Almost everyone at some point in their life will suffer from a relationship breakdown or breakup. This can happen for many different reasons, such as incompatibility, loss of love, or lack of trust. No two breakups are ever the same.
Whether it was you or your partner who initiated the breakup, you may experience a range of feelings in the days, weeks and months following the breakup – sadness, anger, loss, betrayal, and sometimes even relief.
No matter the length of the relationship, even if it was only just a few weeks, the breakup can still hurt and cause pain.
There are many things which can affect how well you cope after a breakup and how well you heal and move on with your life.
Factors which can hinder your ability to cope with the breakup might include:
- Experience. If your experience of the breakup and the events surrounding it was traumatic, the healing process may take a little longer.
- Avoidance. If you don’t allow yourself to process or think about what happened, the healing process may take longer.
- Distraction. The use of unhelpful coping mechanisms like abuse of substances and alcohol aren’t a helpful or permanent fix as they also don’t allow you to fully process what happened. The only way to really ‘cure’ the feelings and experiences following a breakup is to work through it and process what happened.
- Uncertainty. You might be keen to find answers on why the relationship broke down, and with good reason. People who understand the reasons surrounding a breakup tend to adjust faster than those who don’t . However, if you're planning to get in contact with your ex-partner, make sure you have thought it through and approach the situation in an amicable manner, to prevent any more distress.
- Self-blame. This can often follow a lack of clarity around why the relationship broke down.
- Shared things. You might have shared friends, shared belongings, or even children and pets and the discussion of who keeps what can make things more difficult. Again, things need to be kept amicable to prevent more pain not only for yourself but anyone else involved.
But there are measures which can be taken to help your levels of coping and healing following a breakup and help you to feel more like yourself again:
- Allow yourself the time to understand and process the relationship breakdown and your emotions which follow. Give yourself to grieve from the loss of your relationship.
- Meet up with friends and family. Getting support is a great way to aid your healing and process the breakup. Those who receive social or professional support following a breakup tend to cope better .
- Try to get back into hobbies or things you may not have done as much since getting into the relationship. Self-time and care can help you feel more like yourself.
- Treat yourself. Do something enjoyable, just for you.
- Take the time to exercise, even if only a little, like a walk outdoors. Exercise has been shown to be beneficial to improving wellbeing and mood . It can also clear your mind and help you reset.
Healing after a breakup will take time and can’t be done overnight. There's no set length of time it should take to heal after a breakup and as long your way of coping is healthy you will get through it.
However, if you still feel as though you’re struggling to cope, don't be afraid to reach out to a professional. They will be able to guide you through the healing process and aid you in coping and understanding any feelings you still have.
By Tamara Almond-Lockett
 Barutçu. K, Adjustment to breakup of romantic relationships: initiator status, certainty about the reasons of breakup, current relationship status and perceived social support, 2009.
 Klaperski, S., Koch, E., Hewel, D., Schempp, A., & Müller, J. (2019). Optimizing mental health benefits of exercise: The influence of the exercise environment on acute stress levels and wellbeing. Mental Health and Prevention, 15, 7. doi:http://dx.doi.org.hallam.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.mhp.2019.200173