How to navigate a relationship breakdown

Broken hearts

Ending a relationship is never an easy thing to do – but sometimes it’s necessary. And if the first weeks of January weren’t bad enough, it’s also the time when relationships are more likely to come to an end. In fact, one of the UK’s biggest relationship charities, Relate, sees a peak in calls during January as issues within long-term relationships come to a head after the New Year.

Although getting over a break-up is tough and there are no quick fixes to take away the pain, moving on from a relationship that’s ended begins with you. Relate counsellor Rachel Davies suggests five ways to navigate a break-up…

1. Be kind to yourself

All too often it’s easy to beat yourself up about what you did or didn’t do in your failed relationship. But being kind to yourself could help cope with a broken heart. “Find the time to nurture yourself,” says Rachel.

“Take the support and offers of help from others – it’s not the time to strike out by yourself. For example, if someone was looking for a new job at the same time as a relationship break-up, you probably don’t want to be going for job interviews in the first few days afterwards, as you will be feeling a bit more vulnerable – so you need to look after yourself a bit.”

Rachel recommends doing whatever works for you – this may mean pampering yourself, doing more exercise, eating the right foods, or seeing the friends who can help you and not the friends who are going to make you feel worse and challenge you about it.

Torn photo couple

2. Avoid making big decisions and be realistic with your expectations

Break-ups can be a confusing time and your decision-making skills can often be compromised. Avoid making major decisions straight after your break-up while emotions are running high. Rachel says:

“What I come across quite often is people saying things like, ‘I can no way stay living in this city as my ex is still living here’, and things like that… And I don’t think the couple of weeks after a break-up are the times to make big decisions because the emotions are too strong.”

She adds:

“Don’t change your life, don’t resign from your job, don’t sign up to a very expensive new course – don’t do anything like that in the first two weeks after a break-up.”

3. Limit the contact you have with your ex-partner as much as possible

Asking questions about your ex to mutual friends and stalking on Facebook can be so temping, but ultimately it can make you feel worse, according to Rachel.

“Checking up on your ex on social media and quizzing joint friends are the kinds of things we see quite often, and most of the time it just makes you feel a lot worse. You may be asking if they’ve met anybody else or if they’re upset – and if you hear that they’re actually okay, it can make you feel worse.”

She adds:

“Social media, of course, is such a problem for this because you can always find out what everybody else is doing. So, the best thing you can do is withdraw from too much contact with the people who know that person. What you have got to ask yourself is if this is going to make you feel better – and most people will probably admit that it makes them feel worse.”

Woman looking at phone drinking coffee in cafe

4. Use common sense with who you choose to confide in

When emotions are high, it’s easy to openly express where things went wrong in the relationship to both his friends and yours. And telling every single person that you know about how they did they dirty on you is probably not going to be very helpful in the long-term, explains Rachel.

“Contacting his family and having a bitch about how much he hurt you is not going to be a good thing to do. So, just think about confiding in a few people who are on your side, who will be supportive rather than publicising all the ins and outs of what went wrong with your relationship on social media.”

5. See the benefits of being single

A new study, by experts at Relate and eharmony, found that singles realise that there are a lot more benefits about being on their own – with nearly half of singles agreeing that being it is better than being in a bad relationship. Rachel advises:

“If you can see a break-up as an opportunity to have some independence, time to yourself, and a way of finding time to pick up some hobbies that you haven’t had time to do since being with your partner – then actually it can make you a happier individual and you are going to be better suited to getting back into a good relationship when you next meet somebody.”


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