Coping With A Break-Up

Having your heart broken is quite possibly one of the worst feelings in the world, something that many would never wish even on their worst enemy. No matter whose decision it is to break up, each party may experience a wide range of emotions and spend time wondering what to do with these emotions and how to figure out what comes next. The best thing to remember is that you are not alone in these feelings and that everyone processes these feelings in their own way and in their own time. It does not matter if you were with your previous partner for a month or a year or more, coping with a breakup can be a painful, confusing, and emotional time.

For many couples, there comes a time when one or both partners decide they are no longer happy with the status of their current relationship. If your partner is the one to decide a relationship is over, it is perfectly normal to feel as though your world is crashing down around you. It is even healthy, as Barton Goldsmith, PhD points out, to cry as much as you want. 1 Letting out the pain and grief is normal and often better than holding it in. Since every relationship is different, with its own set of memories, situations and dynamics, it is important to realize that every breakup is different as well. Some couples do end up getting back together. If this is the case for your relationship, it is wise to be sure the same problems or reasons for separating the first time do not interfere a second or in some cases third time. Here are a few helpful tips to get through what may seem like the hardest thing you have ever done.

Acknowledge and accept that the relationship has ended. There will be periods of sadness and mourning, which is normal. But you must accept that you may be in shock and expect nothing from yourself other than to keep breathing. 1 Do not ignore your pain; instead, let yourself feel it. It is wise to take a few days, or even weeks, to be sad and let yourself mourn the relationship, but this also requires acceptance of the reality of the situation.

Keep busy. Keep going to school or work and socializing with friends. Go on walks, listen to music, play games or watch movies. All of these things will help you get back into your normal routine. These things are best done once the initial phases of sadness are over. Going out may not seem appealing at first, but it will become more appealing than sitting in your room thinking about how hurt you feel. 2

Seek emotional support. Talk to friends, family, or other loved ones about how you are feeling. Oftentimes, they are able to relate. If you feel uncomfortable talking to friends or family, it may be wise to seek counseling or a therapist, as they are more equipped to handle your situation.

Keep distance from your ex. It is next to impossible to get over someone you see on a daily basis. A breakup can be even more painful when the partners have a few or many mutual friends. Often these friends may feel pressured to choose sides or try to stay out of the situation all-together. When your close friends have become your partners close friends, it is important to let them know you need time to heal from the breakup without seeing your ex or hearing about what they are doing. Being away from your ex is important in the early stages of a breakup because seeing them will usually only bring back feelings of sadness, regret, or confusion concerning the way things turned out. 2

Take your time. Getting over someone does not have a time limit or specific rules. It may take months to move on, or for some only a few weeks. Either way, do what works for you. Give yourself time to be sad, to be angry, and to wonder what could have been. All these thoughts and feelings are normal. Moving on takes time. One day, a person may simply wake up and feel completely over their breakup. If this day does not come as soon as you would like, remember that the more time that passes, the easier it gets.

Enjoy being single. After a breakup is the perfect time to focus on yourself and decide the things you truly want out of a relationships. 2 Being single might seem weird or even unappealing at first, especially when you see other couples together. But being single can be a pleasurable experience. There are many advantages of “flying solo.” It can make life simpler. Before you can commit to a healthy, long-lasting relationship, it is important to know yourself. Being single allows you to focus on and take better care of yourself. By spending time alone, you learn more about who you are and what you want, which will make it easier for you to choose a partner in the future who will be able to satisfy your needs. Furthermore, being single gives you a chance to meet someone who is better for you or explore the dating or hook-up scene. Howev er, be aware of rebounding. This involves getting involved with another partner quickly and often before you have had time to move on from the previous relationship. Rebounds are often short-term but may occasionally grow into a long-term, healthy relationship.

Another important thing to remember about breakups is they are valuable learning experiences. It is impossible to change the past, but it is entirely possible to learn from it. Dwelling on the past and rehashing the small details of what you could have done differently or said to your partner will only make things hurt worse and cause the healing process to take longer. Looking at past relationships is a great way to learn more about yourself and ensures that your future relationships will be better.



1. Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D. "Emotional Fitness: 10 Tips to Survive a Breakup" March 24, 2011

2. Hirsh, Delphine. The Girl's Guide to Surviving a Break up. Martin's Griffin, NY. 2003.


Updated March 8th, 2014