Moving Forward after a Break-up
Just as the beginning of a relationship is usually filled with joy and excitement, the end of one can be a journey of pain and anguish – especially if you were not the one who wanted it to end. At some point in our lives most of us will experience this kind of pain, and will find various ways to survive it. But what happens if you are having difficulty moving on? You are definitely not alone, and feeling this grief is very normal. However, if you stay stuck in it for too long it becomes increasingly difficult to move forward. What does seem to help is a balance between minimizing the anguish while at the same time properly mourning the loss of the relationship.
It is okay to be sad after a relationship break-up. Losing a relationship is like the death of a loved one, and it is normal to feel grief. Give yourself time to mourn and recognize that it will not be a predictable pattern. You may feel sad one day, better the next, and then sad again. It’s very normal to have these kinds of emotional ups and downs.
Assess your support network and get people mobilized. You are going through a very difficult time and will need your friends and family to lean on. Let them know how you are feeling and that you will be calling on them for support. These are people who love and care for you, and who will be there when you are struggling.
Remove reminders of the relationship and minimize contact with your ex. It might be tempting to keep pictures, gifts, or mementos, but these kinds of things can make you vulnerable to idealizing your time together and only remembering the good times. Instead, pack these things away and store them until you are ready to properly go through them. Also, avoid calling or contacting your ex and consider removing him/her from your phonebook. The goal is to move forward, and hanging on to something that has ended will just hold you back.
Take some time to think about what you learned from the relationship and avoid dating right away. Start to develop some emotional distance and think about the factors that may have contributed to its demise. Is there anything you would do differently? What could you have done better? What are you going to do in the future to make your next relationship more successful? Give yourself the space to think about these kinds of questions before you begin dating someone new.
On a final note, recognize when you might need help and ask for it. Losing someone who was very important to you is devastating and you don’t need to deal with it on your own. Reach out to a friend or family member and let them support you. Give yourself permission to access professional help when you need it, and know that it is a sign of strength to let others in. Even though the first months after a relationship break-up can be devastating, the journey will get easier if you are not walking it alone.
Do you have a suggestion about what Dr. Tanja should discuss on next month's segment? Send her a note and let her know. Dr. Tanja will keep all identities completely confidential when the topics are covered.
Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?"
– George Bernard Shaw