Five Fundamentals for Surviving a Break-Up

‘Listen to Bernie Bolger in conversation with Sarah McDonald on ABC 702 Nightlife as they discuss how to survive a relationship break-up’

1. Take time to grieve your loss.

For some, losing a significant other because of a break-up can be as painful as if they died. In some cases more so. From seeing some-one you love every day to having no contact, it can seem impossibly daunting to imagine your life without them. But it is important to come to terms with this new reality and accept it before you can move on. Whilst it may seem appealing to fast-forward through this period of sadness by keeping busy with other things and people, the reality is that the end of a relationship requires a grieving period where we process what has happened. It is also a time where you can reflect on the relationship and your own behaviour. And in the process you may learn a thing or two about yourself and what you want out of a future relationship.

2. Reconnect with yourself.

In many relationships, the primary focus is on the ‘we’ instead of the ‘I’. But the end of a relationship offers a unique opportunity to take stock of where you are in life, and then to do something for you. This might mean taking up a new hobby or reuniting with friends. Taking the time to do things which make you feel good, like seeing family or going on a holiday (without having to compromise), will help boost your mood. And this focus on yourself means when you enter a new relationship, you will have a self-awareness that you may have lost. Rather than rushing into a new relationship, take time to focus on the relationship with you.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Rarely do people come to the decision to end a relationship at the same time. If the end of the relationship came as a shock, it is normal to feel rejected of question your self-worth. But if your partner has made it clear that they no longer want a relationship with you, it is imperative that you accept this and focus on yourself. And it is equally imperative that you let go of any feelings of bitterness, no matter how hurt or angry you may feel. As Nelson Mandela said – ‘holding onto bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. If this all seems too hard to do alone, talk to a professional. Set limits with your family and friends about what you feel comfortable discussing. If you need to vent, do so with a counsellor because friends may become overly protective and fuel your bitterness and anger rather than help you move through it. Similarly, if there are practical issues to be dealt with, such as parenting plans and property settlements, seek the services of an accredited Family Mediator or a Collaboratively trained family lawyer whose wise counsel early on will save years of heartache down the track.

4. Use Social Media wisely.

Your accounts may be littered with memories of your past relationship. As hard as it may be, delete your ex. You may convince yourself that you can control the urge to check in with your ex all the time, but what you are in fact doing is fuelling your brain’s need for this person. And in the process retraumatising yourself every time.
Even worse is going on a social media rampage. When you are feeling slighted or ignored, it is too easy to share your angry feelings with the world via twitter or Facebook. Especially after a few glasses of wine. In the moment it feels really good, but the ramifications can be huge, both professionally and personally.

5. Don’t fall into the Rebound trap.

Take the time to mourn the relationship, to mourn part of your own life that is not there anymore. Take the time to look back on the relationship without the rose coloured glasses which minimised the parts of it you didn’t like. Every broken relationship is a learning opportunity which allows you shine a spotlight on behaviours which are acceptable and those which are a definite deal breaker in the future. Don’t let your fear of being alone cause you to swipe right too soon and thus miss out on some of life’s most valuable lessons.