You had your life all planned out: the two of you happily ever after, right? Wrong. You had a rude awakening when your partner jumped ship, dumping the relationship and dashing your dreams. The future you expected was taken away within seconds and you’re lost, not knowing how to wrap your brain around the relationship death.
Breakups are hard, but it is even more devastating when you don’t want the breakup and had no idea it was coming your way. When the love you felt continues to be strong and all you want is to get back together, but your partner doesn’t want it, it’s truly heart breaking. You may feel a flood of emotions from rejection and heartache, to loneliness and rage. The emotional rollercoaster is devastating and it can feel as if the nightmare will never end.
Here is the big question: How do you cope with something you DO NOT AGREE with? The break up is something you probably won’t ever agree with it (similar to the death of a loved one), but you can move through the pain.
Here are a few tips on how to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and cope with a breakup.. when all you initially want is to get back together.
Getting closure is a must, especially if your partner vanished without any space for you to understand the breakup. Closure is similar to a book–chapters end and new chapters begin. Some characters stay throughout the book while others come and go. Find a way to say good-bye to the relationship by putting relationship items in a box, writing a goodbye letter, or examining how the breakup wasn’t what you deserved. You may never understand why he broke up with you, just like you might never understanding why a good person dies from cancer. It is what it is.
Grieve…at Your Own Pace
When a relationship dies people need to grieve in a healthy way, yet at their own pace. Sadness, anger, denial, bargaining and acceptance are all part of the grieving process. Your heart will need to grieve. At times, the emotions and memories may pop up suddenly at random moment sof the day. At these moments you may be able to remember, have a few good cries, and get back on track. Other times, it just isn’t an appropriate time. If not, pick a certain time during the day when you can properly grieve. Write down your emotions, get angry on the paper, and cry on a loved one’s shoulder. The more you deal with the emotions now, the quicker your heart will heal.
Replace Photos with Family and Friends
When you first break up, everywhere you look you’ll see the photos of the two of you happy and by each others’ side. Take down the relationship photos and begin putting up photos of supportive people you have in your life. Photos of family, friends, pets, or dreams will be better to look at than a constant reminder of what you lost.
The natural response after an unwanted breakup may be to hibernate and avoid social activities for a while. This response actually can cause the opposite effect that you hope for, and instead make the pain last longer. Don’t get me wrong, alone time is great when used in moderation. But our hard-wiring as humans is to be connected with others, so force yourself to go to a coffee shop or meet a friend for lunch.
Drinking may be a way to help distract you from negative thoughts, connect with others at the bar, or simply to “blow off some steam,” but often it can cause worse problems. Alcohol tends to magnify emotions, remove communication filters, and impact judgments. Even though alcohol may seem to make you feel better, it is a depressant. Lay off the booze to prevent hurting yourself further. It won’t fix things; it will only temporarily numb it and the issues at hand will return soon after.
Think About Your NEW Future
People in relationships tend to paint a picture of the future as a couple and when the relationship stops, the vision for your future might seem to die away. Create a new vision for YOU. Keep certain pieces from your old vision and reinvent the future. Re-evaluate where you are in life and determine if some of the plans you had still fit for you. Pull out a drawing board and paint your new life path. Evaluate your career, your hobbies, your friendships and your dreams. Create a vision board; include photos from magazines of your dreams, words describing your goals and past photos of you happy. The vision board will help you create a new vision for your future. Coping with the breakup doesn’t mean just “gettingthrough” — it means really LIVING.
Remember, you have CHOICE
Your partner, aka the dumper, had time to come to terms with his decision. He had a choice with how he needed to get closure. You didn’t get a choice in this process, but you do have choice in your life. Make choices for today by forcing yourself to go to the gym, be social, or go to work. Don’t let the breakup keep you down and make you feel as if you don’t have choices in your day. Coping with the loss requires you to remember that you have a choice in what you want to do with this negative energy. Either let it keep you down, or use it to pick yourself up and dust yourself off!
You may run into those annoying constant reminders of the relationship when you look around the town. Those memories won’t ever be deleted from your mind, but you can create new memories to replace the old memories. Surround yourself with new friends, new dinner dates, and trying new things around town.
The saying, “no pain, no gain” has true meaning when it comes to breakups. Use your pain of the breakup to help you grow and improve in your life. Either focus your energy at work, join in a new sport/activity, or deep clean your house. Gain from this experience by writing a list of what you learned from the relationship and how you’d like to better yourself for future relationships. Growing pains from a breakup may help you in the long run….you just can’t predict the future.
Take off the Glasses!
You might find that you have the “relationship glasses” on, where you are hyper aware of every happy couple. You feel yourself standing out as the ONLY single person, and you have blinders on to any happiness. The glasses only magnify your feelings of loss and prevent you from moving forward. Take off the glasses so you can see the entire picture, the good and bad.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653