The end of a relationship is never easy. Breakups are filled with raw emotions, including everything from hurt and betrayal to anger and sadness. But, just because heartbreak may feel like the end of the world, the reality is that the pain and anguish you feel right now is only temporary. Eventually, you'll be able to move on—and one day you'll find love again.
In fact, research indicates that it takes about 11 weeks to feel better after a dating relationship ends, according to a study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology. Meanwhile, a separate study found that it may take up to 18 months to heal if it's a marriage that ends. Either way, neither situation goes on forever.
Just remember that getting over heartbreak and moving on is a grieving process that looks different for everyone. Consequently, don't hold yourself to any set timeframe. There are a lot of factors that impact your healing including how long you were together, the memories and traditions you shared, and even if you had children together. But you will get through it.
Why Breaking Up Hurts So Much
Relationships with others form the foundation of a person's life. As a result, when you lose a relationship, especially one that you considered important and central to your life, it's like losing a part of yourself. It is not uncommon to feel like you have lost your sense of meaning and purpose in life. You may even feel like you lost a huge part of yourself. And, in some respects you did. You will not be the same person you were when you were with your ex.
But, if you wallow in that feeling of loss and shaken identity for too long, you will end up clinging to your past and desperately trying to “fix” the relationship so that you can get your ex—and yourself—back.
As difficult and painful as it might be to accept, you have to let that part of you and your life go. It's part of the past. Yes, it is hard. But you can do it. You can take the steps needed to get on with your life.
How to Get Through a Breakup
Getting over someone has a lot more to do with how you think about the breakup, your ex, and even yourself, than it does following trying to erase the pain you are feeling. Consequently, as you navigate the muddy waters of your breakup, you need to continually remind yourself that this is a process, not a destination.
Not only do you need to be patient with yourself, but you also need to take this time to really think about who you are, who your ex was, and why your relationship didn't work out. Learning from this experience will not only make you stronger, but it also will help you know what you want in a relationship and maybe have more success the next time around. Here are some steps to processing your breakup and getting on with your life.
Take Your Time
Getting over an ex is a process. It is not something you can rush through. What's more, you should avoid rebound dating at all costs. While going out immediately after a breakup may put a band-aid on your pain, it won't cure it. And as hard as it might be, you have to face your feelings and deal with them in honest and effective ways.
Sure, this process stinks. It takes a lot of time, energy, and hard work to process your feelings and emotions. But in the end it will be worth it because you will come out stronger and better than you were before.
Allow Yourself to Feel
No one enjoys experiencing pain. But the fact of the matter is, you have to allow yourself to feel if you are going to heal. Ignoring your feelings, pretending like they don't exist, or trying to numb them in some way, is only going to set back your recovery. Be honest about the hurt, pain, and rejection you are feeling. There is no shame in being sad.
Chances are you spent a good portion of your life with this person and breaking up is bound to cause some very strong emotions. It's only when you take an honest look at how the breakup made you feel, that you will be able to navigate through your emotions in a healthy way.
Ask for Help
It's rare that people come to a decision to end the relationship at the same time. So, when a breakup occurs, one side is usually shocked and hurt. Consequently, these feelings of shock, rejection, hurt, and even betrayal can be difficult to navigate, especially alone.
Talk to your friends about how you are feeling. Just be careful not to dwell on your breakup every time you talk. Be a considerate friend and sincerely ask about their lives as well. If you find that you need more support than what a friend should be expected to provide, consider talking with a therapist, counselor, religious leader. They are trained to help people navigate breakups.
Remove Your Ex From Social Media
Nothing will set your healing back more than stalking your ex on social media. Every time you see a post with their smiling face, it will be like ripping a scab off the wound. The bleeding and pain start all over again. So, unfollow them and remove them from all your accounts.
Even though it is tempting to see what your ex is up to, making a clean break is better for your healing process.
There is a certain amount of peace and comfort that comes from not knowing what they are up to and who they are spending time with. Allow yourself that.
Avoid Drunk Communication
Nothing's worse than getting drunk and texting or calling your ex to ask what went wrong. Usually, when people are intoxicated, they lose their filter and you are likely to say some things that you will regret in the morning. For this reason, you may want to remove your ex's contact information from your phone and delete their email account from your computer. Better yet, avoid drinking excessively all together.
Drunk dialing your ex never turns out the way you might hope, and in the morning you are likely to experience shame and embarrassment. What's more, your ex could share your voicemail messages or text messages with other people further compounding your embarrassment. For your sake, you should avoid situations like this at all costs.
View the Relationship Honestly
Take an objective look at what the relationship was really like. To do this, you will have to stop idealizing your ex and stop dwelling on the good memories and experiences. While it is natural to look at the past through rose-colored glasses, it is not reality.
Choose to take an honest look at your relationship. You could start by making a list of all the things your ex did that annoyed you. What you may discover is that your ex wasn't as awesome as you thought.
Perhaps you were involved in an emotionally abusive or financially abusive relationship. Maybe your ex was controlling or struggled with jealousy. Whatever issues existed, be sure you remind yourself of those instead of focusing only on the good things.
Take Care of Yourself
Just because your partner has ended a relationship does not mean that you are unworthy or unlovable. As a result, you need to focus not on what you might have done wrong, but instead focus on what you can do to feel better in the moment. This might mean taking time every day to pamper yourself in some way.
Get a massage. Read a good book. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. Take a long bath. Whatever makes you feel comforted and cared for, now is the time to do that if you can.
However, this is not the time to drink excessively, binge on fast food, or call off work repeatedly. In the end, those things will not make you feel better. They are temporary fixes and in the morning your pain and discomfort will still be there.
Rediscover Who You Are
If your identity was so wrapped up in your relationship with your ex, now is a perfect time to rediscover who you are. Find out who you are outside the context of the relationship. Rushing to fill the void you are experiencing without knowing who you are and what you want is a huge mistake. It's also a recipe for disaster and ultimately more heartache.
Many times, relationships fail because couples are not compatible or have different goals or needs. Make sure you take the time to discover who you are and what you want.
Journal Your Thoughts and Feelings
Sometimes it's helpful to pour out your heart with pen and paper. In fact, it can be downright cathartic to journal your thoughts. So, grab a journal and start writing. You may even want to write a letter to your ex expressing all your thoughts and feelings. Just don't send it. The simple process of writing out how you feel as if you are talking to them is very healing on its own.
Besides, what you write in your letter most likely is not something you will want to share a week or two from now. Right now, your feelings are raw. Get them out, but keep them to yourself.
Let Go of Anger and Blame
Holding on to anger, resentment, and blame is not healthy. It will eat you up inside. Instead, focus on letting go of your anger and blame. Remind yourself that forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about freeing yourself from being tied to your ex. When you hold onto anger and resentment, or if you blame your ex for the breakup, these feelings keep you tethered to them. And, you cannot heal as long as you're still connected—even if the emotions connecting you are negative.
As a result, focus on letting go of your anger and stopping the blame game. Instead, train your eyes on the future and focus on how you want things to be different in your life the next time around.
Turn It Into a Positive
Contrary to popular belief, a breakup does not have to be a bad thing. They actually can be a good thing, especially if you are no longer in a toxic relationship. So, instead of focusing on the negatives surrounding the breakup, look for ways to turn it into a positive.
For instance, does being single allow you more time to pursue your passions or volunteer for a worthy cause? Can you take that trip you have always dreamed of taking? Look for ways to be thankful the relationship has ended rather than dwelling on the pain. When you do, then you will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel and being single won't seem like such a horrible thing.
Remember There Are Others Out There
As hard as it might be to see this right now, you will have another relationship—if you want one. You can meet new people and date again. Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of believing that this person was your soul mate and now you will be alone forever.
There is no such thing as one person for you. Dating and relationships are about making choices and there are plenty of people to choose from. If you remind yourself that on a regular basis, you will be less devastated over time.
A Word From Verywell
Eventually, you will be back out there dating again if you want to be. And, even if you choose not to, that's fine too. You are never be defined by your relationships. You have the same value and worth in life regardless of whether you are in a relationship or doing life alone. You matter and make a difference in the world. Never forget that.