Coping with the Break-up of a Relationship


Dear Daughters,

Few things in life are as emotionally difficult to deal with as the breakup of a relationship. Whether someone has broken up with you, you ended the relationship or the decision was mutual, the aftermath can be equally challenging. Taking the time to grieve and recover properly and learning ways to manage your feelings can make all the difference. Today we’ll touch on a few things to consider and a few tips to try:

When You Want to End a Relationship

Sometimes it can be a relief coming to the realization that it is time to get out of a romance. However, for some, the decision is not so easy to reach. Only you can know when the time is right. In any scenario, you have invested time and emotional energy into this person, and if you have made up your mind to part ways, it is probably going to be difficult to say the words that signal “breakup” to your partner. If the person has meant something significant to you, then the job you have to do will not be easy on your emotions.

When it comes time to let the person know, it is best to plan ahead. Think carefully about how you want to approach the subject, communicate the message and end the relationship. Going into a break-up meeting without planning ahead can be disastrous, especially if the other person does not know it is coming. While you may be able to think of appropriate things to say spontaneously at your meeting, experts recommend devising an exit strategy in which you contemplate and rehearse what you would like to say prior to the date. Consider these tips:

  • Do your breaking up in person. Show your partner respect and dignity by meeting face to face with him or her. Using the phone, mail or e-mail to end your relationship is not fair to the other person and should not be attempted unless the person has violent tendencies or you believe a face-to-face meeting could be unsafe for you.
  • Choose a mutually agreeable time and place to meet. The locale should be a neutral, private location (again, unless there is potential for violent or threatening behavior, then it should be done in a public place) where you will both feel free to express your feelings. Avoid the urge to hint before your meeting that you want to break up with the person.
  • Decide about your future relationship ahead of time. Would you like to remain friends? Would you rather end it fully and not see each other any longer? Come to a decision.
  • Be honest, direct and mature. Announce the breakup early in the meeting. Do not delay or whitewash the issue. Get right to the heart of the matter. Express that you would like to end the relationship. Talk about the following things:
    • Why you want to end the relationship
    • Ways you have changed or new circumstances in your life that necessitate the breakup
    • The other person’s responsibility for the breakup, such as anything your partner did to make you want to end the relationship
    • Your responsibility in the breakup, such as things you could have done better or regrets you have
    • How long you have been feeling this way and why you chose to end the relationship now
    • The difficult feelings you and your partner are having
  • Prepare for your partner’s response. He or she may offer suggestions on how to make the relationship work better, make strong promises to you or launch an emotional attack. Brace yourself for any possibility and prepare a response.
  • Allow for an equal exchange. Your partner has a right to respond and express his or her feelings. You have a right to express your emotions, too, and to reply to your partner’s responses.

When Someone Has Broken Up with You

The news can be devastating when your significant other indicates that he or she wants to end your relationship. It is normal to feel rejected, vulnerable, inadequate, betrayed and, above all, hurt. The pain you experience will probably linger for several weeks or longer, depending on the duration of your romance. Some experts say that it can sometimes take up to half as long as the length of your relationship to recover from a breakup. During this challenging period, it is important to give yourself time to grieve. Everyone copes with grief in a different way. Typically, however, most people go through common stages of grieving in the following order:

  • Shock, denial and isolation. The usual feeling experienced is “This cannot be happening to me.”
  • Anger, rage, envy and resentment. The usual feeling experienced is “Why me?”
  • Bargaining. The usual feeling experienced is “I promise to try harder; so can we give it a second chance?”
  • Depression. The usual feeling experienced is “It is no use.”
  • Acceptance. The usual feeling experienced is “I acknowledge what has happened, and I can get through this.”

During the breakup, it is important to identify and acknowledge your feelings. Do not hold back what comes naturally, so long as it is a lawful, appropriate response that you will not regret later. If you feel like crying, let it out. If you have the urge to destroy pictures of your ex, act on it if it will make you feel better.

If you find yourself feeling desperate, such as the urge to attempt suicide, seek help immediately from family, friends, a doctor or by calling 911. Avoid the impulse to act inappropriately, such as lying to your ex to get him or her back, spying on or stalking your ex or repeatedly calling him or her despite the person’s request that you not. These activities not only do not work, but they can get you into serious difficulty with the law. Seek help and support if you feel emotionally overwhelmed. Talk to a professional therapist or counselor who can listen sensitively to your concerns and recommend coping strategies.

Also, make an attempt to understand your ex’s point of view. Acknowledge his or her feelings as genuine, and accept the fact that it is not your responsibility to make him or her happy any longer. The best thing you can do is to move on with a determined attitude to do those things that make you happy, which may include dating again when the time is right.

If you feel the relationship can be salvaged, discuss this possibility and your ideas with the other person. Be willing to sacrifice and compromise to make your relationship work again. Be aware, however, that your relationship may not be worth reviving. You or your ex-partner may have changed too much to be truly compatible again. Perhaps you have ignored the fact that the other person was simply not a right fit for you or that one of you just cannot meet the other person’s important needs, no matter how hard that person tries. If this is the case, the breakup was probably inevitable, and it is best to accept the reality of the situation: it is over, it is not the end of the world and it is time to move on and live your life.


Here are some Coping Tips that worked for me:

No matter who ended the relationships, there are things you can do to help ease the pain that sets in after a relationship ends. Try these suggestions:

  • Write down your feelings. Documenting your emotions in a private journal or letter can be a great relief. Write a letter expressing all the things you have wanted to say to your ex, but do not send it. Compose it for yourself to help bring a sense of closure to your emotional state.
  • Surround yourself with a support system. Talk to friends and ask them to help cheer you up and keep you occupied. Friends can usually work wonders at convincing you how wrong the other person was for you.
  • Delve into distractions. Get your mind off your problems and stop dwelling on the old relationship by keeping busy. Try a new sport, hobby or activity. Plan out your week ahead of time, and build in plenty of structured events and activities. Devote energies otherwise spent feeling sorry for yourself on productive, absorbing endeavors.
  • Avoid painful reminders. Do not wallow in your grief by listening to songs or looking at photos that remind you of your ex.
  • Meet new people. Try dating again after you have given yourself sufficient time to recover from the breakup blow. However, do not rush into a new romance until you first have worked those troubling feelings about your ex out of your system.

Ending  any relationship is tough, but is also a new beginning!

As always,

Love Mom



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