When relationships end (...and what to do next)

After a breakup, it’s normal to experience a range of emotions as you come to terms with the fact you’re no longer a couple. There’s no right or wrong way to feel and feelings can fluctuate constantly. On any given day, you might feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, anxious, or even relieved.

When a relationship ends, many people experience a sense of loss and disappointment. It can be difficult to let go of the hopes and dreams you had for your relationship and look towards a new and uncertain future.

Even if you were the one who ended the relationship, or you know it was unhealthy, the fear of the unknown can be harder to bear than the unhappiness you felt in the relationship. You might start to wonder if you have made the right decision.

Both of you will miss things about each other, even when there’s a new partner involved. You may remember things you loved about your ex only when the relationship is over. No matter how happy your new partner makes you, it’s OK to miss some aspects of your previous relationship.

But, while the leaver and the left may share a sense of loss, these feelings are likely to be more intense if you didn’t choose to end the relationship. You may feel out of control and, in the immediate aftermath,  it’s hard to minimise this feeling. Your routine has been disrupted and your life has changed.

Psychologist and psychotherapist Dr Janet Reibstein explains:

You haven’t planned for things so the chaos will be that much greater, the grief will be that much greater, and you’ll be going at a different pace.

However, it’s often the emotional, rather than the practical, loss that feels most painful. Dr Reibstein recommends allowing yourself time to grieve your loss.

It’s fair to say that, normally, as with a death, people go through the mourning process or readjustment and come out of it alive, and sometimes better off.

Tips for dealing with a breakup:

  1. Take time out to grieve
    Recognise the intense and conflicting emotions you’re feeling and accept that you won’t be at your best for a while. It’s OK to give yourself a break.

  2. Remember that grief lessens with time
    It might seem easier said than done, but try to remind yourself that things will get easier after a while.

  3. Don’t go through it alone
    Isolating yourself can make the grief harder to cope with. Call on your support networks to help you get through this difficult time. If you don’t feel you can share your feelings with family or friends, head over to our listening room and speak to one of our Click Listeners. 

  4. Remind yourself of the future
    It may be hard to let go of the hopes and dreams you held for your past relationship, but it’s important to remember you have a new future to embark on. In time, you will have new hopes and dreams to replace the old ones.

  5. Find new interests
    Try to see the breakup as an opportunity for new beginnings. Take up a hobby that attracts like-minded people; get into sport and revamp your image; or use dating or social networking sites to make new friends – these things can help improve your confidence, take your mind off the breakup, and encourage you to have fun again.
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