Recovering from a Breakup: Proven Ways to Heal (From Science)

Even if your heart tries to pull its broken self together to tell you it’s for the best, and your head – foggy and sad – tells you the pain will pass, the agony of a breakup can be relentless. When you’re recovering from a breakup, it’s important not to hurry things along – it’s your time to reset, recharge and draw wisdom from the experience – but what if your healing could be strong and complete … and quicker?  Science may have just found the way. 

New research has found that broken-hearted ones who reflected more on their relationships over a nine week period had a stronger overall recovery from their breakup. 

An important part of the healing is a process called ‘self-concept reorganisation’, which involves rebuilding and strengthening the sense of who you are, independent of the relationship.

[bctt tweet=”What if your healing from a breakup could be stronger and quicker? Science may have found the secret … http://wp.me/p5hkQx-lk”]

Relationships have a profound impact on the beliefs we have about ourselves, whether we realise it or not. During the course of a relationship, it’s very normal to ‘intertwine’ with a partner. Goals and directions change, as well as wants and needs for now and the future.

This isn’t because you lose yourself, though certainly that can happen, but because intimacy involves opening up to another person – opening up to their love, wants, needs, feelings, opinions, love, goals, dreams. When that happens, you can’t help but be influenced and eventually move in the same direction. Sometimes that involves adjusting your own sails. It’s all a healthy part of being with someone fully, and part of the unpredictable magic of relationships.

A breakup means the undoing of this merging, which is painful to go through. However strong and independent a person may be, the fracturing of a relationship can also mean the fracturing of the self-concept. One of the most painful parts of a breakup is that it up-ends things as you’ve come to know them. The familiar is gone, plans are changed and the future all of a sudden has too many blank spaces where happy things used to be.

[irp posts=”1144″ name=”Dear Broken Hearted One … When You’re In The Thick of a Break-Up.”]

 

Part of the healing is re-establishing who you are without your partner. Anything that can repair and re-strengthen the self-concept, will accelerate healing.

So, to get you back to strong, based on science …

  1. Talk. Go on. Go for it.

    There are a couple of ways that talking about a breakup might help to facilitate healing. The first is that talking about the relationship will help to bring a different perspective to things. It’s not called a ‘breakup’ because it’s working well. Being in love or being in like-a-lot can blur things, hide things and dress things up, sometimes at the cost of clarity. There will be a level of insight that will throw itself at your feet when you talk about the relationship from a more distant perspective.

  2. Find your story.

    Talking helps to construct a story of the relationship that gives meaning to the experience – including the experience of the relationship, the breakup, and perhaps most importantly for healing, the recovery. Let me explain …

    If you tell the story of your breakup as one of rejection and a lost happy ever after, recovery will be slow, kind of like ‘walking through quicksand’ type of slow. It’s really easy to get stuck in this narrative when the thoughts are locked in your head and want to be with you at 2am. On the other hand, talking to people in your tribe will help you find a way to understand your story from a position of strength. This might involve finding the lessons, the learning and reframing the experience as, say, an ending, rather than a rejection.

  3. An emotional release – journalling.

    Having an emotional release is an important part of healing. Journalling is one way to do this as it allows you to capture and give definition to the thoughts and feelings that are swirling around inside. Journalling doesn’t have to be done every day to have an effect. Even a few times a week will help the healing. 

  4. Write – as though you’re talking to a stranger.

    Writing repeatedly about the process of the breakup as though speaking with a stranger about it, is another way to move towards healing. As well as being an emotional release, it also encourages a fresh perspective and new insights.

    [irp posts=”150″ name=”Your Body During a Breakup: The Science of a Broken Heart”]

  5. Reclaim yourself – what’s been neglected?

    Reclaiming a strong self-concept – establishing who you are outside of the relationship – is critical and will be enormously supportive of a recovery. Think about the parts of yourself that might have been pushed aside during the relationship. When you’ve found these, find ways to build them and nurture them. 

  6. And expand them.

    Find new ways to expand your self concept. When you feel ready, (or maybe a little before then) take up new interests, establish new goals or re-establish your direction. Given that your need to connect has been messed with, anything that will give you the opportunity to connect with others who will also see you as your own, unique person will really help the healing process.

A breakup is an ending, not a rejection. It might not feel like that initially, but it’s an important thing to remember. When your heart has been broken, it can take a while to find your way back to whole but you will get there. Healing from a broken heart is as much a physical process as it is an emotional one. It’s very similar to recovering from an addiction, which is why it feels so hard and so damn painful.

Above all else, remember that there were things about you that were beautiful, strong, vibrant and extraordinary before the relationship. Nothing has changed.

337 Comments

Roderick

Hello Sigmund, thank you for this great post. I’m a 41 yo male and my partner is 35 yo. We broke up almost 3 months ago after 5 year relationship. I’m in NC since then except a couple of texts due to some circumstances. As in any relationships, we had ups and downs but we were happy overall. We broke up once before because we drifted apart but I did what I could to get back with him and we had been together since then. We never lived together but we would usually spend weekends and holidays at his place. We enjoyed doing lots of things together and I always wanted to live with him but we didn’t have the resources and both of us had roommates. Last year he was able to get his own apt and I was very excited for him and helped him in the moving. To my disappointment he never mentioned the possibility of living together. I was afraid that by bringing it up it would create problems and cause some awkwardness. I didn’t want to smother him and I always felt like if I gave him space he would love and stay with me. I admit that some of the issues we had were caused by my lack of communication and his lack of self esteem and body image.
Early this year, I started a mandatory internship that took all my time and caused me lots of stress. I could barely see him but we would talk over the phone almost everyday. However towards the end of my project, I noticed that he became aloof and distant and stopped using our endearment words when addressing me. I was too busy to have a conversation with him until I finished. When I graduated, we sat and talked about it. He mentioned that he was feeling lonely so he stopped waiting for me and started to go out. This devastated me because he made me believe all that time he was understanding. He said he needed to be alone and find himself. This threw me off as I really needed him at that time. I felt like he abandoned me at the most vulnerable time in our relationship. I suggested we should part ways. We both cried. I asked if he had been seeing anyone he said he met this guy but he said it wasn’t romantic. That made me even angrier at him because we were exclusive and committed to each other.
Recently, I cut all social media ties with him and his friends since they were his support system which depressed both of us. It wasn’t my intention though.
I feel much better than those two weeks following the breakup but I’m still hurting. There are days where I feel good and others where I fall into depression again. I know there is no chance for us to get together escpecially after unfriending him and his friends. But I still think about him every day. I would appreciate your feedback and any advice. Thank you.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Roderick the pain of this breakup is still new and raw. It’s completely understandable that you would think of him every day – he was such a big part of your life for such a long time. Give yourself time for your heart to heal. It will, but it will take time. There will be good days and bad days, but as time passes, the good ones will become more, the bad ones less and there will be longer in between. In the meantime, spend time with people who care about you and do the things that will nurture you. Strength and healing to you.

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MarieMay

Hi,

Reading your article really helped me today, after dealing with a long day of sadness and deep depression.

Three weeks ago, my 1 year boyfriend moved overseas as he gained a post graduated scholarship. (We were very closed friends before moving to a relationship).

Two months before he left, we had “the talk” about what was going to happen with our relationship once he left. He was very honest and clear that he was not willing to try a long distance relationship, for many reasons, including not wanting to hurt me, the 14 hour difference was certainly not going to help, and he just wanted to pursuit his dream which was studying overseas. As much as this broke my heart and hurt as hell, I decided to continue with him until his last day in our country, upon his request as well, as he did not want to break up before he left, he wanted to enjoy his time with me, and we actually did.

Our closure was weak, neither of us was prepared for what was coming next and as soon as he got on that plane everything changed between us.

Now over the past two weeks we chat once in a while (never have skyped or talked through the phone), both of us have had meltdowns, we have both written long chats about our suffering always ending in “I will always love you” or “I will never forget you”…

Both of us have tried to stop chatting to eachother, but the most we had bared has been, what? 3 days or so. Most of the time, it’s me exploding, not being able to keep my thoughts to myself.

We want to stay in touch and try to “be friends” but I am not sure if it will just end up in making things worse. The idea of not knowing about him tortures me. He says he feels alone, misses me and loves me but that he can’t do anything, he says he is sorry for making me suffer but that this is a dream he’ve had for a long time.

I understand. It is hard to, because I used to believe that true love did not have any boundaries. Truth is as much big love can be, things like this happen and it sucks.

In my situation, I believe recovering from this will be even harder than any other kind of breakup, because my deep love for him is still here.

I hope you can read this and give me some advice. I really look forward to it.

Thank you.
M

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

This sounds like a confusing relationship. Are you together or aren’t you? If you aren’t together – if that’s what he wants – it’s painful and extremely difficult (if not impossible) to change gears in your relationship and become ‘friends’ with someone you want to be in an intimate relationship with. This can happen, but first there needs to be time and distance between you so that your heart and your mind can adjust to the new way of being together. If you aren’t together, long texting and saying how much you will always love each other will keep you stuck. It’s important for you both to be clear – are you or aren’t you in a relationship. If you aren’t, take some time and space for a couple of months at least until you can both adjust. Otherwise, all of your contact and your goodbyes will be raw and painful. You can certainly have a friendship one day, but just not yet. Not while the feelings of loving each other and the grief around letting go of your relationship are still strong and raw. You’ll be okay. I know you’re hurting but give it some time. Try to focus on you for a little while and when you feel stronger you can experiment with a friendship that doesn’t feel less than what you want.

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Aditya

Hi,

I have been in a long distance relationship for almost 8 years now. We have had our share of problems but we walked past that.
She had dumped me almost 5 years back for a guy who used to treat her like shit. Eventually, they broke up within a year and she came back to me. I accepted her. Although I hated her for dumping me in the first place, but it couldn’t stop me from falling in love with her, again.
This time, it was great. It felt great. I hope you understand 8 years of long distance relationship is not a piece of cake.
But, for the last couple of months, things have really been not going well for us. Many times, I found her ‘busy’ on the phone and all she says is it was one of her friends or relatives. She talks for like hours and I keep waiting for her to call me back. Which she does, but just a few times. I confronted her many times about what has been going on with her lately, but all she could do was getting irritated. I feel shattered now. I really don’t know what is going on on the other side. She might be having an affair for all I know. We fight daily and the frequency of her calls and texts to me has reduced to a great extent (Although she does say that she has been busy with her college and tuitions lately). I die inside, every day. I just hope that someday, everything will go back to normal. I did even ask her if she is having an affair so that I could move on. But, in the end, I am the one who gets to hear lectures from her on trusting and all.
I do consider breaking up with her. But I just have the fear that it might go severely wrong for me. And I might end up being in a much worse shape. She knows that it will not be easy for me to break up with her, which is why, probably, she is continuing with the same attitude. What do you think I should do?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Listen to your heart on this. Talk to your partner about how you are feeling. It takes two people to make a relationship happy and healthy. You can’t do it on your own. Ask her what she needs from you and whether or not she still wants this. If she does, be honest and open about what you need to be happier about the relationship. If you can work on the relationship together, that’s great. No relationship is perfect and they all need a big push from time to time. If your partner isn’t prepared to work on this with you, listen to that. Don’t fight to hold on to somebody who is not fighting to hold on to you. A relationship that is so one-sided is one of the loneliest places to be. All the best to you.

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Marin

Hi Karen! I’m not sure if this is right place to post this question. How do I forget about a woman I’ve never had relationship but ended up with strong attraction towards her??

I first noticed her in beginning of 2015. and we exchanged “hellos”. It took me 6 months to realize that I’ve fallen in love with her. Then I’ve started this idealization process in which I imagined this whole relationship with her, and how I wanted to express myself at deepest levels, which is full of intimacy and closeness – and by suprise there was not anything sexual there that crossed my mind.

I have never approached her and asked her out.

Anyway this May I’ve had epiphany and it occurred to me that this “block” was from childhood; you see, my parents were fighting a lot and what I innerstood through logical deduction is that my mother represented my female(energy) side, and my father represented my male(energy) side. So I was projecting my divided parts onto them – and with them fighting it was like I was in constant argument with myself and “logical conclusion” at that time was that union of man and woman is stressfull (so I intend to avoid it – at least I as a child thought so).
But of course there no such thing as female-male energy – that’s only a logic which interprets it as such. So in the end it was logical b.s. . But that corrupt logic has stigmatized my approach towards woman since I am a man in male body – and really I’ve never had a relationship or even a woman (of my age) for a friend.

So this June-July I’ve mended together my broken parts of “logic”, and contacts with women followed, just casual convos. I’ve realized that this logic construct was holding me back from expressing anything towards outer world. So for the first time of playing guitar in seven years I’ve took it outside and actually sang while playing guitar. I even gifted away my surplus of peaches to my neighbours with whom I never had much(or any) contact for much of the last 15 years that I’ve spent at this location.

The theme of holding onto / grasping / holding onto ideas (inside myself) was finally relived by just letting it flow outwards.

So any logic of using relationship as a vessel to fulfilling things that I’ve stigmatized within me – is now gone!
Now i just want through relationship to fully express myself unconditionally and make it possible for other to express herself unconditionally!

I’m a man, 26 years old,
and thank you for your time for reading this.

But that woman that I’ve fallen in love with (inside my mind), and with whom I’ve never expressed anything still comes back inside my mind. Not as a thought but as a picture.

She lives next door across the road (45 feet), and has a boyfriend.

I’m not sure how to resolve this.
(?)

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Marin this is something that only time can heal. The problem with something that happens in fantasy (like falling in love/ having a relationship) is that it can be perfection, untouched by the normal challenges that happen in all relationships. Accept how you feel and keep moving forward. Let the feelings and thoughts come and then let them go. Turn your focus to the things in your life that you can influence. It might take time, and that’s okay.

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NikkiP123

This was a big help for me. I broke up with my boyfriend/ finance of almost 16 years. We have two amazing boys together, which is making things even harder for me. I hate to see my kids in pain so I feel like I can’t grieve because I feel like I have to put on a strong front for them. To make matters worse, he has already moved on and has even moved his new girlfriend and her daughter into his home. I feel like its my fault for letting this linger on for as long as I did because I had a feeling that something was going on but he always denied everything when I asked. The hardest part of this is that he now wants to introduce our kids to this live in girlfriend so soon after our breakup. My youngest son is only 5 and all he thinks is he is getting a new playmate(the girlfriends daughter) but my oldest is 14 and he wants no parts of meeting this girlfriend. My ex has decided to become a complete scum bag, saying he would rather not spend time with the kids without this girl around because he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings. Im trying to get him to understand that there is a process for this, not just throwing them into a sleepover with someone that they aren’t yet comfortable with. To me, its crazy that he is so concerned with this person’s feelings and could care less about my feelings or the feelings of our kids. On top of everything else, he doesn’t seem to understand why my feelings are so hurt and he expects use to be best friends. All I would like to do everyday is curl up in a ball with a bottle of wine and a sedative or a sleep aid. I just feel like this is all a bad dream and maybe if I sleep long enough, it will all go away. I don’t even know where to begin to make this situation right. All I know to do is to take things one day at a time for all of us.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Oh Nikki I can hear the pain you’re going through. Breaking up with kids makes it so much harder because it is impossible to put the distance between you both that you need to recover and fade the longing. You are right to be strong for your kids – you’re amazing – but it’s completely okay if you let them know that you’re sad about what’s happened. Their main issue is ‘what about me’, so they need to know that you’ll be okay. Letting them know that you’re sad but that you know you’ll be okay lets them know that their own feelings of sadness are okay. The main thing is not to do anything that would cause them to worry for you. Having said that, it is important that you can grieve and fall apart. Even if it’s in the shower or letting it all out to a friend or someone who cares about you. Your kids need you to be strong for them, but that doesn’t mean you need to be strong all the time. We all need to lean on people sometimes.

In relation to your kids meeting his live-in girlfriend, this is a difficult one. Your 14 year old is old enough to understand that this will be breaking your heart. He will also have his own grief and anger about the breakup. Your eldest son will be in a loyalty bind. What this means is that he will be reluctant to do anything that might make you think he loves his dad more than you. This creates a real struggle for kids. The main thing is to love your kids more than you want to hate what your ex is doing. I know you would feel like this, but I also know how impossibly hard this can be to put into practice. It’s awful that your ex is making his time with the children conditional on his new girlfriend being there – completely selfish and lacking in empathy. Having said that, your kids will be better in the long run if they feel they have absolute freedom to choose to spend time with their dad and love their dad without hurting you. In time they will make their own decisions but they will be so grateful one day for the fact that you weren’t the one who got in the way of their relationship with their dad. If the relationship between your ex and his kids is going to fall apart, let it be at his own hands, not because of anything you have said or done. It sounds like your ex isn’t going to listen to you on what’s best for the kids. Talk to the kids about this so they can have a context, ‘He’s really excited because he wants to show you off to the people he cares about. I know that might feel really awkward for you, but I want you to know that I will always be okay with you having a relationship with dad.

In time, you will find someone who loves you the way you deserve to be loved. I can hear your strength and wisdom and your open, generous heart. At the moment, the world feels like one that’s hard to be a part of. It’s no wonder you just want to curl up in a ball. There is too much happening at the moment that feels painful. It won’t always be like this now. Be kind to yourself and lean on the people who care about you. They won’t mind at all. And yes – take one day at a time. At first, lots of those days will be bad ones. Then, with time, there will be more good, less bad and longer time between the good and the bad. Hold tight. I wish you and your boys lots of love and healing.

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Lauren

Was with my boyfriend for 5 months, though we’ve known each other for a long time, and I accidentally got pregnant. He already has a son from a previous relationship, and was very clear from the beginning of our relationship that although he loves his child, he never wanted children, and felt trapped by being a father. I don’t want children either, so I made the painful choice to have an abortion. He was unwilling or unable (perhaps both) to emotionally support me through the process, and instead focused on how hard it was for him to to be in a situation where he may have to father another child. No amount of trying to convince him that I never intended to get pregnant, and although it was a difficult decision, I was going to go through with terminating the pregnancy could alleviate his fear and anger. Needless to say, we broke up. The day after I went through the procedure. This was 4 days ago, so while I’m still dealing with the physical and emotional repercussions of my choice, I am also freshly out of a relationship with a man who I thought I had a future with. I was completely blindsided with how much he let me down, as our relationship had seemed so solid before this happened. Thank you for the article, and for letting me vent. It’s not an easy situation to be in, but I know that it will get better with time, and that I will eventually heal from this, and hopefully learn some lessons as well.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Lauren my heart opens for you. Every relationship goes will go through a crisis eventually, sometimes many times, and it’s heartbreaking to know that your partner didn’t have the strength or courage to stay by your side through yours. It’s a traumatic thing for you to go through on your own. I hope you are able to lean on other people who care about you. Nobody ever goes through a difficult experience without being stronger and wiser for it. You will get through this and there will be growth and wisdom that comes from it. In the meantime, take the time you need to nurture yourself. Love and strength to you.

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Babbs.

Thanks for the article. We just broke up after finding out that he had been unfaithful. He and I both feel that his need to work on himself and his unhealthy pattern of passive communication and seeking affirmation needs to be worked on by himself. It is so difficult because I don’t know if we will come back together. It’s hard to know if a part of me should hold on or if I should forget it entirely. Finding the balance between loving another through difficulties and “not giving up on them” and loving yourself is very difficult particularly because I am an empath. I will be journaling and talking with others through my journey of healing whether or not my ex and I reestablish the relationship.

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Ramona

I was in a relationship for almost three years. My ex broke up with me because he claims I was not supportive when he loss his father recently after a long illness. However, I know that was not the reason. I met my ex a few years after a painful seperation/ divorce. He was a 6 plus years younger than me but that didn’t matter. However, he was 100 percent disabled at a young age and depended on a disability check in order to make ends meet. But that didn’t matter to me because he was a good person and we enjoyed spending time together. However, due to his circumstances the bulk of the financial responsibility fell on me. I paid for almost everything in our relationship or at least 80 percent of it. That meant meals, groceries, gas, rent (because I had my own place when we met and eventually he moved in), and even dates. He promise that things would get better and that he would enter a government program for physically disabled people so he could work part time and still keep his benefits. But nothing ever panned out. I started to feel like I was carrying the load of the relationship. About a year and a half ago my sister asked if I wanted to move in together to save money. I was hesitant at first but chose to move with her after speaking to my ex. He felt that he should get his self together and then move in. To make a long story short………the first few months were good. He would come hang out and spend nights. Mind you he didn’t have a car so I would have to pick him up and take him home. Then a few months ago things started to change. He didn’t want to hang out as much and getting him to spend a night was harder. I thought he was struggling with his father’s deterioration in health which I understood but something wasn’t right. He broke up with me a couple of times and we got back together. …..trying to make it work. We were still being intimate in July when his father passed away. Then he became illusive not returning texts or calls. Then he said I hadn’t been there for him. On time he didn’t respond to anything for almost two weeks. Through my sister and Facebook. ……I saw a picture of him holding a little boy and a woman calling him her lovebug. Along with other posts and comments. . I went and confronted him and he said nothing was going on… they were just friends. We started talking again I confessed that I loved and missed him. He said he missed me too . A little over a week ago he washed my car and made plans to do other things. Later that same night I had a family emergency and we spoke briefly and he said we would talk the next day. I called and texted with no response. ……so I asked my sister to check the women’s Facebook page cause something didn’t feel right. She sent a picture and it showed that he had asked the woman to marry him. He gave her a ring. I sent him a ugly text and told him to forget about me. I am hurting and my heart is broken. We haven’t had contact in over a week and it is so hard but I know it is for the best..I really love him but maybe I was blinded by that.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Ramona it sounds as though you have dodged a massive bullet here. Ending any relationship hurts, even if it is one you’re better off not being in. A relationship with someone who is capable of such deception has nothing good in it for you. In time you will come to see this and will be grateful that he is no longer your problem.

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Rowena

I try to avoid serious relationship from experience also. The mistake was i have engaged myself to 20 years gap relationship am 46. At first it runs the way i wanted it to be, just simply spending time together but this young boy is attracted to older woman maybe its more matured relationship. He gave his free time to me and treat me like his wife and act like an old man already. He is a Muslim. Then after things becomes uneasy and i decided to call it quits. He got mad, he don’t answer my call just to express my apology. I begin to miss him. Now I feel sad m because my heart feels more than my mind. 🙁

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Rowena I’m sorry you are going through this pain. It is completely understandable that you would miss him, but that doesn’t mean the relationship is right for you, and it doesn’t mean that other relationships you find will hurt you like this. With every relationship is new wisdom. You are not the same person now as you were when you went into the relationship – you are wiser, stronger, and closer to having the relationship that will give you the love you deserve. You will feel better in time, but it will take time. Be patient and kind to yourself and know that a happier version of your life will happen.

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Lois

This is my 1st ever breakup. And my second relationship. Meaning the 1st are not that kind of serious but let us not dwell on that. Im reading your article and it helps me focus on what I should do. I came from a 4 years of relationship. We just recently broke up. I felt like i’ve been woken up from a dream. For a minute it was okay and the next its in tatters. He’s falling into someone else even though were really steady. And thats really unfair. He tells me that im still his girlfriend but his actions speaks louder the most. Its like telling me I’m not enough. So I ended our relationship. No need to say more. Its so hard to let go. Its like you lost a body part kind of pain. But Girl power rules. Even though Im picking up pieces of me one by one. Its the hardest ever I have done. Writing to thank this article is a step closet to being myself whole.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Lois breakups are awful and this one sounds like a painful one for you. Relationships can’t help but grow. They never stay the same. Some will grow together, and in others, the two people will grow apart. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t enough, but that you are on different tracks. The relationship has outgrown you, but that does NOT mean that you aren’t enough. It’s about the combination of you – not you. You are so enough! You have acted with so much strength by letting go of the relationship when it stopped feeling right for you. I completely understand how hard that it. You will get through this beautifully – with strength, wisdom and a readiness for the love you deserve. Love and healing to you.

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Jessie

Thanks for the article, it has helped a great deal. I called it quits with a person i was dating for four months (never had a boyfriend) wasnt really sure about beggining a relationship with him as he was moving sort of fast amd not taking into account i have never had a relationship and im 23. He started neglecting me which led me to call it quits and within a week he gets a gf and within another three weeks is engaged to her. I begged him to come back for a month and it didnt work, he never gave me a chance, thing ended horribly. Even though i know he probably wasnt for me i feel really hurt, and i feel my goals have changed. I feel more lost than ever. Wish things would have gone differently. For now im staying positive and hoping this storm passes at the same time hoping maybe i’ll encounter the right one. I hope to be open to love as well, i feel so guilty for intitiating the aplit, he made it seem like it was my fault. Just hope to heal.

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ZHANE

i was in a very abusive relationship physically and emotionally for 6 years, we moved in together 6 months after meeting, i should have seen the red flags when i met him,i found out when i met him that he was living with someone else, he ended up moving out and moving in with me and at my mothers house. i remember the day we moved to our own apt. i had a black eye and had to wear glasses in front of my family, but i loved him so much and could not walk away, its like God try to show me signs to walk away but my heart was in too deep. 1 month after we moved in together he was incarcerated , i was forced to get to know his father so i found out a lot of hidden secrets about him that that really hurt, and these were really major. during that time i did what a loving girlfriend will do, i held him down thru out the whole time. i went to see him every Saturday, he had control over me even though he was incarcerated i obeyed him and spent about 20-30 thousand that year on lawyer fees and phone and putting money on his account and traveling expenses to go see him. its like i didn’t have a life. on top of that i had all of the bills to take care of. he call me all day and every time the phone ran out of minutes, hill pressure me to put money on even though i didnt have it. i work and go to school. if he called while i was in class i will have to leave class and answer. how could i have been so blinded by love, and still feel love for this person. up until today i feel like it will hurt me to see him with someone else, i want that feeling to go away.

so after 13 month’s he was released from prison, and everything was good in the beginning. my dad had came up to visit fro Africa, so i introduced them, sad to say august 12th 5 years ago my dad died, one after my dad died he beat me up really bad. so i was morning my father and at the same time dealing with and abusive boyfriend. it seems like the beatings got worst. i found out that he had a daughter that he hid from me, and i was not able to overcome that, kept telling me that me that it was before me, i understand that it was before me, but who hides a child and not expect the woman they are with to be upset after finding out. i couldn’t let it go. i remember one time he kicked me in my chest to hard that my chest hurt for 3 month’s, i remember he thru a 55 pound weight at me, i remember he punched a whole thru the car window and broke the glass with me in it. i remember he gave me 2 blackeyes in front of his kids, i remember he bit my nail off my thumb and had to grow it back from scratch, and remember all the names he called me in public i can go on on about all the hurt he put me thru. why is it so hard for me to release this man from my heart. someone that treated me so bad. please advise me on how to get my mind and heart away from this evil demon that he has in him and put me thru so much heart ach. i am a person that is use to being in relationships and not alone, i don miss him i miss what we had meaning traveling and doing couples things together.

I know that God has someone out their for me i just want to get over my ex, i want to stop thinking about him. and i still cant think of him being with someone else. there is alot more about my ex that i can say but i will be better of writing a book on our 6 year relationship. HHHEEELLLPPP.

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Hey Sigmund

Zhane you miss the relationship, not the man. There’s a big difference. As long as you are connected to this man, a relationship that is loving, secure and safe will have trouble finding its way to you. This is your time to heal. This will mean nurturing yourself and becoming stronger. If you don’t, the risk is that you will be drawn in again to the next man who represents a relationship, bad or good. This is such a waste of you. This man sounds as though he is not capable of loving someone in the gentle, kind, respectful, nurturing way that love is meant to be. He will be with others the way he was with you, because the brutality of this relationship was from him, not from you. This is your time to love yourself enough so that this relationship won’t be repeated with anyone else. You are worth it.

Relationships are like an addiction, which means anything associated with the relationship will trigger the craving. Get rid of anything that reminds you of him. Put it away – photos, presents, letters – anything. Unfollow, unfriend and unlike him on social media – there is nothing good for you in knowing what he is doing. If you can, buy new sheets and new linen for your bed. For a little while anyway, don’t go to the places you used to go together. Find new things to do, new places to eat, new places to shop or buy your groceries.

Also, spend time with people who care about you, get out of the house at least once a day, and try to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day – even if it’s just walking around the block. Be kind to yourself, be strong, and be patient. You’re going to be okay.

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Allie Perez

It’s been two weeks since my ex and I broke up. We were together for 6 years. The past 4 years were really rough. We literally are in two different chapters of life and it was just a roller coaster ride. So many ups and downs. Disappointment after disappointment. I’ve really had no choice but to grow up and take care of myself financially and emotionally. I am 24 btw. He is 24 as well and said “he wants to be slightly irresponsible”. I guess some people just want to be childish as long as possible. 2nd time he just gets up and walks out of my life. The things that sucks is that I cannot get any closure. He literally gives me the cold shoulder and I am left with picking myself up and keep pushing through. I will never understand how someone can just pick up and go. Love you and then leave you and pretend like they never met you. After all of his selfishness, childish ways I unfortunately still love him. How will I get over him? I have no idea but I have no other choice than to move on and never get closure. We literally broke up through messages never once in person. I literally lost count of how many times it was on and off these past 4 years. Everything you mentioned in the article I am trying to exercise and just simply move on in life. I haven’t tried writing down in a journal for an emotional release so I should definitely give that a try. I’ve known deep down that he isn’t the one for me but for some reason my heart still loves him. That will eventually stop right? I guess I’ll have to find out.

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Hey Sigmund

The heart often loves what the heart knows best. Relationships become a type of addiction, which is why even the bad ones can be so hard to let go of. Like any addiction though, the pain will end and you will be even more ready for someone to love you the way you deserve to be loved – fully, completely, openly. Be kind to yourself and be patient. The pain will ease in time, but it will take time. It will stop though, absolutely, and you will feel happy again.

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Aradia

My 2 year relationship with my boyfriend was full of love and joy and we really hadn’t had any serious fights, just little misundersrandings. We were really inseparable. But the thing is, we have different beliefs. I’m a Christian, he’s an atheist. Throughout our relationship we did our best to adjust as much as we can. We really didn’t push our ideals into one another and never let the other feel inferior. We accepted each other, and maybe at some point, denied to ourselves what we’re really getting into. We didn’t really discuss much about our future family, how we’re going to tell our parents about our case (I don’t really want to think about how my family would react if they knew my boyfriend is an atheist), how we’re going to raise our children, etc. But just recently, my boyfriend and I had the talk. We’ve decided to ‘take a break’ and focus on the more important things in life. It just hurts though, because there’s no really guarantee that in the end we’ll still be together.

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Elena

I’m dating my boyfriend for a year, I met him after a troubled relationship followed by a horrible breakup. I thought he was caring and nice, so I quickly became fond of him. I even went to Australia to meet his family. But then he started making lots of weird requests, such as to stop having sex until the marriage (he’s really, really Catholic and I’m an atheist). So I decided to do it in order to make him happy. I fulfilled all his requests, but now I feel drained. Also, he doesn’t keep his promises so I feel unhappy most of the times. I am sacrificing to have nothing in return. I am afraid of going through a breakup again since the last one was devastating. I feel really fragile.

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Hey Sigmund

Elena I can hear how exhausted you are with this. It sounds as though you are giving a lot but not getting what you need in return. It’s not surprising that you feel drained. Breakups are awful things to go through, but the pain always ends. The problem with being in a relationship that doesn’t meet your needs is that the pain continues. Talk to your boyfriend about what is important to you and what you need from the relationship. If he is aware of what is important to you, but chooses to ignore this, he is sending a message that your needs aren’t as important as his. It’s impossible to build a healthy, fulfilling relationship on that sort of foundation. Listen to what your heart wants you to know.

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Julia

Hi,
Thanks so much for this article. Breaking up with my partner of 6 years at the moment. He says he isn’t sure if he’s in love with me anymore, and it hurts. We live together and I am in his country in my own, I am a cafe owner so cannot fly back home to be with family and I feel a bit lonely.
At the beginning of our relationship he didn’t want to be with me but I pushed and he finally gave in for 6 years… I feel I should have ran away when he told me to but I believed we were matching souls ! Haha
Now he says I am the perfect girl anyone could ever wish for but he is scared of missing out on experiences and life and not sure if he is in love with me. He hasn’t initiated the break up, I did cause I always could feel he had one foot out the door. All he says is “I don’t know what to say” and he hasn’t said it’s over or given me closure cause he just doesn’t know.
So here I am, 29, starting something new and terrified …

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Kabkap

Hi im a 15 year old boy ,i had a break up two months ago and it was like a 4 month relationship ,for like two months,ihv been struggling to give my break up a story which isn’t disturbing,distrubing is the truth that my girlfriend kept flirting with other boys and kept denying it for like half of our relationship time ,we had fights on this topic and at end i used to choose what she told me ,her lies ,because they were easy to absorb .Before dating her ,i was saving my love for one perfect girl ,all those romantic movies and stuff ,i fell in love with this girl ,love is a small thing ,A very small thing ,I became so so attached to her ,I couldn’t live a minute without talking to her,not even a minute ,she was very sweet and romantic wjen we started dating but little did i knew that she was like that with every boy ,i waz like only a NAME boyfriend to her .We rarely even got physical,coz she wasn’t comfortable with that and it kinda kills me now coz I invested a lot of love and time on her and i got nothing in return,absolutely NOTHING.Again,i love her more than anything,even now after the fact she cheated,my love for her is like not measurable i think so ,a thought of hugging her (tho we rarely hugged) makes me happy but ya our breakup ended in a way that we both started hating each other ,she hates me more than i hate her probably coz she never loved me ,and I can’t ever get back with her coz i can never trust her and she has moved on ,she did the day we broke up ,and look at me im 2 months past the break up ,still dying inside,having panic attacks ,shivering ,and during the relationship it was worse,when i used to getto know that she used to flirt with other ,i used to vomit,one even got fever amd i lost like 4 kgs in a month ,already im thin af .Now u must be thinking that how can a 15 yo boy love someone this much ,idk ,I don’t wanna live this life ,i am not able to study tho im a science student amd i have to study hard ,im not able to do anything,im scared af for my future relationships and ill feel so insecure,in these two months ,there was this 15 day period when i got attached to this tv series and thought that i had moved on but after stopping seeing that tv series ,it all feels so bad ,I showed her how much i loved her. I showed her this in every possible way ,and people cheat because there is some error in their partner or coz they think they don’t love em ,but i didnt lack anywhere trying to show her how much i love her,i opened up to her and yes ,it was my first relationship,can u please help me ,i live in new delhi tho .How can life be so cruel to me ? What have i even done to get so so much pain ,its unbearable ,dying seems like a better option and maybe on day ill kill myself too .

Reply
Hey Sigmund

I’m so sorry that you are going through this pain. Breakups hurt, however old you are. I would never question that anybody of any age could feel so deeply for someone else. It is a wonderful thing that you are capable of such deep love. This is just one part of your life though – it isn’t your life. I know that right now it feels as though you are in a dark place, but this will pass, I promise you. With every relationship – even the ones that end badly – you will learn more about the relationship that will make you feel happier, more secure and more loved than you ever could have imagined. It will take some time for you to move forward from this, but without a doubt you will do that. You don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who is sharing their love with so many people – this will keep you insecure and never fully satisfied. Eventually, these relationships, if they don’t end, have a way of making you question yourself and your capacity to find love. You have a brave, open heart. You will find love. There is someone out there who is looking for someone exactly like you. Be patient and be kind to yourself. Study hard, exercise, spend time with your friends and do things you enjoy. Things will get better. However dark things seem, they will always get better.

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Judy

I was dating a guy for a few months and he is the first guy I’ve truly had feelings for in over 8 years. I felt the relationship growing but things happened. He has to move next month across the country to train and pursue his career as a surgeon. Things were rocky this past month as he was getting ready for the move. We decided to not take this long distance and keep in touch. Little did I know what he really meant was that he wanted to keep me around as a potential. 2 weeks later he’s in a relationship and I found out through social media. This article has helped me process everything to regain my strength back. I’m ready to shine again.

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Thomas

Hi Sigmund I have been in a decent marriage going on almost 12 years and I am wanting to leave my spouse not for someone else but because I am so unhappy,I’m 44 yo male with 2 beautiful children with this woman,but she does things that make me very angry such as going through my phone and telling lies to her parents on me,won’t go into detail, but yeah I don’t understand why every time I leave im supposedly seeing someone else which I’m not, but she has trust issues with me. I have done nothing wrong seriously,the only reason I’m still around is because of my kids I try to be a good man but I’m so tired of being unhappy my love is turned to discontent, any advice would be appreciated if I leave her she’s said to me that I can’t see my kids again, also all we do is argue and fight I’m so unhappy,advice please.

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Hey Sigmund

Thomas this sounds like a really difficult situation for you. It sounds as though you have made up your mind that it is time for you to leave the relationship, but you are scared of losing your children. Hopefully your wife would realise the potential damage to your children of keeping them from you. A relationship counsellor can help you both to separate in a healthier way. Relationship counsellors aren’t only about healing relationship problems, but about finding the best way for both of you to be. If that is apart, they can help you with strategies for this.

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Sofie

I was with who I believed was the love of my life for 9 happy years, then my partner went through a major depression and decided he wanted to go to Goa for 6 weeks to be a yoga teacher.. I didn’t like it but supported and trusted him. Unfortunately out of the blue he had an affair while he was out there with one of the other students. I’m 42 and he’s 44.. He always said he loved me and wanted to grow old with me, now he says he can no longer ‘support’ the relationship.. We never argued and had a very loving relationship and now its inexplicably over and I’m experiencing the worst crippling pain and depression. I’m also stuck living at my parent’s house (on a camp bed in the loft)..as I don’t earn a lot of money. I’ve never in my life felt like I wanted to die. The thought of this feeling going on for years is horrible..

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Hey Sigmund

Sofie I know that right now it feels as though the pain will be endless, but the pain won’t last. Your body and your mind have been shocked – and it is shocking. The betrayal and the unexpectedness of it must have been devastating. This article will help you understand what you are going through (you may have already read it but just in case) https://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/. I know this is an awful time for you, but it will end. I wish you love and strengh.

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Lee-Ann

Thank you so much for this article! I’ve found it hugely comforting and supportive, and gives me hope! My partner and I broke up on Tuesday evening, he’d gone home to another country for past two weeks to visit, when we spoke in teh morning we were happily in love, still making plans for the future and he was telling me all about where he was and how much he missed me and wished I was there to see where he’s from, and Tuesday afternoon when we spoke he didn’t want or love me anymore, nor was he willing to do the work it takes to be in a relationship… Was a gut wrenckingly painful experience. As we live together, still have all his stuff at home (moved out of our room) until he comes home to South Africa next week to fetch it when he moves in with a friend… Feeling all teh things you’ve spoken about above, and kind of hopeless about my future, but your article has given me comfort that others go through this too and can reach the other side stronger and better for it. So thank you SO much!

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Hey Sigmund

Lee-Ann this sounds like such a confusing, painful breakup. So many unanswered questions for you! I’m so pleased the article has been able to give you some comfort. I know it might not feel like it at the moment, but you will get through this, you really will. There will be good days and bad days but as time goes by the good days will get so much better and they will take over the bad days. Love and strength to you.

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Heidi

I was divorced from a decent man 4 years ago. He was a good husband an supporter. But I had issues of intimacy and longing he could not fulfill in me. I met a man who was becoming separated at the same time. We fell madly in lust. Love grew quickly but the passion piece was definitely what drew me in. We have been together since, living together for the last 2 years. While he is supportive of me, loving towards me and feels like my best friend, he just cannot grasp onto relationships with my children. I have full custody of my daughter, who is now away and in college, and my son who is a sophomore in high school. My “boyfriend” is a former collegiate athlete and now coach on the same level. He travels almost 6 months a year, during the entire off season. During that time, he has only the little bit of a relationship with my son through me. My son worships him but my bf is so critical, from afar, of everything my son does. He thinks he does not work out hard enough, he thinks his grades should be better…the list goes on and on. But like I said, this is all done through conversations with me…not my son. My son is on track to become a collegiate athlete, as well, but is not as mentally hard as my bf. Long story short, my son has been begging him to come home as he has been away for the last 8 weeks. He wants to bond with him. My son wants to feel loved by him. I cannot beg my bf to build this foundation. I am tired of having a long distance relationship. I want a “family”. As a result, today, we had a huge argument via phone and he TEXTED he’s done. I have seen this coming for weeks as my patience level for the distance and the pressure of feeling in the middle of by bf and my son has just been too much. I want my son to feel close to a man, and that man to be a “dad”…a friend…a confidant. My ex husband rarely sees my son and is not athletic so my son does not really feel a close connection with him anymore.Today I felt like I had to choose between my bf and my son. I will ALWAYS choose my son. Now I feel alone but am trying to maintain the focus that things happen for a reason. This is just horrible as I truly thought this was the man of my dreams.

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Shod

You’re not alone. And things will be better.

-from someone who also lost someone who they thought was the one

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Ellen

Thank you for this article. I recently broke up with my boyfriend of two years. It is especially devastating to both of us, as we have been each others’ support systems through the most difficult unrelated life stresses. The past year specifically, I lost my father to Alzheimer’s my mother was admitted into a psychiatric health facility for a week, I was still recovering from a divorce before our relationship began and the difficulties of adjusting to seeing my son half the time I would have should I had stayed married. He, by no control of his own, had also been divorced from a woman whom was mentally unstable and abusive. He was laid off from his job and had to rebuild himself while also being the only consistent support system for his son. The joy we once shared with one another became plagued with doom and gloom from issues outside of our control, affecting our overall mental health. It hurts to think that if those life stresses were removed (or even simply one of them), we may be able to be together. But because we both took on each others’ emotional pain, it became too much to bear for me. I ended it and I feel awful not only because I love him, but because I feel as though I left him without the one person that was helping him recover and heal from his pain. I feel guilty, depressed, and completely isolated and alone. I’m 29 and my family and close friends do not live nearby. I am having trouble being hopeful for the future. I am currently in counseling and that helps some, but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Hey Sigmund

Ellen, I’m sorry that you are going through this pain. I understand how devastating a breakup is when you love someone so much. It sound as though you have made this decision with a lot of clarity – it sounds like the right thing for you. Things will be difficult for a while as you are going through a physical and emotional withdrawal. Here is an article that might help you to understand what you are going through https://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/. There are other articles here https://www.heysigmund.com/category/with-others/when-a-relationship-breaks/. There is no easy way through the hurt that comes with every breakup. If there is anything you can do to be with people, that will help. The isolation you are feeling will increase the pain and possibly the duration of that pain. I know you probably won’t feel like it, but if you can join a group, a club, a sports team – anything that will stop you feeling so isolated and which will give you the opportunity to connect with other people will be important. We are wired to connect and when our main source of connection is broken, if there is nothing else to even remotely fill in the gap, healing will be harder. You will get through this regardless. You have been through so much and survived. Keep seeing your counsellor, but do what you can to nurture yourself. Love and strength to you.

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shane

No disrespect, but why is she so upset, considering she left him? I read what she wrote, but that is what being a couple is about: helping and supporting one another.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

The ending of any relationship is difficult and painful, even the relationships that no longer feel right. There is a difference between giving up and knowing when it is time to walk away.

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Lindie

Hi, I am from South Africa and had just broke up with my BF of the last 4 and a half months. The first 2 months was wonderful!! Then HE suddenly changed……verbal abuse 🙁 hiding his phone talking rude to me and is drinking MORE and the when he can’t remember what he said or did the following morning. He had a photo of his 3d x wife in his living room and when i asked him why he said”the pictured stay there so deal with it”i decided that i don’t need this……BUT then he talked nice again and i gave in again!! just to get messages on his phone making dates with other women!!! emotionally and verbally he abused me……..i woke up at 24:00 last night and decided i had enough!!!! so i phoned him to talk to him directly but “i am busy toning”was what i heard over the phone. SO i send him a very beautiful whatsapp and said my final goodbye…….

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shane

No disrespect, but your problem in terms of missing him is simple: take him back, and stay the course this time.

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Samantha

Thank you for writing this..We broke up three days ago. We have been together for four years. Through long distance and all. We live together and are currently just staying in seperate rooms until my new apartment comes available. Our four year anniversary is in one week. He says he’s changed and wants to just all around be alone. He’s depressed and wants to be away. I have fallen into depression, can put on a happy face but deep down I am a ticking time bomb.

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Hey Sigmund

I’m so sorry this has happened to you. It sounds like a confusing breakup. What you’re feeling now is really understandable. You’re going through a physical and emotional withdrawal. It feels awful – I know, I’ve been there – but you will get through it. You don’t have to have a happy face all the time and you don’t have to always be strong and courageous. This is a such a big thing that you’re going through. Be kind to yourself and give your heart time to heal. Wherever you can, be with people who love and care about you. There will come a time where you feel stronger and more whole, and where you can be open to what comes next. The time takes time though. Much love and strength to you.

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Faces so often say so more than our words ever could. Even more than words and behaviour, faces tell the story of where we (and our nervous systems) are right now. Receive their joyful faces and their brave faces. Their scared faces and their sad faces. When their words are spicy and big their behaviour is bigger, receive their faces. Their faces won’t lie. And neither do ours. By receiving their faces it will open the way to show them, ‘I see you. I feel you. I’m with you.’♥️
Parenting was never meant to be about perfection. Neither was growing up. The messy times are so often where the growth happens - theirs and ours - but this can only happen if we can be with ourselves through the mess, with an open heart and an open mind. But this can be so hard some days! 

Let’s start by shoving the idea of perfect parenting out the door and let’s do that with full force. Perfection. Ugh. Let’s not do that to ourselves and let’s not do that to our young loves. It’s okay for them to see our imperfections, and it’s okay for them to lay theirs bare in front of us. We won’t break them if we yell sometimes. They will learn from our mistakes, and we will learn from theirs.♥️
If the feelings that send them ‘small’ don’t feel safe or supported, the ‘big’ of anger will step in. This doesn’t mean they aren’t actually safe or supported - it’s about what the brain perceives. 

Let them see that you can handle them in all their feelings. Breathe and be with - through their tears, or confusion, or lostness. Just let their feelings come, and let them be. Feelings heal when they’re felt. Big feelings don’t hurt children. What hurts is being alone in the feelings. Your strong, loving presence, your willingness to be with without needing them to be different, and certainty that they’ll get through this will hold them steady through the storm. If they don’t want you near them, that’s okay too. Let them know you’re they’re if they need.♥️
Brains love keeping us alive. They adore it actually. Their most important job is to keep us safe. This is above behaviour, relationships, and learning - except as these relate to safety. 

Safety isn’t about what is actually safe, but about what the brain perceives. Unless a brain feels safe, it won’t be as able to learn, connect, regulate, make good decisions, think through consequences. 

Young brains (all brains actually) feel safest when they feel connected to, and cared about by, their important adults.  This means that for us to have any influence on our kids and teens, we first need to make sure they feel safe and connected to us. 

This goes for any adult who wants to lead, guide or teach a young person - parents, teachers, grandparents, coaches. Children or teens can only learn from us if they feel connected to us. They’re no different to us. If we feel as though someone is angry or indifferent with us we’re more focused on that, and what needs to happen to avoid humiliation or judgement, or how to feel loved and connected again, than anything else. 

We won’t have influence if we don’t have connection. Connection let’s us do our job - whether that’s the job of parenting, teaching - anything. It helps the brain feel safe, so it will then be free to learn.♥️
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#parenting #parentingforward #parentingtips #mindfulparenting
The stories we tell ourselves influence how we feel and what we do. This happens to all of us. These stories can be influenced by our mood, history, stress - so many things that are outside of what’s actually happening. 

When our children are in distress, this will start to create distress in us. The idea of this is to mobilise us to protect, but when that distress happens in the absence of a ‘real’ threat, it can throw us into fight or flight. This can influence the story we tell ourselves. This is really normal.

Whenever you can, pause, and be open to a different story. It won’t necessarily make the behaviour okay, but it will make it easier to give your child or teen what they need in that moment - an anchor - a strong, steady, loving presence to guide them back to calm. 

When their brains and bodies are back to calm, then you can have the conversations that will grow them: what happened, what can you do differently, what can I do differently that would help?

The truth is that they are no different to us. In that moment they don’t want to be fixed. They want to feel seen, safe, and heard.♥️
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#parenting #parenthood #mindfulparenting

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