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You’ve Broken Up: Now What?

Learn to climb out of post-relationship hell.

Key points

  • Breakups can be extremely painful.
  • It is important to let supportive others help you and to find ways that you can help yourself recover.
  • By learning from this relationship, you have a better chance of having a happier, more secure relationship the next time.
Yuris Alhumaydy/Unsplash
Source: Yuris Alhumaydy/Unsplash

Breaking up with someone you have loved is painful. It can literally hurt your heart and even make your insides feel like they’ve been put through a blender. And this is true no matter how many times your friend tells you that they’re not worth it. Instead, keep in mind that you are not alone in struggling so much after a relationship ends. And that those others have survived breaking up, just as you will—despite how it might feel. While nothing can prevent you from hurting, there are things you can do to help you heal.

Let Others Help You

To begin with, be sure to reach out to supportive friends and family. These people care about you and want to help. Let them comfort you. Let them show you that you are not alone. If this is difficult for you to do, think about how you would want to help them when they struggle. Give them the same opportunity.

If you see the breakup coming and have not been honest with family or friends about this, be sure to let them know what’s happening. Prepare your support system so that they can know you need them to be there for you. You might also talk ahead of time about how they might help.

Help Yourself

In addition to letting others help you, there are several things you can do to help yourself. Here are several of the suggestions I offer in my book, Insecure in Love:

Let yourself mourn. This is a natural response when you lose an important person in your life—even if you are better off without them. So feel the sadness, anger, hurt, or whatever else you feel. But keep putting one foot in front of the other as you walk away. With time, he will be far behind and you will stop looking over your shoulder as your new life becomes more engaging.

Remind yourself of your value and strengths. This can be particularly difficult to do when you are down. Consider what family and friends appreciate about you. If you are inclined to dismiss or minimize this, don’t be so hasty. These people choose to interact with you because they want to—even family members don’t have to stay in contact.

Choose healthy ways of coping. While it is always a good idea to take care of yourself, this is especially important when you are going through a difficult time. Unfortunately, this is also when you are more likely to give in to impulses to seek immediate gratification, such as with food, alcohol, sex, or shopping—or to just withdraw from the world. It’s OK to respond in these ways sometimes, but you still need to be smart about it. So make the effort to engage in the things you know will eventually help you feel better: eat healthily, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, socialize, and return to spiritual practices if you have them, as well as to other activities you normally enjoy.

Refocus on the moment. If you get lost in your painful feelings, try refocusing on whatever you are doing in the present moment.

Staying the Course and Moving On

Be prepared for the urge to reunite. There is a good chance that you will, at some point, entertain the idea of going back to your partner. Before picking up the phone or “happening” to run into them, think seriously about how hard it was to be in the relationship. If you are flooded with positive memories, do a reality check by reminding yourself about why it ended. (Depending on your situation, you may also want to watch this brief video, On-Again-Off-Again Relationship: How to Move Forward.)

Breakups are never easy, but armed with an understanding of what went wrong (not only this time, but also so many times in the past), you now have a better chance for a healthier, more secure relationship.

More from Leslie Becker-Phelps Ph.D.
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