A bad break-up


Well, for a start, let’s get real: there is no such thing as a “good” one.  Even if it is for the best  –  it is never nice and easy.

You have had a relationship. You have had hopes. You have lost a companion, a lover, a reason for living. Often, you have also suffered financially, your mutual friends may no longer be there, and you may have to find somewhere else to live.  Life does not stop, and much as people around you will empathise and be willing to support you for a while, some will get bored with your wining and moping about. It is your stuff, not theirs, and at the end of the day, you are the one left to deal with it.

Sounds bleak?

Sadly – it may be, for a while.

A  month, six, even a year – depending on how long you have been in the relationship, and on what you feel you have lost. But it also depends on how you go about getting over it.

Here are some of the worst things that your well-meaning friends might say:

                1.  We never liked him/her anyway.

                2.  You will meet someone else.

                3.  Plenty of fish in the sea

                4.  I know this lovely person – I’ll bet you will be perfect for each other.

                5.  It is time you moved on.


And some of the best things that you may need to hear:

1.       Cry if you need to, and as much as you want to.

2.       It hurts like hell, and I understand.

3.       Call me even in the middle of the night, and I will be here for you.

4.       I will call in “sick” for you, and stay around to mop up your tears.

5.       It hurts, but It will pass.

You will feel lonely and upset, and maybe angry and bitter. Depending on whether you are “the dumper” or “the dumpee”, you may feel guilty, think that you have wasted time, compromised your integrity, have been taken for a ride, have been blind/stupid/weak/cruel.  The truth is, you are human and this pain is part of the journey through life – you will survive it, learn from it, and in time, leave it behind.

We have all been there and most of us have come through in one piece – and you are no different. In the end, the pain will lessen, other things and people will come into your life, and you will have your life back again. Good times may not last forever, but luckily the same is true of the bad ones.

It is easy to lose yourself in another person and therefore lose part of our identity. So, remember who you are.  And who you used to be before your  “significant other” came onto the scene. Talk to someone – a friend you trust not to judge you, or a professional , who won’t.  Is there anything at all that makes you feel even slightly less bad at the moment, however trivial?  Look for any comforts on offer, be kind to yourself, do things that make you feel temporarily better.  They will be hard to find, but you might as well try – after all, the loss of your relationship has at least left you with some free time!

Some basic survival techniques (and I am sure you can add your own):

-Take time out if you need to. Go off sick if necessary – a broken heart is a legitimate health condition! You may need to decide what you tell your workplace and be somewhat creative with the reasons, but you must come first and give yourself space to recover. Do not feel guilty – guilt is a useless emotion and does nothing but wastes the time which you could use so much better.

-Do what you have to do, and don’t blame yourself.  You are under enough pressure already, don’t add to it. Some people go and get blind drunk. Some withdraw and ignore friends. Some end up having meaningless sex with people they don’t care about. This is unlikely to move you forward emotionally, but it will kill some time and the more time passes, the easier it gets to cope.

-Use humour.  I know a woman who in a moment of madness shredded her philandering boyfriend’s expensive suits he unwisely left behind. A little later, she invited her friends over for a fashion show. They all dressed up in the desiccated Armani remains and roared with laughter as they took turns parading up and down the imaginary “catwalk” in outfits with missing arms and legs.  Note that I can’t possibly recommend such course of action – it is technically criminal damage  –  but then, who am I to judge?

-Be creative. Write a story, draw, paint, compose a song, a poem, make something, bake something,  fix something broken, redecorate your house (if at that stage you still have one) – it will help you express how you feel, and you will have something to show for it at the end of the day.

-If you have been hurt and positively crave revenge, be careful not to land yourself in trouble.  Don’t do anything illegal, as the consequences will outlast the satisfaction.  Having said that, there are many books and websites dedicated to the art of revenge, and sometimes it helps just to take delight in the vast possibilities, without having to actually do anything.

-If you are still in touch with your ex and your heart aches every time they phone you, try changing their name in your contacts list to something that will help put your feelings into a bit of perspective…  Wan*er or “Toxic Waste” works for me but by all means find your own expletives depending on how angry or hurt you still are. Remember, it is your phone and you can be as creative as you like! Childish, I know, but if it helps – who cares?

Now, seriously: apart from the distractions, you will also need to find a way to channel your pain, anger or fear.  

Take stock: what are the things that are still good in your life and what can you still be in control of? This could be work, friendships, hobbies, changing the way you look and dress, celebrating the way you look and dress  – be very careful not to land yourself with a really bad haircut though.

Sometimes, you will just need to be. This could mean time by yourself, simply coming to terms with your feelings and accepting that things have changed. A trusted friend or family member may provide a soundboard and reassurance. If, or best  BEFORE you are feeling so bad that you literally can’t function, it may be time to seek professional support from your GP or a counsellor. Research shows that often a combination of medication and therapy works best. Sometimes a few sessions with a counsellor will help with no need for anti-depressants – but the same is rarely true the other way around.

Are finances a problem? You would be surprised by how much you can reduce your expenses if you look over your spending. Change brands you buy, cut down bills by changing providers, move your debts to 0% interest accounts. Websitesites like “MoneySavingExpert” or “Consumer Credit Counselling Service” will be useful to check out. This may be initially hard work, but it will make you feel safer in a longer term.

You may benefit from a change of environment, so go away for a bit – even if it is down the road to a friend’s place. On the other hand, you may welcome the opportunity to enjoy your own company and use the space you now have to make it truly your own.

Don’t be afraid to accept help, in whatever shape it comes. Ask for it if necessary. Don’t forget that you will probably be in a position to return the favour when others are having a hard time! It may not be a good idea to look to your ex for support – but you will be the best judge of that.

Eventually, you will find a way to get through this and hopefully start to value what you have learnt. And when you find another relationship, your experience will protect you to some extent, even if it only means knowing a little better what you need and what you don’t want.

Now go and start living the rest of your life!

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