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How to Survive a Breakup

couple in breakup modeThe end of a relationship is one of the more painful and stressful things people experience. As a culture, we have no clear-cut rituals for ending relationships or saying goodbye to significant others. We are often unprepared for the feelings we experience in the process. Sometimes, the emotions that come up after a breakup can catch us off-guard and affect our functioning at school, work, and in other relationships. 

Some of the common reactions people can have after a breakup are:

  • Denial. You can't believe that this is happening to you and that the relationship is over.
  • Anger. You are angry and often enraged at our partner or lover for shaking our world to its core.
  • Fear. You are frightened by the intensity of your feelings, scared that you may never love or be loved again, or even that you may not survive the loss.
  • Self-blame. You may blame yourself for what went wrong. You might replay the break-up or relationship over and over in your mind, and second guess your words and actions.
  • Sadness.  You will probably cry, sometimes for what seems an eternity. You may find yourself crying for no reason sometimes, or at the slightest provocation.  This is a natural response to a loss.
  • Guilt.  You might feel guilty, particularly if you were the one to end the relationship. You don't want to hurt our partner, yet you don't want to stay in a relationship that isn't working anymore.
  • Disorientation and confusion.  You may not feel as if you know who or where you are anymore. You might feel like your familiar world has been shattered, and you've lost our bearings. One of the major life anchors is gone and it's hard to find meaning in life.
  • Bargaining.  You may find yourself pleading with your partner for another chance.

While some of these feelings may seem overwhelming, they are all normal reactions. They are necessary to the process of healing, and will allow you to eventually move on and engage in other relationships. Be patient with yourself.  Here are some tips for surviving your breakup:

  • Allow yourself to feel the sadness, anger, fear, and pain associated with an ending. Denying those feelings or keeping them inside will only prolong them.
  • Recognize that guilt, self blame, and bargaining are our defenses against feeling out of control. But there are some endings we can't control, because we can't control other's behavior.
  • Give yourself time to heal, and be kind to yourself for the duration: pamper yourself, ask for support from others, and allow yourself new experiences and friends.
  • Talk it over with someone. This can often give us perspective. If you feel stuck in a pattern and unable to change it, talking to a professional counselor may help.

If you would like to talk over your feelings with a counselor, contact Hall Health Mental Health Clinic

 

Authored by: Hall Health Center Mental Health Clinic staff

Reviewed by: Hall Health Center Mental Health Clinic staff, January 2014