Breaking up with a partner can feel like your heart is shattering into pieces. It’s often a confusing time, full of conflicting emotions, as it can be hard to make sense of what has just happened when you go through a relationship breakup. One minute, you knew without a doubt that you’d be together forever, and the next minute, your future as a couple is over.
But there are things you can do to ease the pain, heal, and come out stronger on the other side. In this blog post, we look at why breakups are so hard and what steps you can take to cope.
Why relationship breakups hurt so much
Breakups are so painful because we have evolved to seek belonging. We have a natural instinct to want to be part of something larger than ourselves, like a family, community, or tribe.
Historically, we were more likely to survive if we were part of a group rather than individuals fending for ourselves. And this still holds true today to some extent. As a result, we’ve evolved with an innate desire for human connection. When we break up with someone, it feels deeply uncomfortable because we have been programmed over the course of thousands of years to value belonging.
The pain is often amplified when we are the one who is being rejected. Essentially, being rejected shakes our sense of acceptance, security, and safety. The good news is that rejection nowadays isn’t life-threatening. It can feel like it is, but in reality, your safety isn’t at risk because someone said ‘no’ to you.
Relationship breakups can be just as tough when you’re the one ending the relationship. A sense of loss, sadness, and heartache often comes with a breakup, no matter who initiated it. During a breakup, you both mourn the loss of the bond that you shared and your hopes for the future.
When you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s common to think it will last forever. So it can be a shock when it ends.
If you had a healthy relationship with your ex, you may have cared deeply for them at the point of the breakup. This can bring its own set of complex emotions.
If you’re the one breaking it off, you can feel like you failed them. This guilt can be hard to deal with, but remember that breaking up is sometimes necessary to prioritize your own long-term happiness.
5 tips to help ease the pain of a relationship breakup
Here are the most important points to remember when you are mourning a relationship breakup.
1. Take time to reflect.
There are always learnings you can take from a relationship. This isn’t about pointing fingers, be it at yourself or your partner. Rather, it’s about taking a step back and thinking about what you would do differently next time. This can help you to avoid making the same mistakes in future relationships.
Even though breakups can be tough, they can have positive outcomes if you take the opportunity to work on yourself. Every challenging experience in life has the potential to help you grow and mature as a person if you choose to use it that way.
2. Allow yourself to heal in your own way and timeline.
Just like with any other loss, it’s important to give yourself time to grieve after a relationship breakup. This doesn’t mean that you should wallow in your sorrows for months on end and completely shut yourself off from the rest of the world. But you should allow yourself to feel the pain and heartache that comes with a failed relationship.
Talking to family and friends is important at times like this to help you avoid bottling up your feelings. Men are more likely to try to move on quickly from a breakup rather than take the time to embrace their emotions. Repressing your emotions might make you feel better in the short term, but it can lead to long-term issues, both mentally and physically.
3. Pursue your passions.
After a relationship breakup, you might find that you have more time on your hands. Use this opportunity to pursue your passions and do the things that you love. This can help take your mind off your ex and the relationship. But even more importantly, it’s a great way to find joy in life and explore different parts of yourself.
Not only will you grow as a person and be in a better place, but after a while, you might even find that you’re happier without your ex. Doing things that you are passionate about can help to give you perspective and remind you that there are many other things that can make you happy.
4. Don’t ask ‘what if’.
Avoid dwelling on the past. Instead, focus on the present and future. After a breakup, you might find yourself spending significant amounts of time thinking about what went wrong and how you could have done things differently. While it’s important to reflect and take these learnings forward, you can’t turn back the clock, and no good can come from obsessing over what could have been.
If you find yourself constantly asking ‘what if,’ try to reframe your thoughts and focus on what you are currently grateful for in life, as well as the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. Even consciously reminding yourself that there’s no good that can come from ruminating on the past can help.
5. Be clear about your boundaries with your ex.
Every relationship breakup is different, and there’s no right or wrong in terms of how much contact you should have with your ex. You should, however, be clear about your boundaries and what you’re comfortable with in terms of communication and interaction. If you’re not ready to talk to your ex, let them know that you need some space and time.
Similarly, if you find yourself getting too emotionally attached, it might be best to limit your contact or even go completely no-contact. The most important point is that you do what is right for you long-term, not just in the moment. Breakups often require self-restraint, and a text at 2am when you’re missing them might give you a quick hit, but it can make it harder to move on.
5 harmful misconceptions about relationship breakups
Here are some of the most harmful yet common misconceptions about getting over a relationship breakup.
1. The pain depends on how long you were together.
One of the most common misconceptions is that the pain of the breakup is directly linked to the amount of time you were together. While this can be true on some level, the amount of pain you feel after a breakup is more closely associated with how much you invested in that person, the strength of your connection, and the extent to which you imagined a future with them.
The duration of your relationship isn’t the key factor in determining how much pain you feel. You see some relationship breakups where a couple has been together for years, but their connection has gradually faded, so it isn’t as devastating as might be expected. On the flip side, it’s not uncommon to see couples who have only been together for a few months, but the breakup is still difficult to get over because their connection was incredibly strong.
2. You should keep yourself as busy as possible.
It’s often thought that you should keep yourself as busy as possible to distract yourself from the pain of the breakup. While spending more time doing activities you enjoy is an important part of the healing process, it’s important to also allow yourself time to grieve, process your emotions, and make sense of what happened.
Bottling up your feelings or trying to move on quickly might be a quick, short-term fix, but it will come back to bite you. At the same time, you don’t want to wallow in your grief because that also makes it hard to move forward in the best possible way. It’s a fine balance between embracing your emotions and not letting them take over your life.
3. You will feel consistently better.
A common misconception about relationship breakups is that the healing process is linear, meaning that it progresses in a straight line from pain to acceptance. In reality, the healing process is much more complex and cyclical. You might experience periods where you feel fine, and then all of a sudden, you’re hit with a wave of sadness or regret.
It’s important to know that the healing process isn’t linear. If you don’t keep this in mind, you can go from feeling relieved that you are finally feeling like yourself again to feeling shocked that you’re going backward. It’s perfectly normal to experience this kind of back-and-forth, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it happens. Each step of the process is necessary.
4. Google will tell you how long it will take to feel better.
Sometimes, it may feel like the heartache of your breakup won’t ever go away, and you spend hours on Google trying to figure out how long it will take for you to heal. Unfortunately, there is no set time frame for getting over a breakup, and the healing process looks different for everyone.
In reality, the time it takes to feel better is different for everyone. It depends on you as an individual, the nature of the relationship, and the circumstances in which you broke up. It’s important to be patient with yourself and to understand that healing isn’t something you can rush. Don’t be tempted to compare yourself with others. This will only make you feel worse. Instead, focus on giving yourself the time and space to heal in your own way. There is no “right” or “wrong” timeline when it comes to relationship breakups. If you try to rush the process, you won’t be doing yourself any favors.
5. You need to get under someone to get over someone.
A common misconception about breakups is that hookups can help you to move on. While it might provide a temporary distraction and a physical release, it rarely helps you feel better on a fundamental level. Shifting your focus to someone new can make it harder to process the emotions associated with the breakup.
It can also negatively impact your self-esteem. If you’re trying to use another person as a distraction, you might end up feeling more hurt. When you hook up with someone after a breakup, it might provide temporary feelings of validation. But it won’t make you feel more secure in the long run. In fact, you can actually end up feeling lonelier the next day.
Processing a breakup in your own way
The importance of a support network during a breakup varies from person to person. Some people might find it beneficial to talk to family and friends about their breakups, while others might prefer to keep things private.
Additionally, we all have different grieving timelines, which means everyone needs different types of support at different stages.
For example, one person might want to talk things through with their friends straight away and then take some time for themselves to process the information.
Other people might prefer to keep their emotions to themselves for some time while they are coming to terms with the breakup before seeking out support from family and friends.
In general, women rely more heavily on their support networks than men during breakups.
Even if you aren’t the kind of person who openly talks about their feelings, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to go through it alone. Your network of family and friends can provide emotional support, understanding, and advice during a difficult time.
Those close to you can also provide practical help to make the transition easier, such as helping you find a new place to live or inviting you over for dinner.
Therapy after a breakup
When deciding whether to seek professional help after a breakup, you should first determine what it is you are truly looking for. If your goal is to get your ex back, therapy is probably not the best option. However, if you need help processing your emotions and coming to terms with the breakup, then therapy can be a great resource.
You should also consider how your emotions are impacting your daily life. If they are interfering with your ability to function, then it can be a good idea to look for professional help.
Other signs that you should go to therapy are if you feel overwhelmed, have difficulty sleeping, or find yourself in a cycle of negative thoughts. If you’ve tried self-help and are still struggling, therapy can offer a different kind of support.
Professional help can provide a safe and structured space for you to process your emotions. Talking to a therapist can also help you make sense of what happened, gain perspective on the situation, and learn how to cope with negative feelings.
If you feel like you can’t go on or you’re contemplating suicide, then you should seek help right away. If you’re unsure where to start, reach out to a friend or family member who can connect you with a therapist or another mental health professional.
Alternatively, there are crisis lifelines that you can call to talk to someone immediately. No matter how difficult your breakup is, help is available.
Final thoughts on how to deal with a relationship breakup
Breakups can be devastating and can cause a range of intense emotions, from shock and sadness to despair and anger. But it’s important to remember that breakups don’t have to define you or your life.
You can get through this difficult time and come out the other side feeling stronger and more resilient. Be kind to yourself and have faith that things will get better in time.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like our blog about the Benefits of Solo Dating, Everything You Need to Know About Rebound Relationships, and Where to Breakup With Someone.