Even when you suspect that breaking up will be best for you in the long run, dealing with the fallout of a failed relationship can be incredibly challenging. These eight steps will help you to recover from the trauma of a failed relationship and the intense mix of emotions that follow in its wake.
1. Try to understand why your relationship ended
While you may be always be left with a few unanswered questions about what happened in your relationship, some honest reflection about your separation should increase your comprehension and facilitate letting go. In particular, it can be helpful to consider questions about what was missing in the relationship. Which of your needs went unmet? What were you unable to give your partner? Where were the key incompatibilities? What contrasting assumptions led to conflict or disillusionment? These questions also help you focus on the reasons why you are better off without this relationship.
2. Put some distance between yourself and your ex-partner
Even if your breakup was relatively amicable, it’s smart to maintain some distance for at least a couple months after the breakup so that you can adjust to life apart. If your separation was especially angry or painful, you may be tempted to stay in touch just to argue, but this approach is obviously unhealthy.
In addition, do your best to avoid stalking your former partner on social networking sites, no matter how much you may want to know what they are doing and whether they are coping with the breakup.
3. Be patient with yourself and practice self care
Dealing with a failed relationship is a type of grieving process; you have lost a significant part of your life along with treasured dreams about the future. As a result, it’s important to be kind to yourself and to have realistic expectations. Acknowledge and respect your varied emotional responses to the breakup rather than trying to repress them. Meanwhile, try not to push yourself too hard in other areas of your life, and make time to do the things you know will help to relax your body and lift your spirits.
4. Seek support
Open up to family and friends, especially if you know people whose relationship history might help them relate to some of the more confusing aspects of your current situation. Further, consider that seeing a therapist can provide you with a safe, confidential space in which to honestly explore your feelings and make sense of your experiences. Therapy can also give you insight into your behavior in relationships and help you identify unresolved issues or negative patterns that repeatedly appear in your life.
5. Let go of anger
While you can learn a lot from looking at your anger towards yourself or your ex-partner, being filled with rage keeps your attention firmly fixed on the past, taking a toll on your physical and emotional health. Find ways to gradually let go of toxic feelings of hatred and resentment, whether you find you need to fill your days with laughter or benefit from practicing meditation. If you regret your conduct in the relationship, think about how to prevent making the same mistakes. Meanwhile, if you feel your partner wronged you, focus on believing that this person does not deserve to have control over your thoughts or your future.
6. Plan for the future
It can be motivating and even exciting to make a list of all the things you want to do in the coming months and years. Write down anything that comes to mind, big or small, and notice how making these plans concrete helps to solidify your belief that a happy future is possible. It may also be worth asking yourself which of the items on your list would have been impossible if you had stayed in your former relationship, allowing you to see some tangible advantages of this difficult transition.
7. Enjoy the good parts of single life
Even if you strongly want to find another partner in the future, don’t forget that there are good sides to being single! For example, you can make all of your decisions based solely on what suits your needs, you have financial autonomy and you are free to enjoy flirtations or casual encounters with a variety of interesting people.
8. Reassess what you want from a relationship
Finally, one of the most useful steps in fully recovering from a failed relationship involves taking stock of what you have learned about what you need and want from a relationship. You might find it helpful to make a list of non-negotiable qualities you have discovered you require in a partner. This type of task underlines that your failed relationship was not a failure in one very important sense–it has helped you to learn valuable lessons about the type relationship that could make you truly happy in the future.