The devastation of having a romantic relationship come to an end – especially if you feel the choice was not yours – can be heart-wrenching. Longer relationships may leave you with a feeling of emptiness as a former lover might have been part of your daily rituals. If your partnership was shorter, but intense and meaningful, you may have lost of a sense of hope in relationships all-around.
With marriages happening later and later and digital dating driving much of today's match-making, navigating courtship again after a breakup can be more confusing and daunting than ever. Yet, the bigger issue with jumping back into the dating game is doing so before sufficient healing has occurred. Below you’ll find Center for Shared Insight’s four essential aspects of the break-up healing process.
When working through the feelings of a break-up, it’s easy to replay the relationship dynamics in your head and question what you did wrong. Self-blame and criticism are common feelings in the early stages of a break-up. During these times, it’s helpful to trust that the relationship unfolded in exactly the way it should have and that everything happens with a purpose–to teach you something about your partner, yourself and/or relationships. Although easier said than done, surrendering any small or big mistakes you might have made during the partnership is essential.
Because you are saying goodbye to someone you cared about deeply, it might be far easier for you to forgive he or she, than yourself. Understand that this is a common experience and work to make peace with your lessons and learning in the relationship. This healing is an exercise in self-love. Spending time talking with a experienced therapist to help you identify obstacles or patterns in your relationship dynamics can not only support your journey towards healing and greater self-love, it can better prepare you for future partnerships.
Beating yourself up or a lack of forgiveness is often coupled by feelings of regret. Regret is a dissatisfaction with the past or non-acceptance of what has occurred. Living with the feeling that you had the ability to save, improve, or change the outcome of your relationship, but didn’t do so in the moment, is a painful reality and often prolongs healing. Practicing acceptance of what is, and living in the present in general, is a way to overcome this reality. Focusing on the lessons, learning, and growth provided by a relationship is a good step in the right direction.
Fall in Love with Yourself
Sometimes, a partner can fill a void in your life. This void could be loneliness or avoidance of something, or a wholeness that is only felt in a romantic relationship. Although this sense of completeness feels wonderful, especially in the early stages of a partnership, it can be dangerous and serve as the foundation of feelings of depression following a partnership. When you feel a gaping hole or deep sense of emptiness after a romantic relationship, you probably lost yourself in your lover.
Part of sufficient closure is to learn to love your own life, find new interests, and seek a deep sense of satisfaction independent of a romantic relationship Only by feeling content with your life outside of an exclusive relationship, and taking care of yourself mind, body, and spirit will you really fall in love for the right reasons and have more to give your future partner. Without using a relationship to fill an emotional gap, you can reduce unhealthy co-dependencies and establish secure partnerships with healthy boundaries.
Feel it All
It might be your tendency during a break-up to try and move on and feel better as fast as possible. You may look for ways to get rid of pain including overindulging in food, exercise, alcohol, sex, dating (e.g., dating apps can provide immediate, but short-lived validation), or engaging in other coping mechanisms. These behaviors are ways to numb or cope with the uncomfortable feelings of loss, regret, sadness, disappointment, defeat, and a whole host of other emotions.
Instead of stuffing emotions that will inevitably resurface during your next relationship, identify and allow yourself to feel. Admitting your feelings aloud to a trusted friend might be a first step in really working through them. Allowing yourself to cry, scream, be angry, or question are normal and important parts of the healing process. This is a great time to write in a journal, be creative, or even work with a therapist to channel your feelings into productive, healthy healing exercises.
Incomplete healing can be a culprit for future relationship challenges and achieving personal goals and dreams. At Center for Shared Insight, we believe that no one is alone in processing complex emotions. It’s part of our very mission to share insights from our work as professionals to help the healing of all. If you’d like to learn how therapy can expedite overcoming the complex emotions of a break-up, contact us for a free consultation.