While it’s normal to go through a period of self-reflection when your relationship ends, it’s crucial that you keep things in perspective and focus on healing. Losing a partner, even if you made a decision to end the relationship, can disrupt your life on so many levels because your ex was undoubtedly a part of your daily existence. As a result, breakups can weaken your ability to sleep, eat well, and function at work and in social spheres.
To complicate matters, studies have discovered that experiencing a breakup can leave you with a diminished sense of self or self-concept (those things that make you unique). This makes perfect sense because your identity probably became incorporated with your partner’s sense of self and now you’re left with the task of redefining who you are.
According to author Lisa Arends, letting go of a romantic partner involves letting go of feelings and memories. She writes: “Getting over someone is a process of repeated exposure to the triggers and the desensitization of their influence. As time passed and I faced each trigger again and again, they lost their power and their hold. The emotions have faded. But the memories remain.”
The reality is that breakups are hard. We’ve all faced them and been challenged by letting go of the why and how things could have gone differently. Goodbyes are never easy but it’s better to let someone go than staying with them out of insecurity or fear of being alone.
Part of the grieving process at the end of a relationship is accepting that what you wanted to happen no longer will happen. Thoughts might range from: We will never have children together. To the mundane: We won’t ever eat another meal together. While these feelings are more common for dumpee than dumpers, both people typically experience a grief process.
Here are 6 ways to survive a breakup:
1. Accept your feelings about the breakup. This includes your emotional reactions such as sadness, anger, fear, rejection, and guilt. They’ve probably been there all along (in your relationship) and are simply intensified during and after your breakup.
2. Examine of your part in the relationship ending. Are you taking care of yourself physically and emotionally? If not, devise a plan to nurture yourself and get your well-being restored (counseling, exercise, eating a balanced diet, etc.).
3. Focus on those things that you can control. You can’t control the past but you can make better choices today – such as letting go of hurt feelings. Attempt to forgive yourself and your former partner – or at least accept their behavior. This doesn’t mean you condone hurtful actions, but they simply have less power over you!
4. Remind yourself that relationships as teachers. We learn a lot about ourselves from loss and can approach a new relationship with our eyes wide open. Just because your relationship is over, it doesn’t mean you’re inadequate or inferior – or there’s something wrong with you. Give yourself a break.
5. Cultivate supportive relationships and new interests. Being with people who accept and support you can help ease feeling of rejection and guilt. Join an on-line support group and/or blog with others who are dealing with the end of a relationship.
6. Don’t fall prey to a victim mentality and to make self-care a priority. Take a class, start a new hobby, and be sure to take time to exercise regularly and eat a balanced and healthy diet.
Although it may not seem obvious at the time, a breakup can be a catalyst for change and you can discover new aspects of yourself in the process. Consulting a counselor, support group, or divorce coach may help to facilitate healing. Lastly, developing a mindset that you don’t have to be defined by your relationship ending can help you to heal and move forward with your life.
Find Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website. Her new book The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around was published by Sounds True on February 18, 2020.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry