By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
How do you cope with Break–up sadness?
Whatever a relationship ends, there’s bound to be sadness. Even in those unhealthy relationships that have been bad from the beginning breaking up can be a mixture of relief that you’ve gotten out of the relationship and sadness that the relationship you wanted wasn’t what you got. The longer the relationship, the more difficult this can be. In this post, I’m going to talk mainly about relationships that break up during the dating or living together stage. Once two people have gotten married or had a child together, there’s likely to be a whole lot of additional wreckage that needs to be cleaned up. These are some of the things you need to do to recover from the emotional part of the relationship.
It’s okay to grieve.
Whenever a relationship ends, it’s normal to experience sadness. Even the relationships we know will end, like four years of college, are often followed by a period of emotional letdown and sadness. Ending a relationship you thought would be forever can be catastrophic. Don’t think you should be over it in a day or two. Allow yourself the time to process the changes. Humans change when we are in relationships. When you’re newly single, you’re going to have to shift back. It’s okay to experience a period of sadness as long as that feeling does not turn into depression which interferes with the rest of your life.
Try not to lose the good parts just because the relationship has ended.
You went to someplace new with the person who is now your ex, and you had a good time. That doesn’t mean you will have to avoid that place forever. Initially, going back to that “our favorite restaurant” can be difficult. It can be a reminder of your loss. After waiting a time, try revisiting that restaurant with a friend. Let yourself remember the good parts.
Don’t start assessing blame.
It’s easy to blame your former romantic partner. You can probably think of dozens of reasons why this breakup was their fault. You may also want to blame yourself. Just because it didn’t work out doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. If you did have ongoing problems within the relationship, consider getting some counseling. If you have had more than one failed relationship, don’t automatically look for what’s wrong with you. But do consider why you keep picking potential relationship partners who are not a good match for you.
Try something new.
Vary your routine. Don’t do a geographic and think that moving to a different city will solve your problem. Don’t think that rushing into another relationship with a new partner will make you happy. Do try out some new activities, hobbies and visiting some new places. Consider taking a class just for the fun of it. The time between relationships is an excellent opportunity to develop new interests.
Don’t torture yourself.
Avoid staying connected to your old partner on social media. Stop asking your friends what your ex has been doing. Some people find it helpful to remove their former partner’s phone numbers and emails from their contact lists. Don’t be tempted to reach out and try to reconnect when you’re feeling down or even a little tipsy.
You don’t have to be frantically active, but you do need to use the time you would have spent with your former partner to good advantage. Reconnect with old friends. Pick up a book you’ve always wanted to read. Do some of those things you had been putting off because your partner didn’t like them, or you didn’t think you had the time.
Learn the life lessons this experience taught you.
Not learning a life lesson when it’s presented dooms you to repeat the lesson. The lessons we don’t learn when we are young continued to repeat themselves. This is especially true of feelings and relationships. If you have been in a relationship of any kind that has ended, there are sure to be critical life lessons you need to learn. Be careful about jumping to the easy conclusions. Failed relationships are rarely the fault of only one person. Look at your contribution to making the relationship succeed or fail. Also, examined the reasons you chose to enter a relationship with this person and whether you would want to do the same thing again.
Show yourself some Self-Compassion.
Don’t beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you made and resolve to do better in the future. There’s no evidence that being hard on yourself or wallowing in self-pity will reduce the suffering or prevent this from happening again. Treat yourself with kindness and take good care of yourself. Healing from a breakup is going to require all the Self-Compassion you can muster.
Stay single for a while.
Rushing into a new relationship, whether it’s a committed one or just casual sex, can create even more wreckage. The most important relationship you will ever have in your life is the one you have with yourself. People fresh out of a relationship are encouraged to stay single and work on themselves for a while. People in early recovery from substance use disorder realize they had fallen in love with their drug of choice. We encourage them to stay single for at least two years to avoid substituting a romance or sexual activity as another way to make themselves feel good.
Don’t expect anything from your ex.
Some people hope to still maintain a friendship with their ex. Just because you try to do this, don’t expect your former partner to be willing to stay friends. For some people, it’s simply too painful to be in contact with a former partner.
Also, don’t keep hoping for some form of closure. Don’t expect them to tell you why they made that decision or to apologize for things they did while you were together. It’s also not a good idea to apologize to your former partner for the things you did wrong. Offering an apology and getting it rejected can create more wreckage that’s even harder to recover from.
Don’t think you have to be self-sufficient.
Just because you’re out of a relationship doesn’t mean you can’t reach out for support and help. While your romantic partner may be the closest person to you, they shouldn’t be the only person you connect with. It’s recommended that everyone have at least five people in their support system. That might be friends, parents, siblings, other relatives, or even professionals. Don’t be ashamed if you must ask other people to help you with some of the things that your ex used to do.
What do you think?
Have you recently gone through a relationship breakup? What did you find most helpful? Consider leaving a comment to share your experiences with others. If you’d like to contact me directly, please use the contact me feature on this blog.
I’m looking forward to hearing what worked and what didn’t for each of you.
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