Surviving a breakup may be one of the toughest things you ever do. In fact, losing your partner can be one of the most “distressing and traumatic experiences that life has to offer” . Getting over a breakup can be a painful process, and in the beginning, when you feel like your heart is being torn out, it may feel impossible.
Although there’s often nothing you can do to avoid experiencing the pain that comes with the loss of an important relationship, the right tools (that I’m about to show you) can help you come out on the other side even stronger than before.
NEGATIVE EMOTIONS AFTER A BREAKUP
Every individual responds differently to a breakup, but there are a number of different negative emotions often experienced after going through a breakup. Some of the negative emotions you may experience include:
- Denial – In the beginning, you may be in denial that your relationship is ending. You may find yourself thinking that the breakup can’t be real, constantly waiting for a phone call or text from the one you love. It’s difficult to comprehend that someone you loved and trusted seems to care so little about your feelings and your relationship, leaving you in denial that the relationship is truly over 
- Fear – After breaking up, you may experience fear. You may fear how intense your feelings are and how much the breakup hurts. Without your partner, you may fear what the future will be like. You may even question whether you’ll ever find another partner ?
- Anger – At some point, you may feel very angry at your partner for breaking up with you and completely turning your world upside down. If you blame someone else for breaking up your relationship, that anger may be directed at that individual. In some cases, you may even find that you are angry with yourself if you think you did something wrong or you were the one who broke up with your partner .
- Despair and Sadness – Feelings of despair and sadness are normal after losing your partner through a breakup. You may find yourself crying often and with little provocation because you miss your ex (find out what to do when you miss him). Sadness is a normal emotional response to breakups. However, it’s important to be aware of the difference between sadness and depression. Depression is more intense, it involves chronic sadness and is an emotional disease that can affect your behavior, feelings, mood, physical health, and thoughts . If you think you may be depressed, it’s always important to seek help.
- Self-Blame, Guilt, and/or Regret – You may find yourself blaming yourself for what went wrong in your relationship. In those first days after the breakup, you may play the relationship over and over again in your mind trying to figure out what you could have done differently. If you blame yourself, you may feel guilty or you may feel regret over how you handled things in your relationship .
- Self-Loss – Relationships often change your self-concept, and in many cases, quality relationships expand your sense of self, growing your identity, experiences, capabilities, and knowledge. However, when the relationship ends, you may be left with a feeling of self-loss. Wondering who you are without your partner is a common feeling, and a reduction in self-concept clarity often occurs after you go through a breakup  .
- Disorientation – When a relationship dissolves, particularly if it was a long-term relationship, you might feel like your entire world has fallen apart. The relationship was one of your major life anchors, and when it’s gone, you may be left feeling disoriented and confused .
Some people describe these feelings when they talk about the stages of a breakup.
TIPS FOR GETTING OVER A BREAKUP
Studies show that social rejection, which can include a breakup, causes a very similar reaction in the body to physical pain. Social rejection and physical pain “share a common representation in somatosensory brain systems…” . If you feel like a breakup is causing you physical pain, you’re not losing your mind. The rejection, sadness, anxiety, anger, and fear can all become overwhelming after a breakup, leaving you struggling to cope.
Why do breakups hurt so much? You’re not just losing your relationship. A breakup means you’ve lost shared hopes and dreams for a future. Your routine may be disrupted. You’re experiencing grief, anxiety, and disappointment. Your whole identity may be disrupted by a breakup.
However, while recovery is often difficult, you can heal and start moving on, although it will take time and patience. There’s nothing you can do to stop experiencing the pain that comes with loss, but the following suggestions can help you work through the grieving process so you can deal with the pain and come out stronger.
1. STOP FIGHTING THE NEGATIVE FEELINGS
All those negative feelings you’re experiencing are normal, so stop fighting them. Suppressing or ignoring these feelings can prolong your grieving and healing process. Healthy coping with a breakup involves identifying your feelings and allowing yourself to experience them.
It’s impossible to avoid the pain that comes with a breakup, but when you experience these feelings, they’ll eventually decrease and help you navigate the grieving process more quickly .
2. CULTIVATE SELF-COMPASSION
Self-compassion is defined as “seeing your problems as a part of the universal struggle, remaining calm and mindful in the face of a negative experience…and viewing yourself with understanding and forgiveness.” Researchers have found that self-compassion is important to navigating all the changes that come after a breakup.
It’s possible to cultivate self-compassion by seeing the universality of your breakup experience, practicing mindfulness, and viewing yourself with understanding and forgiveness. When you realize that pain is part of the human experience and you realize you’re no alone, it’s easier to come to the realization that you too can make it through the pain that comes with a breakup.
Mindfulness, that state of being in the moment, can help you avoid ruminating on the breakup, reducing stress, promoting emotional regulation, and improving self-knowledge. Last, viewing yourself with understanding and forgiveness can stop negative self-talk and help you begin rebuilding your sense of self .
3. REACH OUT TO OTHERS
As you work to get over your breakup, start reaching out to others and talking about your feelings. While you may instinctively want to avoid being around other people, having those connections with others is important. Reaching out to your family and friends can keep you from feeling so alone in your struggle and pain.
Spend time with people who energize, value, and support you. If your breakup led to the loss of friends, try meeting new people and developing new friendships. Reaching out by going to a support group or seeing a counselor to help you work through your feelings can also prove helpful as you work to get over your breakup .
4. PRIORITIZE SELF-CARE
While you’re feeling upset, and perhaps even depressed, after your breakup, it’s important to prioritize self-care. This involves making sure that your basic needs are met. Even if you don’t feel like eating, focus on eating regularly and making healthy food choices.
Make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep, since sleep deprivation may hinder activity in your prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with complex thinking and emotions . If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about using sleep medications or herbal alternatives as a short-term solution.
Physical exercise is an important part of self-care, and it has the ability to counter depression, provide calm, relax, exhilarate, and relieve stress .
5. WORK ON SELF-IMPROVEMENT
Since your self-concept is vulnerable to change when your relationship ends, you may find yourself struggling to figure out who you are without your partner . This is the perfect time to begin working on self-improvement. Learn how to do something new, such as learning a new language or a new skill.
Consider taking a class in something you’re interested in. If you need to get healthier or lose some weight, it’s the perfect time to work on your health and your body. Improving yourself, even in small ways, can boost your self-esteem and help you on your journey towards moving on after the breakup .
6. FOLLOW THE NO CONTACT RULE
The No Contact Rule is commonly recommended to people who have gone through breakups, and while it can be difficult to follow, it can help you heal after a tough breakup (find out how to heal your broken heart). This rule involves not seeing, emailing, speaking to, or contacting your ex in any way.
You may have to block their number or unfriend them on social media to follow the rule, but while it can leave you feeling anxious at first, it does provide a buffer between you and those former ties to your ex, helping you heal .
Get more tips like this in our article on breaking up with a guy.
7. REMEMBER YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO MOVE ON
While it is essential to allow yourself time to go through the emotions after a breakup and it is important to express your feelings, you don’t want to get stuck resenting your ex or constantly over-analyzing the past. This saps your energy and makes it tougher to move on.
As you work through the process of grieving, remember that your ultimate goal is to move on . Work towards feeling more hopeful about your future. Give yourself permission to move past the breakup, and eventually, start dating again .
Related: How to Move On When It Ends
UNHEALTHY BEHAVIORS THAT SABOTAGE YOUR ABILITY TO MOVE ON
While you do need to be patient with yourself as you go through the grieving process after the dissolution of your relationship, it’s important to avoid unhealthy behaviors that can sabotage your ability to move on. You may be tempted to do whatever you must to try to avoid the feelings of pain and loneliness, but it’s essential to find healthy ways to cope.
Unhealthy coping strategies are not only unhelpful; they can make your problems even worse. If you deal with attachment insecurity, particularly anxiety, it may be easier for you to turn to unhealthy behaviors, such as using drugs or alcohol to cope with your loss .
- Failing to eat or stress eating
- Making harassing phone calls to your ex
- Stalking your ex
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Becoming a workaholic
- Excessive gambling
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Excessive use of nicotine or caffeine to alter your mood
1. Are my feelings normal?
When a relationship ends, it’s completely normal to experience a wide range of emotions, such as anxiety, anger, denial, guilt, sadness, and more. Not only are these feelings normal, but you may also feel these feelings altogether or at different times along your journey to healing.
Whether you were the one who decided to breakup or not when you lose a romantic partner, you lose a major part of your support system and your life, and it’s normal to grieve this loss .
2. Is it normal for my feelings to last this long?
Adjusting to the loss of a relationship and your former partner can take time . While the painful feelings will eventually lessen, there’s no timetable for getting over a breakup. Every person is different. However, it is important to make sure you aren’t engaging in behaviors that are keeping you from moving on.
3. What if I have to work with them or see them every day?
Research has been inconsistent in whether contact with an ex-partner after a breakup causes greater emotional distress . It’s usually recommended to avoid contact with your ex, particularly immediately following a breakup. It makes moving on and starting over much easier .
However, there may be situations that require you to see your ex every day, for instance, if you happen to work with them. In these cases, you will want to minimize contact with them as much as possible. If you feel like you cannot move on because you see this person every day, then you may need to consider a significant life change to break contact, so you’re able to heal.
4. How do I know when I’m ready to move on?
It’s important to remind yourself throughout the grieving process that you still have a future, and you’ll need to work on replacing former hopes and dreams with new ones . Your end goal should be to move on, but how do you know when you’re ready to move on to a new relationship?
Although “rebound relationships” are often viewed negatively, moving on to a new relationship can be helpful. Research shows that a relationship with someone new may help some people let go of their ex-partner . However, the timing of when you’re ready to move on depends on you. Every person is different.
You’ll work through your grief at your own pace, and when you’re ready to move on and try a new relationship, you’ll know it.
As you can see, dealing with a breakup can be tough. However, there are tactics that you can use to effectively deal with it, get over it and stop it from hanging over you. Now it’s just a case of implementing these strategies. Once you do, you’ll be able to move on with your life and on the path to meeting someone new.