20 Practical Tips for Love Addiction Withdrawal

by Coach Ellie

Withdrawal is hell, and love addiction withdrawal is a special kind of hell. It’s loneliness spiced with a hearty spoonful of self-loathing. If you aren’t careful, during this very tender time you risk getting into yet another addictive relationship.

How long does love addiction withdrawal last?

As long as it needs to! Typically though, at least 9 months. But that’s only if you really lean into the withdrawal process. 

So don’t just wing it. Take extra, super-duper-good care of yourself.

Here are some things I learned to do as I went in and out of withdrawal during the first few years of my recovery process.

Image by Ana Arantes on Pexels.

1. Let go of the need for “closure.”

Trust that closure is something that comes as a natural byproduct of getting into a healthier mindset. Closure happens slowly over time. It simply can’t be forced.

As I kept trying to leave my ex by attempting a meaningful, deep conversation, I kept failing. I wanted us to talk until we both agreed about why things were ending. I wanted us to hug it out and wish each other well.

Yeah. That was never going to happen.

Had we been able to have that kind of mutually respectful conversation in the first place, I might not have needed to end that relationship.

Image by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.

2. Write down your excellent reasons for parting ways.

The pain of withdrawal is so great it can cause us to “forget” why we broke things off in the first place. A few days (hours, even) after your final goodbye your ex can seem magically not so bad really.

Don’t fall for it!

Keep your reasons for leaving near you. Write them down or record audio notes — whatever works for you to remember that things between you two did NOT work. There is what you truly want for yourself and then there was what was actually happening.

Stay clear on why you left. And if you were the dumpee, why things didn’t work out. Just DON’T shame yourself. Relationships end. You are NOT uniquely terrible. You aren’t!

Image by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.

3. Re-frame this ending as a new beginning.

How obvious, right? Make lemonade out of lemons.

 Particularly if you’re new to recovery, there’s a lot to celebrate. It probably doesn’t feel like it right now because your mind is telling you things like:

  • this was your last chance at love
  • you will never meet anyone as good as this person
  • XYZ thing about how special your ex was

This is called “euphoric recall,” or exaggerating what was good in order to block out the bad. Don’t let your brain trick you. Stick it out in withdrawal.

Now is your chance to get yourself ready for the kind of intimacy you actually want. It is possible.

Image by Andrea Placquadio on Pexels.

4. Get reacquainted with yourself.

Bad relationships can drain us of our life force. Depending on where you are in recovery, it can be your first chance at meeting the non addicted you. If you are more seasoned, it’s a refresher course.

Take yourself on dates; party of one. Treat yourself to your own company. If your self likes to tell you what a loser/failure you are…THAT needs to be your focus. THAT is what’s pushing you into the unwelcome arms of unavailable people.

Image by Ashutosh Sonwani on Pexels.

5. Walk, daily.

Walking has only benefits, so go for daily walks. Get outside. Get fresh air. Get your vitamin D via sunshine.

If you have nature near by, go be in it.

Practice walking and noticing your breath. Or listen to something encouraging like anything from Natalie Lue, Pia Melody or whoever inspires you.

Image by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.

6. Up your therapy (and/or coaching).

Withdrawal is THE MOST intense part of the relationship cycle. Don’t let this misery go to waste!

Because you are in so much pain, this is precisely the right time to start digging into the origins of your overwhelm. Remember, the (now ended) relationship didn’t create this sadness, it only uncovered it.

If you aren’t already, get into therapy. If talk therapy doesn’t appeal to you or never worked for you, try something else! Find a method that helps you understand how addictions get set in place and then release all these gnarly thoughts and criticisms bouncing around in your brain.

Image by Ivan Smakov on Pexels.

7. Breathe well.

Breathing is a big deal. There is more than one way to do it, too.

When you are super sad and/or your anxiety is through the roof, focus on your breath. Just slowing down and noticing your breathing can already do a lot, but there are numerous mindful breathing methods to try.

One of the very best is nadi shodhan pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) as demonstrated here.

Image by Stas Knop on Pexels.

8. Take it one day at time (or one hour, or even 20 minutes at time).

Withdrawal brings us back to our very earliest wounds. It renders us limp with grief (if we’re doing it right). Our sadness makes us a weepy mess. And that’s if we are lucky enough to feel our feelings.

However, we tend not to understand this. We just feel a heavy blanket of sadness and hopelessness. And that feels shameful.

To get this fountain of misery managed, and not go “use” again, try chunking. Break down time into manageable bits. Don’t forecast your doomed future or ruminate on your embarrassing past. 

Just focus on today. And if that’s too hard, focus on getting through the morning, and if that’s too hard, focus on getting through the hour, and if that’s too hard, the next 20 minutes.

You are in pain, but you WILL survive this.

Image by Irina Anastasiu on Pexels.

9. Remember you are in a grieving process.

That’s a good thing! And it’s a PROCESS.

I hope you are grieving and not just working on stuffing it all away or deflecting. You are experiencing a loss. This person probably felt like your best friend. You may have made long-term plans. There was a dream and now it’s destroyed.

It hurts.

In my experience, at least here in the United States, we don’t value grieving. We want to just get over it. We want other people to just be sad for a bit, dab at their eyes with a tissue for a few weeks or months (tops) and be magically better.

Grief is a skill. You might as well learn it because it’s coming for all of us.

Image by Julian Paolo on Pexels.

10. Set appointments for crying jags.

This might not be you. I am an adult cry baby. You might process grief differently.

But if you are struggling to keep yourself from bursting into tears at Starbucks and the office and Trader Joe’s, make a plan. Set time aside for hearty boohoo sessions.

This probably sounds ridiculous, but it can be very helpful. It does two things: 1.) You are practicing parenting yourself as you are noticing you have a NEED and 2.) You are still getting necessary tasks done despite your fragile state.

This won’t work for everyone, especially not in the first week of withdrawal. But it’s something that has helped me in the past.

Image by Papa Yaw on Pexels.

11. Express everything you miss.

You miss this person. Even though it’s not a match. Even though it’s not healthy. Even though it’s you acting out old traumas, you still pine for your ex.

That’s OK. Just don’t call or text them/him/her.

Instead, express what you miss. The medium is up to you: writing, talking, painting, drawing, poetry etc. I recommend you NOT employ social media to unburden your heart. You are in a delicate state. This is a time to look inward and reflect, not to seek attention.

You need to clean the wound. So go ahead and clear out all the gunk — beautiful memories included.

Image by Monstera on Pexels.

12. Have vision for the next 3 to 6 months.

You need a vision. You need something to look forward to, something that inspires you.

This vision I am asking you to design ought to be about you being your best self. Not you with your next partner. Because you need to practice building a life for YOURSELF first, before getting into any new romantic anythings.

What do you want more of? What do you want less of? Where do you want to be? What do you want be doing? What skills do you need to improve? The questions you can ask yourself are endless!

Coaching is an excellent way to articulate your vision. I like to remind my clients of all their strengths before we dive into what needs to change. It’s quite empowering, if I do say so myself.

13. Don’t date.

Don’t do it. Not yet. Don’t try to escape this crushing feeling by finding another romance. You will just boomerang right back here anyway.

The only person you should be dating during withdrawal is yourself.

Image by Julia Larson on Pexels.

14. Be real.

Be honest about how withdrawal is impacting you. At least with yourself.

What about the breakup is still eating at you? Was there something you believe you should have said to your ex (don’t go texting or calling them now)? Perhaps there is something you wish your ex had said or done for you? Do you wish you could get back all the time you spent on the now-“failed” relationship?

Scan your mental archives. Dig down and find out if there are any outstanding resentments you need to air out and resolve. The more cringe-worthy, the better! Get really, real with yourself, perhaps about some unrealistic expectations you had. Was there a rescue fantasy involved?

This will help you to better understand yourself. As result, you will be far more likely to form better relationships, romantic and platonic, in the future.

Image by Anna Urlapova on Pexels.

15. Make chill plans with friends (and keep them).

Withdrawal requires support. You need to be around exceptionally good people right now. Hopefully you know one or two of those.

Plans to go have coffee or take a walk with a friend are good. You need ways to lighten your mood during this healing period. It gives you something to look forward to and gets you out of your house.

You probably don’t feel like being social right now. Or if you do, your motivation may be off. So making wholesome, easy plans with good people in your life helps ease you into a better state.

16. Try to have a routine.

I say “try” because I am not looking to compound your stress. If you don’t already have a routine, I encourage you to form one.

Withdrawal is brutal. It saps you of whatever confidence and motivation you had.

By forming a routine, you limit what you need to think about. You just need to look at the clock to know what you should be doing right now. You may find yourself tempted to stalk your ex on social media, but if your schedule says “3 o’clock: yoga for 20 minutes,” you know you have something better to do!

17. Guard yourself from triggers (a nice way to say “go no contact”).

If you had heart surgery in the morning you wouldn’t expect to go jogging in the afternoon. You’ve just had your heart broken by life, so don’t expect yourself to be on top of your game.

There are likely parts of town or the Internet you shouldn’t go to right now. Consider rearranging the furniture if you are living in a space vacated by your ex. Stay away from mutual friends for the next few months. Don’t ask mutual friends about your ex, either.

Give yourself more time to heal before revisiting old haunts. Thankfully, in a few months from now those old places and faces won’t have the same power over you.

18. Choose confidence.

Confidence! Everybody wants it. It’s nice to have and nice to be around.

If you are fresh into withdrawal, you are probably lacking it right about now. Love addicts believe our value comes from being liked by others. And since that one special person has officially “un-liked” you in the real world, you are reeling. Or maybe you initiated the break-up and are having regrets.

Ask yourself, “what would a confident person do?” At any moment you can ask yourself this, whether you are navigating a coworker or talking yourself out of contacting your ex.

Ah! You’re confident you can handle talking to your ex right now? That’s not confidence, that’s hubris.

Image by Arthur Brognoli on Pexels.

19 Replace feelings of loneliness with “solitude.”

Like substituting vegetable oil with apple sauce when using a cake mix, instead of feeling lonely, embrace solitude. It’s a 12-step recovery cliche, but it works.

A major driver of love addiction is loneliness. It drives us to do crazy things, like staying with people who are not healthy for us. It makes us go to the party, then the after-party, then over to so-and-so’s house. Or it makes us enter our own strict home quarantine.

To release the addictive cycle, you need to behave differently. And you need to reframe the way you look at things.

Undoing addiction is so basic and yet so painful. But that pain mainly comes from our own thoughts about how life SHOULD be. It’s time to start letting things just be.

Being alone is OK. Dining alone, in public, is also OK. Being the only single person at the get-together is OK. We can learn to enjoy solitude. We can enjoy the moment and appreciate the simple beauty of our surroundings.

You got you, babe.

Image by 熊大-旅遊趣 on Pexels.

20. This too shall pass.

Withdrawal will end. This level of dis-ease will relent. Just stay real and do the work.

You could distract and dissociate your way through by working compulsively or jumping into another relationship. However, if you face the problem and squeeze all the paste out of the tube of withdrawal, you can legitimately never have to feel this bad again.

Is that a bold claim? Yes and no.

Withdrawal is a natural process for anyone who loses a relationship. But for love addicts it’s a major fork in the road.

If you are serious about recovery, you can forever lessen the impact of breakups. Once you understand how and why you got this way, you chill out a little. And then a positive chain of events occurs. You learn new habits, your confidence rises, you chose more appropriate partners and you are just plain old happier.

Withdrawal. Stick with it and watch yourself emerge better than ever. I promise!

Next Step:

You don’t have to go through withdrawal alone. If you have not already, I highly recommend joining a local or online support group.

Need extra support right now? See if love addiction recovery coaching with me is right for you. Schedule a discovery call.

You may also like

Get Support! Join my newsletter now