You’re going through a bad breakup – that’s so tough! I’m assuming that your partner has told you they no longer love you. You’ve been dumped, or otherwise told your relationship or marriage is over. And it hurts!
All kinds of things could have led to the breakup – a slow decline, the discovery of infidelity, an obsessive love, an abusive relationship, etc.
Regardless of the reason, I’m willing to bet that breaking up has been a nightmare.
What makes for a bad breakup?
I suspect you’re dealing with any of the following…
- Your (ex)partner has ‘suddenly’ changed and has become nothing short of abusive;
- One of you was unable to accept the ending;
- Your (ex)partner suddenly disappeared;
- Your (ex)partner has stopped all contact;
- Your (ex)partner was/is stalking you after the breakup;
- Your (ex)partner has threatened to harm you, him/herself or your children (see my article: Signs of an abusive relationship);
- Your (ex)partner is in another relationship already and perhaps moved in with that person straight away (see my article: Surviving infidelity);
- You just hadn’t seen the breakup coming;
- You were in the midst of planning your wedding.
I could go on and on because I can’t tell you how many different scenarios I’ve come across in my counselling room. Of course it matters to you how it happened, and your pain will be very real too.
However, regardless of the precise circumstances of the ending your relationship or marriage, my advice is going to be the same.
I can imagine that you’ve had many a sleepless night lately. If the ending came out of the blue, doubtless you’ve felt like screaming that your partner must have got it wrong somehow.
And now you’re in pain, I know. Just hang on in there – I’m aiming to help you get over the shock of that ending with tons of tips and advice.
This article will be particularly useful for you if the breakup happened in the last 3 weeks. But whenever your relationship ended, I hope you’ll still find nuggets of tips and advice here to help you recover sooner too.
Let’s start by ‘normalising’ your feelings so that you know…
- that you’re not the only one
- that your reactions are normal
- what you can expect of yourself, and
- what to do today
First week after the breakup
See how many of the following you recognise…
It’s not surprising then if you’ve completely turned into yourself, become a total grouch, have no patience and don’t even recognise yourself.
Further coping strategies…
Week 2 following the end of your relationship
You may be very tempted to ignore the following, I suspect. But, I promise you, you’ll be so relieved once you’ve faced this potentially challenging bit of work head-on. Get a friend to help and encourage you and keep you to the task.
Tell family and friends
You step out of the door, knowing your life won’t be the same again. Yet, everybody else will continue more or less as if nothing has happened. There’s this gaping hole in your life, but too often it’ll only be acknowledged in passing.
Yet, you’re going to need all the support you can get from the right people.
Consider, therefore, as soon as possible who you’re going to tell and precisely what you want to say to them.
Sort your social life
No doubt you’ve made joint friends. You may have grown close to some of them, and perhaps some of your ex’s family. You may have things in your diary – holidays, celebrations, special days, etc.
It’ll help you get that sorted by cancelling the ones you really don’t want to attend in the next 6 weeks at least. Write a note of the cancellations, and let someone help you if necessary. Don’t leave it, do it now. You’ll feel better when it’s done and not hanging over you like a dark cloud anymore.
2 – 4 Weeks post-breakup – reclaim your living space
If you’re able to remain living in the same flat or house, change it up a little! Don’t live in a space you feel your partner abandoned, even if it’s just for a short while because you know you’ll be moving out anyway. Get cracking! Some people in your situation feel terribly out of control of everything now that their world has turned upside down. If that’s the same for you, you desperately need to create some sense of order again to help you feel safe in your own surroundings.
The following tasks are to be done only when you’re ready. That’s when the first wave of shock has worn off and you know the breakup is permanent.
None of this is going to ‘cure’ you, of course. It would be unrealistic to expect that. However, each and every small step you take is a step towards a new future.
There may be times you need some extra help though…
When it’s time to get some professional help
There’s no shame in needing some extra help to get over something so life-changing as a (bad) breakup.
I would urge you not to delay getting help when you’re going through any of the following:
Seeking professional help for any of the above reasons will give you the courage you need to start taking control of your life again. With support, there’s no reason you can’t overcome the difficulties that right now seem so insurmountable.
Always remember: there’s no shame in asking for help. In many ways (although I know this may need a leap of faith to believe!) it’s something to be proud of, because it means you’re actively taking charge of your own recovery.
In any case, I want to leave you with some way of starting your recovery now, so I’ve prepared this printable worksheet for you…
Getting over a bad breakup is hard. However difficult and however much you’d want to avoid it – pain is part of living. Adversity presents us with the opportunity to get to know ourselves better and shape who we are.
I wish I could take the pain away for you, though. But, I know you’ve got the strength to repair yourself!
Be kind to yourself, and let time work its wonderful healing magic. Take a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other, and take everything one day at a time.
You too have the potential to work towards a happy and fulfilling future. 🙂
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