Are you in a relationship breakup? Breaking up can be a real “moodsurfing time” in ones life – ups are more up and downs are more down. The loss of a marriage or intimate partnership can feel like a death in the family, and you have to give yourself permission to grieve the lost relationship, even as you look forward to the next step in life.
Let’s look at a few techniques to help minimize the pain and get you moving forward:
Take a break from each other. Don’t try to move directly from an intimate relationship into a more casual friendship, get some distance first. Some people worry that keeping distance will make it less likely that a solid relationship can develop at another, more social, level but our experience is the opposite. If you get back together again without any “time off” to think about what happened and why you are almost certainly going to end up right back where you started.
Think it through. Take some time, sit down at a time when you can be quiet, and take a good hard look at what happened in the whole relationship from beginning to end. For most people this thinking time will have to be a while after the actual breakup, when you may not be ready to look objectively at what went on.
Write out your thoughts about the relationship breakup. It is usually helpful to make some notes to aid in objective thinking. What was good about the relationship and what was bad? In what ways were you well matched, and in what ways poorly matched? Did either or both of you do or say things that tended to make the relationship turn negative? If you did, can you think about why? Are there any similarities to other relationships you have been in? If so you may want to think about going to a couple of counselling sessions to figure out how to do things differently. It really is possible to change patterns in relationships.
Take care of yourself. You may have times of feeling “it’s all my fault, I’m such a [your favorite insult here]”. No matter what happened or didn’t happen, you are a valuable person and your health and wellness matter. Channel any negative energy into exercise and getting as healthy and physically strong as you can.
Do something else. There’s no need to brood on the relationship breakup, even as you grieve a loss. Reconnect with friends you didn’t have time for earlier. Try a new hobby or join an interest group. New interests and activities will make you a more rounded and interesting person, ready to move on to a new stage in life.
Get help. If you aren’t getting over it you might be depressed. See a counselor or your doctor. Sadness that persists for weeks and interferes with your ability to function is not OK.
Here are some useful books that talk about aspects of breaking up and grief.