How does one navigate though a breakup when it is you husband or wife that you are parting with? Or what if your boyfriend or girlfriend of many months or years has called it quits, choosing to part ways with you.
We are not talking about somebody that you were just casually dating.
Nope, we are talking about a person you have loved, possibly for many years.
We could be dealing with a man or woman that may have been the love of your life. He or she may be the father or wife to your children. Or he or she may have once been your soul mate in every respect.
Unraveling the puzzle of how you should go about processing everything is seldom immediately clear.
I think one of the first things you need to do when a breakup is unfolding or has already happened is to look at the big picture of your life.
I realize that when you are dealing with the whiplash of a failed or failing relationship, that is no easy thing to accomplish.
Undoubtedly you are probably wracked with internal questions as to whether you married the wrong person. I wrote the post below for women who fear they made the wrong decision to even get hitched up….
I hope that after you finish reading this post, you will come to realize the importance of taking a holistic view of what is going on in your life.
Indeed, this is quite important because with perspective and insight, you will be able to make better decisions. You will be able to better decide if the breakup was premature and whether it is worth trying to re-engage with your ex.
Hopefully, with a holistic view, you will be able to see the things that happened in your relationship more clearly.
And if you are seeking to re-establish your relationship, the clearer you can see things of the past as well as “yourself”, the better are the chances of success.
But I bet, right now, things are probably pretty tough for you.
Love And Breakups – Do They Go Hand in Hand?
You have heard of the saying, “breaking up is hard to do“, right?
Well, the truth is that which follows the breakup…….all the aftermath and ugly feelings and internal doubts and impaired self image ……..those things are among the hardest experiences for a man or woman to have to deal with.
Before I forget, let me call your attention to an article I wrote that deals with how to get your marriage back on track if you are so inclined.
Marriage is a funny thing.
Unfortunately, the way these things seem to work is when you fall in love with someone, there is always a risk of things going sour and taking an unexpected turn, resulting in a breakup.
It happens with about half of the population that end up marrying.
You don’t plan for it and it is usually something you can’t anticipate well in advance.
Breaking things off with someone you love can happen suddenly or it can happen after a longer period of conflict. In the latter case, personal battles and tests of wills may have occurred for weeks or months, further muddying the waters.
But when lovers break up, irrespective of the events leading up to that point, the pain and hurt can still be paralyzing.
There is good cause for this.
When the two of you were together, in each others arms and intertwined in each other’s lives, the reward center of your brain was getting plenty of attention. The neurotransmitters in your mind were releasing dopamine and oxytocin and other brain chemicals.
After you breakup, the brain chemistry has little time to react to the deficit of chemicals it was so accustomed to receiving. In effect, you go into a withdrawal period, much like a drug addict does, that is every bit as physical as the emotional withdrawal pains you are suffering.
It takes time to recover from what is happening both in your brain and in your heart.
So it can be quite overwhelming to go through the hardship of losing your husband,wife, boyfriend or girlfriend. Even if the agreement to break up is just temporary, assuming the breakup was mutually agreed upon, you will still feel like you are being dragged through hell.
The Breakup Blues is Like a Punch in the Gut
I have seen cases in which a couple struggled mightily, feeling miserable much of the time. I have seen couple situations where one or both often felt sick and anxious due to the weight of the relationship conflict.
Then after a lot grief and relationship damage, some couples finally decide to call a truce or timeout, with the understanding they need to break things off and go their separate ways.
It sounds easy. In fact the words, when said, seem to just pour out naturally. But there are like two parts of you.
There is the rationale and pragmatic “you”. And then there is the “emotional” somewhat vulnerable “you”.
As a result of the conflict between these two “mind states”, you can at times get caught in between your feelings about what you really want to do.
All of this adds to the difficulty before and after a breakup.
How Do We Talk To Each Other When We Call it Quits
There are all kinds of phrases we sometimes use when we are calling it quits and ending the relationship, even if it is a trial arrangement.
We might say, “Let’s just try giving each other some room“.
Or we might say something like “let’s explore a trial separation, or “let’s just halt and suspend things with our relationship for awhile.”
Those who wish to be more harsh in bringing the relationship to and end might say, “let’s sever ties so we can get on with life“.
These are the relatively nicer things people say to break things off. I rather not give you examples of some of the mean and insensitive language I have heard as it serves us not to dwell on ugliness.
But it is interesting that people tend to use metaphors and highly descriptive phrases to describe the act of breaking up as if it could help soften the blow.
It seldom does.
However one slices and dices the words, there will be plenty of second guessing, confusion, anger, depression and lots of pain.
But I have news for you.
Don’t fear it. Rise above it.
Don’t wallow in it. Build on it.
Just know that the natural progression of recovery is learning to work through the chemical dependency stage of the relationship.
Just as we discussed earlier, you may try to fool yourself into forgetting all the troubles you believe your ex may have caused you, but your brain and its dependency on dopamine and a host of other chemicals, needs time to become regulated.
The Period After a Breakup
Sometimes when one or both individuals decide they wish to go a different direction, the hope is that things might get better some day. They may hold off on making it an “official breakup”, whatever that might mean.
Let me try to define.
In such situations, the relationship is still ending, but the parties involved are postponing making any final decision regarding making it “official”.
I have another what of describing this phase.
I call this the No Contact Phase of the relationship. In this situation, the relationships lives on in your mind because you are not quite ready to give it up.
And by giving yourself time alone, away from your estranged lover….essentially breaking off all contact…..you can actually improve your chances of recovering.
Then there is the more traditional break up in which one of the parties decides to end things.
In these situations in which a couple recognizes that the relationship is not working, one or both of them could be at the end of the rope.
They may have tried everything they could think of to make things better, but at some point it will become evident to one of them (possibly both) that things won’t get better while they are together.
So it is usually one of them that will pull the trigger, putting an end to the relationship. Sometimes these decisions are accompanied with the notion that, “this is it, it’s finally all over”.
But as we discussed, that is seldom the case.
Relationships seldom come to a screeching halt. And when they do, it is not unusual for their to be premature efforts to reconcile. Hence the cycle of on again, off again is born.
This is why a transition into a phase of No Contact can be very important in many ways.
When is the Relationship Really Over?
As you probably know so well, permanent breakups start off like tremors of an earthquake.
They can come out of nowhere followed by a series of minor break up shocks, before the whole relationship collapses. But it can take a good while before things get to a point where there is no return.
So when is a relationship finally over? Well, that is really a tough question.
It turns out that “time” is the arbitrator to that question
And while a couple can in the moment agree to go their separate ways, thinking they have handled everything as well as possible, the aftershocks of the emotional pain from tearing away from your past lover can effect you in ways you would never had anticipated.
How Do You Cope With Losing Your Lover?
So what are you to do if you and your lover have experienced such a breakup or something similar?
How do you cope? What should you do with your life? How should you deal with communications with your ex or your estranged husband or wife?
I think it starts off with looking at things in a different way.
In effect, you need to make a Paradigm Shift in how you view yourself.
And that is really important because after most break ups, self esteem can suffer.
For a long time, you may have seen yourself as part of someone else, sharing the same long term goals.
Now, all of that has seemingly changed. You may begin questioning your own identity and self worth. You will need to learn that who your are is not and should never be predicated or dependent on the man or woman your are no longer with.
There is a bridge of emotions you need to cross. It won’t be easy. But I believe you can do it.
Why I do I feel this way about you?
Well, one reason is because you are HERE! You decided to come to this website to learn what you should do with you life and how you can cope with your emotional struggles.
You are reading this now and that means you care enough about your situation to get help. And trust me, most everyone who has experienced a breakup, needs a little help.
Sometimes, we are so mired in the emotions surrounding a break up, that we are unable to see the bigger picture. We can all use a guide to lead us through our emotional valleys.
Breakups and The Shadows of Heartache
You are probably wondering, what can you possibly do that will cast away the shadows of heartache.
It is important that you recover emotionally from the break up. To accomplish this, you will need to detach yourself from your ex boyfriend or ex girlfriend (or husband or wife)/
It will be hard, but it will be necessary.
Sometimes, you have to remove yourself from something in order to become re-attached.
There are multiple reasons for this and we will get into these methods and the reasoning behind this strategy in due time.
But for now, I want you to think of this path you are about to take as a pragmatic way of dealing with the situation your find yourself in.
Embrace Your Pain Then Cast Out the Long Shadows!
Right now you are probably looking at everything through the prism of heartache.
Ouch…I know it can hurt.
Heartache colors your entire view and perspective.
Research has demonstrated that your outlook on what you should do or how long it will take you to recover, is largely biased by your predicament.
I too have suffered from a loss of an Ex.
So I can relate to your pain and I also know you probably feel helpless.
But I know you will feel better about things in time.
I have also advised many thousands of individuals on how to deal with their suffering. So I really know and understand your pain.
These long shadows cast by the loss of your lover takes the shape of sadness, depression, self blame, guilt, despair and many other negative emotions.
What I want to teach you is how to cast these “long shadows” out of your life.
And much of your recovery will come about because of your courage and willingness to embrace yourself.
Learning to date yourself is one way a colleague of mine described it.
Adopt a Practice of Not Contacting Your Ex
The No Contact Principle is largely about embracing the courageous YOU. Adopting this principle allows you time to heal and work on improving those areas of your life you have always desired to improve.
I talk about all of that in more detail in the post below.
Nothing in our life’s struggles can be condensed into simple statements.
But if pressed, I would say that there are two types of responses people have when they are plagued by a major relationship breakup.
There are those who despair and apply desperate efforts to reunite with their Ex, then give up when things don’t work out. Such individuals usually invest little time in their own recovery and feel damaged and/or victimized for a very long time.
Then there are folks like yourself!
You too are hurting bad. And perhaps some of your early efforts to piece things back together failed. But instead of wallowing in your pain and sorrow, you are taking affirmative steps to explore what you can do to patch yourself up and possibly patch up your relationship with your Ex.
Believe me, I know. It takes courage to lift yourself out of that deep, painful place and see that there can be a better tomorrow.
You are here to learn how to get over your breakup with someone you really, really love.
Ironically, sometimes the best path forward in reconnecting with a lost lover is to do the opposite of what me might expect.
Hence, learning more about The No Contact Rule and other things things can help you.
Why on earth”, you might be wondering, “would I want to be reminded of my breakup!
Well, there is a process one sometimes needs to go through, in order to become better acquainted with what has REALLY happened.
Stop Stumbling Around
You will need to embrace a process where you effectively learn to date yourself. Think of it as getting re-acquainted with who you are and the things that are important to “you”.
Turn away from your ex lover and move in the direction of rebuilding and restoring your self esteem and sense of who you are.
This process I am describing can help you “see the forest for the trees”.
This is really, really important. You can’t get far, if you are stumbling around, reminded everyday about how much you miss your man or woman.
The artistic group, “The Black Keys”, have it right with their lyric:
“A broken heart is blind”
I want to help you, help yourself.
So let us begin with a discussion of how it all seemingly came to an end.
Think of it as a NEW beginning!
A New Beginning After The Split Up
I know how might be feeling right now.
If you are like most people, you are probably not eager at all to think about the day you learned that you and your Ex were breaking up for good.
Such memories are things you probably dread thinking about. Or, maybe you are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Thoughts of that dreaded day may be the only thing you can think about.
It is important for you to understand that you are not alone. There are many other people who care very much about you.
It is not the end of the world.
You live, you breathe and you eat nourishing and delicious food.
You make a huge difference in many people’s lives.
Life may not feel all that great right now, but you have a lot of good things going for you.
You can still read and enjoy movies and television. You can still smell, hear, and see. Your health is probably pretty good. You are not in a war zone. And you have other meaningful people in your life!
We take so many things for granted.
I have to constantly remind myself of this when I feel down and out. So I am going to pass it forward!
Despite this recent romantic set back, you have some really great things happening for you now.
Facts & Myths About Relationship Break Ups
It is impossible for me to cover everything you need to know about what is important in relationships or how you should move forward in just one article.
So, I am going to be writing a lot more about this topic. Just come visit and stay awhile.
In the meantime, if you are looking for a comprehensive treatment on how you can optimize the relationships you wish to build in the future, check out this post.
Are you ready to learn some really interesting things about break-ups?
I think it will help you, because a lot of people walk around with a lot of nonsense drilled into their heads from movies and pulp fiction.
Quite possibly, you may have fallen victim to some of these notions, so let’s set the record straight!
Who knows, you might just connect with something that will make a huge difference in your life!
Fact: You will Recover faster from your breakup than you think.
There has been considerable research into this phenomenon. It’s called the “initial intensity bias”. Later in this book, I am going to talk quite a bit more about this finding.
My own work with thousands of people dealing with breakups also support this research finding. My clients, more often than not, start off with a desperate mindset.
They sometimes see no end to their misery. Or they feel weighed down by their despair and can’t imagine ever recovering.
When I press the issue and ask them how long it will take to recover, some tell me, “Never”. Others tell me, “Not for many months”.
But they are almost always wrong.
Their initial feelings can be so intense, they lose perspective and over estimate how long it will take to recover. They are experiencing what is called the “initial intensity bias”.
And I tell them as much. Of course, they seldom believe me.
But in time, sooner than they imagine, they are able to pull themselves together.
And if they adopt my teachings, most of my clients will find themselves in an even “better place”.
Myth: The No Contact Rule Must Never be Violated.
Well, of course, this is utter nonsense.
I still come across some relationship experts that argue the “no exception” view when implementing the No Contact Rule.
It is true that correctly implementing a No Contact Period can provide multiple advantages.
It is also true that breaking the Rule could result in a setback.
But there are circumstances in which it plays to your advantage to make an exception to the No Contact Rule.
I will be covering these exceptions in some of my future posts.
Fact: Rarely do two people mutually agree that their relationship is not working out.
I still run across some people who swear that their breakup was a mutually agreed upon decision.
While I am sure it can happen, my experience in coaching thousands of people who have suffered break ups is that they did NOT mutually decide that it would be best to go their separate ways.
Breakups are almost always messy.
The beginning of the end is usually revealed in a series of “fits and re-starts”. Then the relationship usually “gives up the ghost” from the action of one individual.
When we enter into a relationship with an individual we are influenced by many things. We want to be liked. We want to be loved. There are natural chemicals acting upon our brain that influence our behavior and cause our love partners to be every bit as captivating as we could ever imagine.
These chemicals are both a blessing and a curse as they act upon the Reward Center of our minds These neurotransmitters, in the form of dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin, form an irresistible cocktail of chemicals that send us through the roof with delight. And conversely, it is the deficit of these chemicals (after a breakup) that causes us to fall hard.
The very memories of your former lover can serve as a catalyst.
Both research and my own experience with clients, suggests that women end relationships a bit more often than men. But who ends the relationship is usually less of the problem.
The focal point should be what caused the relationship to collapse.
And guess what?
Myth: True Love is the force that pulls people back together after a breakup.
Are you one of those fine folks that believe love conquers all.
Well, as nice as that sounds, it simply is not true.
The love you have for one another is indeed a powerful force and that bond or connection is difficult to break.
Nevertheless, breakups happen frequently for many reasons.
But something powerful can bring the lovers back together again.
What is this powerful force that can snap the relationship back together again?
It’s not love. Well, it usually is not that which we call love.
It is something that is deeply seeded and formed its grip over a long period of time. It is what psychologists call, “lingering attachment”.
When you spend a lot of time with someone and develop a bond of closeness, you become accustomed to being with this person. The routines you both enjoyed together, form traction in your lives.
Where love is the “glue” that bonds the two of you together, “attachment” is a psychological force that acts powerfully on your behavior.
You can think of love as an outcome of attraction. But in all honesty, love is much more than that.
An anthropologist might say love is formed through our need to procreate. Our sex drive can activate this sense of “love”.
Another form of “love” can also be described as the offspring of our need to form a romantic bond. Loving feelings can pour from the feelings of romance. And finally love can be derived from the formation of a long term attachment.
Hence, according to this thinking, the cycle of love can arise from 3 different places. But it is not the heart where all this arises, rather it is within our brain and the changing chemistry of our mind.
Certainly with attraction, there are certain hormones and chemicals present in your brain that can quickly ignite those loving feelings!
Whereas, “attachment” is the result of many days, weeks, months, or years of shared experiences. It weighs heavily on your psyche and influences your mood, attitude, behavior, and decision making. The force of attachment can be powerful in pulling two people back together.
There are also other forces that come into play.
I think of them as the “Rational Forces”.
After a couple spends time apart, they may come to realize that the “grass was not greener” when they were separated. They may also conclude in the time they were apart, that they have grown as a person, hence they stand a better chance of making the relationship work the 2nd time around.
Are you starting to see how all this connects with the No Contact Rule?
Fact: Optimizing Your “Self Concept” can help you recover from a break up more quickly.
Usually when things go wrong in our relationships, we sink into sadness. We feel a sense of loss and/or despair.
Much like quicksand, the more we thrash around emotionally, the faster we sink. Our sense of who we are and what we should do becomes clouded.
We become a victim of our own human nature.
It is perfectly natural to feel all of these things.
I spend some of my free time mountain climbing. It is an enriching experience and I have learned a lot about myself as I try to scale the mountain tops.
Let me tell you something else I learned!
You can’t enjoy the beauty of the mountain tops, until you have struggled on the switchbacks below.
The sooner you come to appreciate more “YOURSELF” and value the many good qualities you possess, the sooner you will recover from heartbreak.
These are things you usually learn when you are climbing out of the valley of your emotions.
When you learn how to detach yourself from being dependent on your Ex for your “self concept”, you will have successfully scaled the mountain top.
Myth: The No Contact Rule is all about not communicating with your Ex Boyfriend or Ex Girlfriend
Nope, that statement is incomplete.
The No Contact Rule is about much more. I think of it as a two front campaign.
You are focusing on bringing your communications to an end with your Ex, but you are also focusing on the self recovery process.
During the No Contact Period, you need to be mindful of all of the temptations you will have to reach out and contact your Ex. You will need to be aware of all of the mind games your brain will play on you. So you have to be vigilant.
But you also have to be wise.
There may be certain situations in which you will need to make exceptions to the No Contact Rule.
But you will need to tread most carefully when you do make exceptions.
One of the reasons why I created this website is to be able to talk to people about these things I call relationship enablers and relationship breakers.
It is a bit of a minefield out there and I don’t want you blowing up your personal recovery or your effort to eventually re-unite with your Ex unless you have some insight.
Stay tuned. I will have more to say about this topic in future posts.