what could happen in the future. Personally, I kept wondering if I’ll ever love again or if I and my former partner would come back together.

To solely focus on what’s happening with us and around us right now seems too difficult to practice during a breakup. Mindfulness is the only answer to reign in our mind from wandering to the past and future—which have no answer at all.


What true love is really about.

Buddhists define love as wishing the other person unconditional happiness. Sometimes, we have to let go of people we love when things don’t work out anymore. But, it doesn’t mean we can’t still wish them love or happiness.

It’s pretty awkward at the beginning to imagine the person we love with someone else or to wish them happiness after they inflicted pain on us, but later we’ll understand that we don’t have to be physically present with them to generate good intentions toward them.

Perhaps the essence of love is separation. Maybe, Rumi was right:

“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere,
they’re in each other all along.”


Author: Elyane Youssef

Image: martinak15/Flickr

Editor: Caitlin Oriel

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