Coping with the disappointment that comes when a relationship ends can result in disappointment or falling into depression. While disappointment is a difficult, but necessary part of life, depression is a serious illness that requires professional help to overcome. When a relationship ends, you may wonder if there is something wrong with you, or if you will ever find the right person. You cannot change the past but you can learn to cope with your feelings of disappointment so that you are mentally and emotionally prepared for the next relationship.
More Than Sadness
The first step in coping with the disappointment that comes when a relationship ends is to make sure that you are not depressed. In “Getting over Disappointment in a Relationship” on Oprah.com, Michael Miller, PhD points out that depression is significantly more severe than disappointment. Common signs of depression include a loss of hope, persistent sadness or emptiness, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, sleep difficulties, changes in appetite, and in serious cases, thoughts of suicide. If you are depressed, you may be unable to imagine a happier future and new relationships. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek help from a professional therapist.
In contrast, disappointment is a normal part of life. In fact, it helps you to grow and mature because it gives you a strong idea of what works in your life and what does not. Additionally, your disappointment can provide you with motivation to look for something bigger and better in the future. In “The Disorders of the Self and Their Treatment” in “The International Journal of Psychoanalysis,” Heinz Kohut and Ernest Wolf argue that as you experience small, manageable disappointments, you are more able to cope with bigger disappointments as they appear. Breaking up is difficult, but you will learn from it and move on. Though expect to feel a roller coaster of emotions, says David Sbarra and Robert Emery in a 2005 study in the journal “Personal Relationships.” This is a normal part of the grieving process.
Share Your Feelings
In “Coping with Disappointment” on PsychologyToday.com, F. Diane Barth, LCSW, points out that you should not go through a breakup alone. Instead, spend time with friends and family. Holding in pain can cause it come out in other, unintended ways, but being open about your feelings can be therapeutic and is necessary for healing. Your friends and family can probably help you to manage your feelings. If you are a more private person, you may find it helpful to journal or write a letter about your feelings.
Unless it is absolutely necessary, do not contact your ex. In fact, Sbarra and Emery found that people take longer to get over breakups if they do. It’s common to think about him, wonder how he is doing, and if he ended the relationship, think about what you could have done differently. Although some people find healing in understanding the other person’s point of view, in general, interactions will lead to more questions and frustration. The healthiest thing you can do is to move on and create new relationships and memories.
- Oprah.com: Getting Over Disappointment in a Relationship
- PsychologyToday.com: Coping With Disappointment
- The International Journal of Psychoanalysis: The Disorders of the Self and Their Treatment
- Personal Relationships: The Emotional Sequelae of Nonmarital Relationship Dissolution: Analysis of Change and Intraindividual Variability Over Time
Nina Edwards holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and has been writing about families and relationships since 2000. She has numerous publications in scholarly journals and often writes for relationship websites as well. Edwards is a university lecturer and practicing psychologist in New York City.