Splitting up with a romantic partner can be quite painful, and often feels a lot like coping with the death of a loved one. As with grief, your first reaction to a breakup may be shock, numbness, or disbelief. Other feelings, including sadness, anger, or guilt, may appear later. You may also experience physical symptoms, such as changes in sleep or appetite, or stomach upset. (It is wise to consult with a medical doctor should you experience such symptoms.) Surviving a breakup can be particularly difficult around the holidays, when everyone else appears to be enjoying festive times with family and friends.
While there are no quick cures for a broken heart, there are a few guidelines worth keeping in mind.
- Ask your friends for support, but don’t pressure them to take sides . Likewise, don’t ask friends to “keep an eye” on your ex. You can’t begin the process of letting go if you’re keeping tabs on someone.
- Limit your contact with your former partner . While it’s fine to maintain a cordial relationship, spending a lot of time together just prolongs the process of saying goodbye.
- Take your time before starting a new relationship . You can’t give a new person a fair chance if you are just starting to let go of your last relationship.
- Resist the temptation to blame your partner for everything that went wrong. You may feel better momentarily, but it won’t help you learn from any mistakes you might have made.
- Accept your feelings . Cry if you feel like crying. The sooner you face your feelings, the sooner you can move forward. Take each day at a time.
- Don’t “drown your sorrows” in alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, or shopping–you’ll only be trading one problem for another.
- Remain active . While it’s sometimes useful to review what happened in the relationship, it’s not helpful to isolate yourself and spend excessive time reliving or regretting the past.
How long it takes to “get over” a breakup depends on the duration and importance of the relationship, who decided to terminate the relationship, and the amount of social support and other resources you use.