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10 Tips to Survive a Break-up

Even though change is mandatory, suffering is optional.

Key points

  • To be in a fully committed partnership again, one must appropriately process the pain of the last breakup.
  • When dealing with a breakup, support from others is healing. Isolating oneself makes this more difficult.
  • Reading books on surviving a breakup can help provide insight and advice.

Neil Sedaka may have said it best: "Down shoubby do, down, down, breaking up is hard to do." Here are 10 tips to help you deal with the turmoil and pain of ending a relationship. My wish for you is that you never have to use them.

  1. Cry all you want. Let the tears flow; it's healthy you are releasing grief and pain. You may be afraid to start because you're fearful you'll never stop, but you will.
  2. Do something every day to help yourself heal. Exercise, read, watch some self-help TV/DVDs, learn to meditate, and never underestimate the power of positive prayer. Pick things that you know will be fun or beneficial and do them. Don't wait for the mood to come over you; take one action and then take another.
  3. Find emotional support. There are numerous groups for the newly single (more for women than for men). Just don't try to tough it out or go it alone; support from others is healing, even if those people never become close friends.
  4. Don't be a doormat. If your soon-to-be ex continues to call you or simply won't go away (or move out), tell them you can't heal with them around and ask them to keep their distance. If they are harassing or threatening you, it is best to call law enforcement for information and advice.
  5. Keep busy. If you wake up early take a walk, go out to breakfast or do something around the house. Try a little "retail therapy" (go shopping) or enjoy the decadence of going to a movie in the middle of the day. Many businesses allow their staff to take "mental health days" if needed. If you can't sleep do the crossword puzzle, read or watch TV. Don't sit in your room and ruminate; you have to free your mind so your heart can heal.
  6. Don't try to mask your pain by trying to find a replacement. We all know the term "rebound relationship" these happen when we (unconsciously) use another person to fill the gap that's been created by the ending of a relationship. These transitional connections can feel healing in the short term, but if you don't process your pain appropriately you will not be able to be in a fully committed partnership.
  7. Don't spend too much time alone. Hang out with friends or make new ones, go to coffee with someone you can talk to, volunteer in your community. You will need time alone, but if you isolate yourself, you won't be able to fully process your feelings or get the support you need to heal.
  8. Trust your feelings. Even if you were taken by surprise by the breakup, your inner voice is telling you something. Listen carefully and you will hear that it will all be OK. You just have to let your feelings guide you.
  9. Take your time. Don't rush out and buy a new car or move to a new home or another town. Major changes like those are merely a way of avoiding your feelings. Believe that with a little time, patience, and support, you will feel better and find love again.
  10. Research. Find out what others who have not just survived but thrived after their relationships ended did to achieve peace of mind. There are some great books on surviving a breakup. My favorite is How to Survive the Loss of a Love by Peter McWilliams. This little gem will give you insight, exercises, and some sage advice for dealing with this heart-wrenching issue.

Trust that you were not put here to suffer and that your life will not just be OK—it will be wonderful. Love will come again and next time, if you have truly processed your feelings, it will be much better. Having to work through some alone time doesn't need to be totally painful. Remember that even though change is mandatory, suffering is optional.

More from Barton Goldsmith Ph.D.
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