By Jon Spayde, Experience Life
Expert Source: Susan J. Elliott, JD, MEd, certified grief counselor, attorney, relationship coach and author of Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2009)
When a committed relationship comes to an end, grief and stress are almost inevitable. Regardless of why the parting of ways occurred, you’re likely to feel a swarm of difficult emotions — from anger at your former partner to idealization of the lost relationship. You may also be beset with doubts about whether you’ll ever recover from the pain or be able to love again. What you need now are strategies to help you through this difficult time, and guidance toward healthy choices that will help you come out on the other side of the relationship strong and whole. Relationship expert Susan J. Elliott offers advice on moving beyond heartache.
Barriers to Overcome
- Despair. While it’s natural and healthy to grieve a lost relationship, wallowing in sadness past a certain point (see Strategies for Success, next page) will keep you stuck. So will telling yourself that you’ll never get over it, or convincing yourself that you are simply no good at relationships and never will be. “To paraphrase Henry Ford: ‘Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right,’” says Elliott.
- Romanticizing the ex. One perspective that can keep you stuck, says Elliott, is the notion that you’ll never find as good a partner as the one you’re losing. This all-or-nothing thinking is a trap that keeps you from healing and moving on. And it can hit you even if another part of you knows that the breakup was for the best.
- Resenting the ex. While romanticizing what you had isn’t helpful, neither is villainizing your former partner. “Hoping the bastard gets hit by a car is a great way to stay unhappy indefinitely,” says Elliott.
- Clinging to your coupled identity. When you have been connected for a significant period of time, it can feel strange and disorienting to suddenly be single. You may feel awkward being an “unpaired” person when socializing with partnered friends. You may also dread the prospect of reentering the dating scene.
Next: strategies for coping and moving on