No Person Is Ready For The Death Of A Relationship, So Here’s How To Cope With Your Heartbreak
If there’s one thing in life that you’re never truly prepared for, it’s the death of a relationship. No matter how many horror stories you’ve heard from your peers or warnings from your parents, breaking up with someone or being dumped can feel awful and result in long stretches of depression and not wanting to leave the house. It’s something everyone goes through, but it never makes it any easier.
Breakups can truly make or, well, break an individual. Some see the death of a relationship as a chance to move on, to experience something new and get themselves out of some kind of rut they were experiencing. For others, however, breakups spell the end of an era of one’s life. Gone from some individuals’ is any sense of structure or human interaction, any and all emotion replaced by a mourning sadness.
It can be easy to end up like the latter person in this scenario, but you’ll discover that every relationship has to be taken with a grain of salt. Staying in a bad partnership is certain death for any kind of enjoyment you wished to experience with that person, while leaving a relationship too early can leave you second-guessing yourself, which comes with its host of specific issues.
While I can’t tell you when is a good time to leave and when is a good time to stay, I can offer some scientifically-proven facts about breaking up, and the effect it can have on each person involved in the relationship. For one, did you know that breakups affect an individual physically? Tests conducted by researchers at the University of Amsterdam determined that the parasympathetic nervous system can be disturbed by a breakup.
Many others have compared going through breakups to trying to get rid of bad habits or addictions. A study led by Stony Brook University compared brains of people who were in love with brains of cocaine addicts. The results might shock you: romance affects the same areas of the brain as the thought or consumption of addictive substances would.
Ice cream is the classic breakup food; I’ve seen dozens of shows or movies where one character will be pictured lying in bed, spooning massive globs of Edy’s into their mouth as they cry and despair over a recently-dead relationship. While this might paint a good picture for audiences, recent studies have shown that women are more likely to turn to wine in the wake of a bad breakup. Don’t worry; chocolate was right behind wine.
A recent study conducted by psychologist Daniel Kahneman compared losing and winning scenarios in the context of relationships. The study concluded that people are much more likely to remember randomly losing $50 than suddenly gaining $50. Like anything else in life, relationships function the same way. Breaking up with someone will always seem like much more of a loss to us than entering a new relationship might seem like a gain.
One recent post-breakup concept that could have a profound psychological impact is Facebook stalking. Well, any social media stalking counts, really. This basically involves one person (or perhaps both) from a relationship occasionally checking their former partner’s social media profile pages to see what they’re up to, but it’s been proven that all this does is make you sad. “Exposure to an ex-partner through Facebook may obstruct the process of healing and moving on from a past relationship,” wrote researcher Tara C. Marshall.
This makes sense; the more time you spend pondering an issue and thinking about interactions with the people involved, the more upset you’ll become about the entire scenario. The same is true, here, where you have access to a ridiculous amount of information all at once. Worst of all, you can even check and see if your ex is dating someone new on Facebook, which is one of the worst feelings you can experience.
In this day and age of social media, it’s especially easy to determine if your former partner has since moved on from your relationship. These are feelings that are often difficult to cope with; whenever I feel like someone I was in a relationship with has moved on while I haven’t, I tend to get a little upset, which just causes me to become more upset with myself. It’s an infinite cycle of being angry with yourself and others.
So how do you deal with a former partner who doesn’t feel the same way about you as you do them? It’s easy enough to sink into an even greater state of sadness when things like this happen, but it’s paramount to distance yourself from them in order to focus on your own happiness. Being in an environment or group of friends that will cause you to see someone you don’t want to every day will only weaken your relationships with more people.
That’s why a popular post-breakup strategy is to simply do nothing. You might find yourself with some extra free time whenever you’re confronted with a breakup. While this might initially seem awful as you have less to do, it just means you can start occupying your time with constructive solo activities that will help you improve your overall skillset.
Some of the best advice I can offer someone who’s down in the dumps about a relationship is to just do nothing for a while. It takes time to get comfortable being by yourself, especially if the relationship you were just in had you spending nearly every hour of the day with your former spouse. It’s important to get used to spending time doing things by yourself, though, since relying on the company of others can often be as much a danger to your productivity as it is helpful.
At the same time, you have to make sure not to isolate yourself from the world. It’s just as easy to stay in your room all day and watch Netflix or sleep as it is to try and engage in awkward, forced small talk with your former partner. Either of these approaches will be met with little success. You have to go and socialize if you want to remain happy, but you can socialize while you’re working out or making art.
Essentially, your best bet is to pick up some kind of new skill or hobby to occupy your time. Not only will you broaden the spectrum of things you know how to do (which is always a plus) but picking up on a craft or activity can help you meet new friends or even a new potential romantic interest. Or maybe all those water yoga classes will bring in the attention of another new potential mate, who’s impressed by your sweat pants and tank top.
The next step, once you’re over the initial phase of hardcore emotional discharge, you have to start thinking about how the relationship wasn’t ideal. I’m not talking about simple nitpicks just for the sake of them here, either. I’m talking about a good hard look at your life and what your most recent relationship may have been getting in the way of you accomplishing. This can be a great place to start anew.
From here, you can start working on any issues you might have identified as having stemmed from your most recent breakup. This accomplishes two things: first, it makes you a better person. Every day of our lives we should be striving to improve ourselves so that we don’t make future errors and can live our lives to the fullest, happiest extent possible.
Secondly, self-help can assist with your luck in future relationships. Having dealt with some new issue- be it long-distance, cheating or just plain distrust, you will start to notice the warning signs of foul play much more quickly and easily than someone who hasn’t. This can even offer you a unique perspective on one of your friend’s relationships; though they might not want your advice, it can be helpful to offer your perspective on a toxic relationship someone you know is experiencing.
Now, you’re a bit more equipped to handle the dating game. But don’t rush back into things too quickly; spend your time with friends, continue down the road to self-improvement, but also treat yourself and give yourself little gifts, the same way it would be if you had a partner. Besides, think of all the good aspects that might not be obvious at first: you don’t have to pay for multiple meals and you’re not chained to a constant source of communication with someone you might grow weary of talking to 24/7.
I’ve seen relationships turn people’s lives around in a positive manner as much as they have ruined them. That’s why this entire step of thinking and growing is the most important: you run the risk of falling back into depression. My advice for surviving this step is to think about the facts of the relationship, not the abstracts. Only focus on things you know to be true when you’re coming to conclusions, otherwise, you’ll end up back where you started.
Finally, you have to have some kind of rebound relationship. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should go out and find yourself a new boo as fast as possible; if anything, this kind of approach will keep you from experiencing the natural period of healing you need and could set you up for a far messier breakup down the road.
This works for some people, but more often than not recently-single individuals will find themselves seeking the company of friends or family for solace. I know being with some people has drastically reduced the amount of time I’ve spent with friends for weeks or even months at a time, so it’s important to take stock of the friendships you may have been ignoring for your romantic partner.
Fixing these friendships or platonically talking to someone new can do a great job of easing the pressure that a breakup can cause. A lot of the time, breakups can cause me to hate people, to just get so mad at the world that I don’t want to talk to anyone for a while. In the same vein, however, speaking to someone who’s outwardly friendly can often offer the exact kind of finality and understanding you need.
You don’t even have to be friends with someone to complete the rebound process; you could honestly just develop a casual working relationship with someone you see every day, be it at your job, school or whatever. Once you’ve established this casual, enjoyable relationship, you start to notice even more areas in which you could stand to improve.
If there’s one thing that’s true of the breakup process, it’s that the goal is to come out a better person than you were going in. The road to accomplishing this can often seem difficult, impossible or just too much of a social pain, but the results are simply unbeatable. Nothing gives you a nice sense of motivation than having someone to impress, and when you find out that the person who’s most fulfilling to impress is you, then congratulations. Just like that, you’re over your last relationships.