A break-up with a partner is an event in life that each of us probably encounters; sometimes even more than once in a lifetime. Even the greatest and purest love may end one day. All of a sudden, we are alone and it may happen that we don't quite know what to do next. Ending a relationship may be as difficult as maintaining one.
Everyone responds to a break-up with a partner differently. An end of a good relationship is a loss we have to make peace with. We experience mourning, pain, pity, anger or even desire for vengeance. Each individual deals with this situation differently, in their own way. Some may even resort to alcohol, pills or drugs. We shouldn't give in to depression too much; life goes on and time will help us, not matter how much it sounds like a cliché.
However, it is true that psychology hardly offers any processes that take more time and cause more pain than relationship break-ups. We need to realise that all our ancestors are only people who were able to start a relationship, have children and bring up the children. Genes of those people were the only ones surviving. All others went extinct. This evolutionary imperative is the reason why break-ups hurt so much and why we live in couples.
Before a Break-Up or a Divorce
There are complicated situations even before the actual break-up or divorce.
You Don't Know Whether to Leave Your Partner or to Keep Trying
Consider what your relationship is right now and what do you expect from it. Consider all circumstances of maintaining the relationship or ending it. What are the risks of staying in the relationship? How often do you fight with your partner? Do you both stick to the relationship rules you have agreed upon? Is there still chemistry between you two? Do you share any interests? Is there any hope for improvement to your situation?
You Are Unable to Leave Your Partner Even Though You Want to
The basic reasons why you are unable to leave the relationship often include the fact that your partner and life in a partnership give you a feeling of certainty. Each one of us likes their certainty. Human psyche is programmed that way. We want to gain things, or keep those that we have. Sometimes we even fear positive changes because the fear of the unknown is holding us back. Fear of not knowing what lies ahead of us. You may also be emotionally addicted to your partner. That may also be the reason why we fear the loss and we are willing to suffer. On the one hand, we know that the current status does not satisfy us, but the certainty and safety is more acceptable for us than a break-up.
But how do you get out of such a situation? If you really want to leave your partner and it is not a momentary decision, start processing this change in your head first. Create a new reality and get used to the change - it will help you disengage from your partner.
Emotional Addiction and How to Get Out of It
Typical examples of emotional addiction are those where your own ideas are absent and partner's ideas prevail. You adapt to the partner's ideas and needs. You lack your own interests, hobbies and friends. If you find yourself in such a situation, it is suitable to make new friends or renew old friendships. Start doing sports, live for culture, enjoy your hobbies and do these activities regularly. Learn to make time only for yourself, learn to be independent and aware. Make terms with your partner about your and their needs and balance out the relationships. Consider what you find desirable and undesirable in a relationship and learn to assert your ideas. Emotional addiction is a serious problem and it is not always simple to handle it solely by oneself. So don't hesitate and if necessary, contact an expert and seek help to improve your situation.
Life in Conviction
Do you think that you will be alone forever if you leave your current partner? If your previous partner cheated on you, will the next one do it as a given? Is it better to stay in an unhappy relationship for the sake of children? We carry these convictions from our families, previous relationships, experiences, etc. It is not simple to change our convictions. Emotions can sometimes be more powerful than logic. Try to write your convictions on a piece of paper and then add opposites or your ideas of the concepts. You can also address a relationship coach.
We pass through the break-up stages during the break-up, often without even realising it. The major disadvantage in break-ups is that neither of the partners is able to imagine what is the other one experiencing at the given moment. That is why it cannot hurt to know the individual break-up stages.
During a break-up, most process do not take place in actual reality, but frequently in our memories and our imagination. A break-up may be an incredibly long affair and it frequently begins already before the moment when the key sentence is uttered and it doesn't usually end with physical separation of the partners. The break-up process after a long relationship may even take 3 to 5 years.
1. Latent Stage
Many attempts to save the relationship tend to be rather self-destructive. It is a natural, intuitive reaction; however, it is also frequently the very reaction that finishes the dying relationship off. After a certain time, both partners are exhausted and one of them starts to give up at a certain point. This is the partner who starts to picture the breakup in their imagination and it is often also the partner suggesting the breakup. At that moment, the image of the real partner starts blackening and an idealized image of a lover forms. Situations may even occur when partners do various things to each other out of spite; when they fight subsequently, they take the fights for signs that the other partner is impossible to live with. The more the breakup becomes imminent and the more the suggesting partner admits it, the more they find the other partner insufferable. This phenomenon is called relative frustration.
2. Trigger Stage
The latent stage takes place mainly in partners' imagination and therefore it is practically invisible to the other partner. The other partner often feels nothing is wrong because the latent stage is covered with everyday activities. Thus, the announcement of a breakup may be a painful blow out of the blue. The trigger stage makes the other partner the protector of the relationship. The protector is not able to relax, he or she is agitated, full of adrenaline, but also unable to respond in any purposeful way. In this stage, his or her actions are intense, abrupt and not very well-thought-out.
3. Stage of Asymmetric Decisions
A lengthy stage of manipulations when the protector is trying to make the suggesting partner to take steps to revive the relationship; when the protector is saying a definite yes to the relationship while the other partner is saying a definite no. Each of them maintains their attitude stubbornly and the stage of so-called asymmetric decisions starts.
4. Fantasy Stage
Physical separation of the partners does not mark the end of the break-up process. The interaction moves from the plane of reality to the plane of imagination and memories. During this time, imagination is worse than reality. Imagination is malicious and the protector often acts upon the fantasy person as if they were a real person and asks them to come back or to work the situation out peacefully. However, none of this works on fantasy persons.
5. Paradox Stage
After the protector exhausts all their attempts to save the relationship, they fall into depression and accept the definite end. Due to their physical separation, the suggesting partner doesn't know about this acceptance and keeps waiting for further attempts from the protector. By doing so, the suggesting partner is still mentally tied to the protector. When the suggesting partner realises that the protector is not coming back, they are often swept away with a wave of nostalgia. So paradoxically, it is sometimes the partner who suggested the break-up who starts attempting to regain intimacy and continue the relationship. The paradox stage is the second chance for the relationship renewal. The paradox stage comes at the moment when you don't even want it anymore. Especially narcissist individuals tend to be surprised by the paradox stage.
Final Stages and Semi-Relationships
Depending on how the paradox stage goes, either the relationship or the break-up continues. There is a possibility that the relationship will be renewed as well as a possibility that it will end forever. The worst variation is a cycle. Infinite indecisiveness, wavering and tug-of-war usually end up in die-hard hatred. The biggest danger for the future of both partners is getting into rebound relationships. These temporary relationships tend to develop unpredictably. They either lead to a situation where we are either unable to form a serious committed relationship or one of the parties will attempt to take the temporary relationship to the permanent level.
Five Paraphrases of Sadness According to Elizabeth Kübler-Ross
A break-up with a partner who had an important place for us in their life needs to be mourned and digested. We realise how much our world depends on exterior circumstances and we may observe several stages of the sadness paraphrase:
It's not a break-up, it's only a misunderstanding.
2. Anger, Self-Pity, Aggression
How could he/she do this to me? After all we've been through?
Why is this happening to me?
If I change, he/she will come back to me...
He/She is lost, has another partner, doesn't care about me anymore.
I'm unable to fall in love again, nobody interests me.
Nebrečte, že je to pryč, radujte se, že jste to zažili.
How to Survive a Break-Up?
Get rid of the fantasy person of your ex
After the break-up, your former partner lives his/her own life within your mind. He/she becomes a fantasy person who may help us escape feelings of emptiness and nothingness temporarily. We have imaginary conversations with them, we play various scenarios of the key situations in our head, we think about them while masturbating or during intimate moments with another person... Such an imaginary entity is very dangerous - do not feed it, entertain it, don't support it. It is only an illusion that your sad and tortured mind created. The real person is not as great or as terrible as they are in your imagination. It is not a good companion for your soul.
After a Break-Up...
The amount of pain and feelings of unhappy love will you suffer depends mainly on your character. Our experience with parents in early childhood forms our expectations of other people; subconsciously, we expect that others will respond in the same way our parents did. Consequently, we form our relationships on the basis of these expectations.
According to the Attachment Theory, there are three main and basic types of relationships: Secure, anxious-resistant and anxious-avoidant attachments.
- People with secure attachments are very open and sociable. Although a break-up may surprise or even shock them, they find comfort in knowing that their loved ones will support them in such a hard time fairly soon after the break-up. After the break-up, they rely on the help from their friends.
- People with anxious-avoidant attachment try to keep their distance in the relationship and deal with problems by themselves. They do not give in to the relationships entirely; they don't expect or actually even want any help.
- The third group, people with anxious-resistance attachment suffer the most after a break-up. They often feel they don't deserve their partner's love already during the relationship and they often feel incomplete without their partner's support. After a break-up, they have trouble regaining their self-confidence, which is low to begin with.
Mistakes to Avoid After a Break-Up With Your Partner
1. One-Night Stands
You compensate the drop in self-confidence after a break-up with your partner by seducing all the people of the opposite sex who come in your way. You top your frantic search for your lost self-esteem with a one-night stand. However, such affairs may induce feelings of emptiness in you, mainly if you have high emotional intelligence and you don't shake your problems off easily.
2. Home Alone
The gloominess of your break-up keeps you glued to your couch at home. But as soon as you close yourself off to heal at your home alone, you start to drown in your feelings. By analysing all the details of your relationship you relive all the fights. After a few days, you become an exhausted shadow of a person. It is naturally alright to spend a weekend far from all the people and all the worries after a break-up to sort out your thoughts, but to torture yourself for weeks and weeks will do you no good.
3. Jumping Into Another Relationship Right Away
You are trying to fill the sudden crack and you end up in the first arms that open to you. However, you are not even in love with your new trophy; you just want to forget about the pain your ex caused you as soon as possible. You don't acknowledge the feelings of pain and betrayal, but with another disappointment, they will attack you with new-found intensity. You need to realise that you are only running from yourself and maybe your desire to show your ex how quickly you can replace him/her is driving you forward. Comfort and self-confidence will rather come when you fill your time with more purposeful activities, e.g. enroll in a course you have been considering. That will bring comfort, self-confidence and order back into your life.
4. Party Every Day
There's nothing wrong with hitting the town with your friends once in a while, but if your "party" rhythm starts to beat every day, it's time to pay attention. Such a lifestyle will only make you convinced that life is a black hole and there is no point in striving for anything. Your overall condition will also deteriorate and that is only one step away from problems at work.
5. Considering Coming Back, Luring Your Partner to Come Back
A break-up with your partner is a drastic change in both your lives. You get back together and you try to make it work again in order to overcome the feeling of emptiness and heaviness sitting in your chest. Continuous pattern of recurring break-ups and new beginnings will make you dull over time. Meanwhile, you become bitter and you only deepen the pain of separation.
How to Deal With Lingering Feelings after a Break-Up
You need to take good care of yourself during this time. Eat healthily and regularly and enjoy enough sleep, no matter how impossible it seems to you at the beginning. Try finding at least one positive thing every day and reward yourself for each day you survived, e.g. with a piece of new clothing, a small present, a hot bath, favourite food, etc. It is a journey to healing, one step at a time. There will naturally be days when you feel miserable and you may even feel that you won't get out of bed, but you will make it. There will also be times when you feel you are over the hump and the next day you will find yourself at the beginning. It is common and normal. Don't be angry with yourself that you are experiencing these feelings. Over time, this will happen less and less and each time, these negative feelings will be less intense. Time is the best medicine for the broken heart.
What helps you to mend your "broken heart"?