Coping with a Breakup

Artwork by Creative Commons

Artwork by Creative Commons

Breakups are painful (period!). Regardless of how long you were in a relationship, a breakup can still leave you so empty and sad that it feels intolerable.  Why does this happen?

Breakups often bring up unconscious earlier aches and reveal our deprivation for love. While it is devastating to go through a breakup, healing is possible. Human beings are resilient.  If we can get understanding and support, we have the capacity to heal. Here are some suggestions on caring for your precious heart.

Take your time.

It is natural to wish for a deadline for a bleeding heart. After all, the person you chose to be with was a significant part of your life in one way or another. Losing that person is like losing a part of yourself. This takes time to heal.

Face the difficult truths about a relationship that no longer worked.

Are you realistic about your ex-partner's qualities or have you been idealizing this “lost love”?   When it comes to a past love, we often romanticize, selectively forgetting all those things that didn’t work. These delusions can keep us stuck. We can only move forward by fully accepting the difficult truths about a relationship that ended.

Be kind to yourself.

Breakups are painful enough, so try to refrain from abusing yourself with self-criticism. It is okay to do nothing, to feel angry, to feel sad, to feel happy, to feel miserable, to cry out of nowhere, and to repeat these feelings over and over again until you have moved through them. There is no linear process for mending a broken heart.  Treat yourself with the same level of compassion you would have for a friend who has suffered a breakup.

Reach out for support.

Talk with your friends. If you do not have many friends, or start to feel like a broken record and find yourself obsessed with thoughts that take over your day, then call a professional for a better understanding of the more deeply rooted issue. A breakup provides you with an opportunity to be curious about yourself. Coping with the separation is not an easy task. I once heard this poignant statement at a dharma talk: “The mind is a dangerous place; you do not want to go there alone.”

Remember that you will get through the misery.  Even though it may feel like it will go forever, it won't.