Breaking up with a partner can be extremely painful. This is especially true if you have suffered abuse and feel like it was a really big risk and took a lot of courage to trust someone into your life. Getting over a break up can take time, support and space.
Embrace The Feelings
If you are going through the initial pain of a break up it can be easy to try and keep the pain away by denying, minimising or trivializing your feelings.
The way we do this is to:
Deny Feelings: I don’t feel any pain about the breakup.”
Minimise Feelings: “Yes I do feel pain sometimes, but it doesn’t really matter its not important.”
Trivialise Feelings: “Yes, I have been through a break up but lots of people are having a bad time too – its no big deal.”
However, in the long term this does not ease the pain but merely puts it off. There is a healthy way to embrace the pain of the break up. Your feelings are valid so allow yourself space to grieve. You may need to spend some time coming to terms with your loss – so don’t pressurise yourself or let others pressurise you into “being OK” too quickly.
Getting Over It:
When we are getting over a relationship we need to keep it in perspective. Just because this realtionship has not worked out doesn’t mean that all future relationships will be the same.
Some things to keep in mind are:
Accept that not all relationships go the whole way:
But that doesn’t mean the relationship was a bad one – although obviously all endings are sad. Also, importantly realise just because the relationship didn’t end how may have you wanted doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you.
Consider what you take as rejection may not be rejection:
For example, you may have arrived in someone’s life at a time when they are not ready for a relationship or they are too busy or preoccupied with other things – i.e. exams or a big life change. They just don’t have the emotional energy right now to deal with a relationship.
Recognise that some people reject everyone:
Some people are very damaged from their past, consequently they reject others in order to protect themselves from further pain. Or they may behave in a way towards you that is not your fault but left over from someone in their past who has hurt them – in effect you are getting mail that should be addressed to someone else.
Allow yourself the right to get angry:
If someone has treated you badly you need to allow yourself to feel that anger and not feel bad about it. Sometimes we have to own things and other times we don’t!
Try to learn from the relationship:
If relationships keep going wrong may be there are some changes you need to make. Ask someone you trust what they think about your relationships. It may be hard to hear but ask a good friend “I seem to be messing up a lot in relationships what do you think is causing this?” Be open and listen.
One way we can learn from broken relationships is to sit down and try and analyze them and try and find links and patterns.
Make A Love List
Make a list of the significant relationships in your life. This is a useful way of finding out what kind of people and situations you are have been drawn to. This may sound strange but is actually a very useful tool of finding links and themes that run through relationships. This makes you aware of what kind of people you are drawn to and can be extremely illuminating.
When compiling your list:
Don’t make any judgements on yourself
Include people you may have only had short relationships with.
Can you think of words that describe them:
Some could be:
- Good natured
- Sexually Attractive
Also consider each relationship itself and what drew you together. Ask yourself some questions about the relationship itself, how it started, what happened during it and how it ended.
- What is it about them you were initially drawn to?
- What was their job or did they work?
- Did you spend more time listening to them or did they listen to you mostly?
- Who made most of the decisions in the relationship?
- Were you hurt by them? If so how?
- When you think of the relationship what sort of feelings does it immediately arouse in you? A smile, a shudder, feelings of warmth?
Once you have written your lists look at them with the view of finding any links between the people that keep reoccurring.
Understanding and recognizing certain people that we are drawn to gives us the choice and insight that we need in order to either make a different choice or else running the relationship differently in the future.
Get support to make some changes around this – talk this through with a close friend – someone who understands you or consider booking a session with a counsellor.
Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
Sometimes we have to call it quits when we are in a lot of emotional pain. Don’t feel forced into situations that are really too much for you when you are going through emotional turmoil. For example, it may be appropriate to take a break from social events where your situation is more emphasised a good example of this is weddings. Don’t keep pushing yourself until you break.
Importantly, if you don’t feel ready to see your ex-partner then give yourself space not to – even if that means temporarily withdrawing from your social circle for a while. Adele’s song “Someone Like You” is full of blessing on her ex-partner “I wish nothing but the best for you too” – but it takes a while to get to that place. Don’t feel guilty if you aren’t there yet.
Also, don’t let people around you pressurise you into social activities that you don’t feel ready for – and that includes being set up with other dates by well meaning friends. Although well intentioned, often someone else’s idea of a perfect partner might not be yours!
Bad Times To Break Up
There is probably no good time to break up in a relationship but some points of the year are more difficult than others. For example, just before Christmas or a birthday. If this is the case it might mean that you have to say no to some events that might be just too painful. For example, going out for a big celebration when all you want to do is cry and come to terms with your loss. If that is the case don’t feel guilty about letting other people down by breaking engagements.
If you are going to be on your own on a special day then it may be a good idea to use the day productively without really making a big deal that it is Christmas or your birthday. For example, studying or catching up with other jobs you have been putting off.
At Christmas time you can also always volunteer for the day with organizations like “Crisis At Christmas” who need a variety of skills. This will keep you emotionally and physically busy, you will be with other people and also have the satisfaction of doing something really worthwhile with a difficult day.
Expand Your Social Circle
If you had a lot of friends from the same circle as your partner it may mean you need to take a break from these relationships to let the dust settle.
Perhaps you could try actively looking for new friends outside your social circle but who are available for friendship. This may mean that you link up with people that you have not considered before – they may for example be younger than you. Try and be open to this.
Mixing with a new circle of people can be challenging but also can open up a new world view of life and expand your possibilities in terms of friends and possible partners.
Be Open To New Opportunities
If you find you are doing the same things each week e.g. Gym on a Monday, Pub on Wednesday can you look into shaking things up a bit? The chances are that after a break up you have more time on your hands now you are not spending it with your partner.
This could be the time to sign on for evening classes that you have been putting off or trying a new hobby. You could also consider volunteering to work with a charity one evening a month – it does take effort and energy but it will provide you with a break from the past and a chance to meet new people.
Try to expand your life – even if you don’t always feel like it – new experiences often bring new confidence ideas and energy – and also can lead onto new relationships as well.
Enjoy What’s Going on Now
Take time to do what you want!
Be kind to yourself!
Give your self time and space to take time out to relax and regain strength and energy.
Try and do things that you want to do and don’t be pushed into things because your single – e.g. having to visit Grandma because the rest of your siblings are busy with their partners and families.
Find other single friends and have fun together. Having a laugh with other people in your situation breaks the feelings of isolation – but also make sure you talk about other things apart from being single”.
Breaking up is hard hard hard! If you start to feel really down or low – don’t cope alone. Go to see your GP and ask for help. You can also consider professional counselling – there are tips on finding a counsellor on our Finding Support section. If it is the middle of the night and you are feeling really desperate please give the Samaritans a call – they are there twenty four hours a day and their number is 08457 909090 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. They support people through difficult times as well as immediate crisis.
Lastly, don’t give up! Keep trying to connect – all love is risky but its a risk worth taking.
Things To Think About:
• Have you trivialised how much pain you have felt about a break up?
• If you made a love list what kind of themes did you find?
• Did this surprise you? Did you find links easily or was it hard?
• Do you feel able to take a break from painful social situations?
• Do you have friends around you who understand and can give support?
• If not how could you go about getting more support?
• Would you consider professional counselling to get some outside help?