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If you’ve been on the dating scene for years, you've likely had to endure multiple breakups. Though some of us are able to bounce back quickly, most of us struggle to process breakups, particularly when long-term relationships and serious feelings are involved.Before diving into a new relationship, it’s important to deal with the complicated emotions surrounding your last breakup. Are you feeling bitter about being single? Do you find yourself still reminiscing about your ex? Though, as Neil Sedaka once said, “Breakin’ up is hard to do,” processing the end of your relationship in the right way can help you grow as a person, making you an even stronger individual in the end.
Accept That it Takes Time
Nobody wants to hear it, but getting over a breakup takes time. Depending on how long your relationship lasted, and how committed you were to it, it will take time for you to get over your heartbreak. One study showed that most individuals only started feeling better nearly four months after a relationship had ended; with marriages, it took nearly a year and a half.
Be gentle with yourself, and accept the fact that breaking up is a grieving process. Some of us need more time to grieve than others. All of us will process this pain in a different way, too. Focus on taking positive steps in the right direction, but don’t be upset if you find yourself still feeling blue. Have faith that things will get better with time.
Look at The Past Realistically
It’s easy to look at past relationships with rose-tinted glasses. Our minds circle back to the inside jokes we shared with a partner, intimate moments of physical contact, and happy times from when we first met. It’s natural to long for these things. We all want to feel desired and loved. It’s important, however, to step back and reflect on your relationship more objectively.Despite sharing happy times together, something led to your breakup. Perhaps you or your own behavior contributed to the demise of the relationship; if so, focus on ways in which you can improve yourself for the future. If you continue behaving in similar ways, these patterns are likely to repeat themselves. If you feel as though you weren’t at fault, perhaps your partner was not as ideal as you’d like to think. Ask yourself honestly: were your needs - physical, spiritual, social, and emotional - being met in this relationship? Is it possible that your relationship was actually toxic, fueled by “romantic” drama and turbulence? Was passive-aggressive behavior present in your past relationship? Did you constantly fight? Did you or your partner act in jealous, possessive, or manipulative ways? Could you trust one another, or was deception an issue?If your relationship failed due to these issues or behaviors, realize that it is best for you both to move on. You cannot “fix” a person or a relationship unless both parties are actively trying to improve the ways in which they behave and communicate.Sometimes, relationships don’t end for any particular reason. In many cases, no one did anything “wrong.” Instead, one or both partners simply realized that the relationship wasn’t the right fit. If this is the case, it can be more difficult to move on. A successful relationship, however, requires full commitment from both parties. If the relationship wasn’t “right”, a breakup was for the best.Do you feel as though you’re to blame for the relationship ending? Nobody’s perfect, and there are ways in which all of us could be better partners. Stop beating yourself up about things, though! Instead of dwelling on the “what ifs,” focus on the ways in which you can improve yourself. By focusing on self-improvement, you’ll soon become a better partner-to-be.
Face Your Feelings & Process Them
Everyone processes their emotions in different ways. How you process your post-breakup emotions isn’t nearly as important as the fact that you do, indeed, work through them! Studies show that bottling up our emotions is toxic to both the body and the mind, leading to physical ailments and poorer mental and emotional health. Instead, let it out! Talk with friends and family members who see things from your perspective. If it makes you feel better, rant in a journal, or make an anonymous post venting your feelings on an online forum. If you’re seriously struggling, reach out to a therapist. Work through your emotions in other ways, too. Take your pain and transform it into a work of art. Write a song or paint a painting. Go to the gym or run until you’re out of breath. If you’re trying to work through your anger, get it out by shouting into a pillow, ripping up old photos, or anything else that will help you heal. Go out with some friends and have a fun night out on the town. As long as you’re not hurting others, there’s no “wrong” way to work through your feelings. Simply make sure you’re working through your emotions, rather than running away from them. In dealing with your feelings now, they’ll be far less likely to torment you in the future.
Excavate Your Identity
When we lose someone we care about, most of us feel empty inside. This void can be challenging to fill, as it’s deeply tied to our own identity. Investing so much of ourselves into a relationship changes us; when we break up with someone, a part of us disappears. You will never be the exact same person you were before you met your ex. Though it may be challenging, accept this fact, and re-focus on getting to know yourself.
Focus on mindfully reconnecting with yourself. If you were in a serious relationship for a long time, there’s a good chance that you lost a sense of yourself. Whether you were in a long-term relationship or bounced between beaus for years, you may have forgotten what you were like “on your own.” How much alone time did you have while you were in your relationship? Were there hobbies or friendships that you pushed aside to make more time for your partner? Now is the perfect time to reconnect with your inner desires as well as other individuals in your life.
Thought it may sound corny, one of the best ways to reconnect with yourself is to sit down and write things out. Write out a list of your own personal strengths. List the traits that you like about yourself. Though it might be difficult to do this, it’s a valuable task. Once you have a list, you’ll see the positives on paper. This is why you’re a great person, and why you’ll be a great catch when somebody else comes along!
Also consider writing down a list of things that you’re grateful for, as well as things that bring you joy. This activity is guaranteed to help you see the things that you have to be thankful for in your life. By focusing on joy, you can also get an idea for how to further reconnect with yourself. Does crafting make you happy? Get back into it, and join a class to meet others with similar interests! Are you grateful for your parents, siblings, or children? Reach out to them, and make it a habit to connect with your loved ones more often, even if it’s simply a few minutes on the phone each week.
All of us have unique identities. By reconnecting with the core “you” that’s deep inside, you’ll be able to reestablish an identity that is separate from your romantic past.
There’s, unfortunately, no pill one can take to cure the pain of heartbreak. Being kind to yourself, reconnecting with others, and fully processing the complicated feelings surrounding your breakup, however, can help you heal and reestablish a sound sense of your own identity. Once you’ve found yourself again, you’ll be better prepared to enter into a new relationship, should the opportunity arise. As the old saying goes, sometimes good things have to fall apart so that better things can fall together. With luck, your next relationship will be the one that lasts a lifetime!
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