Handle a Breakup Without Breaking Down
The end of a romantic relationship is often a painful experience that can stir up a lot of challenging emotions. Sometimes, you may feel as if you are falling apart right along with the relationship. The bad news is that you are going to hurt for a little while. The good news is that this pain is only temporary, and if you harness it correctly, you can transform it from an obstacle into an opportunity for personal growth and development. Your breakup, however painful, is offering you a blank slate on which to reinvent yourself and paint a new and improved picture of what love should look like in your life.
Mourn the Relationship Loss
While the ultimate goal is to move on from the relationship that has ended, it’s unrealistic to think that you can simply snap your fingers and be over it. A broken relationship is a loss, and to properly heal, it should be mourned as such. Give yourself time and permission to grieve the relationship and its demise. It’s natural to feel sad, so cry if you feel like it. Your emotions are real, and the best way to process the breakup is to acknowledge your feelings and allow them to run their course. Denying or suppressing negative emotions only serves to prolong them unnecessarily.
You even may want to conduct a “relationship funeral.” When death claims someone we love, we use the funeral ritual to help us process our loss and move on without that person. It stands to reason that when the death of a relationship claims someone we love, we can use the same ritual to help us process the loss and move on without the person. Gather photos, letters and other mementos from the relationship, and either alone or with the company of trusted friends and family members, take some time to reflect on the relationship that has just ended. You could write a eulogy for the relationship and read it at the funeral. As you reflect, think of both the positive and negative aspects of the relationship and try to identify the lessons that you learned from the experience. At the end of the funeral, you can bury or burn the mementos as a symbol of release. On the surface, this might sound silly, but from a psychological standpoint, conducting a relationship funeral is an effective way to achieve a sense of closure about the relationship’s end.
Eliminate or Minimize Contact With Your Ex
Trying to remain friends with an ex after a painful breakup is only asking for trouble. It may be possible to rekindle a friendship with him in the future after you have both healed and moved on from the breakup, but for now, you need time and space away from each other. Obviously, it’s not realistic to eliminate contact if you have kids with your ex, but you can still promote healing by restricting all communication with him to be about the kids and nothing more. It also may be a good idea to temporarily deactivate your social media accounts or digitally remove your ex as a friend so that you won’t be tempted to torment yourself by seeing what he's up to.
Get Your Feelings Out
Whether you vent to trusted friends and family members, keep a private journal or seek help from a professional therapist, let your feelings out. Keeping emotions bottled up inside only results in their blowing up somewhere down the line and causing more damage than if you had allowed them to flow in the first place. It may feel uncomfortable or even painful at first, but you will feel better faster if you process your emotions rather than repress them.
Take Up a New Hobby
The wake of a breakup is the perfect time to try something new. Maybe you have always wanted to learn how to dance salsa or improve your culinary skills. Sign up for a pottery class, take a spinning class at the gym or join a local sports team. Trying something you've never done before will not help you learn new things, but also keep you busy in a productive way and may even help you meet new people with similar interests.
Dating as a Single Parent
Jumping back into the dating pool after a breakup or divorce might seem particularly daunting if you have children. The best way to navigate dating as a single parent is to keep your kids on a need-to-know basis when it comes to your love life. Let your kids know that you have a social life and will go out with your friends once in a while, but avoid giving them unnecessary details. Always tell any potential dates upfront that you have children and explain that you and your kids are a package deal. Don’t introduce dates to your kids unless you meet someone whom you really click with, a person who offers the potential for a serious relationship. Kids sometimes get territorial, so once you are ready to have your kids meet someone special, make sure the first meeting happens in a neutral location. Plan a fun activity outside of the house that you can all do together, such as going roller skating or the zoo.
- Relationships: How to Deal with a Break Up
- How to get over a break up and find love again
- Dealing with a Break Up or Divorce
- Dealing with Relationships Break-Ups
- Dating with Children: Feel the Guilt and Do It Anyway
- 6 tips for talking to your kids when you're a single parent dating
- The Relationship Funeral
Kristina Barroso earned a B.A. in Psychology from Florida International University. She is happily married, works full-time as a public school teacher and enjoys mothering her 5-year-old daughter and 14-year-old stepson. She has also fostered several children and loves writing about parenting, families, education and relationships on WorkingMother.com and TheClassroom.com.