Holding onto lost love can prevent you from moving forward and embracing new opportunities for happiness. It is normal to feel negative emotions in the wake of a break-up. If you are still hung up on a boyfriend after four years, it is possible to find closure, move forward and eventually find new love.
Express Negative Emotions
If you are still holding onto negative emotions, give yourself the opportunity to freely express them -- on paper. According to Gary Lewandowski, in his study published in "The Journal of Positive Psychology" in 2009, writing after a relationship ends can be a positive experience. Using a letter to work through the emotions that are holding you hostage can be a cleansing experience. You may want to shred or burn the letter at the end of the process as a symbol that you are moving forward.
According to psychologist Michael Broder, Ph.D., pro/con lists can be helpful tools when it comes to relationships. It can be easy to idealize relationships, especially if they ended several years ago. You may remember the best parts of your ex-boyfriend and your relationship, which makes it more difficult to let go. Take a piece of paper and write a pro/con list -- all of the things that you liked about your ex and your relationship and all of the things that you did not like. Be critical and don't gloss over any faults. It is important to visually see these lists side-by-side because it will force you to recognize that no one -- and no relationship -- is perfect.
If you are still in direct communication with your ex, stop all forms of communication -- if at all possible. If you don't directly communicate, are you checking his Facebook profile regularly? Are you driving by his house? Maybe you've searched his name on the Internet. If you haven't already, it is time to end these practices. You can't find new love if you are still pining over an ex.
Get Out There
In her book "Breaking Up Without Breaking Down," Kristina de la Cal notes that break-ups can be a great time for reinvention. Push yourself to step outside of your comfort zone. Find new hobbies, try new restaurants or take a trip you've been researching. If you are ready to try dating again, consider taking advantage of singles groups that focus on activities like horseback riding, wine-tasting, sporting events or cultural events. This is your time and you deserve happiness.