How to break an emotional attachment

Updated April 17, 2017

After a romantic break-up, a couple's emotional attachment fades over time. Sometimes, though, feelings can linger. You can free yourself from emotional ties once you and your ex have gone your separate ways by working to move past the relationship and by taking care of yourself.

Establish boundaries. Don't see or call your ex or try to remain "friends." This often just masks an unwillingness to break an emotional bond. Enforce ground rules if you must see each other. Co-parenting is a special challenge. Do not permit your ex to enter your home without permission or to stay overnight. Stay neutral in your communications.

Limit talk about your ex with mutual friends. Tell your friends you prefer not to hear about your ex right now. Assure them this is a temporary situation and that in time you will be able to resume normal conversations.

Pack up, throw out or sell items that remind you of your ex. "Out of sight, out of mind" is the right adage in this case. Gather up and pack gifts, mementos and photos and decide what to do with them. Some people find it cathartic to chuck these things in the trash. Others store them or sell them. Consider having wedding and engagement rings appraised. You may be able to sell them and buy something you really like or go on a fun trip with the proceeds.

Do what you enjoy. Do the things you rarely did because your ex disliked them. One of the benefits of breaking up is not having to compromise. Head to a hockey game, attend the ballet or stay up late watching old movies.

Don't envy those in romantic relationships. It's hard to revel in being single when the media barrages us with images of impossibly happy couples. While a good relationship is a joy, single people also live happy lives. Consider not dating for a while. Make a list of the benefits of being single and promise yourself to enjoy your status without reservation, at least for a time.

Consider a move. Sometimes the place we live reminds us of a past relationship and makes it impossible to get over an emotional attachment. Moving is a big step, but it might prove beneficial. Weigh the pros and cons of moving to a new town. If you decide to move, consider an area where you'll meet other singles living happily. It can be a great start to a new life.


Seek counselling if you find yourself ruminating over an old flame or depressed about a failed relationship.

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About the Author

Siobhan Egan has edited newspapers and news websites at the Jersey Shore since 1999 and been an attorney since 1994. Her writing has won five statewide awards from the New Jersey Press Association. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Bucknell University and a Juris Doctor from Temple University.