So, your partner left you. You’re all alone, coping with the loss of the relationship, and you feel terrible.
Not only is he gone, but you have to deal with all the anger, hurt, grief, and frustration on your own. You feel hopeless, embarrassed, and like your life is crashing down.
How can you cope with the end of a relationship? What can you do in order to move forward? Will life ever feel normal again?
These are only some of the questions you might be asking yourself. Let’s start with what not to do when you feel so lost.
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What not to do
A lot of women mistakenly think that the best way to cope with a breakup is by keeping themselves crazy busy, throwing all their energy into work, traveling, partying, shopping, drinking, and practically any other distraction they can think of.
This is almost always a bad idea because it’s excessive and dramatic.
The problem with these so-called distractions is that they are short-term solutions and only serve to prolong your misery.
Unless you give yourself the time and space to process your emotions, you’ll be keeping all your trauma buried inside and won’t be able to truly move on.
There are three main phases of recovering from the loss of a relationship:
- Shock and disbelief
- Emotion, review, and relinquishment
- Acceptance, reorganization, and moving on
Dealing with the loss of a relationship works best in stages. You can’t rush your recovery.
Stage 1 – Shock and disbelief
If you didn’t see the breakup coming, it can literally feel like someone punched you in the guts.
When in shock, the mind often feels like shutting down and ignoring reality. This is when people usually pretend that they are fine, that nothing much has happened.
Once this stage passes, a flush of emotions emerges. It’s important to be prepared for this and let it happen. Accepting those emotions is a huge part of the recovery process.
During the shock phase, a lot of women get things wrong. They try to numb their pain by drinking and partying and end up feeling much worse after.
Alcohol doesn’t take the pain away; it just makes you feel like there is no pain – but only for a short while.
After that it hits you a lot stronger – the pain and the loss are still there, only now you have a hangover, and no one to blame but yourself.
Whether your relationship ended suddenly or was premeditated, you always need a period to adjust to the loss of that person as you are likely disappointed, if not devastated.
Depending on how long you were dating and how serious you were, your feelings could range anywhere from sad to depressed.
As you deal with the loss of the relationship, you are also dealing with the realization that you don’t have the same identity as a couple anymore. You used to be someone’s girlfriend and now you’re not.
If you were the one who got dumped, you’ll be feeling hurt and rejected, maybe even embarrassed.
It’s important to sit with those feelings and not try to shut them down. So what if he left you? That doesn’t make you less worthy.
What if he likes someone else? It takes nothing away from you. If this guy wasn’t right for you, would you rather accept that now, or have spent more months or even years with him?
Dealing with the loss of a relationship is as much about acknowledgment and acceptance as it is about coping with the emotions.
Another part of the shock stage is you trying to talk yourself into believing that the separation is only temporary.
You may feel the need to keep texting him, asking to meet, and generally refusing to accept that it’s over.
Unless he’s spoken to you about the possibility of reconciliation, you should accept that this is not going to work.
Stage 2 – Emotion, review, and relinquishment
Once the shock of the split wears off, you are left with a pile of emotions, lots of grief, and devastation.
Maybe your partner lied to you or cheated on you. Maybe he was abusive, and you couldn’t take it anymore. Maybe he fell out of love.
The pain of heartbreak is something you will have to deal with on a daily basis – it might come in spasms, and the best way to deal with it is to disconnect from everything and everyone.
The intensity of your emotions may feel overwhelming, but this process is quite a normal part of recovery.
These emotions are usually followed by rumination, which is all about reviewing the past, thinking about your partner, and wondering what went wrong. You don’t want to spend too much time ruminating about the past, however, because it will hinder your recovery.
Another emotion to expect in this stage is anger. In fact, you could be absolutely raging at your ex. It’s a very appropriate feeling to have and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it.
Suppressing anger can be really unhealthy, so make sure you embrace it, live through it, and come out the other side stronger and calmer.
A huge part of this stage is the grieving process. No matter what the relationship was like, you will feel the loss of it and need to accept that you can’t go back and change the past.
It’s important to apologize to your ex if you recognize that there are things you could have done better. It’s all part of your growth.
Emotionally, you will have good days and bad days – that’s inevitable during this phase.
Some days you might not be able to leave your bed, others you’ll be ready to hit the dating scene again.
It’s important to recognize what triggers you to feel worse and make sure you avoid those triggers.
Stage 3 – Acceptance, reorganization, and moving on
Once you’ve lived through the pain and grief of the breakup, you might start seeing a glimpse of hope, and feel some acceptance.
This is a turning point in your recovery process, and you have to make the most of it. It means you are starting to accept the reality of the breakup and that the end is permanent.
This stage has a few objectives:
- Gaining a deeper understanding of what happened and why the relationship ultimately ended.
- Using this new understanding to improve your overall life story – who you are beyond this breakup.
- Reorganizing your life based on what you’ve learned. Focusing on positive change, like getting fit, meeting new people, dating again, taking up a new hobby. And yes, this is the perfect time to change your haircut.
You’ve heard the old adage, “time heals all wounds”. No matter how devastating a breakup feels, a few weeks or months later, you will get back on your feet. You will fall in love again.
Build your support network
One of the most crucial parts of your healing process is getting the right support from your network.
You probably feel like being alone, but you need to acknowledge that isolating yourself from your friends and family will only slow your recovery.
It’s impossible to get through a breakup on your own. Here are a few tips for building your support network and reaching out to the right people.
- Connect face-to-face with your best friends and closest family members
Spending time with trusted friends and family members can help you build hope and heal from the breakup.
Regular face-to-face contact is also a great way to relieve your stress and focus on your life outside of the relationship.
Connecting with people who have been through a tough breakup or divorce might be particularly helpful.
- Spend time with the right people
You need to surround yourself with people who value, support, and energize you. So, choose wisely who you will spend your time with post-breakup.
You need positive energy, people who will listen to you, be honest with you, and above all, won’t judge you.
- Get outside help
Often, speaking with a counselor or joining a support group can do wonders for your recovery.
It might also be a better option for you if reaching out to friends and family doesn’t come naturally to you.
Take care of yourself
A break-up is a highly stressful life event, especially if you’ve been with that person for a considerable time.
When you are feeling your lowest, it’s more important than ever to take good care of yourself.
Start by treating yourself – properly! Put yourself first and make your happiness a priority:
- Go on a great shopping spree – but don’t spend more than you should
- Get a makeover and experiment with your look
- Go to the spa for a day and just switch off
- Do something you’ve never tried before
- Take up a new class
- Start a journal – ideally full of positive thoughts and things you are grateful for
- Build a healthy routine
- Pay attention to what it is you really need
- Make time for yourself and don’t let things get in the way of that
- Go to the movies on your own
- Reconnect with your inner child
- Take a holiday and go somewhere new
- Explore your hobbies
- Make healthy choices
- Examine your negative thoughts
Learn your lessons
It might be hard to see it when you’re going through a painful breakup, but it’s those times of emotional crisis have many opportunities to learn and grow.
No matter how sad or empty you feel right now, it doesn’t mean that things will stay that way.
The truth is you can emerge from this negative experience feeling stronger, wiser, and better. And that’s exactly how you want to feel if you want to start dating again.
You certainly don’t want to be going on dating apps or random dates feeling sorry for yourself or still pining over your ex-boyfriend.
You need to feel empowered enough to start fresh, meet someone new, and give yourself the chance to fall in love again.
In order to fully acknowledge the part that you played in the breakup, you need to take a step back, look at the big picture, and ask yourself a few essential questions:
What issues did I contribute to the relationship? Was there anything I should have done differently?
Did I do everything in my power to save the relationship?
Do I repeat the same relationship mistake over and over again?
Do I pick the wrong person to date over and over again?
When thinking about conflict, can I react in a more constructive way?
Am I in control of my feelings, or are they in control of me?
What do I want from a partner, and from a romantic relationship?
Do I have unrealistic expectations of love?
Did I accept my ex-boyfriend exactly as he was, or did I try to change him?
What do I want to do differently in my next relationship?
Dealing with the loss of a relationship is never easy. There are so many emotions at play and so much frustration from all the what-ifs.
At the end of the day, a breakup can make you feel stronger, but you have to put in the work into the recovery.
A lot of the work starts and ends with you. Focus on who you want to be in the future and not on how bitter you feel about the past.
That’s the best way to grow and learn from this. And good luck!