The stages of breaking up and the five steps you need to take to move on
WORKING AT AN online dating site, when I meet new members in search of true love, I ask about their relationship history.
Depending on the person they might go into some significant detail or others will brush by the question but it’s easy to tell apart those who have suffered a broken heart and those who have not.
I empathise with those who have, and when I pose the question I feel I can tell by the shift in their countenance, waver of the voice, if we are part of the same club.
Hard as break-ups and broken hearts are to endure, I feel they are a rite of passage in life, an invaluable experience that allows you to engage, properly, with those that are going through the agony of losing a partner they feel they can’t see a future without.
I can say though, that I feel more sorry for those who have never had the chance to feel the pain of a break-up because they can never fully appreciate the immense joy of a solid relationship when it happens for them.
The first flushes of a romance are wonderful. Packed with exciting events as you begin the process of knitting your lives together, showing each-other off to friends and family as soon as it’s acceptable.
Very quickly becoming each-other’s best friend, confidant, emergency contact. By the time the relationship has had time for one or other half to lose interest, the superglue that bonds two lives together has already set. And so, the excruciating process of “decoupling” begins.
The emotional fallout/denial:
nobody can believe it; you two were meant to be together; he/she will come to their senses; he/she will come crawling back.
He/she didn’t come to their senses; he/she has moved on already; he/she is demonstrating how little they care by “checking in” to the opening of every envelope and posting riotous pics of themselves having the best time EVER.
Division of assets/lives:
You have to decide who gets who in the divorce (although this has already started to happen since day 1 of the break-up as friends firmly choose sides); the awkward exchange of personal items from each other’s living space; aggressively charged solicitors letters begin to fly in the event of mutually owned assets to be divided or worse still, visitation and custody arrangements.
The dust settles:
It’s definitely over. All hope is gone. The whirlwind of the break-up has passed. Your status has been changed to Single-it’s official.
The fog of rage and anger has begun to clear and you find yourself facing a future with nobody by your side. The harsh reality has dawned that your best friend is gone, as is your confidant, and your emergency contact.
The first tsunami of affection, care and attention your friends and family drown you in has suddenly calmed and you are left sitting on the side of the bed you’ll sleep in alone tonight, wondering how exactly you are going to cope.
As you crawl back into your bruised and battered life, trying to show how utterly composed you are (while dying on the inside),you look forward into the abyss of life knowing you have to start to create things to look forward to so you can remain sane.
You’re waiting for the morning to come that doesn’t begin with a stomach ache. You just want to press the forward button.
Then that morning comes. You wake up, look ahead into the day and remember you have a night out planned with work and you think about what to wear, NOT about your wounded heart.
For some people, heart break is all consuming and they never truly recover. I’ve met people who made a mistake in their 20’s and here they are still regretting that person decades on. They are too comfortable with the sadness to let it go. For others it’s a process they can get over as soon as they get under someone else.
Whoever you are, here are 5 tips to moving on:
- Accept the grief: Don’t pretend you are fine, you have suffered a huge loss-possibly one that changes almost every aspect of your life and it’s ok to recognise that loss.
- Seek help: Talk to someone throughout your break-up. Don’t bottle it up. Talk it to death, it’ll help you deal with the grief and deal with the feelings faster.
- Spring clean your life: get rid of all the memorabilia/possessions/photographs that remind you of him/her. Delete their number/email address/defriend/unfollow and NEVER throw yourself in their way. Seeing you looking amazing won’t do anything but hurt you when they don’t come running back.
- Embrace new friends/new experiences/try new things. Making your life different to the way it was is key to not missing the place he/she used to occupy there.
- Go forth and date: When you’re ready, say yes to everyone that asks you out, if anything it’ll rebuild your confidence. Accept blind dates, join dating sites, join matchmaking agencies, whatever it takes. Do not waste your life drowning in melancholy. Take charge and have no fear-you may get hurt again but it’s worth it-nothing ventured…
Whether you are the dumper or the dumpee, breaking up is hard to do because most of us fear change, we like the norm, we like the comfort blanket of familiarity-even if it hurts.
There’s a reason why all of the best-selling songs are focussed on the agony of separation. We are all waiting for Adele to fall into another relationship funk so we can expect “27” to be a block-buster Album just oozing with red hot sadness.
We all know someone who collects Hearts in a Jar as so eloquently put by Christina Perri and like James Blunt, we all at some time must say goodbye to our lover but without the unadulterated bliss of falling in love against the sharp contrast of gut-wrenching heart break, life would be very beige indeed.