Just like beginning of a relationship can produce an emotional high, the end of a relationship can be an emotional crash, especially where the decision to end the relationship was not your own. Relationship withdrawal can involve depression, isolation, feelings of worthlessness, and shaken confidence. People going though it will often think that they will never find love or happiness again.
Even the person ending the relationship can have mixed emotions about the decision, including regret and second thoughts. It feels like you didn’t know what you had until it was gone.
Neil Sedaka got it right: “Breaking up is hard to do.” Whether or not you are the one who decided to end a relationship, when you separate from someone you love(d), the experience can be painful and paralyzing. But there is light at the end of the tunnel…and a lot of advice on how to survive the breakup.
Broadly, psychologists emphasize that you can’t rush the healing process following the end of a relationship. Every person, and every relationship, is unique and each recovery has its own timeline. You need to make sense of the loss and establish a new day-to-day routine that does not include the other person. As Loveadvice.com puts it “you ache for the love you were getting that's now gone. All these feelings have to work themselves out of your system. It's a process you must go through, similar to grieving or getting over an addiction, and some researchers say that it can take up to half as long as the relationship lasted.”
There are steps, however, that psychologists recommend you take to help reduce the severity of the healing process.
“Learn to love yourself first," says Suzanne Lachmann, Psy.D. in Psychology Today. “The first step to moving through your grief is to understand that you’re not alone. Talk to your friends, loved ones, or a trusted professional. Read books and articles to help you find the words you need to describe your experience so that you can feel less alone in it. Having an effective way to communicate about your experience can help you better manage the overwhelming nature of the loss.”
A recent study by David Sbarra, published in Psychological Science, found that higher levels of self-compassion (defined by self-kindness and an awareness that you are not alone in your pain and grief) translated to “less divorce-related emotional intrusion into daily life.” As one study participant says, ”it is just something that happens, and I guess it is happening more often than not these days so...that is what the situation is...and you tell yourself you’re not the only person to experience this.”
Second, give yourself permission to feel bad. Accept that you will have feelings. Don’t try to suppress them or be frustrated that you can’t get over it. You are going to feel bad, maybe longer than you think you should, and that’s OK.
Third, avoid the break-up myths. You won’t necessarily feel better because the relationship was bad for you. You may even miss a person who was bad for you. It doesn’t mean that you should get back together with him or her or that the breakup was a mistake. Allen Young, an eHow contributor, offers some practical advice on breaking up: “Make the decision to separate, and stick to it. Waffling will ultimately only cause more hurt on both sides, so make sure you are committed to the breakup before you take the first step.”
Fourth, take care of yourself. Eat healthy, exercise, and get out of the house. Don’t succumb to the temptation to cut yourself off from the world and wallow in your misery while eating ice cream. Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D. writes in Psychology Today: “Do something everyday to help yourself heal. Exercise, read, watch some self-help TV/DVD's, learn to meditate, and never underestimate the power of positive prayer. Pick things that you know will be fun or beneficial and do them. Don't wait for the mood to come over you, take one action and then take another.”
Fifth, don’t let your anger control you. You may be tempted to seek revenge on your former spouse or romantic partner or punish him or her with fights over money, children, or property. Those actions are counterproductive and can inflict more serious damage on yourself and children.
Finally, confront your and your family’s fear of the future. If you have children, reassure them that the breakup is not their fault and let them know that you will continue to provide for them in the future. If you are married, consult with a divorce attorney to learn your rights and know your options. It will give you peace of mind and help protect you moving forward.
And Know That The Whole World Is Watching
Used to be, you could tear up photos, shred letters and be done with the reminders of a relationship-gone-bad. But in today’s world, it takes a lot more effort to delete those digital memories you posted on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and more.
As NBCnews.com says, “Facebook is making breakups sadder.” Correspondent Nidhi Subbaraman of TODAY, recently spoke with Corina Sas, a human-computer interaction researcher from the University of Lancaster. “I think Facebook is particularly problematic, because shared friends and a constant stream of updates makes avoiding an ex and letting go much harder.”
“I stayed friends with my ex on Facebook, but I have avoided Facebook completely since we split. Before, I would log in everyday, and we would talk. Now its been almost 2 months since I have been on. I don’t even know if we are still FB friends, because I haven't been on. It has helped me emotionally, to be off the grid. I figure if she wants to know anything about me, she can text me or call me” states one FB poster.
But not everyone feels the same way. Some are not ready to delete all digital traces of their ex online. "I follow his Facebook and I still check it," one responder said.
To delete, or not delete, is a very personal decision. Just realize that your personal life is out there for the world to see.
Surprising Number Of Divorcing Parents Are Open To Reconciliation
A study conducted by University of Minnesota researcher Bill Doherty,
published in Family Court Review, queried 2,500 divorcing parents about possible reconciliation.
About one in four individual parents believed their marriage could be saved with hard work. One in ten couples were open to receiving help.
Interestingly – males were more interested in reconciliation than females.