Breaking-up with someone is difficult. Whether you are the one doing the break-up, or having the breaking-up done to you it almost always feels awful regardless of the side you’re on.
No matter the circumstance for the break-up, there is almost always a period of time when we experience the loss of the relationship and it is incredibly painful—even if it was for the best.
Some of the hardest and most painful break-ups to get over are when we took a severe emotional blow and are struggling to understand and accept what has happened:
- it seemed to come out of nowhere
- the other person committed a betrayal of your trust
- it was just bad timing and you couldn’t get it to work
- the love was there, but you couldn’t communicate or bridge a gap to connect
- you are heading on different paths and no longer have the same long-term goals
It’s not just the loss of the person we are dealing with, but the dramatic change to our lives and what we have come to know as the norm.
Recovering can take a very long time and often have deep, lasting effects on us.
Just because you may or may not have parted on amicable terms doesn’t mean that it is easy to get over and move on.
When we commit to someone and bring them into our lives, they leave a mark.
Sharing ourselves and our lives with a person is no small feat, and when that person is no longer part of our lives, it is difficult to know what to do next.
Here are 5 ways to heal from a painful break-up:
1. Give yourself permission to feel your emotions.
Often, especially depending on the circumstance surrounding the break-up, we convince ourselves that we shouldn’t be sad/angry/upset/etc.
While the logical part of your brain might be right about that, it is important to give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling and not repress them.
If you try to push those emotions away and act like everything is fine, it will only get worse.
Those thoughts and emotions don’t just go away because we tell them to, they can only go away once we allow ourselves to feel them and process why we feel that way.
It’s important to note: feeling your emotions is not the same as expressing them.
If you’re angry because your former partner betrayed you or hurt you, it is fine to feel angry but don’t use that as an excuse to act out on your anger and be equally or more hurtful in return.
2. Focus on yourself.
When we are in a relationship, we form an identity with that other person as a couple.
That’s not to say you both have merged into a single person, but we often make compromises (good and bad) to find a mutual ground and with these compromises we can, over time, lose sight of a part of ourselves.
You need to take time and find your individual identity again—especially since it has probably changed with the experience of the relationship.
Maybe your former partner introduced you to something you really like now that you didn’t like before, or maybe you’ve spent so many nights watching their shows that you have a whole world of new ones you want to explore.
Focus on yourself and exploring your likes and dislikes and who you are now.
Build your individual identity again, and evaluate who the relationship has made you become and what you want to keep or change about yourself now that the relationship is over.
3. Reflect on the relationship.
This is a difficult task to undergo, but it will allow you the closure you seek as well as the valuable lessons to take away from the relationship so that you can learn and grow.
Reflection is different from obsessing.
At this point, you should be able to go back over major events in the relationship and track those events and what led to breaking-up.
This doesn’t mean assigning blame, but it does mean placing responsibility on both yourself and your partner for your individual choices.
Some break-up seem to come out of nowhere, but if you look back there were usually signs of drifting apart, or maybe you weren’t actually as happy as you told yourself you were.
Reflecting on the relationship is important for identifying why it didn’t work out and getting closure so you can move on.
4. Take responsibility.
Break-ups are painful and are hard on our emotions.
We can feel like we were disrespected, betrayed, hurt, abused, or our pride took a blow.
All of these nasty feelings can make us blame the other person or ourselves for why the relationship didn’t work out.
Blaming or shaming ourselves or our former partner only keeps these emotions fresh and doesn’t offer anything productive toward healing.
Instead of blaming or shaming, just accept responsibility.
It takes two people to make a relationship work—or fail.
Accept responsibility for your actions and choices, and give responsibility to your former partner for theirs.
Accepting responsibility is different from blaming because it allows you the opportunity to accept your mistakes and to recognize that they can’t be changed now, but you can do things differently in the future.
It also means you are only responsible for what you personally did, and you can’t blame yourself for the actions and choices of your former partner.
5. Give yourself time.
The old adage that “time heals all wounds” is very true.
While we would like to speed up the process and wake up the next morning with it all behind us, that isn’t how it works.
Give yourself time to heal and time to recover.
Don’t feel like something is wrong with you because you are still processing it three months or even a year later.
Everyone heals at different rates, and sometimes break-ups can bring past emotions or experiences we never fully overcame to the surface and we now have to deal with those, too.
Don’t rush yourself to move on, and don’t think that you are weak because it is taking longer than you’d like.
Slowly, as you reflect, spend time on yourself, and work through your emotions, it will get better and it will ease.
Eventually, there will be a morning when you wake up and the weight of your former relationship is gone—it just won’t be the day after, or even a week later.
Don’t give yourself a set timeline to recover, just let it happen naturally.
It won’t be as fast as you hope, but if you allow yourself the time and space you need it might happen faster than you think.