Without a doubt, breakups are one of the most painful experiences we go through as humans, and many of us are lost in knowing how to deal with breakup pain.
Whether you saw it coming or it blindsided you, whether the choice was yours or theirs, and whether the relationship was healthy or dysfunctional, disconnecting from someone who you let yourself love and trust is a deeply painful experience.
In the midst of the emotions you will experience in the aftermath, it is important to remember to give yourself time and space as you navigate how to deal with breakup pain. Healing is a process with many ups and downs along the way.
This post is dedicated to those trying to learn how to cope with a breakup and how to deal with breakup pain, offering emotional support and practical tips as you take on this transformative part of your life.
How to deal with breakup pain
Feeling lost in how to deal with a painful breakup? Here are our best tips.
This process is not linear and takes time, so work through all of these areas at your own pace, in an order that works for you.
Allow yourself to grieve
Coping with a breakup is painful for many reasons. You are losing the person that you once shared everything with. You also lose a vision for your shared future and all it held.
As you navigate how to deal with breakup pain, it’s normal to feel a range of emotions- sadness, anger, confusion, and maybe even relief. Give yourself space to allow all these emotions to come up.
Listen to music that resonates with what you are going through. Grab a pen and journal about what comes up as you reflect on the relationship. Take some space for yourself to really experience the complex emotions as they come up.
This part of the process cannot be skipped- you can be proactive and do it now, or you can watch the way unprocessed emotions manifest in unwanted ways in your next relationship.
Take care of your mind, body, and spirit
When you breakup with a partner, you are once again left with you. The breakup may have taken a toll on your thoughts, your energy levels in your body, and your connection to your own spirit.
A breakup can present an opportunity to refocus on caring for yourself. Do this in ways that work for you.
Move your body, spend time outside, get enough sleep, drink a lot of water. Spend some money on yourself that you wouldn’t normally- get a massage, sign up for a yoga class- get out of your day to day in ways that you care for you.
Lean on others
Dealing with breakups can be challenging because of the isolation factor. Your go-to person to share work updates, family conflict, or inside jokes is all of the sudden a person that you need to develop new boundaries with.
Surround yourself with friends or family members who know you and care about you. Share with them about your life, and allow them to offer you support and reassurance that you are not alone.
This can also be a really beautiful time to meet new people. Go to the happy hour, sign up for the intramural team, and get yourself out there in ways you haven’t been because you’ve been in a relationship. There are tons of amazing, supportive people in our world that you haven’t even met yet, and who could be a part of your next chapter.
Don’t communicate with your ex
This is a tough one, and different people have different takes. As a therapist, my view is that you should set clear boundaries with your ex as you prioritize your own healing process and figure out how to deal with breakup pain.
This usually means limiting or discontinuing communication with this person (which is what I recommend). Talking to your ex and leaning on them for emotional support will be very confusing for you in the long run.
A breakup is also an opportunity to heal your heart for yourself. This means looking inward and doing the hard work. If you keep leaning on your ex, you are avoiding dealing with the pain that they are not your person, and this avoidance will only hurt you and your future relationships in the long run.
In the same way, you don’t want your partner to be leaning on you for emotional support during this time. You may still love them, and it may feel hard to not be there for them during this grief period. However, the more loving action is to hold the boundary, because if you try and support them, you are preventing them from greiving and letting go of you, too. Their work is to heal and find support in their own way, and that does not have anything to do with you.
Reach out for further support
Learning how to deal with breakup pain is hard for so many reasons. You have to learn how to live without a person you shared your heart, your body, and your life with. You have to create new rituals. And you have to get comfortable being in your own company again. All of this work, detaching from a person that you love, is incredibly painful.
A therapist that specializes in relationships and life transitions can help you in so many ways:
- Processing the breakup pain you are experiencing and guide you in how to process a break up
- Reflection on the patterns of the relationship- those that were helpful and those you’d like to leave behind
- Create a narrative for the meaning of the relationship more broadly in your life
- Get clear on your own individual values and goals
- Manage discomfort with being alone
- Create strategies to make decisions aligned with your newly defined values
- Work through any places you get stuck mentally or emotionally in this work
- How to develop a secure attachment with yourself that will become the foundation of all your relationships
This is a complex process and professional, neutral support can help you to make sure you are properly healing so that you do not carry forward unprocessed emotions into your next relationship.
Rediscover yourself and embrace all that is coming
As you get through the pain of the relationship, you will slowly start to see this breakup as an opportunity for self discovery. Reconnect with activities, interests, and passions that you love to give your time that may have taken a backseat during your relationship.
Explore new hobbies, and set new goals for yourself. Figure out what makes you feel happy, alive, and fulfilled, and follow those things.
It can be impossible to remember when you are in the thick of a breakup, but you will survive this journey. Your life will move forward in new ways you could have never imagined. Keep your heard and mind open to new opportunities, people, and changes.
Allow the end of this chapter to be the start of a new one.
More resources to support you in coping with a breakup
As you process and learn to deal with breakup pain and heal, this time can be a wonderful opportunity to learn more about yourself and your tendencies in relationships.
Discovering your own attachment style can be a great place to start and can help you connect the dots on why your relationship didn’t work out, and what to look for in the next one.
Check out this blog post for a guide of attachment theory overall. We’ve also created a free attachment style assessment you can take to figure out where you land and how to use this information moving forward.
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