Change is always hard, particularly when it involves leaving a person that we care about and sometimes even love. Our romantic relationships often provide us with companionship, excitement, fun, affection and attention and then suddenly, all that is gone, with little notice. Often we did not even see the signs. So this is a hard one to absorb. We may feel shocked that we invested so much and did our best, only to receive such shabby treatment.
We need to remember that a very high number of dating relationships do end in a breakup of some kind, because you usually only choose one person to marry (this number also has to take into account people who choose to live together for life too).
So what follows are 10 tips on how to survive a breakup:
- REMEMBER YOU’RE NOT ALONE: I mean this in two ways. First, just because you do not have a boyfriend right now does not mean that you are alone in the world. Remember that a lot of people love you. Also, you are not the only one who has experienced a breakup and it does not mean that something is wrong with you. Breakups are a normal part of having relationships and they are something we need to learn how to work through.
- CLOSURE: Sometimes daters blow each other off without having a final conversation for closure. At least one partner feels confused about what happened in these instances and this can create baggage going forward. If possible, have a conversation letting the other person know the truth (in a kind way) about why the relationship needs to end. Let them know what you liked about them and what you have learned. If there is something really important that you were upset about, discuss that too. I know it’s hard but then it will be over and you can close that door without wondering about it in the future or needing to go back to that person to get complete. Also, do not leave your things there or leave the relationship open-ended. This is how singles fail to move on or end up going back and forth in something that is comfortable but is not working. Commit to getting clear about the status of your relationship and work on accepting it and walking your talk so that you can move on.
- CREATE DISTANCE: In order to have a real ending, there needs to be a period of distance to process this transition, mourn and move on. This also allows there to create a space in your life for a new romantic partner to fill, when you are ready. Often singles want to keep around their ex to fill the void and say they will remain friends. It may be possible to remain friends in the future but it is often good to take a break and let things settle for a while. Otherwise, seeing that person regularly may make it difficult to move on.
- VALIDATE YOURSELF: A breakup is a loss of attention, affection and love so it’s important to try and give yourself those things now. Spring for a massage if you can or buy yourself roses. Remind yourself of all the great things about you.
- GET SUPPORT: You cannot replace your ex but you also do not have to go through this period alone. Spend time with family and friends. They can listen, make you smile and help distract you. Being around other people who love you and aren’t going anywhere can help.
- LEARN THE LOVE LESSONS: Maybe this one can take a few weeks but it can help you master a situation to take stock and learn from it. So look at your relationship with some perspective and see what relationship wisdom you can take with you for future romances. Pain is more meaningful when we can learn something of value from it. Perhaps you can glean something important about yourself and understand something new about the opposite sex from how your ex behaved.
- MOURN: It is important to let yourself cry if you need to so those feelings do not get stuck in your body. A breakup is a loss and an ending so it is appropriate to feel sad. Do not berate yourself for having feelings. This just means that you have a tender heart and you need to express yourself for a while, in order to heal.
- KEEP BUSY: This one is not a rule but it can be helpful. If you are anxious sometimes it helps to have a positive structure to focus on for a while. If you know that today you are going to work and then yoga, you can refocus on this schedule instead of obsessing about your ex and speed dialing him to hang up or visiting his Facebook page to snoop on his current activities. Giving yourself constructive things to do can be the glue that holds you together in the short-term wake of the break-up.
- VISUALIZE THE FUTURE: Use your positive imagination to visualize a wonderful future, every day. Remind yourself that in the book of your life, this is one chapter, not the whole thing. As the writer, you can create whatever you want next. You can create an even better romance or a trip with yourself now that you have more freedom and time for self-reflection. Make the most of the present and future by thinking positive and choosing an image of what you will create next.
- TALK BACK TO YOUR GREMLIN: I call that negative voice in your head your gremlin. Your gremlin will inevitably kick you when you’re down, saying things like, ‘He left you because you deserve it’ or ‘all guys will probably leave you.’ The truth is that you would NEVER speak to a friend this way; you’d be far more loving and compassionate. So, learn to challenge your Gremlin, saying things like, ‘The right guy will stick around’ or ‘I am a wonderful person and everyone experiences breakups because it is a normal part of having relationships.’ Do not reject yourself in the process. Take this opportunity to reaffirm your worth as a partner and person.
You will get through this experience and continue to love in your life. I wish you much courage and insight as you go through this transition.